GMAT & MBA Admissions Blog

Executive Assessment (EA) Exam vs. GMAT: Pros, Cons, and Considerations

Posted by Mark Skoskiewicz on July 15, 2019 9:00:00 AM CDT

0_Best-Undergraduate-Business-Schools-1If you are targeting EMBA programs, the Executive Assessment exam may be your best option.

Executive MBA (EMBA) programs are for experienced professionals looking to earn an MBA without taking a full two years off. Traditional or part-time MBA programs are generally for less experienced, typically younger professionals. They can be structured as full-time one or two-year programs, or as part-time programs that take 3-5 years to complete. But when it comes to considering whether to take the Executive Assessment exam or the GMAT, you only have a choice if you are considering an EMBA program. Full time MBA programs require the GMAT or GRE (although some less selective programs don’t require an entrance exam at all).

And although many EMBA programs require admission test results, but there are some top programs that do not. For those that do, prospective EMBA students have a choice of three tests—the GMAT, the GRE, and the Executive Assessment (EA). Because we have been receiving increasing interest in Executive Assessment exam tutoring and it is closely related to the GMAT, in this article we’ll explore the differences between the GMAT and the EA exam.

When did the EA exam become an option for EMBA students?

If you were considering an MBA or an EMBA a few years ago and then decided to hold off, you may be surprised to learn about the EA exam upon recently returning to the process of test prep and graduate school admissions.

The Executive Assessment exam is very new. It was developed by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), the same organization that administers the GMAT, in partnership with a several business schools. The basic premise of developing the EA exam was to create a standardized test that would primarily measure academic readiness and find a way to consider the type of knowledge that real-world experience provides.

Here are some dimensions to consider when you compare the GMAT to the Executive Assessment (EA) exam.

It might be fair to think of the EA exam as “GMAT-lite.” The fact the EA measures readiness and the fact it is shorter can create the impression that the EA is easier than the GMAT. But the content is essentially the same. This is the position of, and they created and administer the exam, so it’s probably basically true.  Certainly, all available evidence and opinions I could find suggest that the verbal section and the integrated reasoning section are the same. It may be the case that the quantitative section is slightly easier, but that’s more opinion than fact.

Key points of comparison include:

Applicability. As mentioned above, you can take the GMAT and still be in the running to apply to traditional MBA programs as well as EMBA programs. The EA is only applicable to EMBA program applicants.

Verbal section difficulty. Theverbal section on the EA seems similar in difficulty to the GMAT, with similar percentages of Critical Reasoning, Reading Comprehension and Sentence Correction questions.

Quantitative section difficulty. On the quant side, there is no geometry in the EA. Aside from that, the quant content is supposedly the same. However, some sources suggest that more difficult quant concepts of probability, statistics, and combinatorics are less common on the Executive Assessment.

Integrated reason and AWA Essay sections. The GMAT has both. While the EA exam has ann integrated reasoning section that is the same as the GMAT, it has no AWA essay.

Length. The EA is shorter. It takes approximately 90 minutes, while the GMAT takes approximately 180. This is achieved by halving the number of questions and time required for verbal and quant and removing the Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) section.

The reason for this is that the EA measures readiness vs. endeavouring to create a distribution in scores such that some students rise to the top while others fall. Competition for EMBA programs is less fierce, so schools don’t have to be as selective with candidates.

Computer adaptivity. The GMAT and the EA are both computer adaptive tests (questions become harder or easier based on if you get the question right or wrong). But the GMAT gets harder or easier after every question (item adaptive), while the EA changes after a block of seven questions (section adaptive).

Preparation time. Given the above, it should take less time to prepare for the EA than the GMAT. At a minimum, there is no AWA essay section to prepare for.

EA Exam vs. GMAT: Conclusion

If you are considering both regular full-time MBA programs and EMBA options, you should take the GMAT, as this leaves options open. If you are focused on EMBA programs, and those programs state a preference, you should follow that preference. For example, Booth’s EMBA program prefers the EA exam, while Penn prefers the GMAT. Again, if a preference is stated, you should heed it. If the schools you are targeting have no preference, given its length and angle towards EMBA applicants, you should strongly consider the Executive Assessment exam.

Topics: GMAT prep, MBA admissions consultant, MBA Admissions, EA exam, Executive assessment exam, GMAT vs. EA exam, EMBA programs