New York University’s Stern School of Business today (Aug. 19) said candidates to its full-time MBA programs can now apply by taking a shorter and easier test called the Executive Assessment. That test, originally designed for applicants to Executive MBA programs, is shorter with fewer questions and lacks the GMAT’s Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) section. Stern will be the second major MBA program to accept an EA as an alternative to the GMAT or GRE. Columbia Business School has also allowed applicants to submit an EA result in lieu of the more common GMAT or GRE for the past three or four years.
Instead of taking three hours and seven minutes, a test taker would only have to sit for 90 minutes to complete the EA. Test prep tutors also say the math content on the EA, also designed by the Graduate Management Admissions Council, is easier, with fewer questions on probability, statistics, and combinatronics. “Ultimately, you can think of the Executive Assessment as ‘GMAT Lite,’ says David Recine, a test prep expert at Magoosh, an online test prep company. “The EA has all the same elements as the GMAT, but stripped down to a more basic, ‘softer’ version.”
The quant portion of the EA poses just 14 questions versus the GMAT’s 31 questions, while the verbal section of the test also has 14 questions versus the GMAT’s 36 questions. The quant section of the EA takes just 30 minutes versus GMAT’s 62 minutes, while the verbal portion also takes just 30 minutes versus the GMAT’s 65 minutes. The EA’s integrated reasoning section is the same as the GMAT with a dozen questions over a 30-minute timeframe. What’s more, U.S. News does not count and has no plans to include EA scores into its formula for ranking MBA programs which means that schools can accept lower-scoring DA applicants and not worry about the impact on their ranking.
DECISION TO ACCEPT THE EA OCCURS WHILE MANY TOP SCHOOLS HAD APPLICATION DECLINES FOR THE SECOND CONSECUTIVE YEAR
Stern’s decision is being made at a time when applications to full-time MBA programs continues to fall, even at the most highly ranked and selective MBA programs. Only last month, Stern announced that applications for its latest incoming class declined by more than 5% to 3,518 from 3,718 the prior year (see Average GMATs Up Five Points At Stern). Along with the previous year’s 3.7% drop in apps, the fall pushed the school’s acceptance rate to 26%, a three percentage point increase from 23% a year earlier. It also had an impact on the school’s entering class size of 359, down slightly from the 370 enrolled the previous year.
While many schools have yet to report their application numbers, indications are that this past year’s declines are even deeper than the previous year’s falloff and represent the second consecutive year of falling applications for the most highly ranked MBA programs. Wharton today announced that applicants for the fall 2019 intake numbered 5,905, down 5.4% from 2018 and 11.8% from the school’s all-time high of 6,692 in 2017. It was the first time in at least eight years that apps dipped below 6,000 at Wharton, and it corresponded with the lowest international student intake — 30% — in at least that span (see Even As Apps Plunge, Wharton Hits New Milestones).
Beginning with the current 2019-2020 admissions cycle, the EA expands the options and adds flexibility on the standardized test component for candidates applying to Stern’s two-year Full-time MBA program and recently launched focused one-year MBA programs, the Andre Koo Technology and Entrepreneurship MBA and Fashion & Luxury MBA. Stern applicants can now choose to submit either the GMAT, GRE or EA as part of their application.
STERN SAYS IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN ‘AN EARLY ADOPTER’
According to Executive Director of MBA Admissions Rabia Ahmed, “Stern has always been an early adopter. We were among the first programs to accept the GRE a decade ago, and now we are excited to add the EA to our full-time MBA admissions process. As a school on the move, we recognize that business is rapidly evolving, and we’ve responded with new program options as well as innovations in our admissions process, such as the EQ Endorsements, to ensure we are assessing talent for today’s changing workforce.”
The EA was designed by GMAC to evaluate business school readiness in the context of career experience. The assessment requires a modest time commitment to prepare, is easy to schedule and short in duration. During the 90-minute assessment, candidates are evaluated on three areas: integrated reasoning, verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning. GMAC’s Executive Assessment (EA) is being used by nearly 70 schools around the world, including Stern for its Langone part-time MBA and Executive MBA programs.
The school noted that the standardized test requirement is just one part of Stern’s holistic admissions process. There is no minimum amount of work experience required to be eligible to take the EA. Stern’s Admissions Committee has no preference for the GMAT, GRE or EA; the choice of test is entirely up to the candidate.