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Most Executive MBA (EMBA) applicants understand that the Executive Assessment (EA) is not so much scoredriven (like the GMAT) as it is readinessdriven. This means that the instrument is used to determine an applicant’s readiness, or ability, to handle the rigors of an EMBA program. These programs generally specify a minimum EA score — often in the 50th percentile — as an acceptable score. Applicants who score at or above the minimum are considered to have “checked the EA box.” Admissions committees then evaluate other aspects of the applicant’s admissions package to make a final decision.
So, even though you don’t need to score in the stratosphere on the EA, you still need to perform well enough to show that you possess the knowledge and skills that seasoned business professionals use regularly in their jobs. However, the EA tests you on traditional academic topics such as math, grammar, and reading comprehension. If you’re like most EMBA applicants, it has been at least 10 years since college, and so some of your math skills might have become rusty. In this article, we’ll focus on solid study strategies and tips for performing well in the EA Quantitative Reasoning section. If you first want an overview of the EA, read our complete EA guide before proceeding here.
Here are the topics we’ll cover:
 Tip 1: Don’t Treat the EA Quant Section as Just a Math Test
 Tip 2: Learn to Use New Approaches to Solving Math Questions
 Tip 3: Understand the 3 Levels of EA Quant Proficiency
 Tip 4: Set a Reasonable Timeframe
 Tip 5: Schedule Your EA When You’re Ready
 Tip 6: Use One Resource for Your EA Prep
 Tip 7: Take a Topical Approach to Studying EA Quant
 Tip 8: Build a Strong Quant Foundation
 Tip 9: Review EA Math Material Periodically
 Tip 10: Learn to Identify Key Aspects of EA Quant Questions
 Tip 11: Look for the Simplest Way to Solve Quant Questions
 Tip 12: Be Prepared for Question Variation
 Tip 13: Know How to Translate from Words to Math
 Tip 14: Focus on Eliminating Your Weaknesses
 Tip 15: Make No Careless Mistakes
 Tip 16: Be Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable
 Tip 17: Work With the Tools You’ll Have on Test Day
 Tip 18: At Some Point, You Must Focus on Getting Faster
 Tip 19: Understand How EA Quant Is Scored
 Key Takeaways
 What’s Next?
Let’s begin by noting that EA Quant is not just a math test.
Tip 1: Don’t Treat the EA Quant Section as Just a Math Test
The first step to earning a good EA Quant score is fairly straightforward. You must realize that EA Quant often requires skills beyond those that you learned in high school or college. EA Quant is not just a math test; it is also a reasoning exercise. Yes, you need to know an array of basic math concepts. You’ll need familiarity with exponents, number properties, linear and quadratic equations, and statistics, to name just a few. To perform well, however, you need to far surpass basic competency in using these concepts.
KEY FACT:
EA Quant tests you on traditional math topics, but in a different way than you encountered in high school or college.
You Must Have Strong Analytical Reasoning Skills
So, if EA tests you differently in Quant than you were tested in high school or college, is it important to learn math for the EA? Of course it is! You can’t get a solid Quant score without knowing the material. However, just knowing math is not enough.
The EA testmakers craft logicbased questions using basic math concepts. So, to get that good Quant score, you’ll need to have both solid math knowledge and superior analytical reasoning skills.
TTP PRO TIP:
EA Quant incorporates both basic math knowledge and analytical reasoning skills in crafting math questions.
Let’s discuss how EA Quant questions differ from what you’ve seen in traditional math classes.
Tip 2: Learn to Use New Approaches to Solving Math Questions
Math classes are difficult because they test you on tough mathematical concepts. However, the EA is tough because of the level of thinking that is required to solve problems. The EA doesn’t allow a calculator on the Quant section because a calculator is not necessary. In general, you are being tested on the reasoning behind the concepts, not on your ability to calculate answers.
Both accuracy and speed come into play on EA Quant. You are given 30 minutes to answer 14 questions, so you must average about 2 minutes per question. If you can correctly answer a question in 4 minutes, you will need to work on your timing before attempting the EA. Efficiency in answering Quantitative questions is a must.
KEY FACT:
EA Quant requires both mastering the underlying math concepts and understanding the logic of questions.
