Graduate Management News

April 2016

The Newsletter of the Graduate Management Admission Council

GMAC Viewpoints: Consider Disability in Your Construct of Diversity Outreach—How GMAC is Committed to the Cause

Schools should include disability within the construct of diversity to broaden their recruitment efforts.

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In a recent email exchange, Bob Alig, GMAC’s Executive Vice President for School Products, forwarded a question to me that he received from an attendee at a recent GMAC Leadership Conference. The attendee, a business school representative, asked Bob: “What accommodations does the GMAT exam have for potential students that are blind, and are unable to use the currently available guidebooks?” The answer is, quite simply, “a lot.”

GMAC has long recognized that schools have an innate understanding and interest in recruiting a diverse applicant pool of graduate management education candidates. To that end, consider this point of view. Disability is a very natural construct. Most all of us are just “temporarily” abled-bodied. With the population of persons with disabilities rising world-wide, the corporate workforce has long been including “disability” recruitment in its hiring strategy. One only has to google the phrase “disability and workplace diversity” to find a plethora of articles on the importance of including “disability” within the meaning of diversity. Graduate management education can, too, include disability in its outreach initiatives.

The diversity spectrum includes not only candidates who may have visual impairments, but candidates with all manner of disability, such as hearing and physical impairments. To this end, GMAC seeks to develop admissions exams that measure what we intend to measure vs. measuring the extent and nature of an individual’s disabling condition. GMAC understands that all individuals, with and without disabilities, present intrinsic knowledge in diverse ways, which is a premise of disability legislation worldwide. Thus, GMAC has in place a process by which all candidates, regardless of country of origin, and with all manner of disability, can request accommodations and/or adjustments as to how our exams are administered so that a candidate is being judged on their true aptitude and not on their disability.

Some common accommodations/adjustments may include, for example:

  • Extended testing time
  • Extra or extended breaks
  • Assistive technology for individuals who need to access a computerized exam via text-to-speech technology vs. standard print (candidates who have low vision or blindness)
  • Interpreters for the hearing impaired

GMAC’s internal research has shown that test takers with legitimate disabilities do not receive an unfair advantage by receiving accommodations or adjustments. Thus, GMAC’s exam score reports do not indicate whether or not a test taker has received accommodations.

Candidates in need of accommodations or adjustments on GMAC admission exams can request accommodations via our established on-line process. The process is quite simple. First, complete the “application for disability accommodations” found on line at under the link, “test takers with disabilities.” Include medical documentation and/or a certificate of disability eligibility from one’s doctor or certifying government agency, and finally-- include a personal statement as to why one believes an adjustment is needed. Upon review by GMAC’s disability experts, candidates will be notified via writing on the outcome of their accommodation request, and if approved, written instructions will be provided on how to schedule an accommodated exam.

In addition to GMAC’s established accommodation request processes, which have been in existence for quite some time, GMAC has designed some of its most commonly used test preparation products and on-line materials, including the Official Guide for GMAT Review, to be easily accessible to candidates with visual impairments.

In keeping with our commitment, candidates in need of additional access to GMAC’s products and services on the basis of disability are encouraged to contact GMAC at for assistance.

GMAC is true to its mission. By including disability within the construct of diversity, GMAC can connect talent with opportunity in all its forms.

About the Author

Kendra JohnsonKendra Johnson is Director of Disability Policy & Services at GMAC.