How to Prepare for the Executive Assessment – Part 2:
In the first installment of this series, we discussed the overall structure of the Executive Assessment (EA) and the exam scoring, as well as some key differences from the GMAT. If you haven’t yet read that, I recommend starting there.
Today, we’re going to talk about the test content, with a dive into the Integrated Reasoning (IR) and Verbal sections.
Also, just FYI: you’re mostly going to use GMAT study materials, since very few EA-specific study materials exist. (In fact, as of right now, only one official EA-specific tool exists: The Official EA Practice Questions tool. More about this later in our series.)
The test is always given in this order: Integrated Reasoning, Verbal, Quant. Here’s a summary of the major details:
The total score appears to be derived by adding your three subscores and then adding 120 to that total. For instance, if you scored 10 on the IR, 11 on verbal, and 12 on quant, your total score would be 10 + 11 + 12 + 120 = 153.
If you hit the middle score of 10 in each section, you’ll hit the middle score of 150 for your total. Most schools, at this stage, are saying that they’d like to see a 150+ (though definitely research this for yourself, as this will likely change for specific schools over time). Some schools have also started to say that they want the quant score, specifically, to be in the double-digits.
Integrated Reasoning (IR)
When talking about the GMAT, I’d normally leave IR to the last, since people don’t care as much about that score. On the EA, though, the IR score is incorporated into your overall score (along with Quant and Verbal), so you do have to be well-prepared for IR.
This section appears to be identical on the two exams. As on the GMAT, you will answer 12 IR questions in 30 minutes and you will have access to an on-screen calculator. Many of the released sample questions are straight from official GMAT materials, and our teachers who have taken the EA (including me!) haven’t noticed any significant differences compared to GMAT IR. Therefore, you can use standard GMAT IR study materials, in full, to prepare for the EA. (In fact, the official IR Prep tool sold by the official test-makers is identical to the IR Prep tool sold for the GMAT.)
There are four IR question types. If you manipulate and analyze data at your job already, then at least two of these question types will feel not-too-weird to you: Tables and Graphs. Multi-Source Reasoning (MSR) questions can be a little more complicated, but they are primarily about synthesizing data and information from multiple sources—presumably you already do this on a daily basis at work. The last IR type is still a pretty classic “standardized-test” type of question: Two-Parts.
The more verbal- or analytical-reasoning questions do not require any outside factual knowledge, but you will need some factual knowledge for the more quant-focused questions. The released official IR questions test the following quantitative concepts:
- Arithmetic, including such concepts as PEMDAS and unit conversion, as well as manipulations involving fractions, percents (including interest rate), and ratios.
- Algebra, including linear equations and formulas / functions / sequences. The latter can sometimes be quite advanced—good “bail” questions (guess and move on).
- Applied (story) problems, including a lot of statistics (average, weighted average, median, and correlation), as well as some rates & work and general applied story problems (translate and solve).
- Geometry includes some very basic “common sense” geometry (e.g., knowing that the square footage of a room can be found by multiplying the length and width). You don’t need to know any “real” geometry formulas / concepts for IR.
The Verbal section will consist of the same three question types that appear on the Verbal section of the GMAT, but you’ll only have to answer 14 of them, not 41. You’ll have 30 minutes or approximately 2 minutes and 8 seconds per question (on average). This is more generous than the approximately 1 minute and 50 seconds we have for each GMAT Verbal question.
- Sentence Correction (SC)
The early sample EA SC questions released were on the easier side (shorter underlines, less going on in the problems), but the ones in the full practice tool can be just as complicated as the ones that appear on the GMAT. Plan to study all major rules and areas for SC—Meaning, sentence structure, modifiers, parallelism & comparisons, and so on.
If you’ve never had a solid grounding in grammar (parts of speech and so on), then you may want to start with something like our Foundations of Verbal strategy guide and work your way up to the regular Sentence Correction strategy guide. In that second book, learn the main lessons for the major grammar topics and ignore anything that the book says is more advanced or more rarely tested (especially in the Extra chapters at the end of the book).
- Critical Reasoning (CR)
The official EA CR questions cover the full range of CR question types, with an emphasis towards Inference and Strengthen questions.
There are also a decent number of Weaken, Find the Assumption, and Discrepancy questions. There are only a few Describe the Role, Evaluate, and Flaw questions.
We can’t necessarily assume that the official test will follow these same trends. The GMAT tends to emphasize Find the Assumption and Weaken at about the same rate as Strengthen and Inference, so I would expect something similar to hold true for the EA. If you use our CR strategy guide, use the whole book, but prioritize Strengthen, Weaken, Find the Assumption, and Inference.
- Reading Comprehension (RC)
So far, our teachers taking the real exam have been given one RC passage with 4 related questions. We have a small number of data points so far, but we’re assuming that this is the standard pattern and most people will see this.
The passages and question types in the EA official tool run the gamut—Science, Social Science, and Business topics, and all of the usual question types. As on the GMAT, Specific Detail and Inference questions are by far the most common, with a smattering of Primary Purpose / Main Idea and various minor types (Paragraph, Specific Purpose, and CR cross-overs, such as Find the Assumption, Strengthen, or Weaken).
As with the rest of verbal, go ahead and use regular GMAT study materials to get ready for RC on the EA. For our RC strategy guide, use the whole book.
That’s it for IR and Verbal. Next time, we’ll talk about the Quant section as well as overall study planning.