New Year, New Test: A student's take on the Executive Assessment

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Chris Panoff is the Founder and a Managing Member of the Northwest IP Law Group, LLC. As a seasoned patent attorney, he has extensive experience representing clients on intellectual property law and related corporate matters. He is also a Chicago Booth Executive MBA student attending classes at the downtown Chicago campus. Below, he shares his experience preparing for and taking the Executive Assessment exam. 

For many prospective Executive MBA students, the thought of studying for and taking the GMAT exam can be daunting. I completely understand. It was for me too.  Many of you would have already submitted an application but for the need to take the GMAT. Well, it’s a new year, and it’s a great time to overcome your obstacles. That’s where the Executive Assessment (EA) comes in. 

The EA was designed by the General Management Admissions Council (GMAC), the creators of the GMAT.  However, compared to the GMAT, the EA is designed to require less preparation time, and it is shorter in duration (90 minutes, as opposed to 3.5 hours). The EA also doesn’t include an analytical writing section, making it more streamlined. It still, however, primarily tests verbal, quantitative, and integrated reasoning skills—the same skills that will be called upon during the MBA program and likely well beyond.  The good news is that many of the readily-available GMAT preparation materials also offer good practice for the EA.     

Though I had previous exposure to the examination topics, I knew that I had to dust off some cobwebs on many of the specifics. I spent approximately two weeks preparing for the exam, working a little here and there after work and between family commitments. I primarily relied upon the online EA preparation guides and practice questions, supplemented with extra practice questions from GMAT preparation workbooks. 

I was apprehensive about taking a standardized test for the first time in over a decade. Luckily, the EA allows you to take the exam twice (but only twice). That came in handy for me. When I took the EA for the first time, I paced the first section of the exam poorly. I spent too much time answering an initial question and ran out of time in the end. As a result, I didn’t think my score accurately reflected my potential. So, I rescheduled the exam for a second try a week later. I found it very helpful to have seen the EA and experienced the testing environment once before. My second score ended up being significantly higher.   

The EA tests a broad set of topics, some of which may be foreign to you. So, you will have to tailor your test preparation strategy to your specific situation. Treat it seriously and figure out how to put in the work you personally require. Before enrolling in the Executive MBA program, I would not have said that I had an abundance of free time in my life. However, being in the program has challenged me to become even more efficient with my time. It is a rigorous program, and it is a significant time commitment, but preparing for the EA afforded me a manageable initial opportunity to integrate a new work routine into my daily life. It’s a challenge, but it’s doable. Time will be at a premium in the Executive MBA program and the EA provides you your first opportunity to hone your time management skills to achieve the result you want. If any of you are delaying an MBA application because you dread taking the GMAT, consider the EA as a more digestible alternative to help you move forward.  

Good luck!