What to do about TOEFL on an application.

What to do about TOEFL on an application.

Most schools require GMAT and TOEFL (or TOEFL equivalent such as IELTS). MBA programs and Masters of Management and Finance almost universally share this requirement.

GMAT is the harder exam and it should rightfully have the priority.

The question regarding TOEFL  is “why”?

Is there really a risk that someone with a good GMAT will be dysfunctional in English? There is clearly lots of redundancy between TOEFL and GMAT, and TOEFL seems to be an obsolete obligation. We face this situation often enough that I can propose a few solutions.

  1. Do very well on GMAT. If you verbal performance exceeds the 75th percentile (on verbal), instruct the school of your choice that you would like to demonstrate your English knowledge with your GMAT verbal score.
  2. Read the TOEFL exemptions carefully at your chosen program. If you have worked in an English speaking company, or possess certain qualifications (CPA, CFA, CPE, etc) you can often exempt from TOEFL.
  3. Take the TOEFL. I realise that this is a post on avoiding TOEFL, but it is not a hard test. The target group is younger and less sophisticated than GMAT. If you are applying to multiple schools, probably the most efficient solution is to “bite the bullet” and take it. The reading and listening are very standard and easily prepared, so under time pressure focus on writing and speaking. For example, TOEFLzurich.com offers a 5-hour crash course  designed for MBA or Master’s candidates.
  4. Ask the school for a waiver. This may sound desperate, but we have negotiated TOEFL waivers for our students on many occasions. Sometimes only by citing busy schedules or inconvenient test-centre locations. Clearly if a school is interested you are in a good position to negotiate– kind of like dating.

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