Scott Edinburgh
January 12, 2024

MBA Planning Week 3: Planning Ahead for the GMAT/GRE/Executive Assessment

To give you a head start and keep you on track in the New Year, Personal MBA Coach has developed a 4-part MBA planning series!

Check out week 3 today:

Planning Ahead for the GMAT/GRE/Executive Assessment

If you have not researched standardized tests since you took the SAT or ACT many years ago, a lot has changed. GMAT scores are valid for 5 years AND you can take the exam in-person up to 5 times during a 12-month period. There is a lifetime max of 8 tests, and you can take the test once every 16 calendar days.

Note: Starting from Jan 31st only the GMAT Focus will be offered.

Similarly, you can take the GRE once every 21 days and up to 5 times within any 12-month period. GRE scores are also valid for 5 years. There is currently no lifetime test limit for the GRE.

The Executive Assessment (EA) is a newcomer to the standardized test party. It has been used for EMBA applications, and more full-time schools are beginning to adopt it as well.

At this time, Columbia Business School, Duke Fuqua, NYU Stern, UVA Darden, UCLA Anderson, CMU Tepper and Texas McCombs are among the top schools that accept the EA for full-time applications. The EA is a shorter test so if you are pressed for time, it may not be a bad option.

Not sure which test to take? Watch this quick tips video.

If you choose to take the GMAT or GRE, but you are not happy with the result, you can cancel your score and the report does not go to the school. This change has led to candidates taking an exam multiple times. Our average candidate now sits for an exam 2 to 4 times (with some giving the test even more tries). While this policy is great on the one hand, on the other, it has caused average scores to rise as more candidates cancel low scores.

MBA test preparation practices for applicants have also changed as online GMAT, GRE, and EA options continue to be available due to the coronavirus.

Some schools even have test waivers in place. While it is too early to know for certain, Personal MBA Coach would be surprised if the schools that offer these waivers rush to remove them. That said, securing a strong test score remains a great way to stand out as a competitive applicant. Watch this quick tips video for Scott’s advice on when you should waive the test.

As for retesting, the Graduate Management Admissions Council has adapted its policy, now allowing candidates to take the GMAT Online exam up to two times. These online exams count toward the yearly and lifetime limits for the GMAT, though verifiable technical issues will not count toward this retake limit.

The EA Online also can be taken up to two times, while the GRE General Test at Home and the GMAT Focus have the same retake policies as the in-person test.

What does all this mean for MBA hopefuls? The pressure to perform is high and performing well takes advance planning! Personal MBA Coach has 5 MBA test preparation tips to ensure you maximize your score.

1) Start earlier than you think you should!

This may seem obvious, but with scores valid for up to 5 years and the ability to retake the test, there is no reason to wait. In fact, the earlier in your career you take the test, the better.

You have mastered most of the skills tested in the GMAT/GRE in undergrad (if not before). That said, the longer you wait, the less you will remember about reading comprehension and math fundamentals.

2) Take a practice test now to see your baseline.

Even if you do not intend to go full force on your studying just yet, take a practice test and see how you stack up. Check this score against your target schools to get a sense of what it means — to get started, check out Personal MBA Coach’s school guides for average scores. Getting a feel for how much work you have ahead of you will allow you to be more honest with yourself when putting together a study plan.

3) Set a schedule.

Be realistic about how many weeks you will set aside for studying and how many hours in each week you can carve out. Writing out a study plan will be easier to stick to and make it less likely that you will shortchange your prep time and need to cram last minute.

4) Think about how you learn best and use this to inform your study plan.

You know how you learn best. Do you thrive with personal one-on-one support? Do you do your best learning from books or online? There are countless support options available for the GMAT/GRE/EA so think about what would be best for you and plan accordingly! Personal MBA Coach’s tutors scored in the 99th percentile and are available to provide you with customized GMAT Focus, GRE and EA tutoring on your schedule and based on your specific needs. Our tutors also can advise which test is best for you before you begin your MBA test preparation.

5) Read short articles in The Economist or Science every week.

This is a great way to sharpen your reading comprehension skills and expand your vocabulary. Pick a few short articles every week and make your life easier come test time with limited effort.


There is no better way to maximize your score than through 1:1 tutoring. Get started today with Personal MBA Coach’s Tutoring Services before our tutors fill up! Our tutors have helped students increase GMAT scores by 90 points and GRE scores by 11 points.