GMAT or GRE or EA: How to Choose the Right Test

GMAT or GRE or EA: How to Choose the Right Test

Are you looking to pursue an MBA program but must decide whether to take the GMAT, GRE, or EA? Many prospective MBA candidates face this dilemma daily when considering which test to take for admission to business school. Let’s take a quick look at the differences between the GMAT, GRE, and EA. It will help you make a suitable choice for your MBA.  

MBA admission requirements differ from program to program. Some programs waive all testing requirements, some allow you to choose your preferred test, while others prefer one test. The bottom line is that most top-tier business programs will require you to submit standardized test scores to determine your problem-solving skills, higher-order thinking, and, more importantly, your dedication to the program. So, which of these three tests should you choose?


The GMAT is a computer adaptive test (CAT) designed by the GMAC to evaluate the business school readiness of prospective candidates. Over 200,000 candidates in the early stages of their careers take the GMAT every year as part of their preparations before applying for full-time MBA programs.

The Executive Assessment 

Like the GMAT, the Executive  Assessment (EA) is a computer adaptive test(CAT). However, the EA seeks to determine the business school readiness of experienced professionals who want to thrive in their chosen fields. It is a relatively new exam that was only introduced in 2016, unlike the GMAT, which has been around for over 60 years. It is quite similar to GMAT and has been referred to as the ‘GMAT lite.’


The GRE is administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS). It is an admission requirement at thousands of graduate schools, including business schools. The exam evaluates your quantitative and verbal reasoning, critical thinking, and analytical writing skills. 

Basic Comparison 

The GMAT, GRE, and EA all test roughly the same quant concept, rules, and skills. Quant questions on the GRE are more textbook-like math. The GMAT and EA usually write quant questions in a way that shows your number sense and ability to think logically about these concepts being tested. The quant sections in these exams also differ in question frequency. For example, the quant section in the GRE typically has more geometry questions than in the GMAT. There are no geometry questions in the EA. 

The verbal sections in the GMAT and EA test grammar, while the GRE tests vocabulary. 

All three tests are computer-adaptive. This means the questions will get progressively more straightforward or complex depending on how well you do as you take them. They are all currently offered both online and at test centers.  

Deciding which exam to take 

Here are some factors you should consider before deciding which test to take and submit as part of your postgraduate application process:

Test Eligibility 

Almost 100 schools accept an EA score as part of their admission requirements into their Executive MBA programs. This number increases yearly as the EA gains more acceptability. Even some full-time MBA programs, such as Columbia Business School and NYU’s Stern, currently accept an EA score as an option for entry. Before taking the EA, determine if your targeted program will accept an EA score. 

The GRE is accepted by most but not all MBA programs as part of their entry requirements. The GMAT is widely accepted and used in over 2,000 schools worldwide. 

It is worth noting that, unlike the GMAT and EA, specifically designed for candidates applying to business schools, the GRE is accepted by many different programs. If you’re yet to decide which graduate program you want to pursue, the GRE may be your best option. It may limit your choices of business schools if you decide to do an MBA, but a little bit. Before you take your standardized test, check your target MBA or EMBA programs to determine whether they require, accept, or prefer the GRE, GMAT, or EA score. 


All three tests contain quantitative and verbal reasoning sections. The GMAT has four sections, whereas the GRE and EA have only three. The EA and GMAT have an Integrated Reasoning section. While the GMAT and GRE both have a writing section, the EA does not have an Analytical Writing Assessment section. 

The quant sections in the EA and GMAT contain Data Sufficiency and Problem-Solving questions, while the GRE quant section contains Quantitative Comparison and Numeric Entry questions. 

The verbal sections in the GMAT and the EA focus more on grammar; they contain the same question types: Reading Comprehension, Critical Reasoning, and Sentence  Corrections. On the other hand, the GRE focuses more on vocabulary, and the verbal section consists of Reading Comprehension, Text Completion, and Sentence Equivalence. If, for instance, you are more comfortable with grammar, then you should steer clear of the GRE in favor of the GMAT or EA.


If you have decided to go for either the EA or GMAT, you can dig deeper to compare the scoring. Even though both exams are computer-adaptive, the GMAT is item-adaptive. This means the difficulty level changes after every question, and you must answer the questions in the order in which they appear. EA is section adaptive, which means the difficulty level changes after every group of questions. You can choose to answer the questions within a section in any order. This flexibility makes the EA easier to handle for some people. 

The GRE is also section adaptive. The GRE’s verbal and quantitative sections are divided into two parts. If you score highly on the first part of the quant section, the second part will be more complex, resulting in a higher section score. The same applies to the verbal section.  

The EA is a readiness assessment. It enables business schools to determine whether candidates have the skills to perform at the graduate level. It is optional to get the highest score but to pass a certain threshold. Much unlike the EA, the GRE, and GMAT are seen in how high you score, showing your relative comfort with the materials on the test.

The EA is scored on a scale of 100-200. A score of 150 is acceptable for most schools that accept the EA. The GMAT is scored on a 200-800 score range. A score of 700  will help you get into the most competitive MBA programs. You should score as high as 750+ for the most competitive programs. 

The GRE is scored on a scale of 130-170. Before taking the GRE, reach out to your target schools to determine their desired score range. 

Difficulty level

The GMAT is longer and is widely considered a more difficult test than the EA. In general, the GMAT will test your academic readiness more vigorously than the EA, which takes into consideration your skills and experience. The quant section in the EA does not contain any geometry, so if geometry is not your strong suit, this might be the test for you. Besides that, there is no significant difference between the two quant sections. We may not be able to compare the GRE with the GMAT and EA directly, but some people say the GRE is easier. However, this may be subjective. If you have not decided which test you want, why not take diagnostic tests on all three and decide which one you are more comfortable with? 


The GRE costs $ 205, the GMAT costs $275, and the EA costs $350. This significant difference in cost is something you should take into consideration. However, remember that the GMAT is a more demanding exam regarding time spent in preparation and resources, including textbooks and even coaching. You are likely to spend more money preparing for the GMAT. In addition, the higher cost of the EA comes with more features, such as no rescheduling and no extra cost for sending your results to schools. 

Scholarships and Internships 

Are you hoping for consideration in scholarship opportunities? Then, you must determine which tests are accepted or preferred by the programs you want to apply to. Most companies, especially in investment consulting and banking, will require exceptionally high scores for internships and job opportunities, and often, the GMAT is preferred over the EA and the GRE. 

The most important consideration for the GRE over the GMAT and EA is its consideration for many other graduate programs. For example, you can do a dual degree in Law and Business. The GRE will have you covered for both, which means you don’t have to do two different tests for consideration. 

The GMAT, EA, and GRE are all unique tests. Therefore, research each one to know the best fit for you. Remember, the EA and GMAT test your readiness for business school, but the GRE is considered for many other programs. Also, consider whether you want to highlight your academic readiness or career accomplishments when applying. Most importantly, remember that adequate preparation is critical no matter which test you choose to take. Consider a prep course for each of these exams when you decide to take the tests.

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