Are you trying to figure out how to improve your Executive Assessment (EA) score? We’ve got you covered, whether you’re gearing up for your first EA or have taken the test multiple times but haven’t seen a score increase.
The good news is that achieving high Executive Assessment test scores is possible whatever your situation. This article will assist you in getting over the hump and achieving the EA scores you deserve. We’ll go through numerous possible reasons why your Executive Assessment score has remained stagnant and suggestions for increasing your score.
Here are the issues we’ll explore in this blog:
- Do I Have Any Skill Gaps?
- Am I Making Careless Mistakes?
- Do I Have Timing Issues?
- Am I Following a Topical and Linear Study Plan?
- Am I Using Inefficient Quant Strategies?
- Am I Using Inefficient Verbal Strategies?
- Do I Have Control of My Test Anxiety?
Let’s take a look at the 7 important questions that you can answer to determine how to improve your EA score.
#1: Do I Have Any Skill Gaps?
To improve your EA score, you will have to learn hundreds of concepts and formulas. However, on exam day, you have no way of knowing which concepts will be tested. Thus, knowing all of EA quant, verbal, and Integrated Reasoning (IR) is a must to put yourself in the best position to succeed.
Furthermore, I’m sure that, as you have practiced EA questions, you’ve noticed that a single quantitative, verbal, or IR question might test you on multiple concepts. In the case of IR, multiple quant and verbal topics can appear in a single question.
Thus, it should be clear that as you grasp more skills, the likelihood of getting tripped up on even one component of a problem diminishes. So, let’s discuss how to locate and fix your skill gaps.
Identifying quant skill gaps can be tricky, especially if you’re missing questions that require you to apply multiple concepts to arrive at the answer. So, to identify your weak quant areas, you may need to break down a question into linear steps.
For example, when answering a quant question about a worker who completes a job x hours faster than another worker, you may be required to complete the following steps.
- Recognize the type of “work” problem presented.
- Input rate, time, and work into the work matrix.
- Create a “total work” equation using just one variable.
- Eliminate fractions in the equation.
- Factor the quadratic equation.
What would happen if you were solid up to step 4, but you misused the rules of eliminating fractions? Or even worse, let’s say you got to step 5 but did not know how to factor the quadratic equation. Unfortunately, you’d get to the one-yard line but not score the touchdown, right?
So, if you got the question wrong, a big mistake would be to assume that you’re struggling with just Work questions. Before arriving at such a conclusion, you should analyze where you went wrong. By doing so, you could pinpoint that step 4 or step 5 within solving the Work problem was your issue. Then, you’d need to spend time reviewing fractions or quadratics.
TTP PRO TIP:
The fact that you miss a quant question of a particular type doesn’t necessarily mean you are weak in that topic. Your weakness may be in one the steps involved in answering the question.
Improving in EA Verbal also requires identifying specific areas of weakness. For example, a key aspect of Sentence Correction mastery is learning how various types of modifiers work. The use of modifiers has significant impacts on the meanings conveyed by and the effectiveness of sentences. So, understanding how modifiers of each type work is essential for assessing whether sentences convey meanings that make sense.
For example, let’s say that you saw the following sentence version in a Sentence Correction question:
In order for a nation to achieve solvency, it must reduce spending, addressing government corruption.
If you were not familiar with how participial phrase modifiers, such as “addressing government corruption,” work, you might decide that the sentence is correct. However, the truth is that the sentence suggests an illogical idea, which is that, by reducing spending, a nation addresses government corruption.
To avoid repeating the mistake of deciding that such a sentence is correct, you’d have to identify that the reason you made the mistake was that you didn’t realize that the use of the modifier is illogical. Once you identified the issue, you would know that you have a knowledge gap in the topic of modifiers that you must remedy. Then, by addressing that area of weakness, you would improve your Sentence Correction performance and increase your expected EA verbal score.
TTP PRO TIP:
To increase your EA verbal score, identify and address specific areas of weakness.
Maintain an Error Log
Maintaining an error log is an efficient way to detect your skill deficiencies and ensure that you methodically fix them.
Keeping a detailed error log requires recording the types of questions you get wrong and the causes of your errors. If you’re analyzing a quant question that you answered incorrectly, for example, you might ask yourself the following questions:
- Is it possible that I did not fully understand the topic on which the question is based?
- Was there a particular formula I needed to use but couldn’t recall?
- Did I mess up the execution of a particular math concept?
- Did I not understand the question?
