GMAC Pilots New Test For EMBA Applicants

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Clearly concerned about losing marketshare from business schools that no longer require the GMAT for admission to their Executive MBA programs, the Graduate Management Admission Council has enlisted a half dozen schools to pilot a new entrance exam that targets EMBA applicants.

Developed by GMAC, the so-called Executive Assessment test (EA) would require less prep time for test takers, making it a lower hurdle for EMBA candidates. Several schools have dumped the GMAT requirement in recent years, including Northwestern’s Kellogg School, NYU Stern, Michigan’s Ross, Cornell’s Johnson, and the University of Southern California’s Marshall School. Others, such as Chicago’s Booth School, will waive the requirement based on an applicants work experience.

GMAC is hoping to convince other schools not to join the dump-or-waive bandwagon and to bring back some schools that no longer make a standardized test a requirement. This new $350 test will take only 90 minutes to complete, compared to the three and one-half hours required of the GMAT exam. The assessment includes 40 total questions and divided into three 30-minute sections—Integrated Reasoning, Math and Verbal. GMAC says the sections are intended to measure skills critical both in an EMBA candidate’s career and classroom experience, such as higher order reasoning, critical thinking, analysis and problem-solving.


GMAC developed the test with input from peer schools. “While the GMAT is a strong predictor of success in core courses for our full-time MBA program, we discovered it was not as accurate a predictor of success for EMBA students,” said Michael Robinson, senior associate director of MBA admissions at Columbia Business School, in a statement. “We believe the Executive Assessment will become the new standard for all Executive MBA programs.”

The six schools participating in the EA launch are Columbia, London Business School, the University of Hong Kong (HKU), the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, INSEAD, and the China Europe International Business School (CEIBS). GMAC expects it to open to the rest of the industry a year from now.

GMAC said that beyond serving as an evaluation tool for schools, results of the EA test are also intended to help prospective EMBA students identify which areas they might want to spend time focusing on before beginning their business school program.

The exam will be administered at the same 600 GMAC centers worldwide where the GMAT exam is currently offered. Prospective EMBA applicants who have already taken or still want to take the GMAT or GRE have that option—those scores are still valid as part of the EMBA admissions process.

  • SillyReally

    The GMAT or some ither standardized test is just not particularly useful for 30 and 40 somethings in the same way that it might be 20 somethings. In 30 and 40 year olds you can measure potentially 1 to 2 decades of real work experience as well as past academic transcripts to judge academic preparedness. For 20 somethings there is less to measure here. Also for 30 and forth year olds with work and family obligations and given the above comments it seems sort of silly to make them study for the GMAT again.
    Lastly, the proof is out there already from the top schools who have dropped the GMAT as a requirement or allow it to be waived – none of them
    Are complaining that somehow their student quality has dropped at all. So what is the point except to placate the GMAC and the 20 somethings who love to criticize eMBA programs happy…

    • hp17b

      Frankly, I don’t buy the “time” argument GMAC has made. I earned an MBA via an executive format, and I took the GMAT. The exam prep represented the workload of approximately one MBA course and spanned one academic quarter. The Executive MBA program required a minimum of two courses per quarter. If an applicant doesn’t have time to prepare and sit for a GMAT how on earth will they have a chance to satisfy the academic load of an MBA program?

      I also suspect that the applicants who balk over the GMAT will also balk over the EA. Perhaps the fact that the schools who do not accept/require the GMAT (Northwestern and Stern) are not participating in the EA pilot supports my suspicion.

      I think all EMBA programs should approach things differently by offering applicants GMAT preparation at a nominal cost instead of diluting the GMAT exam or not requiring it all. But, I do believe certain candidates – those who hold advanced degrees in engineering or computer science as well as other quantitative disciplines – should be eligible for waivers.

  • ThankGod

    I’m all for this exam and hope all schools adopt this as a required component of admissions process. There are so many unqualified students in EMBA programs that clearly do not possess minimum language and/or analytical skills.. it’s basically, if you can pay for it, you’re in! I know EMBA programs are cash cows for b schools but it’s getting a little ridiculous..


      You obviously did not attend a very good school.

  • Jazz maven 1980

    I took this exam and the GMAT – frankly i thought parts of the EA was harder than the GMAT in certain areas and that for section 1, there was not enough time.

  • It will be interesting to see if this catches on. Many of my EMBA applicants get frustrated once they realize the amount of time needed to prepare for the GMAT, so this will be appreciated with open arms.