What is the Executive Assessment (EA) versus the GMAT?

Earning an advanced business degree can be a game-changer for one’s career, providing opportunities for leadership positions and higher salaries. Many universities worldwide use the Executive Assessment (EA) and/or the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) as a tool to identify capable candidates who are prepared for their graduate business programmes.

Both the GMAT and EA are tests for those wanting to pursue a business career. The GMAT was introduced in 1954 and is taken to gain admission to a Management of Business Administration (MBA) or various management programmes in the UK. Whereas, the EA was more recently created in 2016 to test students hoping to gain admission to executive MBA programmes. However, more traditional MBAs are starting to accept the EA.

It is not necessary to take the GMAT as well as the EA as they are different versions of one kind of qualification. They have much of the same content but are based on different structures, and have some contrasting functions. This guide walks you through the key differences you need to know before beginning your preparation.

MBA graduates are equipped with the tools to accelerate professionally by taking on more responsibility earlier in their careers. If you’re thinking of applying for an MBA and would like personalised advice and guidance on choosing which universities to apply to, and preparing for the EA or GMAT, reach out to our team today.

Please note: To ensure that the GMAT remains a reliable and accurate assessment of business skills, a brand-new GMAT test called GMAT Focus is being launched. Hence, the current GMAT will be phased out starting in early 2024, but scores will still be valid for five years.

What are the EA and GMAT?

An Executive Assessment evaluates a candidate’s readiness for a business programme by testing their knowledge and skills while also assessing their work experience. The convenience and flexibility of the Executive Assessment allows candidates to prepare swiftly and take the assessment when it suits them. The results of the assessment provide insights that help candidates improve their weaknesses before their programme begins.The GMAT exam is a rigorous and detailed exam which aims to test your business skills and knowledge. It evaluates the critical thinking, problem-solving and communications skills required for business programmes by assessing quantitative and verbal abilities and analytical writing skills. Administered via computer, the GMAT examination objectively measures candidates’ aptitude for graduate-level business curriculum.

What are the EA and GMAT used for?

Both the EA and GMAT are business and management exams aimed to prepare and test students for their graduate degrees at business schools.

Historically, the purpose of the GMAT has been to assess students who are completing MBA applications. The GMAT is designed as a rigorous exam to gauge how the applicant would perform as a full-time MBA student in the classroom.

However, the EA was created later as a new version of the GMAT. It is more geared towards busy professionals already practising business in the real world. It is often used as an opportunity to continue career progression at a current job while also pursuing an advanced degree.

It’s worth noting that many universities and business programmes accept both, especially as the EA is becoming more common. So, make your decision on what works best for your goals.

The first step is to determine what degree you want and at what university. Check if they accept both the EA and GMAT, or only one, as you may not have a choice. If your desired course and university do accept both, then it’s time to weigh up which test is best for you!

Please note: The GMAT is not obligatory for pursuing an MBA in the United Kingdom. Many universities offer MBA programmes without GMAT scores. These can include 1-year MBA programmes, part-time programmes, some executive MBA courses, and accelerated MBA courses.

Which universities require the EA and GMAT?

Most business schools in the UK rely on the GMAT as the standardised test for MBA and Master’s admissions. Below is a table of some of the most prestigious universities in the UK for business that require the GMAT and/or the EA for one or more of their business degree programmes.

UniversityReputationGMAT acceptedEA accepted
London Business SchoolConsistently ranked as one of the top business schools in the worldRequires GMAT for all Masters programmesRequires MBA for its Executive MBA, EMBA, and LBS programmes
Cambridge Judge Business SchoolPart of the world-renowned University of CambridgeRequires GMAT for MBA and several Masters programmesRequires the EA for the Executive MBA
Warwick Business SchoolHighly ranked for its international business programmesRequires GMAT for its MBA and various business MastersThe EA is not accepted
Oxford Said Business SchoolPrestigious business school of the University of OxfordRequires GMAT for its MBA and most Masters programmesRequires the EA for the Executive MBA
Imperial College Business SchoolTop ranked for Finance programmesRequires GMAT for its MBA and Business Masters degreesRequires EA for the Executive MBA and global online MBA
LSE (London School of EconomicsKnown for Economics and FinanceRequires GMAT for its MBA and most Masters degreesThe EA is not accepted
Edinburgh Business SchoolPart of the University of EdinburghRequires GMAT for its MBA and for some Masters programmesThe EA is not accepted
University of Bristol Business SchoolHighly ranked for Accounting and Finance programmesRequires GMAT for its MBA and Masters in ManagementThe EA is not accepted
Durham University Business SchoolLongstanding and reputable Business programmesRequires GMAT for its MBA and for some MastersThe EA is not accepted
Manchester Business SchoolStrong programmes in Entrepreneurship and ManagementRequires GMAT for its MBA and Masters. Part of Manchester UniversityAccepts EA for multiple MBAs
King’s Business School at KCL (King’s College London)Offers a variety of MBA and Master’s programmesRequires GMAT for admissionAccepts EA for the Executive MBA

