The Executive Assessment (EA) is a test that is generally taken by business professionals with extensive work experience who are applying to Executive MBA (EMBA) programs.
Unlike the GMAT or the GRE, the EA is considered a “readiness” assessment. That is, it measures your readiness to handle business school coursework. So, unlike the GMAT or the GRE, the EA is not a test on which you are pressed to score in the stratosphere. Rather, all you need is a score that shows admissions committees that you can handle the rigors of the academic material in their programs.
Although most test-takers anticipate that they will need to take the Executive Assessment only once, the reality is that many find themselves considering retaking the exam. If you’re considering retaking the EA, the information in this article will help you make a decision. We’ll cover frequently asked questions about retaking the Executive Assessment and typical justifications for doing so. Additionally, we’ll go through when a quick retake makes sense and when it’s advisable to wait longer.
Here are all the topics we’ll cover:
- EA Retake Policy: How Long Do I Have to Wait to Retake the EA?
- Reasons for Retaking the EA
- Non-Content Factors Affected Your Performance
- Executive Assessment Retake Strategy: Is It Worth It to Retake the EA?
- Does Retaking the EA Hurt You?
- To Retake or Not to Retake the EA?
- Key Takeaways
- What’s Next?
Let’s first discuss the policy for retaking the EA.
EA Retake Policy: How Long Do I Have to Wait to Retake the EA?
When retaking the Executive Assessment, there are a few options. If you take the EA in a test center, you do not have to wait long to retake it. In fact, you can register for the next test 24 hours later (at the earliest), and then retake the EA 24 hours after that. So, in theory, you can retake it 48 hours after your first attempt.
For the EA online, you must wait 16 days before your retake.
It’s important to note that you can take the in-person EA two times and the online EA two times. So, if necessary, you could take the Executive Assessment up to four times.
You can take the Executive Assessment up to 4 times: twice online and twice in person.
Please see this article for additional information on the EA retake policy.
Now, let’s consider why retaking the EA might be a good idea.
Reasons for Retaking the EA
“Should I retake the Executive Assessment?” is a question that often prompts a resounding YES as the response. Of course, there are certain exceptions, which I’ll go over in more detail below. Retaking the EA, however, is usually a smart move if you want to raise your score. In other words, if you feel that you need to retake the EA, you likely do.
Let’s talk about various possible “non content-related” reasons for needing to retake the EA. You’ll see that the best course of action in most of these situations is to retake the EA as soon as possible.
If you feel that you need to retake the EA, you likely do.
Non-Content Factors Affected Your Performance
Even if you were well-prepared for the EA, there are a variety of circumstances that may have arisen on test day that could have negatively impacted your performance. These problems have nothing to do with your content knowledge. Instead, they were caused by other factors. The good news is that many of these factors can be fixed quickly. Let’s take a look at what these factors are.
You Suffered from Test Anxiety on Exam Day
It’s possible that being well-prepared for the EA won’t always be enough to calm your anxiety on test day. You may be surprised to learn that test anxiety is quite common and can impact your score.
So, here is the deal. If you think that anxiety was the reason for your low score on test day, jump right back into your EA prep. Also, spend the time you need to reduce your anxiety, so the next time you take the EA, it won’t be a factor.
You can employ a range of straightforward but highly effective techniques, such as deep breathing or reciting a mantra, to help calm your nerves if you’re feeling anxious on test day. In the days before your retake, you might want to start implementing some stress-reduction techniques into your everyday routine if you frequently experience test anxiety.
TTP PRO TIP:
If you suffer from test anxiety, you should practice stress-reduction techniques before your retake, and plan to use them during your exam.
You Just Had a Bad Day
Even the most well-prepared EA test takers occasionally have a bad day. Maybe you weren’t feeling well the morning of your exam, or perhaps you had a restless night of sleep the night before. It’s possible that you had car difficulty on test day or that your trip to the testing facility took longer than expected and you felt rushed when you got there. Feeling “off” for these types of reasons can hurt your performance on the test.