Adopt a TestMaker Mindset
The fact that EA math concepts are relatively simple does not mean that EA math questions are simple.
Most EA Quant questions have a unique spin, which has been specifically designed by the testmaker. So, when you’re answering EA Quant questions, you must adopt the mindset of the testmaker. You must get used to what makes EA questions unique. You must learn to identify the spin that makes EA Quant questions trickier than they initially seem. For example, try the following EA Quant question.
Example: The EA Spin
The price of a particular stock has fallen by 60%. By what percent must the price of the stock increase to return to the original price?
 40%
 60%
 150%
 200%
 250%
Solution:
If you picked (B), you fell for a trap answer choice that only looks logical. Presenting an answer choice reflecting a common logical mistake adds an EA flair to this question. For this question, an EA student might select choice (B) after concluding that, if a price decreases by 60% and then increases by 60%, it will return to its original value. However, this logic is specious.
A simple way to understand and solve this problem is to choose a convenient number for the original stock price. When percents are involved, choosing $100 as the original price makes the calculations easy. After the 60% decrease, the stock’s value becomes $40. To determine the percent increase to get back to $100, we can use the percent change formula, with $40 as the old value and $100 as the new value:
(new – old)/old * 100 =
(100 – 40)/40 * 100 =
60/40 * 100 =
1.5 * 100 = 150%
Answer: C
TTP PRO TIP:
Adopt a testmaker mindset and understand the EA spin in each Quant question.
Let’s now explore the 3 levels of EA Quant proficiency that most students experience.
Tip 3: Understand the 3 Levels of EA Quant Proficiency
When you are studying, you go through 3 levels of proficiency for each Quant topic. To achieve a solid EA Quant score, you’ll need to reach Level 3 for each topic.
Proficiency Level 1: Knowledge
At Level 1, you can answer many Quant questions from a given topic, and you understand the basic logic used. However, you will not get them consistently right, and you are slow to answer some of them. You have solid knowledge, but you need to improve your skills. This level of proficiency is a good start.
Proficiency Level 2: Knowledge and Skill
At Level 2, your proficiency is better. You correctly answer questions, but you still struggle with timing. In general, you have the knowledge and skill to get correct answers. With more practice, you’ll be able to answer all questions in 2 minutes or less, and you’ll have mastered the current topic.
Proficiency Level 3: Knowledge, Skill, and Speed
At Level 3, you are proficient, answering nearly all questions correctly and answering them in 2 minutes or less. You’re familiar with all of the ways a given concept can be tested. Knowledge, skill, and speed are all at the level they need to be. At this proficiency level for a particular Quant topic, you are testready. Move on to the next topic, rinse, and repeat.
How to Attain Level 3
To attain the third level of proficiency, you must allow adequate time for slow, focused practice. When you begin answering questions, rushing through them makes it nearly impossible to reach Level 3. So, when you practice, do the questions untimed.
It’s okay to track how much time you are taking, but don’t attach much importance to it. Instead, you need to put your attention on getting correct answers by learning the material and mastering using higherlevel thinking, rather than answering questions in 2 minutes.
You can gradually focus your attention on increasing your speed. At first, don’t even set a timer. Then, in month 2, try to answer Quant questions in less than 3 minutes. In month 3, work for a solution time of under 2:45. Finally, in month 4, go for a time as far under 2:00 as possible.
TTP PRO TIP:
If you know the material well and develop strong skills, then speed will follow.
Let’s now discuss how important it is to have a realistic timeframe when you’re looking to improve your EA score.
Tip 4: Set a Reasonable Timeframe
It’s important to be realistic about how long it will take to prepare for the EA adequately. With unrealistic expectations, you may find yourself illprepared on test day. The EA is a tough test, and the longer it has been since you studied the EA math topics, the more time you will need to master the material and earn a solid score.
A key recommendation is to not give up, even if the process takes longer than expected. After all, It’s been a while since you studied math. Additionally, the unique aspects of the EA and, particularly, the contents of the Quant section, are new to you. So, it will be difficult to perfectly estimate how much time you’ll need to prepare yourself.
