If you have found this article, I bet you are gearing up to take your Executive Assessment (EA) and potentially looking to apply to some EMBA programs or business schools. So, if you are in that boat, I’m sure you can benefit from reading some tips for the Executive Assessment exam. These tips cover everything from starting your prep to taking the EA.
Here are the topics we’ll cover:
- EA Tip #1: Start with an Estimated Timeline
- EA Tip #2: Get a Baseline EA Score
- EA Tip #3: Don’t Underestimate the Executive Assessment
- EA Tip #4: Create a Study Calendar
- EA Tip #5: Follow a Topical Study Plan
- EA Tip #6: Create Flashcards
- EA Tip #7: Don’t Isolate When Studying for the EA
- EA Tip #8: Strategically Take EA Practice Tests
- EA Tip #9: Have a Time-Management Strategy in Place Before Test Day
- EA Tip #10: Focus on Mastering Integrated Reasoning
- EA Tip #11: Be Ready for Ups and Downs on Test Day
- In Summary
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
- What’s Next?
To start, let’s discuss how to begin your EA prep.
Let’s start by looking at your EA timeline.
EA Tip #1: Start With an Estimated Timeline
As you will soon find out, the EA is quite the undertaking. Most EA students must prep for several months to achieve their target scores. So, you need to carefully consider your timeline before you start studying. The first consideration is the application deadlines of your desired schools. So, if you have not done so already, research each program that interests you, to see how long you have until your apps are due. Additionally, find out the threshold test scores at those programs, to decide your target score.
In a perfect world, you will have 8+ months before you need to submit your applications, so you will have plenty of time to prepare for your Executive Assessment test.
TTP PRO TIP:
Before beginning your EA prep, determine all of your application deadlines, so you can estimate your EA prep timeline.
Once you have those application deadlines, you can take a practice exam to get a baseline score.
EA Tip #2: Get a Baseline EA Score
Once you have your application deadlines and target EA score, your next step is to determine your baseline EA score. After all, if you do not have a baseline score, how can you estimate how long you will need to study?
To determine your baseline score, you need to take a practice EA. However, start by familiarizing yourself with the EA and doing some EA practice questions, so you have a basic foundation before taking your practice exam.
You may be hesitant to take a practice exam because you are nervous about how you will perform. Well, don’t be! Your baseline is just an initial score, and it’s 100 percent necessary for mapping out your EA preparation timeline.
Without knowing your baseline score, you will be flying blind. Don’t you think it would be helpful to see whether you are 5 points or 20 points from your score goal? So, do yourself a favor and take an EA practice exam before you begin your prep.
TTP PRO TIP:
Take a practice EA before you start your studying, so that you can estimate your EA prep timeline.
Let’s discuss taking that first practice exam.
Taking Your First Practice Exam
To determine your starting point, you can take one of the four EA practice exams GMAC offers.
Since your score will help determine your timeline, take the test seriously and mimic test-day conditions. For example, if you plan to take the Executive Assessment at a test center, take your practice exam in a similar environment, such as a library. If you plan to take the online EA, take your practice exam in the location where you’ll take the real test, and use the same computer you will use on test day.
Also, throw away all expectations for this practice test. Good, bad, or ugly, it’s just your starting score. Whether you are 10 or 30 points from your score goal does not matter. With proper motivation and a great study plan, you can improve!
TTP PRO TIP:
Take your first EA practice test seriously to get an accurate baseline score.
Now, before we get into creating your study schedule for the Executive Assessment, I want to clear up a misconception about the exam.
EA Tip #3: Don’t Underestimate the Executive Assessment
Students generally underestimate how long they need to prepare for the EA. For some reason, the “word on the street” is that one can master the EA in a matter of weeks, with minimal studying.
However, the EA is almost as rigorous as the GMAT. Sure there are differences: the EA is a shorter exam, and it does not contain Geometry questions. Also, although both exams are computer-adaptive, the EA is section-adaptive (rather than question-adaptive).
However, as with the GMAT, you must learn a lot of content for the EA. It is true that the pressure to score in the stratosphere is not as high on the EA. However, you have most likely been out of school for several more years than the average GMAT test-taker. Thus, you may be rusty on many of the concepts tested on the EA. So, you’ll need to take that fact into account when creating your daily and weekly EA study schedule.