The thing to keep in mind is that bad days happen! Professional athletes have “off days,” and professional musicians have “off days.” No one is perfect, so you can’t expect yourself to be, either. So, if you don’t perform well on your EA, pick yourself up and keep moving. Chances are, the next test will go much better for you.
So, in this scenario, retake the EA sooner rather than later.
TTP PRO TIP:
If you had a bad day, don’t beat yourself up about it. Instead, tell yourself that you’ve gotten your bad day “out of the way” and schedule your retake with confidence.
The Test Center Environment Threw Off Your Game
When taking practice EAs, you should always attempt to replicate the test-day environment, but there is only so much you can do to create the same setting. Thus, things about the test center may throw you off your game.
For example, the exam room’s temperature was either too high or too low, or the person seated at the desk next to yours kept clearing his throat or tapping his fingers on the desk. These kinds of events are highly sporadic and unlikely to occur again. So, if the test center led to a poor score even though you were well-prepared, sit for your retake as soon as possible.
Additionally, if you can’t get comfortable at the test center, take the online EA. After all, you want to be in the place where you feel most comfortable when taking the Executive Assessment.
TTP PRO TIP:
If problems or distractions at the test center caused you to lose focus, consider taking the EA online for your retake.
Your Timing Was Off During the Exam
There are some common reasons why people tend to have timing issues on the EA. Let’s take a look.
“Freak” Timing Factors
On the EA, poor time-management can happen for a variety of reasons. These include racing through questions, obsessing over previous questions, or worrying about future questions, rather than just focusing on the question in front of you. Another common mistake is overspending time on just a few questions, thus messing up your timing for an entire section. Any of these issues could lead to an EA score that does not fairly represent your skills and knowledge.
So, if you had any of these freak timing issues, especially issues that did not plague you while you took your practice exams, then once again, retake the EA as soon as possible.
TTP PRO TIP:
If you had “freak” timing issues that occurred on your real exam but not on your practice exams, then retake the EA as soon as possible.
“Macro” Timing Issues
There are also more serious “macro” timing issues that may take longer to remedy than random, freak issues. For example, if you run out of time on any one section, perhaps you have content issues, and those issues may take longer than one or two weeks to fix.
Or, you may not have spent enough time during your EA preparation on pacing. Keep in mind that most test-takers need a significant amount of time and practice to become proficient at keeping a steady pace under stringent time limits throughout a lengthy exam with many question types.
So, if you need to spend significant time getting up to speed with EA timing, you should give yourself ample time to perfect your pacing, and then sit for your retake.
TTP PRO TIP:
If you received a low score because of poor time-management, determine why you were unable to pace yourself properly and give yourself enough time to address those issues before retaking the test.
Now that we’ve discussed some valid reasons for retaking the EA, let’s discuss, in general, when it makes sense to retake your EA and when it does not.
Executive Assessment Retake Strategy: Is It Worth It to Retake the EA?
When deciding whether to retake the EA and how long to wait before retaking it, people sometimes find themselves in a “gray area.” In other words, they find themselves in a place where they are unsure whether retaking the EA makes complete sense.
In addition, because every individual’s situation is unique, decisions about EA retakes must be made individually. We can consider whether retaking the EA is the best course of action by considering some hypothetical examples.
Scenario 1: Your deadline is close and your score is acceptable.
Consider the following scenario: you’re applying to Wharton, and your deadline is February 10. You took the EA on December 28 and scored 155. Since the median EA score at Wharton is 156, you can see that your score is just on the line.
So, this is where you need to make some critical decisions. For example, let’s say that your application is basically wrapped up, and you’ve been scoring 156+ on all your EA practice exams. Then it’s a no-brainer — retake as soon as possible. However, let’s say you pretty much scored up to your ability level, and you still need to work on your application. Then, in this case, I think you could keep your EA score and focus on the rest of your application.
It is worth noting that you want to avoid this type of scenario altogether. In other words, make sure that you give yourself plenty of time to prepare, so if you fall into the gray area of whether to retake, since you have ample time, you can retake your EA without having to think about it.
TTP PRO TIP:
Giving yourself more time than you think you’ll need to prepare for and take the EA is a good idea.
Scenario 2: You have a high score, but you know you can improve it.