You get closer to your EA goal score each time you identify a weakness or issue regarding how you attacked a question. So, each time you can spot a flaw in your thinking, you are getting yourself one step closer to your target score.
So, analyzing the results of practice exams or problem sets is important. To catch your mistakes, go over each question you answered incorrectly and determine where you went wrong.
Each time you can spot a flaw in your thinking, you are getting yourself one step closer to your target score.
Now, let’s discuss how to analyze the results of your practice tests.
Examine the Results of Your Practice Tests
It’s important to properly evaluate every question from a problem set or practice test in order to determine your strengths and weaknesses. Also, since there are only 12 IR, 14 quant, and 14 verbal questions on each practice exam, squeeze as much juice as you can from each test question.
When reviewing your tests, go beyond just checking to see which questions you missed. Be honest with yourself about how you arrived at your answers. For example, if you took a guess and got a question correct, ask yourself why you had to guess in the first place. Also, don’t assume that just because you get one question right from a particular topic, you have that topic 100-percent mastered.
Additionally, spend the necessary time to fill in any knowledge gaps between each practice test. Otherwise, you may not get the results you’re seeking or may see pretty significant test score variation when your guesses go your way on one test but don’t on another. If you find that you need up to a week to review your practice exam and do a thorough review of your weak areas, don’t be alarmed. Give yourself the time you need to improve.
TTP PRO TIP:
When analyzing your practice test results, look at each question as an opportunity to analyze your strengths and weaknesses.
Next, let’s discuss careless mistakes.
#2: Am I Making Careless Mistakes?
When a student asks, “How can I improve my Executive Assessment score?,” I immediately inquire about careless mistakes. Careless errors happen in various shapes and sizes, and they’re all costly.
You might, for example, forget to apply a fact in a data sufficiency question, such as “x is an integer.” You may make a calculation error, such as simplifying 14/34 to 7/16. You may miss that a sentence pairs a singular noun with a plural verb.
Your EA score will suffer if you commit any of these types of careless errors. So, reducing the number of careless errors you make can significantly improve your overall score.
TTP PRO TIP:
Reducing the number of careless errors you make when answering EA questions can improve your overall score significantly.
Careless Mistakes Are Unforgivable
Unlike other errors that result in wrong answers, careless errors are not usually the result of content issues. Rather, careless errors are more often the outcome of bad habits, such as:
- rushing through the questions
- relying on mental math
- sloppy handwriting
Careless errors can be crippling and infuriating, since they are avoidable and lead to many incorrect answers. So, if you have a habit of making careless errors, addressing that issue will almost surely lead to a higher EA score.
Careless errors can be crippling and infuriating, since they are avoidable and lead to many incorrect answers.
Careless Mistakes Are Completely Preventable
One of the most effective ways to reduce careless errors is to be aware of them. You can catch yourself making a careless mistake if you are conscious of what you are doing in the moment.
Let’s say one of your common quant issues is solving for the wrong variable. To fix that issue, glance at the question stem before inputting your final answer. When you’re asked to determine the cost of product Q, for example, be sure that you are not providing the answer for the cost of product P.
The bottom line is that making careless errors is quite common among test-takers, and addressing those errors will improve your EA score significantly. Your error log will help you identify the types of problems you’re getting wrong and the reasons why you’re getting them wrong. So, use your log to see which questions you answered incorrectly because of careless errors.
TTP PRO TIP:
Your error log is a valuable tool for identifying the types of careless errors that are preventing you from improving your score.
Slow Down When Answering Questions
You must be mindful and deliberate when answering EA questions. This approach requires many test-takers to do something they despise: slow down. Yes, the EA is a timed exam, but as you learn and practice new concepts, your primary focus should be on accuracy.
Concentrate solely on the question you are solving — nothing more. Then, slowly and deliberately, work your way through it. Doing so will help you make fewer careless errors and in turn dramatically increase your EA score.
TTP PRO TIP:
Working slowly and attentively lowers the number of careless errors you make, and thus should cause your EA score to increase.
#3: Do I Have Timing Issues?
The importance of timing in increasing your EA score cannot be overstated. Poor timing is a typical problem among EA students and can surely contribute to a student’s inability to raise his score.
Some students, for example, “overspend” on one or more questions, leaving little time for the others. We tend to overspend on a question when we get caught up in a question that we think we should get right, and we refuse to let it go.
