What is the Executive Assessment ?

The Executive Assessment (EA) is a standardized entrance exam that was originally designed for applicants interested in attending an Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) program.

However it has since expanded beyond its EMBA roots. Several MBA programs now accept it for admission to their programs because it is superior to both the GMAT and the GRE.

The EA is not the usual standardized test that we’re all used to. You don’t have to earn a ridiculously high score in order to be a strong candidate at your desired schools. Rather, the EA is used as a sort of threshold indicator: If you score above a school’s threshold, they know you’re prepared for the academic rigor of the program.

The EA takes your professional skills into consideration, and evaluates you on a number of other areas, including reasoning, critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving.

Why the Executive Assessment?

The test is shorter in duration – 90 minutes and requires limited preparation. This test is a boon for busy working professionals looking for a way to demonstrate their MBA readiness to admission officers but without the hassle of rigorous preparation that the GMAT demands.

Designed originally for experienced professional, the Executive Assessment:

  • Evaluates your business school readiness
  • Values the knowledge and real-world experience you bring to the program
  • Allows you to use your results to sharpen your skills before your program begins
  • Offers the convenience and flexibility you deserve – minimum preparation, short exam time at 90 minutes, and easy rescheduling options

What’s on the Executive Assessment?

There are three sections on the EA: Integrated Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning, and Quantitative Reasoning. In that way, the test is similar to the GMAT, which includes each of those sections. Unlike the GMAT, however, the Executive Assessment doesn’t have an essay section. It also takes much less time to complete—90 minutes compared to 3.5 hours. Let’s take a closer look at each section.

Integrated Reasoning: In this section, you will have 30 minutes to complete 12 questions that evaluate your ability to interpret graphics and tables, analyze complex problems, and answer multiple choice questions. This section emphasizes logic and reasoning, presenting you with questions designed to see how well you evaluate information based on multiple sources and formats. Unlike the GMAT, your performance on this section affects your core EA score.

Verbal Reasoning: In this section, you will have 30 minutes to complete 14 questions that test your ability to read comprehensive sections, evaluate arguments, and correct sentences. It’s designed to assess how you can read, interpret, and edit.

Quantitative Reasoning: In this section, you will have 30 minutes to complete 14 questions that assess your ability to interpret data and solve problems. It’s designed to see how you draw conclusions and analyze data using your math and reasoning skills. In terms of math, you can expect to use basic arithmetic and some algebra. Unlike the GMAT geometry is not tested.

Difference Between EA, GMAT and GRE




The EA evaluates data-driven skills. It is composed of three sections: Integrated Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning, and Quantitative Reasoning, totaling 40 questions. You take the Integrated Reasoning section first, and then your score in that section determines whether you’ll get more difficult or easier questions in the Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning sections.

The GMAT is made up of four sections: Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, Integrated Reasoning, and Analytical Writing. You’ll have 3.5 hours to complete the test. Like the EA this exam is adaptive.

The GRE is made up of three sections: Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing. The computer-based test takes approximately three hours and 45 minutes to complete.

Although the content on the EA is similar to the GMAT, there’s no essay section. Additionally, while the GMAT’s questions become harder or easier on a question-by-question basis, the Executive Assessment’s question difficulty level changes after you complete a section or block of questions. Geometry is not tested on the EA.

The GMAT focuses on quantitative and analytical skills, asking you to interpret data presented in text, charts and tables to solve problems. It also includes analytical writing and verbal sections that focus on grammar.

The GRE focuses less on math and includes the use of a calculator for quantitative problems. It also includes a Verbal section, which emphasizes vocabulary. For this reason MBA admissions committees typically take the exam less seriously.

Compared with the GMAT and GRE, the Executive Assessment is shorter and takes less time to complete.

Compared with the Executive Assessment, the GMAT takes a substantially longer amount of time to complete. Compared with the GRE, the GMAT places a greater focus on grammar while the GRE places a greater focus on vocabulary

The GRE provides schools with tables that allow admissions committees to convert a GRE score to a GMAT/EA score. Those tables are used to understand what the GRE score means in terms of being successful in a program.


Who accepts the EA?

The Executive Assessment hasn’t hit the critical point of mainstream acceptance. There are several business schools that don’t yet accept it.

However, the number of schools accepting the EA is rapidly growing. Columbia is an M7 program that accepts the EA for admission to its fulltime MBA program. MIT accepts it for its Sloan Fellows MBA program and Stanford GSB accepts it for its MSx program. You can find a list of programs that accept it on the GMAC website here.

Ultimately opting for the EA means improving a candidate’s chance of getting admitted to an elite program at the expense of being eligible to apply to fewer elite programs. For some this tradeoff isn’t worth it – perhaps because they’re able to get truly exceptional GMAT or GRE scores, or because their target business school programs don’t place much weightage on standardized exam scores. For most however opting for the EA helps secure admission to a class of programs not previously considered possible.

How to prepare for the EA?

The EA was designed to require minimal prep work. We’d recommend taking a free practice Executive Assessment on Beacon Community’s platform here. (You can see our reviews of the different platforms here).

After that you can lightly brush up on any areas you feel you need help with. There aren’t any specialist EA materials available just yet, but the ease of the exam should mean that little help is required.