When the pandemic devastated applicants, closed test centers, and made it nearly impossible for some students to get their hands on a standardized test, most business schools made those tests optional.

But those applying for the next round of MBA approval may need to attend the test preparation centers: many business schools advise – if not – that applicants take the GMAT or GRE.

In January, an analysis by Poets & Quants found that 67 of the top 100 full-time MBA programs were test-optional or encouraged test-waiver guidelines due to test center closure.

Today, however, with the advent of the online GMAT exam and the increasing availability of personal testing centers, many schools have returned to meet the need for standardized testing, which is one of the most objective and fair of methods, says Rahul Choudaha, Director of Industry Insights and Research Communications at GMAC.

Most major business schools, like the Kellogg School of Management in Northwestern and the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, waived this requirement last year but are insisting this year.

Standardized tests are so important because they are the most objective measure of ability to cope with a business school’s academic performance, says Stacy Blackman, president of Stacy Blackman Consulting. A score close to or near the program’s reported average indicates that the applicant can handle the analytical course load and shows that the candidate has committed to exam preparation through hard work and perseverance of academic practice.