Many business school candidates want to know how much time they’ll need to prepare for the Executive Assessment (EA). This question is an essential but difficult one to answer. Students come from many different educational and professional backgrounds, with varying skill levels and EA score objectives. Additionally, students’ employment, family, and personal obligations affect how quickly they can learn the knowledge needed for a competitive EA score.
This article will discuss how long you may need to study based on your personal situation and current abilities.
Here are the topics we’ll cover:
- Some Inspiration
- Begin with the End in Mind
- Find Out How Good You Are at the EA Right Now
- Analyze Your Practice Test Results, But Don’t Over-Infer
- Get a Sense of How Other Students in Your Situation Have Studied
- Calculate How Much You Can Realistically Study Each Day
- It’s Critical to Study Wisely
- In Conclusion
- What’s Next?
To begin, I want to provide some motivational advice regarding your EA studying.
If you are planning to take the EA, you certainly are doing so for a specific, important reason, right? Whether you’re seeking admission to a full-time MBA program (for which many schools now accept the Executive Assessment) or an Executive MBA program, a high Executive Assessment test score, in many cases, can be the difference between getting into a program and not. So, once you decide to take the EA, you should devote the time and effort necessary to prepare adequately.
Additionally, why not start studying for the EA early enough in the application process that you won’t feel rushed and stressed? Every day, do a little EA prep. The small improvements you make in strategy and skills will add up over time. If you wait until the fall (or, even worse, the winter) to start studying, you risk missing business school application deadlines or having to apply with a less-than-desirable EA score. Why should either of those things happen?
Instead, why not aim for a high EA score early in the admissions process, giving yourself plenty of time to focus on your applications, which are also a crucial part of the process? It’s never fun writing essays and studying for the EA at the same time. Get the EA done as soon as possible, and you’ll have plenty of time to present the best version of yourself to admissions.
TTP PRO TIP:
Start your EA prep early, and you’ll avoid feeling stressed or rushed.
Now, let’s discuss how you’ll create a realistic study timeline for yourself.
Begin with the End in Mind
Before even beginning your EA studying, you need to ensure that you have a target score in mind. After all, your course of study will be very different for a score of 157 (90th percentile) and a score of 145 (25th percentile). Research the schools you’re considering. What are average and median EA test scores that these schools accept?
For example, the median EA score of accepted students at Wharton’s Executive MBA program is 157, while the average EA score at Darden’s EMBA program is 153. In some cases, especially for some business programs that have recently allowed the EA for traditional MBA applications, there are no published averages. In those cases, the best move would be to reach out to the folks in admissions to see whether they can provide some insight into what would be an acceptable EA score.
Also, it would make sense to inquire about whether schools have any preferences regarding the quant, verbal, and integrated reasoning section scores.
Keep in mind that the EA is generally considered to be a “readiness” assessment. That is, it measures your ability to handle the level of rigor that is expected in business school. Unlike the GMAT or the GRE, you are not pressed to score in the stratosphere. Rather, all you need is a score that shows admissions committees that you can handle the academic material in their programs. For most schools, a score of 150 is considered quite acceptable. You can learn more about what kind of score you may need in our article about what a good EA score is.
For most Executive MBA programs, an EA score of 150 is considered acceptable for admission.
Find Out How Good You Are at the EA Right Now
After you’ve determined your EA target score, you’ll need to establish your baseline score. Take an official, full-length EA practice exam to get your current EA score. The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), which develops the EA, sells four practice exams. To take your practice exam, go to a library or other quiet location, complete all of the EA test sections under correct timed conditions, and do not take any breaks, as you won’t have any on test day.
Before you take your practice test, familiarize yourself with the content and types of questions on the EA. You can also access a free official EA sampler from GMAC.
TTP PRO TIP:
Take a practice test to determine your baseline score.
Analyze Your Practice Test Results, But Don’t Over-Infer
Once your practice test is complete, you need to perform an analysis of your test data. What is your overall score? What were your integrated reasoning, verbal, and quantitative scores? Don’t be too concerned about the exact topics from your incorrect answers and don’t be overconfident about topics from your correct answers. Remember, you haven’t even started studying yet!
Just because you got, for example, one probability question right, you shouldn’t assume that you can skip the probability chapter in your studies. Similarly, missing a Venn diagram question does not necessarily indicate that you’re bad at overlapping set questions. To make broad conclusions about where to focus your study efforts, you’ll need more data. For the time being, keep your analysis simple. Simply ask, how did I do in general? Did I get similar scores in all three sections of the test? How was my timing on the exam?
TTP PRO TIP:
Analyze your practice test results, but don’t make specific inferences about your strong and weak areas.