It’s easy to underestimate the time commitment required to feel comfortable with EA Quant. Work hard. Persevere. Don’t give up. And don’t expect big gains overnight. Stay the course. You can make it happen!
TTP PRO TIP:
Don’t give up, even if your prep takes longer than you expected.
Now, if your timetable is longer than expected, how do you know when to schedule your test date? Let’s look at a couple of EA scheduling options.
Tip 5: Schedule Your EA When You’re Ready
To maximize your EA score, consider using a “readinessbased” strategy for scheduling your test date rather than a “timebased” one.
A timebased strategy is used when you set your test date in advance. For example, on April 15th, you schedule your EA for August 1st. The issue with this timebased scheduling is that you may not be ready on August 1st. Then what?
With a readinessbased strategy, you wait until you feel ready before scheduling your EA. That said, consider application deadlines and other factors — workload, family, and other commitments — that will affect your preparation. Thus, if your applications are due in September, ensure that your prep start date of April 15th is early enough.
How can you tell whether you’re ready to take the EA? You can purchase 4 official practice tests from GMAC to gauge your readiness. As you approach the end of your EA preparation, begin taking the practice tests. Once your scores indicate that you’re at or above your target EA score, you can schedule your test.
TTP PRO TIP:
To ensure you’re ready to take the EA, consider using a “readinessbased” strategy instead of a “timebased” one.
Next, let’s examine the importance of using just one study resource when preparing for the EA.
Tip 6: Use One Resource for Your EA Prep
Students often make the mistake of using multiple EA prep resources. Although Quant content is predictable, there are differences in the way different courses teach it. Additionally, there is variability in the material covered from course to course.
You don’t need the added confusion and workload of attempting to combine multiple approaches to learning EA Quant. Instead, you want to find a single resource that provides all you need to know for EA Quant. Once you find a course that you like, stick with it!
If the materials you’re currently using aren’t doing the job, change them! You don’t have to suffer with a course that is not helping you. Find one that will! Try a few free or lowcost trials of a few online courses that interest you, and choose the one that feels right for you. Just be sure not to jump from course to course. Invest your time wisely.
TTP PRO TIP:
Find one compatible and comprehensive EA prep course and stick with it.
Let’s talk a bit more about the key prep strategy of topical study.
Tip 7: Take a Topical Approach to Studying EA Quant
A topical approach to studying EA Quant ensures that you attend to only one topic at a time, keeping you focused and allowing you to develop expertise about each topic. This helps you develop the needed confidence to answer questions quickly and correctly.
Work Through EA Quant Topics One at a Time
By working through Quant topics one at a time, you have an efficient strategy for mastering each. You learn skills and approaches that allow you to answer questions correctly by encountering questions that are asked in a variety of ways. Additionally, you become familiar with the pitfalls that commonly occur in approaching and answering those questions. You might make the same type of mistake twice, but you probably won’t make it 5 times, right?
TTP PRO TIP:
Topical learning is an effective strategy for mastering the EA Quant material and avoiding common pitfalls.
Answer Questions Until You Become an Expert
Remember, topical studying allows you to learn just one topic at a time. After you study the material and start answering practice questions, you want to focus on questions only about that particular topic. In other words, you want to stay with that topic until you become an expert. For example, if you have just finished Percents, spend as much time as needed answering percent increase, percent decrease, “percent of,” “what percent,” and every other conceivable percent question. Your goal is to become so skilled at Percent questions that you can’t get them wrong.
TTP PRO TIP:
Study each EA Quant topic until you become an expert.
Develop Deep Confidence in Your Ability
When people don’t spend sufficient time to master a topic, they have difficulty with questions that look and feel different from those they practiced. In other words, they have trouble when they have to answer questions that test familiar concepts in unfamiliar ways.
TTP PRO TIP:
To ensure mastery of a topic, answer a wide variety of practice questions.
For example, consider the difference of squares. You will recognize it as: x^{2 }– y^{2} = (x + y)(x – y).
An easy illustration of this is reexpressing x^2 – 25 as (x + 5)(x – 5). But how about this one?
x^100 – y^50?