Often, people believe that if they already have a high EA score, there is no point in retaking the test to score even higher. However, if you think you have a good chance of improving your score and have the time to retake the test, why not go for it?
Going back to the previous scenario, let’s say you scored 157 on the EA, which does beat the median score at Wharton. Why not go for it if you can achieve 160+ on the EA?
Perhaps your practice test scores were already in that higher range, or maybe you’ve been making consistent progress in your EA preparation and are confident in both the material and your ability to continue to improve. On the other hand, perhaps you are extremely familiar with the material, but you made a few mistakes in your test-taking strategy that you are confident you can correct.
In any of these cases, as long as you are not in a time crunch that makes a retake close to impossible, and you believe that you can improve your score with just a few more weeks of prep, does it make sense to throw your hands up and declare that a score of 156 is the end of the road? Give the EA one last shot! After all, you have nothing to lose.
TTP PRO TIP:
If you’re confident that you can improve a solid EA score to an even better one, go for it!
Next, let’s discuss a scenario in which it makes sense to actually stick with your current EA score.
Scenario 3: You have a solid score and outperformed your practice exams.
While there are plenty of times when it makes sense to retake the EA, you don’t always have to retake the test just because your score isn’t quite as high as it could be. For example, let’s say you’re in the middle of your desired score range for your target programs. Furthermore, you scored higher on the actual EA than on your EA practice exams. You also still need to commit time to finishing your applications.
You have some reach schools and some safety schools, and in light of your overall profile, you may be happy with your score. Given that you maxed out your EA score and need the time you have left to work on your applications, it may make sense to stand pat and not retake the EA. You are likely competitive with your current score, and unlike in the previous scenario, in which you could study for a few weeks and improve your EA score, in this case, you likely would have to study for several months to improve your score.
Remember, applicants don’t always need to be at the top of a school’s EA range to be competitive. And while your EA score is essential, it is just one aspect of your profile — especially for Executive MBA programs.
So, if you have a solid score for the schools you’re targeting and would need a significant amount of time to improve your score, a retake probably isn’t necessary.
TTP PRO TIP:
If you feel you have maxed out your score and have other parts of your application that need attending to, don’t retake the EA.
Does Retaking the EA Hurt You?
The short answer to the question of whether retaking the EA “looks bad” to business schools is no. The EA is a challenging exam and many students have to retake it. Thus, admissions will not penalize you for retaking the EA multiple times.
Retaking the Executive Assessment is common among EA test-takers.
However, when you do retake the EA, be sure that you are actually improving your EA score. The key to a successful EA retake is to do things differently the second (or third, etc.) time around. If you use the same strategies repeatedly, you’ll get the same (or similar) results.
Remember, deciding whether to retake the EA is a matter of balancing how easily you can improve your score with how much time you have to improve it. So, the more time you give yourself before your applications are due, the more flexibility you’ll have in mapping out an EA retake strategy.
To Retake or Not to Retake the EA?
I know that we’ve covered a lot of ground in this article. The bottom line is that, if you are even considering a retake, there is a very good chance you should go for it. However, before doing so, you must thoroughly analyze your current situation to determine whether that retake will happen in weeks or months. Then, using the guidelines presented here, you should be able to decide on the right answer.
The following are all reasons that may justify retaking the Executive Assessment:
- You suffered from test anxiety on exam day.
- You just had a bad day.
- The test center environment threw off your game.
- Your timing was off during the exam.
- You took the test even though you weren’t ready.
- Your study materials didn’t prepare you well for the test.
Furthermore, you can use the following quick guidelines if you find yourself in any of these 3 common scenarios:
- Scenario 1: Your deadline is close and your score is acceptable. → MAYBE RETAKE
- Scenario 2: You have a high score, but you know you can improve it. → RETAKE
- Scenario 3: You have a solid score and outperformed your practice exams. → DON’T RETAKE
Remember, there are no hard-and-fast, universal rules when it comes to retaking the EA, so always consider your unique circumstances before making a decision!
If you do, indeed, decide that retaking the EA may be beneficial, this article is a great resource for improving your EA score.