The Executive Assessment is accepted on Executive MBA applications and also for an ever-increasing amount of competitive MBA programs as an alternative to the GMAT. It is designed to evaluate executive functioning skills that are measure problem solving, data analysis and critical thinking skills, which are highly transferable to not only various academic areas of study, but also professional disciplines. If you want to perform well on the EA, it is critical to have an organized schedule and stick to it. Understanding your strengths and weaknesses and why you decided for the Executive Assessment will allow you to create a preparation plan that will result in increasing scores on weaker areas while efficiently dividing your time between content covered on the Executive Assessment. Below you will find six tips we have put together to push you toward a successful, effective study plan that will help you conquer the EA.
Go with your gut
Implementing the process of elimination tactic is very common on standardized exams that use multiple choice style questions, but it can certainly happen that this process leaves you with two potential answers. Many students might dwell over there being more than one choice that could potentially be correct based on their thought process which might inversely impact their overall performance due to the lost time and focus. Even though you have executed every step of the process you practiced when it comes to analysis, evaluation and critical thinking, you still are left with two answers that could be correct. With the Executive Assessment having time constraints, it is critical to trust your instincts and go with your gut sometimes. Although it might be seen as a “guess”, your instincts will often subconsciously direct you toward the right answer (if you put in the study time and practiced with discipline) saving time and energy for the more difficult decisions that need to be made during the EA. Putting forth an educational guess based on your intuition is a critical skill to come to terms with in order to attain an elite score on the EA. The subconscious mind is not to be underestimated and is trained during your study sessions, so going with your gut will be an advantageous choice when under stress on test day.
Read a variety of non-fiction literature
Having a variety of reading material will help improve the necessary skills to tackle the verbal reasoning section of the Executive Assessment. While not as exhausting as the GMAT preparation period, the EA prep time requires supplemental material to help maintain motivation and concentration. It is common knowledge that EA and GMAT takers who score the highest on the verbal section tend to come from philosophical or liberal arts disciplines where the academic workload is largely reading and analyzing a variety of passages, texts and essays. Giving yourself the chance to read various non-fiction works and sticking to a plan will greatly increase your reading speed and ability to comprehend and analyze Executive Assessment passages. Standardized tests such as the GMAT and EA require a broad vocabulary, which many students achieve by studying lists and definitions. While it may be necessary to do a bit of studying from lists, it is much more bearable and beneficial to learn through reading and naturally develop the vocabulary and comprehensive skills that will lead you to success on the exam. Make use of this advantage and research a good reading list for non-fiction analytical texts to implement into your preparation curriculum.
Plan out your study sessions and adhere to them closely.
While there is no specific answer to the exact amount of time you need to put into preparing for the EA, there are certainly recommendations based on certain universal factors. The amount of time you need to spend on your study period boils down to many different factors including learning style, schedule and motivation. The more time you leave yourself with the better, but it is more important to lay out a concrete study plan that is realistic and able to be executed. The ability to customize the plan you decided to use is dependent on your academic discipline, overall verbal skills and understanding of how you learn best under the stress of an important standardized exam such as the Executive Assessment. It is important to respect the time it takes to become confident with certain aspects of the EA by being too comfortable in your experience with the topics at hand. On the other hand, it is just as critical to ensure that your preparation program is doable, and the daily time allocation can be adhered to. No matter how strong you feel about your knowledge of a particular topic, ensure that all topics of the EA are included in your preparation plan (although the amount of time you spend on the topics should reflect your strengths and weaknesses). Sticking to an overall well-rounded preparation structure is a critical step to successfully conquering the EA.
Make sure you take practice tests
Being able to look passed the stress and anxiety that inevitably comes with both the EA preparation process and the actual test can be achieved through incorporating regular simulated full-length practice tests. While the Executive Assessment is much shorter than the GMAT, you should not underestimate working under time constraints. While it is acceptable to go through each section independently during your prep sessions, completing the whole test in one go is vital to being properly prepared. Concentration will most likely be a small problem during the first couple practice tests, but be sure to keep the mindset that some part of your standardized test taking skills will improve with each finished practice test, which will help keep you motivated and on the ball. Simulating your practice tests with the exact time restrictions and trying to put yourself in an environment that will be somewhat similar to that on test day will alleviate anxiety and build confidence. If you become accustomed to the feeling of taking the full EA in settings as similar to the actual way the Executive Assessment is administered, then you will greatly increase your probability of scoring in the top percentiles.
Focus on your weak areas
With the EA covering both quant and verbal reasoning skills, it will be much more difficult to put prep time into those areas that cause the most trouble for you specifically. No matter if you are a math whiz and are very comfortable with equations and formulas or have a verbal background with texts and writing coming easy to you, proper preparation on all aspects is a must for the EA study process. One way to implement a sound plan is to closely identify your areas of weakness and try to show gradual improvement on them through tedious scheduling and lesson planning. This will also help to balance the topics you are preparing and avoid any kind of motivation loss even though more time will be spent on the content which you are not so excited to get into. Although it may be difficult to maintain focus at the beginning of the study process, fighting through and enjoying the improvement you will see over time will ease the burden. Putting in the time and effort to improve areas of weakness will not only be beneficial to your Executive Assessment score, but also hone skills that will be very useful later down the road.
Carefully track your progress
Something that can be very rewarding and also serve as a motivating factor is setting intermittent goals during your Executive Assessment preparation. While not as extensive as the GMAT, small victories you experience while preparing for the EA can have a major impact on getting to that solid mental place during the exam. Not only does setting goals and tracking progress improve your mental state with regard to standardized test taking, but it also will give you more in-depth information on weak areas that are not progressing at the planned pace allowing you to make adjustments to your curriculum in order to remedy it. Be sure to also use defined criteria to keep track of your progress. You can optimize your preparation period by routinely and frequently looking at the progress you have made. This allows you more self-evaluation leading to more efficient future study sessions. In the long run, you will be able to gain more insight into the methods that you respond well to while erasing those that felt ineffective and even perhaps a waste of time. Keep yourself motivated through tracking improvement and you will see better results on EA test day.
It is always difficult to decide between the EA and GMAT depending on what kind of program you are looking at. Either way, knowing how you operate and putting yourself in a situation that is conducive to your particular learning style will allow you to reach your full potential on the EA. Of course it is easy to read about preparation strategies, but having the discipline to implement and stick to them will pay off greatly. It could be that your GPA is not quite up to par or course load on your application looks a bit weaker than desired, a top score on the EA can push your application to the top of the pile and increase your chances of gaining admission into your target program. It is also beneficial for potential future job applications as they can view your EA score as a reflection of the skills that you developed and utilized to attain such a prestigious score. Implementing the strategies mentioned in this article will help take you one step closer to improving your EA score and, similarly importantly, developing useful skills for both your personal and professional future endeavors.