When it comes to pursuing an MBA degree, the road to success requires dedication, hard work, and plenty of study time. One of the first steps in achieving your MBA goals is choosing the right test to take and this is where confusion often arises. Which standardized test to choose? GMAT vs Executive Assessment?
Two of the most popular tests for business schools are the GMAT and the Executive Assessment (EA). Both tests are used to measure critical thinking and problem-solving skills in prospective MBA students, but they differ in structure, content, and purpose. Though both serve as a benchmark for business school admissions, they have some differences that make one more suitable than the other for different applicants. You may be wondering which of the two is right for you. In this blog, we’ll provide an overview of both tests and help you understand their differences so that you can make a more informed decision.
Why take a standardized test at all?
Taking a standardized test has multiple advantages for applicants. Firstly, preparing for the test can provide an excellent idea of what to anticipate in an MBA program which requires extensive studying and test-taking. Secondly, for those who have been out of school for some time, a standardized test provides the admissions committee with more current data to evaluate.
Standardized tests can serve as a second chance for those who feel they didn’t perform well during their undergraduate studies. By taking a test today, the admissions committee can get a better understanding of your current abilities. Since grades can vary between universities, a standardized test score also provides the admissions committee with a consistent way of evaluating applicants.
What is the GMAT?
The GMAT is an exam used to evaluate applicants for graduate-level business and management programs. It has been in use for over 60 years and is computer-adaptive and standardized. The test was created with the assistance of business schools and is administered by GMAC. MBA and other similar master’s programs around the world accept the GMAT as an assessment measure. Even though many MBA programs also accept the GRE, the GMAT is still the preferred exam for admission to business school and is taken by approximately 200,000 people each year.
What is the Executive Assessment?
The Executive Assessment (EA) is a recently introduced computer-administered standardized test that is required for admission to many top business schools’ Executive MBA programs. It was created and administered by GMAC, which consulted with business programs worldwide to develop the exam. The EA is similar to the GMAT
GMAT vs Executive Assessment: Which Test Should You Take?
To apply for a standard, full-time MBA program, you will most likely have to provide a GMAT or GRE score with your application. On the other hand, if you’re applying for an Executive MBA program, taking the Executive Assessment may be necessary.
The Executive Assessment test was initially created for individuals who applied to Executive MBA (EMBA) programs. Therefore, candidates with less work experience who are applying to full-time or part-time MBA programs are required to take the GMAT, while experienced professionals applying to EMBA and some other part-time, weekend, or evening MBA programs are required to take the Executive Assessment exam.
Not all Executive MBA programs mandate an Executive Assessment score as a prerequisite for admission. The entrance exam requirements differ among schools. The GMAC website contains information about schools and programs that accept the Executive Assessment test. However, it is advisable to verify the current admission requirements of the programs you are interested in, by visiting their respective websites. It is important not to assume that a program does not require Executive Assessment scores for admission just because it is not listed on GMAC’s website.
Please keep in mind that even though anyone can take the Executive Assessment, each business school has a minimum work experience requirement for their EMBA programs. Generally, EMBA programs require applicants to have 5 to 10 years of full-time work experience. However, the management-level experience requirements may vary depending on the program.
Make sure to research the individual program websites carefully, as each program may have its own specific requirements. If you need any further information or clarification, do not hesitate to contact the school admissions offices through email or phone.
GMAT structure and content
The GMAT test is a 3.5-hour exam that consists of four sections: Analytical Writing Assessment, Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Verbal Reasoning. The test is computer-adaptive, meaning that the difficulty of the questions is determined by your previous answers. The GMAT is designed to evaluate test-takers skills in math, grammar, and reading comprehension. It is suitable for all MBA programs and is commonly accepted by institutions worldwide.
EA structure and content
The Executive Assessment (EA) is a shorter exam than the GMAT and focuses more on assessing a candidate’s business knowledge and leadership experience rather than their quantitative reasoning and critical thinking skills. The EA includes three sections: Integrated Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning, and Quantitative Reasoning. The test is 90 minutes long and is designed to help admissions committees understand a candidate’s real-world problem-solving ability in a time-efficient manner.