If you haven’t practiced enough questions about the difference of squares, this second example might make you scratch your head, even when you are told the technique to use to solve it. However, if you have practiced with a sufficient number of difference of squares questions, you will have no trouble simplifying it.
To illustrate, try these EA/GMAT Quant practice questions on the difference of squares.
Remember, when you’re answering practice questions, you don’t stop when you get questions right. Your goal is to keep practicing until you can’t get questions wrong.
Keep practicing until you can’t get questions wrong.
Now, let’s talk about the importance of mastering the basics.
Tip 8: Build a Strong Quant Foundation
A common mistake that many students make is to skip the basics and concentrate on medium and hardlevel EA Quant questions. Neglecting the basics is not a sound strategy! Thus, it’s critical to take a linear, systematic approach to all Quant topics. This will allow you to get a strong command of all EA Quant material.
Knowing the basics, such as fractions, exponents, and percents, will establish a strong base on which essentially all other concepts rest. For example, if you skip the review of fractions, you’ll probably encounter issues when you’re solving probability problems. If you are rusty with exponents, you’ll have difficulty solving algebra equations. Answering tough questions correctly often requires you to use the basics quickly and accurately.
Another reason for mastering the basics is because of the structure of the EA. Recall that the exam is sectionadaptive. This means that the difficulty level of the second Quant module is dependent on how well you did on the first module. Thus, if you miss easy or mediumlevel questions in the first module, you’ll not be presented with the scoreenhancing more difficult questions in the second module. Thus, your mastery of the basics can make or break your score on the EA Quant section.
TTP PRO TIP:
A solid Quant foundation starts with the basics.
Having a Strong Foundation Increases Your Speed
If you were given 5 hours instead of 30 minutes to answer the 14 Quant questions on the EA, it is highly likely that you could get most, if not every question right. You would have an average of 20 minutes to answer each question, so time would not be an issue. This would allow you to use every possible technique, including counting on your fingers, to get the answer!
Of course, you don’t have that luxury during the exam. Second only to accuracy, speed is your biggest challenge. Thus, you must be as fast as possible, and the best way to get fast is to practice. You can’t waste precious seconds on the exam trying to recall the square root of 121 or trying to remember whether you need a common denominator when you’re multiplying two fractions. These basics should be second nature to you by the end of your EA preparation.
The bottom line is this: Don’t skip the basics. While they may be easy for you, their mastery does two important things. First, you have the foundational knowledge for answering more difficult problems. Second, because you’re fast at the basics, you have more time to delve into the hard part of a question, thus increasing the probability of answering it correctly.
KEY FACT:
Mastering the basics increases both your accuracy and your speed.
Next, let’s discuss incorporating regular review into your EA Quant prep.
Tip 9: Review EA Math Material Periodically
EA Quant requires a lot of learning. While you’re studying, you’ll likely learn many new concepts, strategies, and techniques. If you don’t regularly review the material, you’ll likely forget some of it. Review is necessary, and there are many ways to review efficiently.
Let’s discuss two great ways to review what you have learned.
Take Notes
As you study, take notes. Not only will you have something to review later, but you’ll also be a more active learner when you take notes.
Additionally, your retention will increase. Expressing a concept in your own words will make you think more about its meaning.
How many times have you looked up from reading a couple of pages from a textbook and said to yourself, “I have no memory of a single thing I just read.” We’ve all been victims of mindless reading. Taking notes while you’re reading will help you avoid this wasteful activity.
TTP PRO TIP:
Taking notes as you study will aid in efficiency and retention.
Use Flashcards
One of the most successful techniques for mastering Quant is using EA flashcards. They will help you learn concepts, memorize formulas, and review tough problems.
Flashcards can be used anytime, anywhere. If you have a 10minute cab ride, run through your flashcards. If you’re waiting for a medical appointment, pull out your flashcards.
Whether you choose paper flashcards or digital ones, just be sure to flip through your flashcards often. Shuffle the deck on occasion. By reordering the cards, you’ll have to work a bit harder, but your retention will increase dramatically.
A key point is that flashcards have a multitude of uses. You’ve probably used them in the past to memorize formulas but feel free to use them for other purposes. For example, you could write down the concept: “Multiplying a decimal number by a negative power of 10 moves the decimal point to the left.” Or you could write an example of a problematic question and all the steps used to solve it. The uses are endless, and the benefits are huge.
