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Taking the Executive Assessment for EMBA Programs

If you’re an Executive MBA candidate, chances are you’re someone with an active professional life and a busy schedule. Understandably, you might not be thrilled at the prospect of preparing for a comprehensive standardized test like the GMAT. 

That’s why GMAC, the creator of the GMAT, launched a cousin test tailored for EMBA applicants in 2016.

Silvia Maccallister-Castillo, assistant dean of the EMBA program at Yale School of Management, summarizes the dilemma EMBA programs were facing as follows: there might be “phenomenal candidates who saw the GMAT as too high a barrier,” yet schools also had to be sure of “the ability of candidates to do the work required of them in a top-tier program.” 

The Executive Assessment is GMAC’s solution to this problem. Manish Dharia, director or product development at GMAC, says the test is designed so that it’s “easy to schedule, short in duration, and requires modest preparation.” 

Sounds like an appealing option, right? If you’re getting ready to apply to EMBA programs, here’s what you should know.

How the Executive Assessment Is Structured 

Like the traditional GMAT, the Executive Assessment tests what GMAC calls integrated reasoning, verbal and quantitative skills.

Integrated reasoning is about being able to interpret data presented in different formats, like graphs and tables. Verbal skills involve being able to understand verbal arguments and work with written English – think reading comprehension, correcting grammatical mistakes, etc.

Finally, quantitative skills have to do with solving numerical problems and exercising your core math knowledge. On the Executive Assessment, that math knowledge involves the fundamentals of algebra and geometry that are typically learned up through high school. 

While the Executive Assessmnent and the GMAT cover some of the same skills, the Executive Assessment is significantly shorter.

More precisely, each of the three sections takes 30 minutes, making the exam 90 minutes total. The integrated reasoning section has 12 questions total while the verbal and quantitative sections each have 14.

 Overall, then, the Executive Assessment runs through the basic English and math skills you’ll need to thrive in a top program, but it does so in a way that uses significantly less of your time than the GMAT. 

Schools That Use the Executive Assessment 

The Executive Assessment may be the new kid on the standardized testing block, but it’s quickly gaining acceptance among top EMBA programs.

Recently, GMAC highlighted on their blog that EMBA programs at University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and Cornell University’s SC Johnson College of Business are among the latest to begin accepting the Executive Assessment as an alternative to the GMAT. 

EMBA programs at several other top business schools accept the Executive Assessment as well. GMAC has a list of several other such EMBA programs on their website.

 Preparing for the Executive Assessment 

Manish Dharia says that “significant preparation is not needed for the Executive Assessment,” but you might not want to be overly literal in how you apply that advice!

For one thing, Dharia does say that GMAT recommends candidates “re-familiarize themselves” with the material on the Executive Assessment and practice a little to “shake off the rust.” 

This seems like a solid way to approach things. After all, when was the last time you actually solved for the sides of a 30-60-90 triangle? 

GMAC has some useful online resources specifically for preparing for the Executive Assessment. These include sample questions and a tool that helps you customize your practice. 

Still, even if it’s not a good idea to take the Executive Assessment cold, it is true that getting ready for the Executive Assessment is less time-consuming than studying for the GMAT. That’s in large part the point of the Executive Assessment.

 Silvia Maccallister-Castillo, who took the Executive Assessment as an experiment, says the general rule of thumb is to do 10-20 hours of prep but that she benefited from putting in 25-30. 

The bottom line is that for those on a tight schedule, taking the Executive Assessment is a way of cutting down on study time, but that when taking the Executive Assessment, more preparation will still pay dividends.

 Putting Your Test Scores in Context

 Whether to opt for the Executive Assessment over a more traditional choice like the GMAT or GRE has a lot to do with the context of the rest of your application.

It depends what your particular strengths are as an applicant and what schools you’re applying to. By the same token, these criteria will influence what scores you need to attain to be competitive. 

At EXPARTUS, we can help you put your test scores in context by giving you a feel for how your profile lines up at different schools and how adcoms might perceive your application. If this feedback sounds helpful, get in touch with us for a free assessment!