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

Wharton’s EMBA program accepts three tests: the GMAT, GRE, and Executive Assessment. 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 (older version or Focus Edition, both now referred to as GMAT), GRE or Executive Assessment (EA). We do not waive the test requirement, but do allow students to choose which test they prefer.

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.


Wharton accepts the GMAT Focus Edition, now the only version of the GMAT offered, as part of our evaluation process. 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.


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. 

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. 

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. 

StructureThree sections (64 questions): Quantitative Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning, Data Insights. No writing section.Five sections (55 questions): 2 Quantitative Reasoning, 2 Verbal Reasoning, 1 Analytical Writing.Three sections (40 questions), completed in a fixed order: Quantitative Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning, Integrated Reasoning.
Acceptance Accepted by over 7,700 programs at more than 2,400 business schools.Accepted by 1,300 business schools.Accepted by over 250 programs at more than 100 business schools.
Scoring GMAT™ Focus Edition Total Scores range from 205 – 805. The previous edition of the GMAT Exam has a Total Score range of 200-800.The range of scores for the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning measures of the GRE General Test is 130 to 170, in one-point increments. Analytical Writing essay responses are evaluated on a 6-point holistic scale.The total scale ranges from 100 to 200, and the scale for each section of the assessment is 0 to 20. All three sections are equally weighted in determining the total.
Section Order Sections can be completed in any order. Sections must be completed in a fixed order.Sections must be completed in a fixed order.
Appointment Availability Appointments available up to seven days a week at a test center or around the clock for exams delivered online. Can be scheduled up to six months in advance.Appointments available up to seven days a week at a test center or around the clock for exams delivered online. Can be scheduled up to six months in advance.Appointments available up to seven days a week at a test center or around the clock for exams delivered online. Can be scheduled up to six months in advance.
Duration 2 hours, 15 minutes +1 optional 10-minute break.1 hour, 58 minutes.1 hour, 30 minutes. No scheduled breaks.
Score Report Official score reports can be accessed online typically within 3-5 business days.Official score reports can be accessed online 8-10 days after your test date.Results available within 24 hours if taken at Test Center; within seven business days if taken online.
Exam AttemptsFive attempts permitted in a rolling 12-month period and eight attempts in a lifetime.Five attempts permitted in a rolling 12-month period; no lifetime limit.Four attempts in a lifetime, two maximum attempts at a test center, and two maximum attempts for assessments delivered online.

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