My father once told me that if you don't know where you're going, it's kinda hard to get there.
When it comes to getting in to business school, "getting there" means understanding the application requirements of the EMBA / MBA programs you're applying to — including their expected Executive Assessment (EA) score.
And that, my friends, suggests the answer to the question, What's a good EA score?
A good EA score is whatever will get you accepted by the schools to which you're applying.
Now, I know that may not be the answer you were hoping to hear when you clicked to read this article. But it's the answer you need to hear. Too many students are obsessed with getting the highest score possible. But why? Your goal is to get into business school. As such, your target score on the Executive Assessment should be something within the average range of scores for admitted students at your target schools. Nothing more, nothing less.
That said, there are some nuances to the above proclamation that I want to flesh out. I'll also break down EA scoring for you and give you some numbers that may provide an initial starting point for you to shoot for. But your first order of business should be to go to the websites of the schools you're going to be applying to — or reach out to their admissions offices directly — and figure out that number. That way you'll know where you're going, so to speak, and have a target EA score that you can start working toward.
Officially, the range of possible scores on the Executive Assessment is 100 - 200. That's what it says on the GMAC website. In reality, however, that's not quite true. Here's how EA scoring really works.
As you're likely aware, there are three scored sections on the Executive Assessment: Integrated Reasoning (IR), Verbal Reasoning (VR), and Quantitative Reasoning (QR). You receive a raw score for each of those sections ranging from 0 - 20. Those scores then get added to 120 to arrive at your final EA score.
So, for example, let's imagine you get an 11 on IR, a 12 on Verbal, and a 9 on Quant. Your total score would be 120 + 11 + 12 + 9 = 152. Not bad! (But let's work on your math skills a bit... 😉)
As you can see, the minimum score (assuming you got a 0 on all three sections) is actually 120, not 100. And on the upper end, your maximum possible score is 180 (assuming you got a 20 on all three sections), not 200. In fact, looking at thousands of scores going back several years, it appears that 2 is actually the lowest score you can get on any section, and 18 is the highest. That's why in the image accompanying this article, the range is shown as 126 - 174.
Whatever the true range of possible EA scores, the more important question is, what constitutes a good score? As we've previously discussed, a good score is whatever your target schools are expecting — and for a majority of business schools today, that's a 150. Incidentally, the average score worldwide on the Executive Assessment is currently 150.
To achieve an EA score of 150, you need to average 10 on each of the three sections of the exam.
One of the things that you may notice about the EA scoring algorithm is that the range of possible scores is pretty tight. That's not surprising given that there aren't very many questions on the exam to begin with. With only 14 questions on each of the Verbal and Quantitative sections and 12 questions on the IR section, one or two more right answers can make a big difference — not in terms of your overall score, which might only go up by a point or two, but in terms of how your score compares to that of other test-takers.
As noted above, 150 is an average EA score. That's also the median EA score, meaning that 50% of test-takers score higher than 150 and 50% score lower.
If you can improve your score even just three points to 153, that vaults you up to the 75th percentile, meaning you will have scored higher than 75% of other test-takers worldwide.
On the flip side, a score of 146 puts you in the 25th percentile.
153 = 75th percentile
150 = 50th percentile
146 = 25th percentile
As you can see, a majority of EA test-takers are bunched within three or four points of 150. And given that most EMBA / MBA programs are looking for scores around 150, that's a pretty good range to shoot for when you're setting your score goals for the Executive Assessment.
Note: Some of the top-tier business schools have told our students that they prefer EA scores closer to 155 or higher. If you're targeting the elite programs, you may need to shoot for a score higher even than the 75th percentile. Our comprehensive EA prep course can help you do that.
One of the dangers with discussing percentile rankings is that it encourages students to compare themselves to others. That's bad for two reasons. First, it's unhealthy. Comparing ourselves to others often leads to anxiety, feeling like there's pressure to out-perform our peers. Anxiety can take a physical toll on our health, but more than that, it's almost impossible to perform our best if we're over-anxious about the outcome. We want to go into the exam confident and calm and focused on running our own race, not worrying about how we stack up to someone else.
Second, comparisons give us an inaccurate sense of our own value. I only did well on the Executive Assessment if I scored higher than some random person I've never met halfway around the world. Not true. You did well on the Executive Assessment if you put in the time to prepare, executed to the best of your ability on test day, ran your own race, and got a score that you're proud of. Even if that score ends up being "below average" according to some chart, it still may be good enough to get you admitted to a wide range of quality business programs. And if your score gets you where you want to go and you feel good about what you see when you look in the mirror, well, that's what should matter the most at the end of the day.
Still unclear about certain aspects of EA scoring or how to determine what EA score you should be shooting for? Watch this video for a more detailed explanation:
Join our e-mail list to receive the latest news, tips, and test-taking strategies for your exam. Don't worry, your information will not be shared. Just high-quality content delivered straight to your inbox to empower you to a higher score, guaranteed!