An exam which is over in 90 minutes, and for which no advanced preparation is needed! It sounds too good to be true, right?

The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) launched a new product, called the Executive Assessment, on 1 March 2016 that is designed especially to evaluate Executive MBA applicants.

It is no secret that EMBA programmes have tried to make standardised testing compulsory in recent years. Executive candidates typically have much more work experience than full-time or part-time applicants, and thus are further removed from an academic classroom experience (and often have even less time to prepare for and take a standardised test). But GMAC have finally found the solution and it’s called Executive Assessment. This new type of test gives Executive MBA applicants another testing option that looks a lot like the GMAT, but may give an easier path to success.

The key is in the structure of the exam. It has much more focus on critical thinking, analysis and problem solving and much less on pure mathematics and grammatical structures.  Another positive feature is the amount of time needed for the test. Unlike the three exhausting hours of the GMAT, the Executive Assessment is over in 90 minutes, and the best part is that there is no preparation needed! Doesn’t that sound fantastic?

Let’s have a closer look at the similarities and differences between the two exams:

Test duration

The GMAC Executive Assessment contains three sections: Integrated Reasoning, Verbal and Quantitative. Each section is just 30 minutes long, and the exam is delivered on-demand at existing test centres around the globe. Scores are valid for five years, unofficial scores are provided at the test centre upon completion, and the same basic registration guidelines hold true (compared to the GMAT exam). Candidates are required to register at least 24 hours in advance, ID requirements at the test centre are the same as the GMAT, and while there is an on-screen calculator for IR, there isn’t one for the Quantitative section.

In terms of test structure, there are 40 questions: 12 Integrated Reasoning, 14 Verbal, and 14 Quantitative. Regarding pacing, there are no differences across Integrated Reasoning, but you do gain a little bit of time on the verbal and quantitative sections (compared to the GMAT). Also, the order of sections is slightly different from the GMAT, with Integrated Reasoning leading off, followed by Verbal and then Quantitative.

Check out: Rearrange the GMAT Sections Yourself

From a content perspective, the test seems to be consistent with current GMAT questions, but with a slightly more skewed focus towards business. If some of the practice questions posted by GMAC look familiar, they are – they appeared in previous versions of the Official Guide which seems to suggest content that is consistent with current GMAT questions.

And something important to note: once you start the test, there will be no breaks between the different sections.

Price and retake policy

While the test is similar to the GMAT from a content perspective, there are definitely some significant differences. First, prepare yourself for a little shock: you might think since you’re getting fewer questions and you are in and out of the test centre faster, there might be a discount. However, this shorter assessment will actually cost you more (350 USD, compared to 250 USD for the GMAT). However, there is no fee for rescheduling – unless you are less than 24 hours from your appointment – or for additional score reports.

If you are not happy with your score, you can retest, but you can only do so once, so make sure you are ready! Rather than waiting 16 days to retake the GMAT, the waiting period is only 24 hours.

Check out:  New GMAT Exam Features Launching 19 July 2015

Is it computer adaptive?

This test is not computer adaptive in the way that the GMAT is, so your answer to a question does not dictate which question you will see next. Rather, questions are released in groups (based on your performance on the previous group). This type of testing is called multi-stage adaptive design. The score scale is different as well – total scores will be reported on a scale of 100-200, and individual sections on scales of 0-20.

How to prepare for the Executive Assessment?

One of the benefits of the Executive Assessment being touted by GMAC is the significant reduction in preparation for this test. GMAC advocates minimal preparation and has not rolled out any preparation materials specifically designed for this assessment. While a shorter test might suggest less preparation required, it also gives candidates an opportunity to truly shine and demonstrate mastery of certain subjects and critical reasoning skills.

Which Executive MBA programmes recognise it?

This is a very important question because, just like currency, a test is only any good if the institutions accept it. Currently, the exam is being launched as an EMBA admissions tool. Six schools have signed on to use it as part of their admissions processes:  INSEAD (France), CEIBS (China), London Business School (UK), the University of Hong Kong, Columbia University (New York, US), and the University of Chicago (Illinois, US).

In terms of preference, the LBS website suggests that they’ll accept either the Executive Assessment or the GMAT, while CEIBS indicates a preference for the Executive Assessment. Columbia, the University of Chicago and the University of Hong Kong will accept the GMAT, GRE or Executive Assessment, and INSEAD only lists the GMAT as of 11 March 2016, but we can assume they will accept either the GMAT or Executive Assessment for future applicants.

And if you are still wondering about it, here are 10 reasons that GMAC give about why to take the Executive Assessment Test:

1. The Executive Assessment was specifically designed to evaluate the business school readiness of seasoned professionals just like you.

2. Because it was designed for busy professionals, the assessment includes just three short 30-minute sections with a total of 40 questions.

3. The assessment focuses on the skills that are critical both at work and in an EMBA programme: higher order reasoning, critical thinking, analysis and problem-solving.

4. The assessment requires a modest level of preparation.

5. The assessment will help you (or your programme) identify the skills you most need to sharpen in order to be successful in an EMBA programme.

6. You can reschedule your assessment as many times as you like, with no additional fees (as long as it’s at least 24 hours before your appointment).

7. Taking the assessment is a convenient alternative to meet your application requirements.

8. GMAC worked with top business schools to custom-build the assessment.

9. The assessment provides an objective confirmation of the calibre of students in your cohort.

10. You can take the assessment year-round at over 600 conveniently located test centres.

Sources: GMAC, Veritas Prep, Aringo