The Executive Assessment (EA) Scoring System
EA Computer Adaptation
The EA is a computer-adaptive exam, meaning your performance on one section determines the level of difficulty of a subsequent section. The questions on all three of the EA sections (Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Verbal Reasoning) are classified by the probability of students at specific score levels answering those questions correctly (the test writers calculate that a student who scores x will have a y% chance of getting a given question right). Answering a certain question correctly produces a subsequent question that is more difficult, while incorrect answers result in easier subsequent questions. The score on these sections is calculated from the difficulty level of both correct and incorrect answers. Test-takers are rewarded more for correct answers on difficult questions, and are conversely penalized more for incorrect answers on easier questions. Because of this question-by-question adaptation, students who provide incorrect answers to several consecutive questions will receive lower scores than test-takers with the same number of non-consecutive mistakes. Furthermore, leaving a question unanswered results in a larger score penalty than an incorrect answer.
Every test taker starts with six Integrated Reasoning questions. It is important to note that there are no penalties for wrong answers, so every question should be answered to the best of your ability. After completing the first six questions, you will be given six more Integrated Reasoning questions, and the mixture of easier, medium, or harder questions you will receive depends on how well you did completing the first six questions.
After you complete the Integrated Reasoning section, you will move to the Verbal Reasoning section, where you will receive seven questions. The mixture of easy, medium, and difficult questions will depend on your performance on the entire Integrated Reasoning section. The start of a new section does not mean you have a "clean slate," as those who perform well on the Integrated Reasoning section will start with more difficult questions on the Verbal Reasoning section, just as those who perform poorly on Integrated Reasoning will begin with easier questions on the Verbal Reasoning section. The complexity of the last seven Verbal Reasoning questions will depend on your performance on the first seven Verbal Reasoning questions.
The Quantitative Reasoning section works the same way: your first seven questions will depend on your overall performance on the Integrated Reasoning section and the difficulty of your last seven questions will depend on your performance answering the first seven Quantitative Reasoning questions.
Optimizing EA Performance through Understanding the EA Scoring System
Some standardized tests penalize students for guessing, but the EA is not among them. In fact, not only are students not penalized for guessing, on the multiple-choice sections of the test they are penalized for not guessing. Unanswered questions adversely affect scores more than incorrect answers. This means that test-takers will benefit from answering all questions, even if these are only random guesses entered haphazardly as time is running out. Students should make every effort to avoid consecutive incorrect answers, because their scores will suffer more than from non-consecutive answers.
This is best accomplished with disciplined time management. Students should not obsess over difficult questions and should not devote an inordinate amount of time to an individual problem. Due to the complexities of the adaptive algorithm, even test-takers who receive a perfect score have not necessarily answered every single question correctly. The best way to develop strong time management skills is by completing practice EA exams and being familiar with the types of questions you will be asked to answer. The faster you can identify the type of question being presented, the faster you can select the best strategy to use to help you arrive at the correct answer. The more familiar you are with the exam, the better you will be about knowing when to move on and when to spend a bit more time answering a question, as these are very important distinctions that only come through first-hand experience with the exam.
EA Section Scores and Business School Applications
While available evidence suggests that business schools view some parts of the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) as more important than others (specifically, total scores and quantitative section scores), this does not appear to be the case with the EA. Unlike the GMAT, the EA is not intended to function as the type of test where the higher you score, the better. Instead, the EA serves as a threshold indicator, meaning if you score above the threshold of the business program you hope to attend, they can be confident you are ready for the academic rigor of their program. The EA was designed with busy professionals in mind, and while this type of test is very different from the standardized tests most business school applicants are used to, it is also a welcome change from the hyper-fixation on specific scores that has become associated with the GMAT over the past few years.