TTP PRO TIP:
Don’t underestimate the Executive Assessment!
Now, let’s discuss creating that schedule.
EA Tip #4: Create a Study Calendar
Since students underestimate the EA, most are surprised when I recommend studying for 18+ hours each week. To fit in such a large number of hours, you must be organized. A great way to get organized is to create a study schedule. You can do so by hand, in an “old school” calendar, or by using an app.
Your calendar will help keep you on track and prevent you from skipping study sessions. Remember, if something isn’t scheduled in, you’re much less likely to find the time to do it. So, see where studying can fit into your daily life, and make it part of your day.
For example, I have worked with several investment bankers who start their days around 9 or 10 a.m. but stay late in the office. Given that schedule, it’s generally most convenient for those students to study before work for a few hours each day and more on the weekends.
Alternatively, I’ve worked with consultants who travel Monday through Thursday and cannot study too much on those days. So, they study for an hour each day Monday through Thursday, and then do the bulk of their studying Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
Of course, those are just two examples, but you get the point. Create a study schedule that fits around your work hours, and stick to it!
TTP PRO TIP:
Create a personalized study calendar that allows you to study for 18+ hours per week.
EA Tip #5: Follow a Topical Study Plan
Between Quant, Verbal, and Integrated Reasoning, there is a lot of content you must learn in order to earn a great EA score. So, you need to have a systematic and topical study plan.
Avoid a study plan that has you jumping from question to question without any rhyme or reason. For example, do you think it would be helpful to jump from a Reading Comprehension passage to a Number Properties problem-solving question?
You want a study plan that allows you to focus on one topic at a time, and then practice that topic until you have achieved mastery. To get a better idea of what I mean, let’s look at how TTP students study the topic of Rates.
To start, they learn all they can about rates. They learn about elementary rate problems, variable rates, average rates, converging rates, diverging rates, catch-up-and-pass rates, etc. Once that learning is complete, they are presented with chapter tests of easy, medium, and hard difficulty levels to practice just rate questions. The results of those tests provide the necessary data to affirm mastery of that topic. When devising your study plan, try to mimic this way of studying, to ensure you efficiently move through your EA prep.
TTP PRO TIP:
Follow a topic study plan that allows you to learn each Quant, Verbal, or IR topic one at a time.
EA Tip #6: Create Flashcards
The use of flashcards can be a game-changer for your EA preparation. What makes them great is that you can use them almost anywhere. For example, if you take public transportation to and from work, use that time to review your flashcards. If you’re standing in line at the grocery store, pull out your flashcards and give yourself a two-minute test. If you’re waiting for an appointment, again, pull out your flashcards!
Trust me, you’ll have several chances each day to fit in “quick-hit” flashcard study sessions, and those study minutes add up! If you can do 20 to 30 minutes a day of flashcard study, you are increasing your weekly EA study time by at least 7 x 20 = 140 minutes, or 2 hours and 20 minutes!
Also, flashcards come in many shapes and sizes. You can create handwritten flashcards or digital ones. At TTP, our students can access a premade deck of flashcards and add additional cards to the deck as they move through the course.
TTP PRO TIP:
Try to fit in at least 20 minutes of EA flashcard studying each day
How to Most Effectively Use Your Flashcards
Your flashcard deck will grow as you move through your study plan. So, ensure that you constantly “shuffle your deck,” so that you see your flashcards in a random order, to keep from memorizing the path of your cards. In other words, looking at your flashcards in a random sequence will increase your retention.
Also, you will grasp some concepts more quickly than others. So, to maximize the effectiveness of your flashcard study and accurately focus on your strengths and weaknesses, separate your cards into two piles: one for concepts you understand and one for things you still need to learn. Naturally, you’ll want to check the pile marked “not mastered” more frequently than the pile marked “mastered.”
TTP PRO TIP:
Reviewing your EA flashcards in a random order will help with retention.
EA Tip #7: Don’t Isolate When Studying for the EA
Since you are studying for the EA, I’ll guess it has been 10 to 15 years since you graduated from college. You might not remember that the college atmosphere is such that you are surrounded by many like-minded students. I’m sure that atmosphere provided extra motivation to study for exams, write papers, and prepare for standardized tests.