Get a Sense of How Other Students in Your Situation Have Studied
Let’s start with the minimum that most competitive students aim for: a 150 EA score. Using data from the Target Test Prep EA course, we’ve seen that students shooting for an EA score of 150+ generally study for around 200 hours.
For an even higher score such as 155, which is at about the 85th percentile, students may study for anywhere from 300 to 400 hours. You may be thinking, 300 hours just for EA prep? It’s important to keep in mind that although the EA is not the GMAT, it’s still a very challenging exam. It tests you on pretty much anything you can be asked on the GMAT except for Geometry questions. So, do not fool yourself into thinking that because you are taking the EA, you can study for a few weeks and knock the test out.
With all this in mind, let’s discuss the nuts and bolts of determining your personal study schedule.
TTP PRO TIP:
You can expect to study for about 200+ hours for the EA.
Calculate How Much You Can Realistically Study Each Day
Every student learns in a unique way. Therefore, to set a realistic study schedule for yourself, it’s crucial to understand your own learning style. Many students learn more effectively when they spread out their studying. They work for an hour in the morning, an hour at lunch, and two hours in the evening, for example.
You’d be logging around four hours per day, or 28 hours per week, if you stuck to such a regimen. At that rate, you’d be able to study for 200 hours in about seven weeks. On the other hand, if you could study for only two hours a day on average, it would take you around 14 weeks to accumulate 200 hours of study time.
Keep in mind that it’s important not to cram to cut down on your study time. Make your studying count by doing a little bit every day. Remember that rushing through a study session will most likely be a waste of time because what you cover likely won’t stick. Instead, take your time when learning and practicing new concepts, so you can focus on achieving deep mastery.
TTP PRO TIP:
Plan your studying to suit your unique learning style.
It’s Critical to Study Wisely
A final but important aspect of planning your study timeline is that, while hard work is essential for success on the EA, you must work smart. If you default to a haphazard and unorganized study plan, regardless of the number of hours you study per week, you likely won’t improve your EA skills and you may have to delay taking your exam. So, let’s discuss the optimal way to study for the Executive Assessment.
Take a Topic-by-Topic Study Approach
We know that there is a ton you have to learn to succeed on the EA. In order to learn so much information, it’s most practical to study one topic at a time, and then move to the next topic once you’ve mastered the previous one.
Thus, the structure of your EA study plan should be to master one topic at a time, and then practice questions on only that topic before moving on to the next. Start with the fundamentals and work your way up to more advanced concepts using this strategy.
TTP PRO TIP:
Don’t try to learn advanced topics before mastering the fundamentals.
As an example, let’s take a quick look at TTP’s topical study plan.
The TTP Topical Study Plan
The study plan in the TTP EA Course begins with a chapter on Essential EA Quant Skills, including fraction and decimal rules, basics of exponents and roots, PEMDAS, etc. After reading this chapter, the student is presented with a number of chapter tests, which test the student on what was just taught in the Essential Skills chapter.
Each subsequent chapter in the TTP course follows a similar structure; chapter tests totaling 100+ questions on each chapter again serve as a checkpoint to ensure mastery.
Following each chapter test, students are presented with detailed metrics that allow them to easily see their strengths and weaknesses based on the data from each test, fill in knowledge gaps, and ensure that they fix any weak areas. Once they have practiced and reviewed all questions from a particular chapter, students move on to the next topic in the study plan.
TTP PRO TIP:
To make your EA prep more structured, efficient, and effective, take a topic-by-topic approach.
To learn more about the best way to study for the EA, feel free to check out our article that has tips about how to structure your EA prep.
Using the best available study materials is a great way to help you work smart. Remember that the tools you use to prepare can be valuable assets or significant liabilities. So, do your homework. Take a look at what other successful students have done. Nothing is more expensive than wasting time acquiring poor content, tactics, skills, and procedures. You need to start studying for the EA on the proper foot.
We have found that the Executive Assessment, for most test-takers, is a “readiness” exam and is therefore not an exam on which an extraordinarily high score is required. However, the material tested on the EA is similar to what is tested on the GMAT, so rigorous preparation is still required. Thus, to answer the common question, “How long do you need to prepare for the Executive Assessment?,” we find that about 200-400 study hours is recommended for most students.
With this information in hand, planning for the EA will be much easier.
You now have the information you need to realistically plan your EA study timeline. Learn more about the format, structure, and types of questions asked on the EA with our complete guide to the EA. There, you’ll find answers to questions such as “How difficult is the Executive Assessment?” and “What is a good score for Executive Assessment?”
Best of luck!