In other instances, students will quickly get through a number of questions, leaving too much time at the end of a section. Sure, you can go back and double-check your answers, but in an ideal world, you’d spend enough time on each question that you wouldn’t need to go back.
The good news is that we can fix many of our timing issues by developing an internal clock.
Develop an Internal Clock
The idea of creating an internal clock is to get to a point at which you are able to tell how long you’ve been working on a question and how much time you have left to determine the answer.
Depending on the section, an EA question should be completed in about 2 to 2.5 minutes. For quant specifically, since you’re given 30 minutes to answer 14 questions, you want to shoot for about a 2-minute-and-15-second average per question. Thus, having an instinctive sense of what 2 minutes and 15 seconds feels like is quite useful. Practicing timed EA questions in the later stages of your EA preparation is one approach to building this intuition.
When you begin working on a question, set a timer. Look at the timer when you think 2 minutes and 15 seconds has passed to see how close you were to the actual time. Your goal is to develop a comfortable sense of what that amount of time feels like. The more you practice this exercise of “when 2 minutes and 15 seconds are up,” the more comfortable you will be with this important benchmark.
TTP PRO TIP:
Develop a sense of when 2 minutes and 15 seconds has passed to improve your quant timing.
Be Careful About Moving on from Questions Too Quickly
Just because you’ve hit the 2-minute-and-15-seconds mark on an EA quant question doesn’t mean you should guess and move immediately. Even if you are at the 2-minute mark, it may be a good idea to spend another 30 to 45 seconds on the question if you believe you are on the verge of getting the answer.
Furthermore, it’s not as if you must spend two minutes on each quantitative question. For example, if you’re 30 seconds into a challenging Number Properties problem and don’t know how to proceed, make an educated guess and move on!
The same can be said for verbal questions. For example, most EA Sentence Correction (SC) questions should take roughly 1.5 minutes to complete if you’re well-prepared. Is it true that after you reach the one-and-a-half-minute mark, you should automatically cease working on a SC question? Not in the least. In fact, some simple SC questions can take as little as 30 seconds to answer, while more difficult questions can take up to 2 minutes to complete.
TTP PRO TIP:
Knowing when to move on and when to spend a bit more time on a problem is a skill you must cultivate.
#4: Am I Following a Topical and Linear Study Plan?
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked “how do I increase my Executive Assessment score?” by EA students and discovered that these same students have not followed an organized or structured study plan.
Many of these students have thrown together an EA study plan consisting of a few books and a couple hundred practice questions. They hoped to conquer the EA quant, verbal, and IR sections by merely going through the solutions to the questions they answered. If this reminds you of your current study plan, you likely need to make some changes.
Remember that to do well on the EA, you must be knowledgeable about many topics. Without a well-structured study plan, it is hard to learn all that you need to. A linear, topic-by-topic approach to EA preparation is the most effective strategy to ensure that you properly comprehend each EA topic. You won’t waste time practicing questions before you’ve mastered the content on which those questions are based.
I recommend that your study strategy be structured around learning one topic at a time. Then, before moving on to the next topic in your study plan, practice questions from the topic just learned. Studying in this way will be a game-changer for you.
TTP PRO TIP:
Do not attempt to learn advanced topics before you have mastered the subject’s fundamentals.
#5: Am I Using Inefficient Quant Strategies?
It’s important to realize that most EA quant questions can be answered in various ways. However, in most cases, one technique is much faster than others. As a result, you must ensure that you not only possess the conceptual knowledge required to answer quantitative questions but also apply that knowledge in the most intelligent and effective manner possible.
Here is an example:
For y = (x + 4)(x – 3), solve for the value of y when x = 3.
There are two ways to solve this problem. The long way, which takes about a minute, and the short way, which takes about 3 seconds. Let’s look at each:
The long way: First, FOIL (x + 4)(x – 3), obtaining x^2 + x – 12. Then, substitute 3 for x into the result, getting 3^2 + 3 – 12, which equals 9 + 3 – 12 = 0. The final answer is 0.
The short way: Realize that FOILing is NOT necessary. Notice that (x – 3) = 0 when x = 3. Thus, (x + 4)(x – 3) = (x + 4)(0) = 0.
Either method is mathematically correct. One is inefficient, and one is efficient. Either method will lead to the correct answer, but the efficient method allows you to solve the question so quickly that you will gain a lot of extra time to devote to a later question.