Fast forward to today. You may be the only person you know preparing for the Executive Assessment. If you are lucky, you may have a friend or coworker who is also studying, but it’s a sometimes-lonely pursuit.
Thus, as you move further into your EA study plan, you may become more and more isolated, a situation that is not good for your mental health or motivation. So, be proactive in seeking out or even forming EA study groups.
Consider joining or establishing an EA Meetup group if you live in an urban area. If you can’t find an EA study group or enough test-takers to create one, join a GMAT study group. Since the two exams test similar content, you won’t hurt yourself by studying alongside GMAT test-takers.
If you prefer a virtual study group, see whether you can find or create a Discord or WhatsApp group. If you cannot find one, post on either GMAT Club or the GMAT subreddit to see whether there are any current groups. Again, working with other motivated students will help drive you to the finish line.
TTP PRO TIP:
Join an EA (or even GMAT) study group to avoid isolation when preparing for your exam.
EA Tip #8: Strategically Take EA Practice Tests
As I mentioned earlier, GMAC (the Graduate Management Admission Council) offers four practice exams. You will take one of those exams at the beginning of your study plan, but save the last three until you complete the “learning phase” of your preparation. You may hear from students who take a practice EA test every weekend to “get used to the timing of the EA,” but avoid that strategy. Ideally, you will use prep materials that provide timed practice, which will be more than enough to get used to the timing aspect of the Executive Assessment.
TTP PRO TIP:
Take the remaining three official EA practice exams at the end of your preparation.
So, let’s discuss taking practice exams at the tail end of your preparation.
Taking Your Official EA Practice Exams
Assuming that you have studied properly leading up to this point, you should be ready to begin taking EA practice exams in the final stage of your prep. Take practice exams about 5 to 7 days apart. Usually, I recommend students take the practice tests on the weekends. Since the practice test is 90 minutes long, it may be too much of a heavy lift to do during the evening after work. However, if you are not too wiped from work, you can take a practice test during the week.
The purpose of giving yourself 5 to 7 days between exams is to have plenty of time for review. You should thoroughly review the answers from your practice exam and go back to your study materials to fill in any noticeable knowledge gaps. Also, you are not obligated to stick to the 7-day window. If you find that you severely underperformed on your practice exam, then perhaps you need a week or two of serious review before taking your next practice test. This possibility is another reason you should not leave your EA prep until the last minute!
TTP PRO TIP:
Spread your EA practice exams 5 to 7 days apart, or even longer depending on your performance.
Properly Use the Data From Your EA Practice Exams
How you score on these EA practice exams will help determine whether you are ready to take your exam. For example, if your target score is 155 and you score 145 on your first practice test, it’s a sign that you have some work to do before test day. If you feel you have too big a mountain to climb before your test date, you may consider pushing back your EA to adequately improve your skills before taking the test. This possibility is yet another reason why giving yourself more time than you think you need to prep is so important.
TTP PRO TIP:
If you are not hitting your target score on your EA practice exams, consider pushing back your test date.
EA Tip #9: Have a Time-Management Strategy in Place Before Test Day
One perk of the EA is that it is much shorter than the GMAT. It’s just 90 minutes, compared to 3 hours and 7 minutes for the GMAT. The EA also has just 40 questions, whereas the GMAT has 80. However, despite these perks, timing can still be an issue for EA test-takers. So, let’s talk about how to be strategic with your timing on the EA. Before we do, let’s look at the layout of the IR, Verbal, and Quant sections of the Executive Assessment.
The Sections of the Executive Assessment
Integrated Reasoning: 12 questions – 30 minutes
The Integrated Reasoning section has 12 questions and a 30-minute time limit. The section has two panels (subsections) of 6 questions each.
Verbal Reasoning: 14 questions – 30 minutes
The Verbal section has 14 questions and a 30-minute time limit. The section has two panels of 7 questions each.
Quantitative Reasoning: 14 questions – 30 minutes
The Quantitative Reasoning section has 14 questions and a 30-minute time limit. The section has two panels of 7 questions each.
An important part of the EA, as it relates to timing, is that you can skip questions within a panel, and then return to those questions before closing out the panel. So, for example, let’s say you are unsure of how to answer question two in the first panel of IR. You can skip that question, answer the remaining four questions in that panel, and then return to the skipped question before moving to the next 6-question IR panel.
