Yes, the thought of taking a standardized test can certainly be daunting. We understand that you might not be the best test taker or that you have other strengths that should be able to convince us of your qualifications for business school. Yet, the responsibility of the admissions team is to evaluate whether a candidate (YOU) has the potential to succeed in your graduate business program.
1) It helps us assess your quantitative, verbal, and analytical aptitude when we may not have other academic coursework that can do the same. Perhaps you graduated college without ever taking a math class, or your undergraduate major did not require you to write many essays or analyze an argument in written English communication – the standardized test can fill in those gaps.
2) It can help to compensate for a weaker undergraduate GPA. Perhaps your grades were sub-par because you were working to pay for school and couldn’t put in as much studying time as you would have liked OR you were a college athlete OR you were just less motivated and mature than you are today (we have never heard anyone claim that one :-) ). Your test scores can help you if your grades are not the best reflection of your potential.
3) It is often used as a determining factor when evaluating admitted students for merit-based funding opportunities. While we do take a holistic approach when making admission decisions, we look closely at undergraduate grades and test scores when making financial aid award decisions. Undergraduate institutions are not the same, offering varying levels of rigor, different degrees, etc. The GMAT/GRE is the only application requirement that is “standardized;” it has been tested for validity, reliability, and is accessible to all applicants.
Since standardized tests can be one of the most significant application hurdles you face, start preparing and plan to sit for the GMAT/GRE as soon as you are able. Regardless of which test you take, know that all the hard work you put into it can help you in the long run.