Whilst the GMAT is accepted by more UK universities than the EA, those that do accept the EA may prefer it depending on the course. Both the GMAT and EA are accepted by many other top universities around the world. The EA is more commonly used by US universities, including Berkeley, Howard, and Stanford.

The Profs’ MBA admissions consultants can help you determine which universities are the best fit for your academic profile, interests, and long-term ambitions. Our team has helped hundreds of students achieve places at some of the best business schools in the country, including Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial, LSE, and London Business School. Reach out to our team today for a discovery call.

When are the GMAT and EA taken?

There are no set exam dates for the GMAT and the EA. They are available to sit year-round. However, it is recommended that you take your test a year prior to your expected entrance into business school so that you have time to retake it if necessary. Ensure that you double-check the admission deadlines for your course and university to calculate your timings accurately.

For the GMAT, it is recommended to prepare for it three to six months in advance, whereas the EA is said to need less than half the preparation time. Both test scores are valid 5 years from the test date.

Retaking the GMAT is quite flexible, you can take it once every 16 days as long as this does not exceed five times per year, or eight times in a lifetime. As for the EA, you may take this up to four times in your lifetime – two times at a test centre and two times online.

How much does the GMAT and EA cost?

Inside the UK£250 at a test centre and £275 online£280
In the US$275 at a test centre and $300 online$350

What is the structure of the GMAT and EA?

Where is the test taken?This test is offered at over 700 test centres around the globe, or online from your own home.This test is offered at over 600 test centres around the globe, or online from your own home.
How much time do you get?3 hours1.5 hours
How many sections are there?The GMAT is divided into four parts, each concentrating on a different skill.The UCAT is divided into three parts, each concentrating on a different skill.
What is included in these sectionsSection 1: Quantitative Reasoning (31 questions, 62 minutes)
Section 1 checks your implementation of mathematical skills such as arithmetic, algebra, and geometry.
Section 2: Verbal Reasoning (36 questions, 65 minutes) This section analyses reading comprehension, as well as grammatical and linguistic knowledge.
Section 3: Integrated Reasoning
(12 questions, 30 minutes)
This section tests your analytical skills on complex problems.
Section 4: Analytical Writing Assessment (1 question, 30 minutes)
You will be asked to discuss how well reasoned you find a provided argument and write a critique.
Section 1: Integrated Reasoning (12 questions, 30 minutes)
This checks your ability to succeed in a data-driven world by requesting your evaluation of information provided in multiple formats and from multiple sources.
Section 2: Verbal Reasoning (14 questions, 30 minutes)
Measures the ability to evaluate arguments and read, understand, and edit written English materials.
Section 3: Quantitative Reasoning (14 questions, 30 minutes)
Tests the ability to evaluate data and make conclusions using reasoning skills and maths skills.

Please note: Both the GMAT and EA are only offered in English. If English is your second language, we have excellent TEFL tutors here at The Profs! Don’t let language barriers stand in your way.

Key differences between the GMAT and EA to consider

Structure: The GMAT is a computer-adaptive test where the difficulty of each question will be determined by the answer you gave to a previous question. As it is question adaptive, it varies based on how you answer and you cannot go to the next question without answering the first one. In contrast, you can skip questions and come back to them during the EA, meaning that it is generally more flexible. Although, the GMAT allows you to choose what section you complete first whereas the EA does not as it has a set structure.

