Scott Edinburgh
April 21, 2021

Answering Your GMAT, GRE & Executive Assessment Exam FAQs

As we recently shared in our 5 month MBA application timeline, now is the perfect time for class of 2022 MBA hopefuls to begin their GMAT, GRE or Executive Assessment (EA) preparation.

If you have not already begun studying for the GMAT, GRE or EA exam, take this opportunity to sign up with one of Personal MBA Coach’s tutors before our slots fill up later this summer.

Even if you already have a strong GMAT, GRE or EA score, you want to make sure that you are fully maximizing your potential!

To help get you started, below are the questions Personal MBA Coach is asked most often about GMAT, GRE or EA testing.

How important is the GMAT/GRE?

While these tests are just one part of the application and are not the be-all and end-all, they are very important. Further, they will play a more important role for some candidates than for others. If you are applying with a weaker academic record or from a field of study that is less analytically intensive, your score (particularly your quantitative scores) will be key to showing that you can handle the academic rigor of an MBA program.

Additionally, if you are applying from an overrepresented applicant pool, differentiating yourself with a strong GRE/GMAT score will be even more important.

What is a good GMAT score? What is a good GRE score?

While naturally this varies from school to school, it is becoming less common to see students earn admission to top 10-20 schools with a GMAT score below 700. For the Wharton class of 2022, the average GMAT was 722 (the average GRE was 161 V/161 Q). For Stanford GSB, the class of 2022 average was 733 (the average GRE was 165 V/164 Q). Harvard Business School reported a median GMAT score of 730 and median GRE of 163V/163Q for the class of 2022.

When determining your target score, researching average scores is a great way to start. While those with a very strong profile, a unique background, or from an underrepresented applicant pool could gain admission with a below-average score, it is becoming less common to see large numbers of applicants with scores more than 20 to 30 points below average succeed.

In some cases, such as those discussed in the previous question, you may need to score 20 to 30 points above the average to even be on the same playing field as other applicants.

GMAT vs. GRE for MBA – Which should I take?

This question is much easier to answer. Candidates should take whichever test they can score better on. Schools do not have a preference about the two tests, and the GRE has become more common over the past few years.

Personal MBA Coach’s advice is to take a practice test for each and see which one comes more naturally to you. Generally, if quant is a strength the GMAT may be your friend while those stronger in verbal tend to prefer the GRE.

Further, if you have taken one test many times and have not been successful, consider changing gears and trying the other test. Of course, you will need additional preparation for this new test, but that may be worth the effort!

How many times should I take the GMAT?

GMAT scores are valid for 5 years and you can take the exam up to 5 times during a 12-month period. There is also a lifetime maximum of 8 tests, and you can take the test only one time every 16 calendar days.

Further, you can cancel your score and the report does not go to the school if you are not happy with the result. This change has led to candidates taking the exam multiple times. Our average candidate now sits for the exam 2 to 4 times (with some giving the test as many as 6 or 7 attempts.) While this policy may seem great, it has caused average GMAT scores to rise, as more and more candidates cancel low attempts.

How many times should I take the GRE?

You can take the GRE exam once every 21 days and up to 5 times within any 12-month period. GRE scores are valid for 5 years and currently there is no lifetime test limit for the GRE. Like the GMAT, test takers can cancel their score if they are unhappy with the result.

As with the GRE exam, our average candidate sits for the exam 2 to 4 times (with some giving the test as many as 6 or 7 attempts.)

How does online testing differ from the standard GMAT/GRE testing?

The GMAT online exam has 3 full exam sections: Quantitative, Verbal, and Integrated Reasoning. Currently, a new version of the online GMAT is being developed to also include the Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) section. The test is administered using the same time, scoring, and number of items as the test center-based exams.

At this time, the online exam is available in all locations, except for Mainland China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and Sudan. Like the in-person GMAT, scores are valid for 5 years and count toward the 12-month and lifetime limits. After the test, one retake is available for the online GMAT.

The GRE General Test at Home is offered everywhere that the GRE is normally available (except Mainland China and Iran) and is available seven days a week around the clock, with appointments available as early as 24 hours after you register. The online GRE has the same content, format, and on-screen experience as the test center-based exam. Your GRE score report will not indicate that you took the test at home, and the retake policies are the same as the test center-based exam.

How should I prepare for the GMAT/GRE?

Think about how you learn best and use this to inform your study plan. Personal MBA Coach feels that most applicants do best with one-on-one tutoring, allowing the applicant to target areas where they are struggling the most.

For this reason, we offer a variety of one-on-one tutoring packages with tutors who scored in the 99th+ percentile on the GMAT and GRE exams and are graduates of MIT, Harvard, UPenn, Yale, Columbia and more. Take a look at our tutoring services here.

What is the Executive Assessment (EA) exam?

The EA exam was designed for experienced professionals interested in pursuing advanced education and is most often used by those applying for EMBA programs, though some full-time and part-time programs also accept the EA. The 90-minute exam was created to assess the skills and knowledge of experienced professionals and evaluate business school readiness.

At this time, Berkeley Haas, Chicago Booth, Columbia Business School, Duke Fuqua, INSEAD, London Business School, MIT Sloan, Kellogg, NYU Stern, UCLA Anderson, UVA Darden, Wharton and Yale SOM programs accept the EA for Executive MBA candidates. Columbia Business School, Duke Fuqua, MIT Sloan, NYU Stern, and UVA Darden also accept EA scores for full-time MBA applicants.

Personal MBA Coach provides dedicated one-on-one EA tutoring. The EA is a shorter test so if you are short on time, it may be a good option to take advantage of our Executive Assessment test prep.

About Personal MBA Coach:

Founded by a Wharton MBA and MIT Sloan graduate who sits on the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants Board of Directors, Personal MBA Coach has been guiding clients for 14 years and is consistently ranked #1 or #2, currently holding the #1 ranking in the US on Poets&Quants.

We help clients with all aspects of the MBA application process including early planning, GMAT/GRE/EA tutoring, application strategy, school selection, essay editing and mock interviews. Our team includes a former M7 admissions director and former M7 admissions interviewers.

Last year, our clients earned more than $6M in scholarships!