Guide to the Executive Assessment

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The Executive Assessment, EA, is an examination that tells business schools whether experienced business professions are ready for a business graduate program. The Executive Assessment is important for both the student and the business program. Admission to Master of Business Administration (MBA) Degree programs require exam scores from assessments, in addition to resumes, transcripts, essays, and recommendations. Specific MBA programs accept the Executive Assessment to help admissions teams determine whether candidates are ready to succeed in their program. The EA is important to know about for future Online MBA students who have not taken or do not want to take other aptitude exams, students looking for a less competitive testing option, and students interested in applying for Executive Master of Business Administration degrees.

The executive assessment, like online MBA programs, is ideal for busy business professionals. This exam is for people with non-traditional priorities and vast experience in business management. The Executive Assessment can be a game-changer for students.

What is the Executive Assessment?

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The Executive Assessment (EA) measures the readiness for master’s programs in business. The EA is administered through the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC). The GMAC is an association of graduate business schools. The test was created in 2016 by the Graduate Management Admission Council and was initially designed specifically for Executive Master’s of Business Administration (EMBA) programs.

The Executive MBA differs from a traditional MBA in a few ways. Executive MBA Programs can be structured differently and be completed in a shorter time. They also typically have variations like a global aspect or be restricted to weekend courses. While the degree is the same, the traditional MBA is usually two to four years and has concentrations to specialize in.

The biggest difference between the two programs is that the traditional MBA draws students that are closer to the beginning of their careers, while a greater length and quality of career experience is required for Executive MBA program admission. These programs expect prospective students to have 12-15 years of experience. They often look for a substantial amount of managerial leadership experience with evidence of increasing responsibilities. Lastly, EMBA programs are often sponsored fully or partially by students’ employers.

Today, the Executive Assessment is used for more than Executive MBA program admissions. Some schools accept the exam for traditional Master of Business Administration programs and other business master’s degrees, like a Master of Finance, Master of Accounting, Master of Data Analytics, and Healthcare MBA. The Graduate Management Admission Council lists over 100 schools on their website that accept the executive assessment. The programs that the schools take the executive assessment for are documented as well. Many schools list their online, traditional, executive, global, or flex and part-time programs that accept scores from this exam.

Format

This Executive Assessment is a multiple-choice standardized test. The EA takes an hour and a half to complete. It is made of 40 questions divided into three sections. The Executive Assessment test areas are integrated reasoning, verbal, and quant. The integrated reasoning (IR) section tests verbal and quant skills through multi-source logic, graphs, and tables. The verbal section assesses reading comprehension, grammar, and logical and critical reasoning. The quant section tests math reasoning through problem-solving data analysis. Together, these sections determine readiness for a Master of Business Administration program and consider students’ career knowledge and experience. To the benefit of prospective students, business schools do not require a high score on the executive assessment for admission. Schools do not publicly report student’s average scores. Additionally, the Graduate Management Admission Council does not publish percentile rankings. B-schools only post the minimum accepted EA scores.

There are two ways the Executive Assessment can be taken. Students can register to take the EA online with a live proctor or in person at one of the 600 testing centers. Students can register at any time to take the exam online. If students want to test at a site, an appointment can be scheduled for any day of the week, during operational hours. Additionally, rescheduling of the exam is cost-free up until the test time. But students must cancel 24 hours before. Unfortunately, there is a cancellation fee of $100. According to GMAC, when students take the exam at home, they receive scores within seven business days. When they take it in person, they can receive their scores immediately.

Poets and Quants reports that while the score range is officially 100-200, the highest score one can earn on the executive exam is 174. Here is how the scoring works. Students get four scores total: one for each section and an overall score. The highest score that students can be earned in each section is 18 points. To get the total score, each score is added up and then added to 120. A perfect score would then be 18 + 18 + 18 +120 to get 174. Many schools ask for an EA score of 150 or 155.

The executive assessment is taken in the order of Integrated Reasoning, then verbal, then quant. For each section, two panels split the questions in half. Six questions are on each side. For each side, students can complete the problems in any order they wish. The key is to answer all of them; there is no penalty for getting a question incorrect. The executive assessment is an adaptive test. The first panel has questions of varying levels of difficulty. If students get all the problems correct in the first panel, the second panel will be more difficult. However, the opposite occurs if students answer all of the problems incorrectly on the first panel. Through the progression of the exam, the difficulty of the following section or panel will continue to depend on the previous section or panel. The difficulty level does not reset.