If you didn’t see the short way of answering the question, don’t stress! You can develop the skill of choosing the efficient problem-solving strategy by doing lots of practice problems. The more questions you practice, the more you will recognize those situations in which you can apply an alternate (and efficient) strategy.
TTP PRO TIP:
Invest the time necessary to “train your brain” during your EA preparation, so that efficient approaches to handling EA quant questions become second nature to you.
#6: Am I Using Inefficient Verbal Strategies?
Just as there is usually one approach that is much faster than all others for handling an EA quant question, there are inefficient and efficient ways of answering EA verbal questions. Both types of approaches have the potential to lead to the right responses. However, only the most efficient tactics will help you boost your EA verbal score.
Let’s say you’re working on a Reading Comprehension passage, for example. Before moving to the first question, you decide to just read the first and final sentence of each paragraph. You believe that by employing this method, you will have more time to answer the questions. In fact, students who use this method frequently end up overspending time examining the passage for the information they need to answer the questions. Although it may seem contradictory, reading the material entirely the first time around is a more efficient technique.
Unfortunately, there are numerous inefficient EA verbal tactics that have become fairly popular among EA students. When it comes to timed tests, no matter how well-versed you are in the principles of sentence construction, the elements of arguments, or the patterns of passages, inefficient tactics won’t get you very far.
Don’t be scared to abandon verbal techniques that aren’t yielding the desired results. The sooner you learn to employ more efficient verbal tactics, the more time you’ll have to improve your verbal score!
TTP PRO TIP:
Don’t be scared to abandon verbal techniques that aren’t yielding the desired results.
#7: Do I Have Control of My Test Anxiety?
If you feel as though you’re already following the advice I’ve discussed in this blog, but you’re still not sure why your EA score is not improving, then anxiety may be a major issue for you.
What Is Test Anxiety?
Many students suffer from test anxiety, which can manifest as a racing heart, shallow breathing, and scattered thoughts. A high-stakes exam such as the EA can amplify this anxiety, making it harder to focus. After all, how well you do on the EA may significantly impact your career.
The truth is that even the most well-prepared test-takers will experience some test anxiety during the EA, and that is OK. Excessive anxiety, on the other hand, can produce disastrous results. So, you’ll be one step closer to your EA score goal if you can get a handle on your test anxiety. Let’s discuss how to control test anxiety.
Take Control of Your Test Anxiety
There are various ways to deal with test anxiety, including visualization, breathing exercises, and turning anxiety into excitement. If anxiety is keeping you from increasing your EA score, try some of these techniques. This article on controlling and eliminating test anxiety will give you some excellent advice on implementing such techniques.
In addition to those techniques, knowing EA quant, verbal, and IR like the back of your hand is a terrific method to reduce test anxiety. When you’re tested on a topic, the more familiar you are with it, the calmer you’ll be. So, it should not be a shock that a great way to eliminate test anxiety is to know the content inside and out.
If you’re already confident in your EA test-taking abilities, practice more! Prepare yourself until the content no longer gives you even the tiniest concern.
TTP PRO TIP:
The most underestimated approach for managing test anxiety is to know the material inside and out.
We’ve covered various topics up to this point that, if addressed appropriately, can have a significant impact on your EA score. However, you might be wondering, “How much can I actually improve my score?”
How Much Can You Improve Your EA Score?
I don’t think a day has gone by when I have not heard from a student asking, “Can I improve my EA score by 5 points?,” or 10 points, or any other number. The good news is that regardless of your starting point, there really is no limit to how much you can improve your EA score. My philosophy is, as long as you follow a structured study plan and a realistic timeline, any score improvement is possible.
That said, a massive EA score improvement is not something that happens overnight. But, if you work your butt off and give yourself enough time, then great things can happen. We here at TTP have seen EA students improve their scores from the 20th to the 85th percentile, and this is proof positive that huge score increases can happen if you have the grit and the time to do it.
These Executive Assessment tips should give you a lot of food for thought. Whether you’re seeking a dramatic score improvement on the Executive Assessment or a modest one, it’s critical that you ask yourself these questions:
- Do I have any skill gaps?
- Am I making careless mistakes?
- Do I have timing issues?
- Am I Following a Topical and Linear Study Plan?
- Am I using inefficient quant strategies?
- Am I using inefficient verbal strategies?
- Do I have control of my test anxiety?
If you use these questions to assess your EA study strategy and address your weak areas, there is no reason why you can’t improve your EA performance to earn the score you want.
If you are wondering what score to target on the EA, check out our article about what is a good executive assessment score.