David Recine

Executive Assessment: What It Is and How It’s Different from the GMAT

Executive Assessment vs GMAT - image by Magoosh

Are you an experienced manager who is considering entering an MBA program? You may be able to take the Executive Assessment (EA) rather than the GMAT. But how is the EA different from the GMAT? And how can you make sure it’s the right exam for you?

What is the Executive Assessment?

The Executive Assessment (EA) is an admissions exam designed for most executive MBA programs. An EMBA is a type of MBA specifically geared toward established, experienced managers who want to advance their careers to even higher levels. However, more and more full-time MBA programs accept the test as well. The test features Quant, Verbal, and Integrated Reasoning questions. Ultimately, you can think of the Executive Assessment as “GMAT Lite.” The EA has all the same elements as the GMAT, but stripped down to a more basic, “softer” version.

You can take the EA at home or at a test center, and either test will set you back $350. Your score will be valid for five years.

Test Structure

Both tests are computer adaptive which means that the level of questions you get is based on the level of questions you got correct previously. While the GMAT difficulty level will change question by question, the EA works in modules. You will get a group of questions based on how you performed in a previous group of questions. So what does this alternate test for seasoned executives look like, compared to the GMAT? We’ve outlined the key differences later in this post.

What’s a good score on the Executive Assessment?

As a rule of thumb 150 (out of 200) is considered a good score for the EA.

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In the GMAT, your all-important score (ranging between 200 and 800) is made up of your scores in the verbal and quantitative sections only. On the Executive Assessment, the verbal and quant sections count for a third of your score each. The Integrated Reasoning section of the Executive Assessment makes up the last third of your score. In the EA, you can score between 100 and 200, and all three sections are equally weighted in determining your total score.

Which business schools accept the EA?

While the EMBA is designed for Executive MBA programs, other non-Executive MBA programs sometimes accept the EA from experienced applicants.

UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, for example, accepts EA scores for both its EMBA program and its weekend MBA program. As long as you have at least 10 years of experience, you can submit EA scores when applying for either of these degree paths. Full-time MBA programs such as those at Columbia Graduate School of Business and the University of Rochester Simon Business School also accept the EA.

The EA is accepted at quite a few schools around the world. For a complete list of universities and programs that use Executive Assessment scores, go to the official EA website.

Executive Assessment vs. GMAT: Similarities and Differences

The Executive Assessment and the GMAT are both made by the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC). In spite of this, these two tests have a number of distinct differences.

Differences Between Executive Assessment vs. GMAT

Total time 90 minutes 3 hours and 7 minutes
Verbal section 30 minutes, 14 questions 65 minutes, 36 questions
Quant section 30 minutes, 14 questions 62 minutes, 31 questions
Integrated reasoning 30 minutes, 12 questions 30 minutes, 12 questions
AWA No AWA section 30 minutes, 1 question

The range of Quant and Verbal topics on these two B-school admissions tests are largely the same. Although certain challenging math concepts are less frequent on the Executive Assessment, the GMAT and the EA have the same range of Quant concepts. The question formats are the same as well; the tests share a comparable mix of Problem Solving and Data Sufficiency.

And for Verbal, the mix will be exactly the same. Both the EA and the GMAT have comparable proportions of Critical Reasoning, Reading Comprehension and Sentence Correction questions. Moreover, the IR sections are exactly the same between these two tests.

How hard is the Executive Assessment compared to GMAT?

The EA is not only shorter than the GMAT, but it is also designed to be taken with minimum preparation. This means that the test will be more straightforward and easier than the GMAT.

There is another aspect of the EA that easier too: its math content. On the EA, you see fewer of the harder math topics from the GMAT. For example, probability, statistics, and combinatronics are less common on the Executive Assessment.

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How to Prepare for the Executive Assessment

You can think of the “minimal” preparation required as minimal compared to GMAT preparation. To get your best score on the EA, you’ll want to get familiar with the test and give yourself time to practice the concepts. It is important to do mock tests to see where your strengths and weaknesses lie.

The Executive Assessment has its own section on the GMAC homepage. This official EA website includes an EA preparation page. On that page, you can access a small selection of free practice questions and purchase additional EA practice materials.

However, you don’t necessarily need to use any official EA prep. GMAT prep materials will also do just fine. If you decide to go that route, I recommend official GMAT practice from MBA.com and practice from Magoosh GMAT. with Magoosh GMAT, you can choose between a live cohorted class with an instructor (which includes all our lessons and practice questions) or access to the self-study option by itself.

When using GMAT resources for EA prep, just remember to focus on an EA-like mix of GMAT math questions. For a detailed look at the mix of math on the Executive Assessment, consult the official EA Math Review.

If you are switching from GMAT prep to EA prep, remember that you need to devote more time to prepare for the Integrated Reasoning section, as it will count towards your total EA score. Best of luck with your EA prep!


  • David Recine

    David is a Test Prep Expert for Magoosh TOEFL and IELTS. Additionally, he’s helped students with TOEIC, PET, FCE, BULATS, Eiken, SAT, ACT, GRE, and GMAT. David has a BS and MA from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and an MA from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. Early in his career, he worked for Disney Consumer Relations, later moving on to become a business banker at Wells Fargo. Once David discovered his passion for education, he started teaching K-12 ESL in South Korea. He soon branched out into adult learning, teaching undergraduate and MBA-level communication and writing classes at American universities. During this time, David also taught business communication to employees at Hyundai, Cargill, and Nestle, and trained English teachers in America, Italy, and Peru. His work at Magoosh has been cited in many scholarly articles, his Master’s Thesis is featured on the Reading with Pictures website, and he’s presented at the WITESOL (link to PDF) and NAFSA conferences. Come join David and the Magoosh team on Youtube, Facebook, and Instagram, or connect with him via LinkedIn!

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