TTP PRO TIP:
Flashcards are one of the best study tools you can use.
Next, let’s discuss the importance of noticing the key aspects of Quant questions.
Tip 10: Learn to Identify Key Aspects of EA Quant Questions
In an earlier example in this article, we had to recall that decreasing a price by 60% results in a different absolute change than increasing the new, smaller number by the same 60%. Getting the correct answer required us to notice a key aspect of the information presented.
Let’s look at another quick example of recognizing a key aspect of a question.
Example: Identifying Key Aspects of a Problem
If x/8 = m and m is a positive integer, what can we say about the value of mx?
 It must be 0
 It must be even
 It must be odd
 It can be either even or odd
 It can be a fraction
Solution:
The first key aspect of this question is to recall that a positive integer is the same thing as a whole number. So we know that m is a whole number, and it can be either even or odd. The second key aspect of this question is to realize that if we divide x by 8 and we get a positive integer as a result, then we know that x MUST be a multiple of 8. That is, x must be 8, 16, 24, 32, … Note, then, that x must be an even number.
Now, when we multiply m by x, we are multiplying m (which can be even or odd) by the even number x. The third key aspect of the question is that even x even = even and even x odd = even. Thus, the product mx must be even.
Answer: B
It is unlikely that you would encounter this type of problem in an algebra class. However, it is a common type of EA question: you must use multiple concepts to get the correct answer. Additionally, you have to “see” each of the key aspects of the problem to progress to the solution. It’s important to learn to identify the “EA flair” when you are answering practice questions.
TTP PRO TIP:
Look for the key aspect(s) of Quant questions; this will help you solve them quickly and accurately.
Let’s now discuss the idea that most EA Quant questions have rather simple solutions.
Tip 11: Look for the Simplest Way to Solve Quant Questions
Often, students look for elaborate solutions to EA Quant questions. However, it is often a waste of time and energy because most Quant questions have rather simple solutions.
As we discussed earlier, EA Quant questions typically contain 1 or 2 key aspects that allow you to solve them efficiently. But to do this, you must identify those concepts. When you do, the questions become much easier — far easier than you expected. In fact, many seemingly complex questions that might require 3+ minutes to solve can be answered in under a minute. To solve quickly, though, you must be able to identify the key “twist” of the question.
Let’s consider 2 messylooking problems that can be answered in mere seconds after we identify the “simple” concept that is actually being tested.
Example: Units Digits Patterns
What is the value of 6^8?
 990,317
 1,228,111
 1,679,616
 2,084,548
 2,111,222
Solution:
If you have studied units digits patterns, this is a slam dunk. You need about 5 seconds to choose answer choice (C). If you haven’t studied units digits patterns, you will have to do a LOT of arithmetic! You might still get the correct answer, but it will take you well over the 2minute average.
Here’s the fact: Any power of a number ending in the digit 6 will also have a 6 in its units (or ones) position. For example, 6^2 = 36, 6^3 = 216, and 6^5 = 7,776. Thus, 6^8 will have an answer that has a 6 in its units place. The only answer choice with a 6 as its units digit is 1,679,616, and thus choice C is correct.
Answer: C
Let’s see if you can identify the quick way to make this next one an easy problem.
Example: Easy or Hard? Your Choice!
23^2 + 24^2 + 25^2 =
 1343
 1459
 1572
 1614
 1730
Solution:
You could dutifully square each of the three numbers and add the result, getting 529 + 576 + 625 = 1730. This solution would waste about 90 seconds of your valuable time. (But do note that you would get the correct answer, assuming you made no arithmetic mistakes.)
The quick way is to look at the answer choices first, noticing that none of them have the same units digit in the answer. Thus, you can calculate in your head that the units digit of 23^2 is 9, the units digit of 24^2 is 6, and the units digit of 25^2 is 5. So you add 9 + 6 + 5 to get a units digit of 0. Thus, choice E is the only possible answer. Note that you can do this arithmetic in your head, and it will take less than 10 seconds.
