How to Study for the Executive Assessment – Part 2:
Last time, we talked about all of the basics of the Executive Assessment (EA), including GMAC’s great new EA Official Practice Questions study tool. (GMAC is the organization that makes the EA.)
I left you hanging at the end of that first post, though! We need to talk about how this “section adaptivity” works on the EA and what implications that has for taking the exam.
Adaptivity on the EA: Integrated Reasoning
If you’re already familiar with the GMAT, then you’re going to have to re-learn a couple of things that work pretty differently on the EA. (Not content—but how the test works.) If you aren’t already familiar with the GMAT, still read on.
You’ll start with the IR section. This section looks just like it does on the GMAT, and the individual questions are all chosen up front. In other words, the individual questions are not being chosen for you as you work your way through the section. (The IR on the GMAT works this way, too.)
Note: As far as we’ve been able to tell, there are no significant differences in terms of question types or content, so you can use GMAT study materials for the EA. In fact, GMAC has an IR study tool—and it sells this same tool for both GMAT and EA preparation.
So for the IR section, the only real difference compared to the GMAT is a practical one: You can move around within the section! It’s not the case that, once you answer a question, you can’t go back (as it is on the GMAT). You can also mark questions to come back to later (while you’re still working in this section). Later, we’ll talk more about marking questions during the section.
Adaptivity on the EA: Verbal and Quant
Your second section, after IR, will be Verbal, and your Verbal is going to come in two separate sets, or panels, of 7 questions each. You’ll have 30 minutes total to complete the two Verbal panels together (14 questions total). Within each panel, you can again move around and answer the questions in whatever order you want.
Now, here’s how the adaptivity works. Your performance on the IR section will determine the difficulty level of the mix of questions that you are given in your first Verbal panel. If you do really well on the IR section, you’ll get a harder mix of Verbal questions. If you do medium-well, you’ll see a more medium set of Verbal questions, and so on. (That’s what I’m trying to show with the purple circles—you’ll still have some range of question difficulties, but the range will not cross all difficulty levels.)
When you finish that first, 7-question Verbal panel, you will confirm that you want to move to the second panel of Verbal questions. At that point, you cannot go back to the first panel of questions. The second panel will be chosen based on how you did in the first panel—again, you might get a harder mix or a more medium mix and so on. And since this is now the second time the test is adapting to you, we would expect the mix of difficulty levels to be somewhat narrower than it was in the first panel—the test knows more about you and can target the questions better.
When you finish with verbal, you’ll start Quant, and this will work the same way. Your first Quant panel of 7 questions will be chosen based on how you did during your IR section. The second panel of 7 Quant questions will be chosen based on how you did during the first panel of Quant questions.
I already mentioned earlier that you have to take IR seriously because it is equally weighted in your overall score. There’s a second reason: Your IR performance determines your starting points on your first Quant and Verbal panels. Do pretty well on IR and you’ll earn a higher starting point on quant and verbal.
Takeaway: Study IR as much as Q and V
The takeaway pretty much says it all.
One more thing. Since you can move around among the questions within any one panel, we need to talk about a strategy for time management and for marking questions as you take the EA. How do you decide whether to mark something to return to later? And, if you mark more than one, how do you know which one to go back to first?