EA Exam Goes Online Due To COVID-19

The Graduate Management Admission Council, administrator of the GMAT, today (May 1) announced the launch of an at-home version of its Executive Assessment test largely for Executive MBA applicants. Prospective students can register for the test starting today, with appointments first available on May 5.

The at-home EA is being called “an interim solution” due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has shuttered test centers around the world. GMAC said it would allow test-takers to sit for this option until June 30, though an extension of the test’s availability will be reevaluated at that time. The exam takes 90 minutes to complete, and no breaks will be allowed during the testing period. GMAC is not allowing retakes of the online version of the test unless “technical issues outside of the test taker’s control” can be verified.

While the test is largely used for applicants to EMBA programs. several prominent business schools now accept it in lieu of the GMAT or GRE for full-time MBA admissions. Last year, New York University’s Stern School of Business began accepting the shorter and easier test from candidates to its full-time MBA programs. Columbia Business School has also allowed applicants to submit an EA result in lieu of the more common GMAT or GRE for the past four or five years. And due to the COVID-19 outbreak, several other schools, including UVA Darden, have announced their intention to accept the EA.

‘OUR GOAL IS TO SUPPORT PEOPLE INTERESTED IN PURSUING BUSINESS SCHOOL’

The new at-home version of the test follows the release of an at-home GMAT exam two weeks ago that has met with great controversy. Many test-takers have been highly critical of GMAC’s decision to ban the use of either a physical whiteboard or scratch paper and pen for notetaking during the at-home exam. In their place, GMAC had introduced an online whiteboard that many test-takers say is a time-consuming poor replacement for what they could use at a test center. As of today, more than 2,000 have signed a petition demanding that GMAC allow the use of pen and paper for its at-home exam.

After sitting for the at-home GMAT on the first day it was made available on April 20, one of the foremost professional test-takers in the world believed that using GMAC’s virtual whiteboard tool without practice would have cost her 100 or more points on the exam. She ultimately concluded that a test-taker would need to spend at minimum a week, possibly two, to practice with the tool for it not to hurt their ultimate score on the test.

“That is the most significant downside of the test,” agrees Noodle Pro GMAT expert Dan Edmonds. “That is something I would practice pretty significantly. Their online whiteboard allows you to do shapes and texts and that is going to make solving math problems a little more difficult. Mouse drawing is terrible. It is slower and it is just not as satisfying. It is harder to do than writing by hand by a significant margin.”

THE AT-HOME EA WILL NOT BE AVAILABLE IN SEVEN COUNTRIES, INCLUDING MAINLAND CHINA

In launching the at-home Executive Assessment, GMAC did not address whether the test would also use a similar virtual whiteboard. In common with its at-home GMAT exam, however, all test takers will be authenticated via their digital photograph, an approved valid form of identification, and live check-in via a human proctor before starting the assessment. The workspace is also thoroughly reviewed and monitored before and during the assessment. The assessment is being monitored at all times, via the live video feed, by human proctors, supported by AI technology, according to GMAC.

“Our goal is to support people interested in pursuing business school, and to help schools better understand a candidate’s potential for success in their program,” said Manish Dharia, head of the Executive Assessment product, in a statement. “Working professionals have come under significant strain as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, transitioning to a work-at-home environment and learning how best to manage priorities in this new environment. It was important to us, and consistent with our mission, to transition our focus to a solution that will empower them to continue their pursuit of an advanced business degree during these uncertain times.” 

According to GMAC, the at-home EA can be used on personal and laptop computers with Mac and Windows operating systems and will prioritize the availability of the alternative assessment as the organization seeks to support test takers and schools in impacted markets, with the exception of markets limited by regulatory restrictions; these include mainland China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, South Sudan, and  Slovenia. Additionally, the Executive Assessment will launch with two accommodations for candidates with disabilities that meet specific eligibility criteria, 50% and 100% extended exam time options. 

Test-takers will not be able to preview their score at the end of the assessment. Instead, scores will be available in your account within seven days of completing your appointment.

Except for the online delivery format, said GMAC, the Executive Assessment Online is identical to the exam administered in test centers, according to GMAC. It offers the same sections, number of items, section times, scoring algorithm, section scores and total score as the test center version. As a result, Executive Assessment Official Prep supports preparation for both the Executive Assessment Online and the test center based version of the exam. Appointments for around-the-clock test dates begin on May 5, 2020 and run through June 30, 2020, at which time the need for the interim solution will be reevaluated. 

About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.