GRE vs GMAT vs Executive Assessment

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The GMAT, GRE, and the EA are all multiple-choice, standardized exams that prospective Master of Business Administration students can take. The scores aid admissions teams in determining whether to offer a student admittance and overall determine whether a business student would be successful in their program. All three of the exams can be taken online, through a proctoring system, or in person.

The three exams have some distinctions. The different exams may differ in how the test is administered, the length of the exam, the number of sections, the different types of questions, the level of difficulty in the math section, the number of essays, the accessibility of the results, or even wait time between testing days. There are many factors to consider when deciding whether to take the GRE, GMAT, or EA.

Graduate Record Examination

GRE is short for Graduate Record Examination. The GRE is administered through the educational testing service (ETS). The ETS is a private non-profit organization that provides academic assessments and testing. The GRE has been in use since 1936. It is a universal graduate exam, and many business schools accept GRE scores.

The GRE tests students’ aptitude in three categories: analysis, mathematics, and vocabulary. It has 80 questions and two essays—an argument essay and an issue essay. GRE scores range from 130-170. The writing is scored zero to six. The average score of GRE test takers comes in around 150, with an average writing score of four.

One benefit to taking the GRE is the flexibility to skip over questions within a section. This releases anxiety for some test takers because they can move fluidly through what they know immediately and return to more challenging problems with the remaining time for a section. The exam itself is three hours and 45 minutes. Secondly, a benefit to taking this exam is that students can choose which schools to send their scores to. The GRE also has other benefits like qualifying for merit-based offers like scholarships and fellowships.

Graduate Management Admission Test

The Graduate Management Admission Test, or GMAT, is specifically designed for business schools to determine admittance or denial of candidates for business programs. The GMAT is administered through the Graduate Management Admission Council. The GMAT has been in use since 1954. The graduate management admission test assesses students through analytical writing, integrated reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and verbal reasoning. There is an emphasis on synthesizing information.

Like the GRE, the GMAT is a 3-hour examination with two-eight-minute breaks. If students take the exam at a testing center, they may ask to take the sections in a specific order. This option gives students the opportunity to work on their strongest areas first. Students can also see their score immediately, but the caveat is they must determine if they want to accept the score within a couple of minutes. This could present some stress, as the accepted scores are sent to the student’s designated schools. (Within three days, the scores may be canceled, though.) For the GMAT, students often commit an average of 100 hours studying for this exam. The range of scores for the GMAT is 200-800. The writing score is scored zero to six. The average score is 565, according to Princeton Review

Executive Assessment

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The Executive Assessment tends to be an optimal option for MBA prospects. The exam length is much more appealing, and because the EA exam is viewed differently by admissions teams than the GRE and GMAT, students choose it. The EA tests readiness, not necessarily aptitude. Test takers need to meet the threshold score for their school rather than exceed the average score.

The other big difference between the GMAT and the EA is how the Integrated Reasoning section is measured. On the EA, the IR section weaves in quant and verbal skills into the questions and holds weight with the quant and verbal sections related to scoring. On the GMAT, the IR section is not considered much in scores. Many schools report average scores for the GMAT but individually focus on the student’s quant and verbal scores.

Cost

The cost of each exam is different, including preparation materials. The cost of the GMAT is $275, with additional charges for canceling the exam, rescheduling the exam, and for more score reports. The GRE is $205 with additional costs for rescheduling or changing testing centers. (The educational testing service, ETS, does have a fee reduction program available to assist with paying for the exam.) The executive assessment cost, however, is $350. There are two free practice exams available for the GRE and GMAT. Additional prep questions can be purchased for small investments. The GRE and GMAT exams are more complex than the Executive Assessment, and schools want high scores. Some students spend upward of $1000 after taking preparation courses and hiring tutors for these tests.

While the Executive Assessment is more expensive than the other exams, there are some other benefits. There is no need to hire tutors or take preparation courses to prepare. There is no cost to send a score report to schools. Students also do not have to send each score to schools. However, students can only take the Executive Assessment twice at a testing center and twice online. GMAT can be taken eight times in total. The GRE can be taken five times a year. GMAT, GRE, and Executive Assessment scores are valid for up to five years.

Students should check whether their prospective schools prefer specific exams. Information can also be found on school blogs. It is worth asking the admissions office if this detail is not listed on the websites. Afterward, students can determine which is better for them.