Content: The EA contains the same range of quantitative concepts as the GMAT, although certain challenging maths concepts tend to be less frequent on the EA. In the verbal sections, the mix of questions are the same in the EA as the GMAT. The EA and GMAT have a lot of the same content except the EA tests a few less than GMAT, like Geometry and essay writing. So, if you excel in these areas you may want to pursue the GMAT. Whereas, if these are your weak points, you might be better suited to the EA.

Preparation: It is advised that you need substantially more time to prepare and study for the GMAT than the EA. The GMAT has a wider coverage of concepts, and hence it is a lengthier exam demanding more time. This is something worth considering if you work full-time or have any other commitments.

Weight of sections: As there are fewer sections in the EA, they carry more weight towards the score. So, if there is one section in both the EA and GMAT that you struggle with, it will be more important to smash it for the EA than the GMAT. For example, the Integrated Reasoning section is in both tests, but for the EA it’s crucial and very important as it counts for a third of your score. Whereas in the GMAT, it holds less weight.

Perception: Generally, the GMAT is viewed as more rigorous than the EA by most academic offices – so if you’re really trying to boost your application the GMAT might be a safer bet.

Access: On the one hand, the GMAT may open more doors as it is accepted by more UK institutions than the EA. But on the other hand, the top schools that accept the EA don’t tend to publish their average scores, so there may be some more flexibility when it comes to the pass rate.

For more information on preparing for the GMAT, check out our previous blog.

How are the GMAT and EA marked?

Your GMAT Composite Score is calculated by combining your scores in the Quantitative Reasoning and Verbal Reasoning sections, which range from 6 to 51 points each. The total score varies between 200 and 800 points. It is important to note that the GMAT score depends not only on the number of correct answers, but also on the adaptive design of the test.Each section of the assessment is scored from 0 to 20. The scores of all three sections are equally weighted to calculate the total score, which ranges from 100-200.

Prestigious business schools seem to prefer an EA score of 150 to 155, and a GMAT score of 700 to 740.

Want to know more about how your GMAT/EA exam will be marked and how you can maximise your score? Speak to one of our experienced MBA admissions consultants today. Over many years of helping hundreds of students excel in their GMAT/EA tests, and with ex-admissions officers themselves in our tutor network, we’re the ideal place to start your preparation.

How to start preparing for the GMAT and EA

Now you know the differences between the GMAT and EA, it’s time to start preparing! Here are three tips to help you get started:

1. Work out which test you need to take

Before you start preparing for one of the exams, you need to work out which one you should take. Start by researching the universities themselves by attending open days and reading about them online.

Work out which business schools you most want to apply to, as well as which specific Business programmes you’re interested in pursuing. Next, find out which test is required for admission to that university and degree, as well as how you go about registering for it. If the programme accepts both exams, then consider which one suits you best. The Profs can also walk you through advice on which test to choose.

2. Know what scores you’re aiming for

In order to prepare for both exams effectively, you should have an idea of what scores you’re aiming for. Each university has its own idea of what a ‘good’ score is and you should be aiming for the average score of successful applicants to your first choice business school. To be safe, make sure you check your specific course’s requirements.

3. Work with an expert tutor

Preparing for the GMAT and the EA can be stressful. There’s a lot of pressure to perform well so that you can get into your dream university. Unlike school or university, you won’t necessarily have a structured learning plan that ensures you are prepared for all the content, or teachers who understand the test specifications.

‘The GMAT Official Guide’ is highly recommended as a resource for preparing for the GMAT. However, working with an admissions test expert will offer you structured guidance and a bespoke approach to preparing the best you can for the test. Here at The Profs, we have an expert team of GMAT and EA tutors!

Working with a tutor can help you to identify and focus on areas in which you need extra support, gain insider knowledge on the admissions test you are taking and what the assessors will be looking for, make preparation more fun and engaging, and so much more. More than 95% of The Profs’ students receive an offer from their first or second-choice medical school – reach out to us today to find out how we can help you.

Reach out to our team of expert MBA tutors who have extensive knowledge and experience on how the test works and what score you should be aiming for, helping you reach the marks you need to receive an offer from your ideal business school.