Answer: E
Even when you are scoring well and, as a result, you are seeing challenging questions, many of them can be solved by using simple methods. That is, the solutions of many EA Quant questions are simple. Seeing simplicity in the question is your goal.
Seeing simplicity in the question is your goal.
Now, let’s discuss the importance of answering a wide variety of practice questions.
Tip 12: Be Prepared for Question Variation
When you take a traditional math test, there is generally very little variability in the way concepts are tested. In EA Quant, however, there are many potential variations in the way questions are asked, even those testing the simplest concepts.
Thus, one mistake that students make when studying for EA Quant is that they don’t practice with enough questions in each topic. For most people, topical study is the most effective way to increase their scores. True mastery of each EA topic requires practicing with many questions, to ensure that you become familiar with the many ways in which concepts can be tested.
TTP PRO TIP:
Practice answering many questions in each EA Quant category, to ensure that you encounter all variations in how concepts are tested.
Next, let’s discuss the importance of developing your translation skills.
Tip 13: Know How to Translate from Words to Math
“Algebraic translation” is the phrase used for translating from words to equations. Does a problem that begins with “Charlie is three times as old as Jane …” make you quiver with fear? Then you are definitely a candidate for spending time on algebraic translation.
Often, students studying for the EA experience issues with word problems, including age problems, distance problems, interest problems, mixture problems, and the like. The common theme with all of these problem types is that you need strong algebraic translation skills. If you can’t perform the translation correctly, then, no matter how good you are at solving algebra questions, you still will not be able to get the correct answer.
By mastering algebraic translation, you’ll improve your performance on many EA Quant topics. Don’t neglect to master this skill. Do whatever you must do to master turning words into mathematical expressions, and then use those expressions to solve equations or answer questions.
TTP PRO TIP:
If you can quickly translate from words to math, you will improve your performance on many EA math topics.
Next, let’s discuss the importance of working on your weaknesses.
Tip 14: Focus on Eliminating Your Weaknesses
It’s pretty much human nature to avoid working on things that are difficult or stressful. EA Quant is no exception. It’s sometimes a chore to jump in headfirst to work on tough math topics. However, these challenging question types represent powerful opportunities for improvement.
Here’s a quick task: Mentally identify the 5 math topics you do NOT want to see on test day. Do it. Now.
Congratulations. You have just identified exactly the items that you should spend the most time on. In fact, you should spend so much time studying these items that, after you’re done, you will look forward to seeing them on test day!
You have heard the saying that your greatest weakness can become your greatest strength. In EA Quant, it’s doubly true. Not only will you want to see these formerly pesky questions, you’ll also know on test day there is nothing they can throw at you that you can’t handle. What a nice sense of power and control! Additionally, an extra benefit will be that you won’t be tripped up by those questions, so you’ll be faster and more accurate at them. This will, in turn, free you up to spend more time and energy on all the Quant questions you encounter.
TTP PRO TIP:
Mastering the topics that you most fear will help you to improve your Quant score as well as give your confidence a huge boost.
Let’s now discuss the most destructive thing you can do in the EA Quant section.
Tip 15: Make No Careless Mistakes
Careless errors will erode your Quant score, so you must avoid them at all costs. The obvious effect of careless errors is that they result in incorrect answers. There is, however, an even more insidious effect.
Careless Errors Suck Up Precious Time
Sometimes, you might catch a careless error before it costs you an entire question. If your answer is not one of the answer choices, or if something just doesn’t feel right, you may be able to save yourself. Even so, you then have to waste precious time and energy to salvage the question. Additionally, even if you end up getting the question correct, you may have sacrificed so much time that you will be in a rush to finish the rest of the section, putting other questions at risk.
To add insult to injury, you might not even have the time to fix a careless error. Thus, you will be forced to guess and move on to the next question.
KEY FACT:
Even if you detect a careless mistake, the time you use correcting it could cost you on future questions.
Work Slowly and Carefully
When you are studying, always work slowly and carefully. You will be developing a good habit, which will, over time, become ingrained in you. And you’ll become more efficient at being diligent. Of course, on test day, you have to work relatively quickly to complete the section on time. However, there is a difference between working efficiently and rushing through calculations.
