Executive Assessment (EA) Strategies for high Scores

Approaching the EA Strategically

Success on the EA depends on more than just superior content knowledge. Although it is obviously important to have as much mastery of the skills tested on the EA's three areas as possible, students must be able to demonstrate these skills within the constraints of the exam. By the time test day arrives, prospective graduate students should be thoroughly familiar with the structure of the test, the directions for each section, and the types of exercises typically included in each portion of the exam. Practice with EA materials (both official and unofficial) will develop this familiarity. It is also crucial that test-takers learn to manage their time effectively, and if necessary, make educated guesses on difficult questions. Strategic approaches to the EA can easily make quite a difference in student scores and business school admission prospects.

Practice and Preparation

Students preparing for the EA should take full advantage of all available practice assessments. The GMAC offers a variety of official options to prepare for the exam, including practice assessments and practice questions specifically targeting the three sections on the test, including Integrated Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning, and Quantitative Reasoning. These resources are available for fees ranging from $30 to $195. Given the relative newness of the EA, there are no unofficial "how to" study guides filled with practice questions. While there are countless free and pay-to-access GMAT resources, the format and content of the exams are not similar enough that these resources will be beneficial for everyone, although some students may find them to be helpful.

The EA was specifically designed to be a threshold indicator, meaning you are looking to score above a certain threshold, and once you have achieved that, higher scores on subsequent test attempts will not be helpful, which can make studying for this exam different than preparing for a typical test where the higher you score, the better. Many students have found private tutoring helpful, along with taking group courses through reputable test prep companies familiar with this particular exam. Most EA prep courses focus on the following:

  • Integrated Reasoning:

    • Reading and interpreting XY scatterplots and sortable tables

    • Integrating skills from both Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning

  • Verbal Reasoning:

    • Comprehending what you have read

    • Summarizing what you have read

    • Applying grammar rules, including subject-verb agreement, pronoun agreement, dependent and independent clauses (fragments and run-ons), noun and verb modifiers, verb tenses, parallelism, comparisons, and idioms

  • Quantitative Reasoning:

    • High school-level math that may include algebra but will not include geometry. Some problems may be completed using the provided calculator, while other problems must be completed longhand using a white board and markers.

    • Understanding concepts and procedures including but not limited to fractions and decimals, exponents and roots, absolute value, systems of equations, inequalities, algebraic translations, quadratic equations, divisibility and prime factorization, least common multiple and greatest common factor, percentages, percentage change, and interest

The EA was designed to be taken by those with at least some experience in the field of business, although this is not a prerequisite for taking the test. The EA creators attempted to pull from everyday business practices, including the types of situations executives might be faced with and decisions they would be likely to make in the real world. Regardless of whether you have been a business professional for years or are just entering the field, it is worth taking some time to prepare for the EA through concentrated preparation.

No matter how prepared you are, most students will have some anxiety while taking the official EA. Test-takers should anticipate this stress and practice techniques for reducing its effects, such as deep breathing, guided imagery, or relaxation exercises, many of which can be assessed through apps and utilized as needed. Testing anxiety is a well-documented phenomenon, and its symptoms vary from student to student. While preparing for the EA, all test-takers should make every effort to determine how this anxiety affects them, as well as identify those things that reduce anxiety. Prior to taking any exam, it is important to get a good night's sleep, which means not drinking excessive alcohol or caffeine the night before and setting an alarm to ensure you have plenty of time the morning of your exam. If your exam isn't until the afternoon, it is best to engage in activities designed to promote calmness until the time of your test, which might range from physical exercise to meditation to talking a walk. Managing test-related anxiety will vary from person to person, but unchecked anxiety can sabotage even the most knowledgeable test taker, making it something to be taken seriously.

Time Management

Test takers are given 90 minutes to complete the EA. The assessment timer does not stop once it has started. Theoretically, that means you have 30 minutes to complete each of the three sections (Integrated Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning, and Quantitative Reasoning). There are a total of 40 questions, which means you have a little over two minutes per question. Obviously you will need less time on certain questions and more on others, which is why it is important to be familiar with the format and content of the test and understand where you can speed up or where you will need to devote additional time. The most effective approach to time management stays close to the average range for each question. Test-takers should have the section timings, number of questions, and average time for each question memorized, and should practice with these numbers in mind.

Guessing Answers

Guessing answers is a crucial aspect of effective time management. Guessing is a skill that should be practiced frequently during the preparation process. Unlike some other standardized tests, there is no penalty for guessing on the EA (points are not deducted for incorrect answers). With sufficient practice, students can develop their skills in educated guessing, which greatly increases the odds of a correct answer. Careful study of typical answer choices and official answer explanations during the preparation phase will reveal patterns of answers that are helpful to educated guessing. All students taking the EA should assume that they will be required to do some guessing on the multiple-choice sections of the exam, and they should therefore devote ample time and effort to developing this ability.

General Tips

The importance of physical comfort on test day should not be underestimated. Students should make sure that they are getting the proper amount of rest in the days leading up to the test, and nutrition is also a significant component of physical well-being. When taking the EA, comfortable clothing is preferable to business attire. Physical health, vigor, and comfort can go a long way toward building confidence, reducing stress, and improving cognitive function while undergoing the demanding task of completing a lengthy and difficult examination. Test-takers should be familiar with the location of their test's administration if they are taking the exam at a test center, as well as the typical traffic conditions at the time of day they have chosen, to ensure that they arrive at the test center on time. For those taking the EA at home, they should ensure a comfortable temperature in the room where they will be taking the exam, as well as ensuring there are no distracting noises nearby and that anyone else in their home will be quiet and respectful while they are completing the exam.

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