Interested in learning more about the Executive Assessment? Senior Director of Admissions Brett Twitty and GMAC’s Eric Chambers recently hosted a webinar all about this test. 

Watch: Executive Assessment Overview Webinar

Many candidates considering an MBA are less familiar with the Executive Assessment (EA), which is a relatively new standardized test option. The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) launched the EA in 2016. By comparison, the GMAT arrived in 1953 and the GRE dates from 1936. 

The EA is quickly gaining traction with a number of schools, and at the time of this post, it is accepted by hundreds of programs at graduate business schools around the world, including a number of top full-time and executive MBA programs. 

Below, we share some tips and insights about the Executive Assessment, as well as some considerations Darden Full-Time MBA and Executive MBA applicants will want to weigh as they make their test plans. 

Standardized Test Options

At Darden, we accept a number of standardized tests in our Full-Time MBA and Executive MBA application process — EA, GMAT, GRE, MCAT and LSAT — and we view all of these tests equivalently.

In our Executive MBA application process, we will also accept older or expired scores for any of the tests listed above. However, if you would like to submit an expired score with your materials, you will need to have a copy of your score breakdown.  

We also offer standardized test waiver processes for our Full-Time and Executive MBA applications, and we invite you to explore our Full-Time MBA waiver request process and our test waiver request process for Executive MBA applicants.  

Darden and the Executive Assessment

This year will be the second year we’ve accepted the EA in our Full-Time MBA application process and the fifth year for our Executive MBA application process. In fact, the EA is the most popular standardized test with our Executive MBA applicants. 

If you are planning to take a standardized test as part of your MBA applicant journey, we encourage you to choose the test that best aligns with your strengths and plans. 

Executive Assessment Test Format

The EA is a 40-question, 90-minute test, and it requires, on average, around 20 to 30 hours of preparation. The test consists of three sections: quantitative reasoning, verbal reasoning and integrated reasoning, and it is graded on a scale of 100 to 200. GMAC has noted that the highest EA score currently attainable is around the mid-170s (even though the test is scored on a 100 to 200 scale). As with the GMAT and GRE, Darden does not have a minimum or qualifying EA score, so remember that a test score is just one piece of information within a much broader, holistic review. 

The EA is a test of readiness, not aptitude. As a result, candidates will not receive percentile information with their overall score breakdown. Applicants are encouraged to contact their target schools if they have questions about contextualizing their score performance.  

Because we only have one year of Executive Assessment scores for our Full-Time MBA program, we do not have quite enough data to share accurate test score averages. In our Executive MBA program, students have EA scores ranging from the low 140s to the high 160s, and our average EA score has been around 153 for the past four years. 

Time Management Practice

For Executive MBA applicants, studying for the Executive Assessment can be an opportunity to “test drive” life as an Executive MBA student. 

While the subject matter may be different, studying for the EA, at around 20 to 30 hours of prep time, is a fair approximation of the amount of work a student in an Executive MBA program will manage during a couple weeks of coursework. 

If you talk with our Executive MBA students, they will tell you that one of the biggest adjustments for working professional students is simply being back in a school environment. Taking a standardized test can also be an opportunity to knock some of the “rust” off and begin to get back into school mode.  

Considerations for Full-Time Applicants

The EA was created by GMAC in consultation with top Executive MBA programs to measure  the skills and knowledge of experienced professionals. The EA has fewer quantitative topics than the GMAT and GRE— there are total of 14 quantitative reasoning questions (versus 31 on the GMAT and 40 on the GRE).  

As a result, for candidates targeting Darden’s Full-Time MBA program, the EA may make the most sense for a more experienced applicant with a fair amount of quantitative exposure in their academic or professional background. It’s also important to consider your career goals as you make your test plans. While our Career Center believes employer perspectives on tests are evolving, some employers in industries like investment banking and management consulting may ask for a GMAT or GRE score.     

Interested in additional insights? Check out our Executive Assessment Q&A for Full-Time MBA applicants

Unable to attend the Executive Assessment webinar? Register anyway. We will share a link to a recording of the webinar with all registrants.

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