This post became "old" quite quickly! It was first published on May 29, 2019, and then in early July, Columbia changed its policies in order to start accepting the EA for their full-time programs -- and then with the massive changes in admissions that happened with coronavirus, more and more programs are accepting the EA today. The advice for whether submitting an EA score instead of a GMAT or GRE is shifting rapidly. We'll keep this post up for historical purposes but the utility of certain tests is in major flux as of this update in April 2020, so read through this if you want to understand a baseline, and know that things might be different for you and your score and the school you're considering today, because of all these societal shifts. If you have questions on the current state of affairs with testing and bschools, please ask! The comments are open, we're happy to help out.
Yesterday we gave a breakdown of how to think about taking the GMAT or the GRE as your test of choice for the MBA applications you’re planning for. But what about the Executive Assessment?
Most of you are aiming for a tippety-top full-time MBA program in the United States, and not for an Executive MBA track, so the Executive Assessment is not even an option for you. (Update! As of the original publication of this post, the EA has since become accepted by a few full-time MBA programs too! We’re still not seeing it as the ideal test to take, all things being equal, but it’s an option that might be appropriate for a few schools and/or profiles. It depends on your situation and also what post-MBA goals you are targeting.) For those who are still debating as to which MBA format is right, especially if you’ve only started the process of researching and preparing, then the EA might be a very good choice for you.
If you’ve not heard of it before, the Executive Assessment is a “GMAT-Lite” exam offered by the GMAC (the GMAT people). The EA has now been around for three years, and more and more schools are accepting it for the non-full-time MBA admissions. When it first came out, it was only accepted by a small handful of schools that were piloting it, including NYU, Columbia and Wharton. However, now it’s almost universally accepted, and even some part-time MBA programs are allowing those with an EA score to apply. UPDATE JULY 2019: Columbia is now accepting the EA for their full-time tracks! That is not what we would have predicted!!!
Here’s the list of schools that the GMAC is tracking that accept the EA for at least one of their programs — again, these are primarily schools with executive MBA tracks.
It’s possible that some second-tier or lower schools might allow the EA to go with a full-time application, so it’s a case by case situation, the further you go down the rankings. [COLUMBIA ACCEPTS IT NOW! WOW WE WERE APPARENTLY WRONG ON THAT ONE HUH!] The list of schools accepting the EA now contains nearly every school you can think of, with the notable exceptions of HBS (they don’t have an executive or part-time MBA, so no program to accept you into with an EA) and Stanford (they have the MSx degree which is similar to an EMBA, though not the same, and they do not allow the EA to be used for an app to that program).
Why would you want to take this test?
Well, as we mapped out in our original post on the subject, it’s way, way simpler, and not nearly as onerous. It’s still got totally difficult questions that you need to struggle through for a good answer, with the same types of challenges are you will face on a full GMAT exam. But it’s not as daunting, and the best part of all is that the scoring is totally different.
Because this scoring is different, then many schools have been more flexible in their interpretations of your score and evaluating what score is “good enough” to get in. For the EA, you don’t get scored on the 800-point scale that the standard GMAT uses.
It’s way easier to get a “good” score on this test, even though the questions you have to answer are just as difficult, because the score itself is on another playing field entirely.
So should you take the Executive Assessment if you’re trying only for programs that currently accept it? Will it affect your chances of admission if you opt for EA instead of GMAT or GRE?
In this case, no, it won’t hurt you to take the EA (which is not always what we can say when someone chooses the GRE over the GMAT when they’re trying for a top-tier F/T MBA).
The only question to ask yourself is, Are you SURE that you are going for executive-track MBA options only?
UPDATE: NOW THE QUESTION IS, IS THIS TEST THE RIGHT CHOICE FOR MY PROFILE AND THE SCHOOLS THAT I AM TARGETING?
Despite what some admissions consultants may claim, being a fit to an Executive MBA is not related to your age. Yes, it can be more challenging for a candidate who’s over 30 years old to make it into a standard two-year MBA program, but that’s not actually because they are over 30. It’s much more complicated than that, and most top schools have a handful of so-called “older” students in their full time classes every year — even up to (gasp!) like 45 years old at times.
That’s why we’re emphasizing the importance of looking at all your options before you settle on a test strategy.
NOT SURE HOW MANY OTHER SCHOOLS WILL FOLLOW COLUMBIA’S LEAD IN ACCEPTING THE EXEC ASSESSMT FOR THEIR F/T PROGRAMS, BUT THE DOOR HAS NOW BEEN OPENED…. If you know in advance, maybe because your employer is sponsoring you, or you have a family to support and cannot quit your job to go back to school full time and are interested in Exec track options only, then sure, go for the Executive Assessment. It’s way easier to handle it as a testing requirement and the pressure to get a sky-high score is non-existent with this option. You still need to prep for it, but it’s significantly lower stakes, for a variety of reasons. The schools want to see how you’ll do, but the score itself won’t be a major factor in their evaluation of your candidacy for admission. Definitely a lower-stress option.
If there’s any chance in the world that you might decide later on that a standard full-time two-year MBA format is really the right fit for you, then the EA won’t serve you.
You just don’t want to have to go through this more than once. Choose the standardized test that keeps the most options open as you can, and go with EA only if you know 100% that the programs that accept it are the right fits for you.
Considering a program that doesn’t even require any test at all?
Consider this perspective as well:
Definitely see the value of this from the perspective of classroom experience, and for students to be confident that their peers have met certain standards. Not all schools require tests for #EMBA applicants. Another angle to research as you look at programs that fit! https://t.co/jh2f0yGf65
— Essay Snark #BLM (@EssaySnark) May 20, 2019
Have you taken the EA and wondering about how the schools will perceive the score that you got? Hit us up in the comments, we’re happy to give you some input and remarks if we can!
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