TTP PRO TIP:
Develop a habit of working slowly and carefully.
Know What Your Common Errors Are
Another way to reduce careless errors is to become aware of the errors you are prone to making. Do you do too many calculations in your head? Are you rusty with your multiplication facts? Do you answer for John’s age when the question asked for Sally’s? Do you get so excited about knowing how to answer a question that you blow the calculations? It’s critical to know the errors you tend to make. You must learn to catch yourself before you make them.
TTP PRO TIP:
Be aware of the errors you commonly make and learn to avoid making them.
Know the Difference Between Careless Errors and Conceptual Errors
When you miss a question, analyze why you missed it. Make sure that you don’t misidentify an error as careless when, in fact, it was a conceptual error. For example, it’s easy to read an explanation and think, “Of course. I should have divided instead of multiplying.”
Ask yourself why you made the mistake. You might discover that you need to do a bit more studying to truly understand the correct procedure.
TTP PRO TIP:
Be sure you don’t misidentify a conceptual error as a careless error.
Next, let’s discuss the importance of embracing discomfort in your EA prep.
Tip 16: Be Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable
When the going gets tough, some give up. Don’t let this be you! Granted, when you’re feeling stressed, challenged, and miserable, it’s sometimes easy to choose the easy path. No one likes feeling uncomfortable. But, to do well on EA Quant, you must accept, and even embrace, discomfort. We’ve already talked about how forcing yourself to master your 5 least favorite math topics will give you a feeling of power and control. We know that hardship can be a tool for growth.
To do well on EA Quant, you must accept, and even embrace, discomfort.
Persevere When You Practice
Even when you are “just” doing practice problems, give every question an honest effort. Before you give up and look at the answer, make yourself agonize a bit over the question. Give it your best effort. Successful students don’t let themselves give up on problems during practice.
When you’re studying, you must learn to push through EA Quant questions, even when it’s frustrating. Even when your brain hurts, and you feel frustrated, and you’d rather be doing anything else, persevere. Remember, your EA Quant prep lasts just a few months, but it’s an investment that will pay big dividends.
Let’s now look at the tools you will and won’t have on test day..
Tip 17: Work With the Tools You’ll Have on Test Day
You wouldn’t prepare for a football game with a soccer ball. Similarly, you shouldn’t study for EA Quant with tools you can’t use on test day.
Don’t Use a Calculator When You Study
Don’t use a calculator when you are studying. You’re not allowed to use one for the math section of the EA, so why would you study with one? However, many students stubbornly use a calculator during their study sessions. Their excuse? They say they don’t feel like doing all that math by hand.
Well, guess what? On test day, you’ll be doing all that math by hand, so get used to it!
You Don’t Need a Calculator
There is another, more important reason not to depend on your calculator while you’re studying. We‘ve already stated that the EA almost never requires messy calculations. We earlier presented some problems illustrating that there is generally a hard way and an easy way to approach a problem and obtain its solution.
If you use your calculator when you study, you’ll use it to trudge through those tough problems. You’ll never learn to recognize the questions that have a more elegant and easier solution. Then, on test day, with no calculator as a crutch, you’ll have to slog through those problems, wasting time and doing all that unnecessary math by hand.
TTP PRO TIP:
You aren’t allowed to use a calculator in EA Quant, so don’t use a calculator when you are studying.
Start Using the Notepad/Whiteboard as Soon as You Can
The second study consideration for EA Quant is that you are not allowed to use traditional paper and pencil as scratch paper during the exam. Instead, if you take the exam at a test center, you will be provided a weterase pen and a spiralbound notebook with laminated pages. Alternatively, if you take the EA Online, you will be able to use a dryerase pen and an erasable whiteboard. Several online retailers sell these items, and we strongly recommend that you buy the type you plan to use on test day.
You’ve probably never studied math or taken a math test without using scratch paper. So, these replacement materials will be a bit unwieldy to use at first. You should get comfortable using them early in your EA Quant study so that their use on test day won’t be a distraction. GMAC, the makers of the EA, recommend this video that illustrates what the test centerprovided notebook and pen look like.
