Christine just handed me an idea (nay, a plea) for today's post. She told me that, as the staffer who answers the questions of most callers and emailers (particularly while our student interns are in the middle of exams), she has been fielding endless special requests this week, mostly related to taking and submitting results for the GRE/GMAT. Requests such as: Can I submit scores late? Can I take the exam after the application deadline? Can you waive the requirement for me, because I haven't studied for the exam? Or because I graduated from college many years ago?
So, with Christine and all the applicants who take the exam in a timely way (and don't make special requests) in mind, here's the deal: Fletcher requires submission of GRE/GMAT scores because we find them to be a useful analytical tool, even though GRE/GMAT scores are never the sole basis for an admissions decision. Our expectation is that you will make your application complete as quickly as possible after the deadline. That is, you must submit the online application materials before the deadline, but supporting credentials (test scores, recommendations) can arrive a little bit later without having a negative effect on your application. Today's date is December 13. If you're aiming for the January 10 deadline, you have about three weeks to take the exam and still expect to complete your application in time.
(Note that, even within the structure outlined above, you can still see a typically Fletcher-ish flexibility. We could (but don't) say we refuse to review an application if all materials don't arrive by the deadline. We want to give our applicants every opportunity to put together a strong application. But that flexibility doesn't extend as far as offering special arrangements to each of the thousand people Christine feels she has spoken to this week.)
Since many graduate schools have January deadlines, testing centers tend to be very busy this time of year. That is why, if you haven't taken the test yet, you need to act RIGHT NOW and find a test date.
What happens if on January 10…January 15…January 20…February 1, your scores still haven't reached us? Well, we're just going to hold all your materials in a folder while we wait. Leaving your application in that endless purgatory is, let's say, not a great strategy for obtaining admission.
As for all the other reasons people give for not wanting to take the exam (graduated long ago, math skills are rusty, etc.), I can only say that your fellow applicants would probably say much the same. No one likes taking these exams. We understand that. But like many unpleasant things in life, you simply need to do it. In this case, you also need to do it on our schedule — not because we seek to inconvenience you, but because not following our schedule may hurt your own chances of gaining admission.