Each exam is different. The goal of the GMAT is to measure skills for business school, and the GRE determines future success in graduate study. According to Poets and Quants, one difference between the GMAT/GRE and the Executive Assessment is that the quantitative sections of the EA do not cover geometry. The GMAT and the EA have very similar problem types, and the content assessed is identical. Like the executive assessment, the GRE and the GMAT are adaptive exams. The difficulty level changes as the student proceeds. After doing well in the first section, a student will then have a more difficult second section. The Executive Assessment does not have a writing component. This is great for anyone that does write well under time and topic constraints. The GRE has two 30-minute essays at the beginning of the test, and the GMAT has one thirty-minute essay that does not have to be written at the beginning of the exam. There are options.

When Do I Take the Executive Assessment?

Experts have not named the perfect time to take the Executive Assessment, but it has been determined for the GMAT and GRE. Because of scheduling, the experts at e-gmat suggest that students schedule the GMAT two to three months before they want to take it. The EA can be scheduled a lot sooner. Additionally, a very high score is not needed for the executive assessment. Students likely will only need to take it one time to get a high enough score or, in other words, above the 150-155 threshold. After determining whether a student’s preferred schools will accept Executive Assessment scores, they should take the practice exam, determine the amount of study time necessary, and take the exam. GMAC reports that minimum preparation is needed.

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How Do I Prepare for the Executive Assessment?

Using official Executive Assessment materials is a great way to prepare for the exam. Through the Graduate Management Admission Council, students can create an account and receive a free four-week long study planner and a free sampler that can familiarize students with the structure and types of questions. The sampler has nine questions with answers and explanations. Students can also purchase four official practice assessments from GMAC. There are more official practice questions, including explanations, for each section individually and all together. These items are sold separately and in bundles at different price points. Official questions provided by GMAC closely resemble the test. Another resource is Manhattan Prep. They have a Starter Kit that includes a math diagnostic exam and lessons on data sufficiency, sentence correction, and time management.

Preparation should begin with going through the different types of questions in each section. Then the next step is to take the practice exam. While students may not feel confident in their ability to take the test right away, this is the next best step because it helps students determine their strong and weak areas. Their suggestion is to take the practice exam under standard testing conditions—no breaks for the ninety minutes, no cell phone, and no researching for answers. Once there is a score to start from, students can build an appropriate study plan. Students may find that they only need to increase their scores in certain sections, where they can concentrate their time.

How Do I Succeed at Taking the Executive Assessment?

Success at taking the executive is highly probable. This examination is generally easier than the other graduate aptitude exams. This exam is for students with limited time, varying priorities, and longer experience in business management. Some suggest that prospective business students spend four to twelve weeks preparing for the Executive Assessment, while others suggest that students spend 21-30 hours preparing for this exam. The Executive Assessment is designed for busy students as full-time professionals who do not have an extensive amount of time to commit to preparation. However, preparation is something that still needs to be thought through and committed to. Practice makes it permanent. Getting familiar with the test is good and standardized tests become predictable.

This is what a four week study schedule can look like:

In the first week, students can spend their time taking the practice under normal test-like conditions. Students can also look through practice questions and explanations. In the second week, students can practice the questions and concepts they missed on the practice test. Having a basis really helps students focus their study time. In the third week, students can focus more intently on improvement areas. Then in the final week, students can take another practice test to practice answering and getting even more used to the questions. These suggestions and more can be found in the free GMAC study planner.

Action Plans

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An action plan is a key to preparing for any assessment. First, students should determine which business school they should apply to and which programs would best meet their needs. Students can make a list and speak with the admissions office to ask specific questions. Because there is no limit to how many schools a student can send their Executive Assessment scores to, they can send them to the entire list if they choose. Students should also be aware of the application deadlines to send scores over in time and ensure their application is complete with all the components.

Secondly, students can search for the threshold scores for their schools. Then take the practice test for the Executive Assessment. After receiving a rough score, they can form a timeline for taking the Executive Assessment based on their current score and the score they need for acceptance. A student that needs a five-point increase may require four weeks of preparation. A student that needs to increase by 15 points may want to allow for 12 weeks of practice. With a can-do attitude, students can set some SMART goals based on their areas of improvement. Thirdly, students can decide when to study, where to study, a routine for how to get it done, and which resources would be best to use.

Additionally, students can consider whether to take the EA online or at a testing center. Do they need more of a controlled environment or a relaxed environment? Lastly, as with any day of testing preparations, students should rest before taking the test, relax, and arrive prepared at the testing site. Students testing at a site should arrive at the testing site 30 minutes before their appointed time with identification and confirmation email. Food, drinks, and weapons are prohibited. Additional items like scratch paper, watches, calculators, earplugs, cell phones, etc., must be placed in a locker or left home.

With a solid plan in place, the only thing left to do is study. Now is your time!

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