Thus, you can strategically skip or guess on questions in a given panel and not get hung up on just one question. Of course, this strategy will take some practice, so ensure you have a plan in place even before taking your EA practice exams.
TTP PRO TIP:
Make sure to plan out your EA timing strategy even before taking your final EA practice exams.
EA Tip #10: Focus on Mastering Integrated Reasoning
If you have taken the GMAT, or if you have read GMAT blogs, you know that the GMAT’s IR section is somewhat of a pariah. It has its own scoring system, and the IR score does not affect your Quant, Verbal, or overall scores. As a result, GMAT students often consider IR just an extra drain on their time, and they often discount the importance of IR.
However, on the EA, the Integrated Reasoning section is actually the most important section of the exam. First, its score contributes equally with Verbal and Quant to the overall EA score. And second, your IR score drives the rest of your exam! Let’s look at what I mean in more detail.
Your IR score contributes equally with the Verbal score and the Quant score to your overall EA score.
Unlike the GMAT, the EA doesn’t give you the option of selecting the section order. You will take the EA in this order: IR, Verbal, Quant. There is a reason for the inviolability of this section order.
Many EA students are unaware that their performance on the IR section directly affects the level of difficulty of their first Verbal panel and the level of difficulty of their first Quant panel. So, if you perform well on IR, your first Verbal panel will present you with more difficult (and score-enhancing) questions. Similarly, you will be presented with more difficult Quant questions on the first Quant panel if you have scored well on IR. This fact makes clear that doing well on IR is score-critical. So, take IR seriously!
A good IR score drives up the difficulty level of the Verbal and Quant sections, so that you see harder (and score-enhancing) questions on the first panel of each.
EA Tip #11: Be Ready for Ups and Downs on Test Day
If you have ever taken a practice EA (or any exam), you likely know that things don’t always go as planned. In other words, there are many ups and downs throughout an exam. However, if you mentally prepare for the speedbumps you will encounter, there is no reason why you can’t dominate on test day.
In fact, how you react when you hit the lowest point of your exam will likely determine how successful you are when it’s all said and done. For example, how do you react if you can’t get a question right even though you know you should? Do you guess and stress, resulting in your having negative thoughts for the rest of the exam? Or do you realize that it’s just one question of many and that you need to just guess and move on, and then put your focus on the next question? If you do the latter, then you have the right mindset for success on the Executive Assessment.
TTP PRO TIP:
No matter how bad things seem, be sure to keep a positive attitude throughout your EA.
In this article, we have covered 11 useful tips for taking the Executive Assessment.
- Start with an estimated timeline.
- Get a baseline EA score.
- Don’t underestimate the Executive Assessment.
- Create a study calendar.
- Follow a topical study plan.
- Create flashcards.
- Don’t isolate when studying for the EA.
- Strategically take EA practice tests.
- Have a time-management strategy in place before test day.
- Focus on mastering Integrated Reasoning.
- Be ready for ups and downs on test day.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Is the Executive Assessment Test Hard?
The material tested on the Executive Assessment is identical to that tested on the GMAT, with the exception of Geometry, which is not tested on the EA. So, the EA still has a huge amount of material. Thus, many students consider both the GMAT and the EA to be difficult. However, with a good study plan and excellent study resources, great scores on either exam can be achieved.
Do I Need to Study for the Executive Assessment?
If you want to do well on the EA, you will need to study. The number of months needed will depend on your baseline score, your target score, and how many hours you can devote each week to your preparation.
What Is a Good Score on the Executive Assessment Test?
If you intend to pursue an EMBA, then most schools have a threshold score of 150, and a few have a threshold score of 155. Attaining these threshold scores is an indication of your ability to handle the school’s graduate-level academics. As such, they are considered “good” scores. Higher scores do not necessarily make you more competitive, as schools consider your entire application package when making their selections, as long as you have met their threshold EA score.
What Is the Average Executive Assessment Score?
GMAC has not published detailed data on EA scores, and most schools have not released average scores of admitted students. It is common knowledge that an EA score of 150 is at about the 50th percentile. Again, it is more important to focus on meeting a program’s threshold score rather than worrying about average scores or percentiles.
With the many demands on your life, including the life-altering steps of taking the EA and going to business school, you might start to question your decisions while you’re studying for the EA. Read some suggestions here about staying motivated during your EA prep.