TTP PRO TIP:
During your EA prep, use the marker and surface that you’ll be using on test day.
Now, let’s discuss the importance of improving your speed at solving EA Quant questions.
Tip 18: At Some Point, You Must Focus on Getting Faster
We’ve already discussed the importance of working slowly and carefully when you’re studying EA Quant. However, as you progress, you must begin to attend to the amount of time you take to solve Quant questions.
At the beginning of your Quant studying, you should not time yourself. But don’t make the mistake of never timing yourself! You need to know whether you can solve a problem in a reasonable time — about 2 minutes. Of course, you know the importance of getting questions correct — that’s a great start. But getting questions correct is not enough. You’ve got to get them correct in 2 minutes or less, on average.
So, as you progress in your prep, start timing yourself when you’re answering practice questions. At first, establish some baseline times, but over time, you want to hold yourself to more stringent time limits. Fortunately, much of your faster time will come naturally because of your increased knowledge of the material. If all goes well, you’ll be solving questions at the target time of 2 minutes by test day.
TTP PRO TIP:
Push yourself to get faster at solving Quant questions over time.
Let’s discuss EA scoring now.
Tip 19: Understand How EA Quant Is Scored
The Executive Assessment is an adaptive test: the difficulty changes based on your previous performance. Let’s see how the adaptive nature of the Quant section works. For more information, you can read our detailed article on Executive Assessment Scoring.
The Adaptivity of the EA
First, you know that the EA Quant section consists of 14 questions, and you have 30 minutes to answer them. What you might not know is that there are actually 2 separate panels (modules) that comprise the Quant section, and each panel contains 7 questions. Your performance on the first panel will determine the difficulty level of the second panel’s questions. In fact, a good performance on the first panel will result in you being presented with more difficult (and scoreenhancing) questions on the second one. Thus, you want your score on the first panel to be a good one!
At the end of a panel, before you move to the next one, you may return to any question in that panel and review the question or change an answer. After you move to the second panel, you cannot go back to the previous panel. This ability to review or change an answer is a mixed blessing. Here’s the deal: you get a total of 30 minutes to complete both panels. So, if you review a question or change an answer in the first panel, the timer is still ticking, and you may lose valuable time for answering questions in the second panel. Time management is critical!
Note, too, that you are not penalized for wrong answers on the EA. Your score is dependent on the number of questions you correctly answer and their associated difficulty level. Now, no one other than GMAC knows exactly how the EA scoring algorithm works. And, honestly, it’s not something to lose sleep over. Don’t stress over something over which you have no control. Instead, concentrate on those things that you can control, such as studying smartly and following the tips that we have provided to you here.
Key Takeaways
In this article, we’ve covered 19 useful tips to follow to increase your Executive Assessment Quant score:
 Don’t Treat the EA Quant Section as Just a Math Test
 Learn to Use New Approaches to Solving Math Questions
 Understand the 3 Levels of EA Quant Proficiency
 Set a Reasonable Timeframe
 Schedule Your EA When You’re Ready
 Use One Resource for Your EA Prep
 Take a Topical Approach to Studying EA Quant
 Build a Strong Quant Foundation
 Review EA Math Material Periodically
 Learn to Identify Key Aspects of EA Quant Questions
 Look for the Simplest Way to Solve Quant Questions
 Be Prepared for Question Variation
 Know How to Translate from Words to Math
 Focus on Eliminating Your Weaknesses
 Make No Careless Mistakes
 Be Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable
 Work With the Tools You’ll Have on Test Day
 At Some Point, You Must Focus on Getting Faster
 Understand How EA Quant Is Scored
Studying hard and smart will go a long way to getting the EA Quant score you need. No matter your current level of math knowledge, you can get there with time, effort, and a wellthoughtout plan. You can do this!
Even if it has been 10 or more years since you cracked a math book, and even if you’re not a “math person,” you can get a respectable EA Quant score that will catapult you to the next chapter of your life. You can make it happen!
What’s Next?
Now that you have the straight skinny on getting a great EA Quant score, read our article about doing your best on EA Verbal.
Looking for expert EA Quant help? Sign up for a free consultation to learn how working with a TTP tutor can help you reach your Quant goals.