GMAT and EA also differ in terms of availability. GMAT is offered year-round, allowing applicants to choose a test date that suits them best. EA, however, is offered in specific periods throughout the year, typically twice or thrice a year. So, if you are looking for an exam that gives you more flexibility in taking the test, then GMAT is the better option.
GMAT vs Executive Assessment: Differences
Both tests have a different purpose. The GMAT evaluates a candidate’s readiness for an MBA program, while the EA measures a prospective student’s ability to succeed in a business leadership position. The EA’s shorter length and focused content are better suited for professionals managing a busy work schedule, while the GMAT is more comprehensive and better suited for students without significant work experience.
The scoring scales for GMAT vs the Executive Assessment are different. The GMAT has a score range of 200–800, whereas the EA has a range of 0–200. The GMAT also includes an Analytical Writing Assessment score, which is not part of the EA. On the other hand, the GMAT has a score cancellation option, but this feature is not available in the EA.
The GMAT score is based on the Quantitative and Verbal sections only, whereas the EA score is calculated by giving equal weightage to Quantitative, Verbal, and Integrated Reasoning sections. Both scores remain valid for five years from the date of the test.
A Determinant Factor: Rankings
Business schools consider high GMAT scores to be indicative of a candidate’s potential for success in their MBA program and it also contributes to a school’s ranking reputation. On the other hand, the EA score is not considered in MBA program rankings and schools mainly look for a satisfactory EA score while evaluating the applicant’s overall profile.
The cost of registering for the EA is $350, which is higher than the $275 fee for the GMAT. This could be because the EA offers more flexible rescheduling and cancellation options.
You can take the EA up to four times in total — two times at a test center and two times online. It’s important to note that online attempts and test center attempts are considered separate attempts. If you take the test at a center, you can register for an in-person retake 24 hours after your first attempt. Also, you have the opportunity to retake the test multiple times.
To sum it up, the EA is a more concise and targeted test designed for managers who have busy schedules, whereas the GMAT is a thorough exam that caters to a broader group of test-takers. Although both tests evaluate skills essential for the business arena, the EA and GMAT differ in their arrangement, focus on content, and grading method.
Is the GMAT More Difficult Than the EA?
Even though the EA exam is shorter, do not believe that it is an easy test that requires minimal preparation because some online sites claim so. If you study more, you will perform better in the exam. Furthermore, you can only take the EA test four times, so it’s crucial to prepare well.
Which test is right for you?
Prospective MBA applicants should consider several factors when choosing between GMAT and Executive Assessment (EA) for admissions. This understanding can help individuals choose the appropriate test based on their specific goals and circumstances.
Degree Goals and Requirements
If you’re deciding between the GMAT vs the Executive Assessment, consider the MBA programs you’re interested in. Usually, Executive MBA applicants opt for the EA, while full-time MBA applicants prefer the GMAT. If you’re an experienced working professional aiming for an Executive MBA program, EA is likely the better choice for you.
What Kind of Test-Taker Are You?
It is important to consider your personal strengths, preferences, and test-taking skills when deciding between the GMAT and EA. Both tests have different formats and question types, with the GMAT covering a broader range including quantitative, verbal, analytical writing, and integrated reasoning, while the EA focuses more on integrated reasoning and verbal skills. If you want to perform your best, choose the test that aligns better with your strengths and preferences.
Choosing the right test can be a stressful and daunting task, but we hope that this article has provided you with the necessary information to make an informed decision. Although the GMAT and Executive Assessment may seem similar, each test has its own unique test structure, format, and difficulty level. Ultimately, consider your career goals when deciding which test to take and remember that whichever test you choose, putting in hard work and determination can lead to success. If you are seeking help with your MBA or EMBA application, feel free to check out our MBA application services, and don’t hesitate to tap into our experience in MBA admissions to optimize your chances of getting admitted to the programs of your dreams.
With a Master’s from McGill University and a Ph.D. from New York University, Dr. Philippe Barr is the founder of The Admit Lab. As a tenure-track professor, Dr. Barr spent a decade teaching and serving on several graduate admission committees at UNC-Chapel Hill before turning to full-time consulting. With more than seven years of experience as a graduate school admissions consultant, Dr. Barhas stewarded the candidate journey across multiple master’s and Ph.D. programs and helped hundreds of students get admitted to top-tier graduate programs all over the world.