What You Need to Know About the Executive Assessment

Overview, Pros, Cons, and Test Structure

Businesswoman studying for exam
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The Executive Assessment (EA) is a standardized exam developed by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), the organization behind the GMAT. The exam is designed to help business school admissions committees assess the readiness and skills of experienced business professionals who are applying to an Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) program.

Who Should Take the Executive Assessment?

If you are applying to an MBA program of any kind, including an EMBA program, you will almost certainly have to submit standardized test scores as part of the admissions process.

Most business school applicants take either the GMAT or GRE to demonstrate their readiness for business school. Not every business school accepts GRE scores, so the GMAT is taken more often.

The GMAT and GRE both test your analytical writing, reasoning, and quantitative abilities. The Executive Assessment tests some of those same skills and is meant to replace the GMAT or GRE. In other words, if you are applying to an EMBA program, you can take the Executive Assessment instead of the GMAT or GRE.

How Business Schools Use the Executive Assessment

Business school admission committees assess your standardized test scores to get a better understanding of your quantitative, reasoning, and communication skills. They want to see if you have the capacity to understand the information being presented to you in a graduate business program. They also want to make sure that you will be able to contribute something to the class discussions and assignments.

When they compare your test score to the scores of candidates who are already in the program and scores of other candidates who are applying to the program, they can see where you stand in comparison to your peers. Although test scores aren't the only deciding factor in the business school application process, they are important.

Getting a test score that is somewhere in the score range for other candidates will only increase your chances of getting accepted to a graduate level business program.

The GMAC reports that while most business schools use Executive Assessment scores to assess your readiness for an academic business program, there are some schools that also use your score to help you succeed in the program. For example, a school may determine that you need additional quantitative preparation and recommend a refresher course prior to starting certain courses within the program.

Test Structure and Content

The Executive Assessment is a 90-minute, computer-adaptive test. There are 40 questions on the test. Questions are split into three sections: integrated reasoning, verbal reasoning, and quantitative reasoning. You'll have 30 minutes to complete each section. There are no breaks.

Here's what you should expect on each section of the test:

  • The integrated reasoning section has 12 questions. The question types that you'll encounter on this section of the test include multi-source reasoning, graphics interpretation, two-part analysis, and table analysis. To answer the questions, you'll have to use your logic and reasoning skills to evaluate information that is presented to you through a graph, table, diagram, chart, or passage of text. See sample integrated reasoning questions.
  • The verbal reasoning section consists of 14 questions. Question types include critical reasoning, sentence correction, and reading comprehension. To answer the questions, you'll have to read a passage and then answer questions that test your understanding of the text, your ability to evaluate an argument, or your knowledge of grammar in written English. See sample verbal reasoning questions.
  • The quantitative reasoning section has 14 questions. You'll encounter just two different types of questions: data sufficiency and problem solving. You'll need some knowledge of basic arithmetic (fractions, decimals, percents, roots, etc.) and algebra (expressions, equations, inequalities, functions, etc.) to answer these questions, but not much more than you would need to know to pass a freshman algebra class in high school. In some cases, you'll be asked to solve a math problem; in others, you'll be asked to evaluate the information provided in the question to determine if there is enough data to answer the question. See sample quantitative reasoning questions.

    Pros and Cons of the Executive Assessment

    The biggest advantage to the Executive Assessment is that it is specifically designed to test the skills that you have already acquired in your professional career. So unlike the GMAT and GRE, the Executive Assessment does not require you to take a prep course or engage in other forms of expensive, time consuming preparation. As a mid-career professional, you should already have the knowledge you need to answer the questions on the Executive Assessment. Another plus is that there is no analytical writing assessment like there is on the GMAT and GRE, so if writing under a tight deadline is difficult for you, you'll have one less thing to worry about.

    There are drawbacks to the Executive Assessment. First off, it costs a little bit more than the GRE and the GMAT. It can also be a challenging test if you don’t have the required knowledge, if you need a math refresher, or if you aren't familiar with the test structure. But the biggest drawback is that it is only accepted by a limited number of schools - so taking the Executive Assessment might not fulfill the standardized test score requirements for the school you are applying to.

    Business Schools That Accept the Executive Assessment

    The Executive Assessment was first administered in 2016. It is a relatively new exam, so it is not accepted by every business school. Right now, only a handful of top business schools are using it. However, the GMAC hopes to make the Executive Assessment the norm for EMBA admissions, so it is likely that more and more schools will begin to use the Executive Assessment as time goes by.

    Before making the decision to take the Executive Assessment instead of the GMAT or GRE, you should check the admissions requirements for your target EMBA program to see what types of test scores are accepted. Some of the schools that accept Executive Assessment scores from EMBA applicants include:

    • China European International Business School (CEIBS)
    • Columbia Business School
    • Darden School of Business
    • IESE Business School
    • INSEAD
    • London Business School
    • The University of Chicago Booth School of Business
    • The University of Hong Kong
    • UCLA Anderson