Differences Between the GMAT, GRE, & EA for Executive MBA

Wharton’s EMBA program accepts three tests: the GMAT, GRE, and Executive Assessment (from candidates with 8 or more years of full-time work experience). Learn about the differences below and figure out which test is right for you.

Do You Need to Take the GMAT for the Executive MBA Program?

Wharton’s EMBA program requires one test score from the GMAT, GRE or Executive Assessment (EA). We do not waive the test requirement, but do allow students to choose which test they prefer. Note that applicants must have at least 8 years of work experience to be eligible to submit an Executive Assessment score.

All applicants need to take one of these tests for two reasons. First, they are diagnostic of intellectual aptitude as well as preparation in the analytical disciplines. Second, they signal to the Admissions Committee that you are willing to undertake the preparation required for this program.

There are several benefits of taking a standardized test for applicants:

  • Studying for a test is a helpful indicator of what to expect in Wharton’s EMBA program. You’re going to do a lot of studying and test taking in school.
  • For applicants who haven’t been in the classroom for a while, a standardized test gives the Admissions Committee more recent information to consider.
  • For people who didn’t perform as well as they had hoped during their undergraduate education, standardized tests can be a redeeming factor. Taking a test today gives the  Admissions Committee a sense of how capable you are now.
  • Grades can have different meanings across universities. A standardized test score gives the Admissions Committee a uniform way of assessing applicants.

How the GMAT, GRE, and EA are Different

The GMAT, GRE and EA are unique tests, so make sure that you research each one to see which is the best fit for you. Generally, the math is said to be more challenging on the GMAT. However, the GRE contains more geometry questions, which some test takers find difficult. The EA contains the same range of quantitative concepts as the GMAT, although certain challenging math concepts tend to be less frequent on the EA. In the verbal sections, the mix of questions is the same on the EA and the GMAT. The GMAT focuses on grammar, whereas the GRE focuses on vocabulary.


The Graduate Management Admissions Test or GMAT is a computer-adaptive test. As you answer questions, your answers determine the difficulty level of the subsequent questions. You cannot go back and review prior answers. 

The GMAT focuses on quantitative and analytical skills, asking you to interpret data presented in text, charts and tables to solve problems. It also includes analytical writing and verbal sections that focus on grammar.

For many years, this was the only standardized test accepted in Wharton’s EMBA program. As a result, we have significant data to understand how scores directly relate to performance in the program. 


The Graduate Record Examination or GRE focuses less on math and includes the use of a calculator for quantitative problems. It also includes a verbal section, which emphasizes vocabulary. 

The GRE provides schools with tables that allow admissions committees to convert a GRE score to a GMAT score. We use those tables to understand what the GRE score means in terms of being successful in this program.


Applicants with at least 8 years of full-time work experience can opt to take the Executive Assessment (EA). As a point of clarification, this 8 years of work experience must be accrued by the start of the program. 

The EA evaluates data-driven skills. It is composed of three sections: Integrated Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning, and Quantitative Reasoning, totaling 40 questions. You take the Integrated Reasoning section first, and then your score in that section determines whether you’ll get more difficult or easier questions in the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning sections. 

Applicants with the required years of experience are welcome to take this test, but the lack of historical data makes it challenging for our Admissions Committee to know how an EA score translates to success in this program.

Is the EA Easier Than the GMAT?

Although it is a shorter exam, don’t be misled by online sites suggesting that it is an easier test that you can take with little or no preparation. The more you study, the better you will do. It’s important to note that you can only take the EA twice, so make sure you prepare.

Should You Take the GMAT, GRE, or EA? How to Decide Which Test to Take

The GMAT was designed as a test for business school. If you know you want to go to business school, you might lean toward the GMAT. The GRE is more widely accepted among different graduate programs. If you’re not sure which kind of graduate program you want, you might take the GRE. The EA is only appropriate if you have 8 plus years of full-time work experience and intend to apply to only executive MBA programs.

How To Study and Prepare for the GMAT or GRE

EMBA Student Shares Her Strategic Study Plan for the Executive Assessment

How This Neurosurgeon Prepared for the Executive Assessment

  • Analytical Writing section with one essay: 30 minutes
  • Integrated Reasoning section: 30 minutes
  • Quantitative section: 62 minutes
  • Verbal section: 65 minutes
  • Analytical Writing sections: two 30- minute essays
  • Verbal Reasoning sections: two 30-minute sections
  • Quantitative Reasoning section: two 35-minute sections
  • 30-35-minute experimental section that can be either math or verbal
  • Integrated Reasoning section with 12 questions: 30 minutes
  • Verbal section with 14 questions: 30 minutes
  • Quantitative section with 14 questions.: 30 minutes
FormatComputer deliveredComputer deliveredComputer delivered
Test time3 hours 30 minutes3 hours 45 minutes1 hour 30 minutes
ScoringThe composite score ranges from 200-800. This includes your scores from the Verbal and Quantitative sections. Your scores on Analytical Writing and Integrated Reasoning are not included in this score. The score range for Analytical Writing is 0-6, in half-point increments, and the score range for the Integrated Reasoning section is 1-8, in one-point increments.Scores range from 130-170 in one point increments for Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning sections; scores range from 0-6 in the Analytical Writing section. The three section scores are reported separately and not combined into a single composite score.Total scores range from 100-200 points. You will receive results for each section of the assessment. All three sections are equally weighted in determining your total result.
CostUS $250US $205US $350
Score Validity5 Years5 Years5 years, but you can only take the EA up to two times.
If you are uncertain about which test to take, schedule a chat with a member of the Admissions Committee.