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GMAT vs Executive Assessment: Which One Should You Take?

Many MBA programs require applicants to submit standardized test scores to determine both their higher-order thinking and problem-solving abilities and their dedication to the program. Testing requirements differ by program: some waive all testing requirements, some allow applicants to choose their preferred test, and others express a preference for one exam over another.

But why do business schools seem to favor the GMAT? And who should take the Executive Assessment?

Business School Entrance Tests

There are three main tests accepted by MBA programs:

Unlike the GMAT and EA, which were designed for experienced professionals applying to business schools, many different graduate programs accept the GRE. For a comparison between the GMAT and the GRE for MBA applicants, take a look at our GMAT vs GRE page.

This article will focus on the traditional MBA entrance exams: the GMAT vs the EA.

The GMAT and the Executive Assessment both measure applicants’ academic readiness to enter into full-time or Executive MBA programs. Despite the shared purpose of these two exams, there are several key differences in areas such as length, adaptability, scoring, and cost.

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What Is the GMAT?

The GMAT is a computer-adaptive exam designed to assess MBA applicants’ business and management skills. Over 200,000 individuals in the early stages of their business careers take the GMAT each year in advance of applying to full-time MBA programs.

What Is the Executive Assessment?

The Executive Assessment (EA) is also computer adaptive and seeks to evaluate the business school readiness of experienced working professionals hoping to thrive in Executive MBA programs. It has been referred to as a “mini GMAT” or “GMAT Lite,” highlighting its similarities to the GMAT. This relatively new exam was introduced in 2016–much more recently than the GMAT, which has been around for over 60 years.

If you’re new to the exam, you can read more about EA basics in our article, “What is the Executive Assessment?

Differences Between the Executive Assessment and GMAT Exams

The Executive Assessment differs from the GMAT in a variety of ways.


One surprising difference between the two exams is the cost. As of 2024, the Executive Assessment costs $350, and the GMAT costs $275.

This may seem counterintuitive, since the GMAT is longer and often requires more preparation time, but over the course of preparing for the GMAT vs the Executive Assessment, it is highly likely that a GMAT-taker will spend more—both in money and time—than an EA-taker.

Because the GMAT is a longer and (widely considered) more difficult exam, GMAT-takers will often require lessons with a tutor, resource books, and/or prep courses in order to effectively prepare for the exam.

However, despite popular perception, the EA is also difficult exam to prepare for, and it is often advisable to seek out professional tutoring in preparation for the exam.

Section Differences

The Executive Assessment has three sections:

The current iteration of the GMAT contains these same first two sections, with the addition of a Data Insights section.

Individuals taking GMAT can choose the order in which the four sections appear on the exam unlike the EA, which has a set order of the sections.

Content Differences

Although both the GMAT and the Executive Assessment pull questions from the same question pool, the EA uses more business-focused questions to test critical reasoning and verbal skills and covers fewer quant concepts.

Although this decreases the difficulty level of the EA quantitative section, it does not mean that the EA exam is significantly easier than the GMAT overall.

Exam Structure and Format

Executive Assessment Structure

The structure of the EA is as follows:

GMAT Structure

The structure of the GMAT is as follows:

The test length is an important difference between the exams, as it illustrates that the EA is more tailored to accommodate the lifestyles of busy working professionals.

Adaptability Differences

The GMAT quant and verbal sections are adaptive at the question level while the EA is adaptive at the module level.

This means that in the EA, if test takers excel in module one of a section, module two will be more difficult. For the GMAT, if a question is answered correctly, the next question will be more difficult.

Each section of the EA has two modules that are timed together, and test takers are allowed to review and skip questions in the module they are currently working on before moving to the next. They are shown a review screen after each module, making it easy to check and edit their answers.

The GMAT Focus Edition allows test-takers to bookmark questions for review later. There is no limit on how many questions can be reviewed. Finally, you can edit up to 3 answers.

Both the GMAT and the Executive Assessment pull questions from the same question pool.

Similarities Between the Executive Assessment and GMAT Exams

There are numerous similarities between the GMAT and the EA exams. For example, they are both standardized tests designed and administered by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC).

Both exams are valid for five years and can be taken online or at a test center. It is simple to schedule your test date with the GMAC for both the GMAT and the EA.

There are also content similarities, with each of the two exams measuring skills like:

Finally, both the GMAT and the EA include two of the same verbal section question types:

Who Is Each Test Designed For?

Applicants to full-time MBA programs may prefer to take the GMAT or GRE, while applicants to EMBA programs might be more suited to the EA.

The Executive Assessment test was designed for busy working professionals with established, real-world business skills.

Executive Assessment vs. GMAT: Which Test Should I Take?

The entrance exam you should take depends on the business school and type of MBA program you are applying to. Top business schools and business programs may prefer the GMAT, while Executive MBA programs and other part-time MBA programs may suggest that you take the Executive Assessment exam.

Scoring System of the Executive Assessment vs. GMAT

Both tests give test takers section scores and a total score. The GMAT total score is calculated based only on the quant and verbal sections of the standardized test, while the EA total score weighs each section equally. Executive Assessment scores range from 100 to 200, and the GMAT is scored from 205 to 805.

Although GMAT and EA scores are not the only important factor in the business school application process, they provide admissions committees with a uniform way of assessing applicants and allow applicants to definitively prove their ability to thrive within a specific MBA program.

What Is a Good GMAT Score?

An 80th percentile score is generally considered strong, however, if your target program is extremely selective, you should aim for a score in the top 10%.

Learn What Is A Good GMAT Score? and why you probably need a higher score than you thought to impress MBA Admissions Committees.

What Is a Good Executive Assessment Score?

EA scores between 150 and 155 are thought of as good. However, an EA score over 155 will help strengthen applications to top-tier Executive MBA programs.

For EMBA programs that receive a high influx of applications each year, an exceptional Executive Assessment score can help set you apart.

To read more, take a look at our “What is a good EA Score?” page.

Which Business Schools Accept the EA?

Most business schools that offer EMBA programs now accept the Executive Assessment, including Executive MBA programs at top-tier schools, such as the University of California Berkeley Haas School of Business, the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, and Duke University Fuqua School of Business.

Regardless, for all full-time MBA programs, the preferred exam is the GMAT—which was designed by business schools for business schools.

Thus, if you are wondering which test will give you a better chance of getting into a specific business school, you should think more about the program you hope to attend rather than the school rankings. It is easy to figure out which programs accept the EA by consulting their program webpage.


Choosing between the two exams depends on your professional background, personal preference, and, most importantly, whether you are applying to a full-time MBA or EMBA program.

Put simply, if you are applying to a full-time MBA program, you should take the GMAT, but, if you are applying to an Executive MBA program, you might prefer to take the Executive Assessment.

Considering taking the GMAT? Explore our trusted online GMAT prep course to achieve your desired score.

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