This section is more realistic and sometimes more intellectually challenging than the rest of the exam. The elements of sorting data tables, interpreting graphs, and working with real world numbers like thousands, millions, and billions will apply directly to your future business career. Learning how to do GMAT integrated reasoning questions can help you further in your career. Take the plunge and go for it - invest in your future because the lessons you'll learn here will last you a lifetime.
Even though this section is more useful for your actual future business career, it does not affect your 800 score. Instead, you'll receive a separate score a few weeks after your exam that contains your integrated reasoning score - same as with you writing score. The GMAC folks also position the grueling integrated reasoning section near the beginning of your exam before the main show of quant and verbal. You'll first start off with the analysis of an argument essay for 30 minutes. Then you'll have 30 minutes for the intense integrated reasoning section. Only then will you actually get to the main quant and verbal section.
Since the integrated reasoning section is positioned before the main quant and verbal show of your exam, you need to be sure not to get overly involved in any single integrated reasoning. You also cannot get mentally exhausted with complex integrated reasoning questions so that by the time it's the main quant and verbal show, you are completely drained and cannot even focus. So you must know to expect this. The GMAC folks purposely position this non-800 scoring section before the main show to tire you out before you even get started. Don't let them!
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Q: Is all the studying I did useless now?
No. If you were preparing for the old version of the GMAT exam--everything you prepared for is still going to be on the exam. In fact, everything you prepared for before is going to count towards your overall 800 score. The only difference is that now with the new section, you'll get an additional score (out of 8) that involves these 4 types of integrated reasoning questions. The previous version of the GMAT gave you 60 minutes on writing 2 different essays. Now, you'll have 30 minutes to do 1 essay. That other 30 minutes will be replaced with this integrated reasoning section.
Q: What's the biggest difference between the new GMAT and the old GMAT?
Basically, what they did was swap the 2nd essay with the new integrated reasoning section. Everything in Quant and Verbal stays the same. Structurally, they are still computer adaptive. You'll still get 75 minutes each for each section. Quant is still has data sufficiency and problem solving question types. And verbal still has sentence correction, critical reasoning, and reading comprehension question types.
Q: Is there something taken out of the old GMAT exam?
Yes. One of the 2 writing sections (AWA) will be removed. Integrated reasoning will take its place for the same allotted time: 30 minutes.
Q: How long will the entire test be with this new GMAT section?
The entire test will still be 3 hours and 30 minutes long. You get 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) each for Quant and Verbal. So combined, that's 2 hours and 30 minutes. Before you even get to Quant and Verbal, you will see a 30 minute essay and a 30 minute integrated reasoning section. So all together, that's 1 hour plus the 2 hours and 30 minutes for quant and verbal. The total becomes 3 hours and 3 minutes (with optional breaks in between each section).
Q: How is the integrated reasoning section viewed by admissions committees?
Although the new IR section will be new for all admissions committees, the majority of them view the new integrated reasoning section as a move in the right direction. It may be difficult for them to compare candidates with this score in the beginning. But over time, as more data comes in, the significance of the IR score will increase. Still, the standard way for admissions committees to properly compare applicants will still be the overall 800 score and the breakdown between quant and verbal.
Note that a lot of the rankings - like U.S. News and Report, Businessweek, etc do not yet rank schools by the average IR score of their incoming students. Including IR scores in rankings won't happen for at least a few years since the scoring is new. Schools have a slight incentive to admit you when you make their school look good. After all, MBA graduates from any institution are effectively walking posterboards of that institution. These institutions are required to publish the average GMAT score of their incoming student body every year and this data is distributed widely. If your score is too low, business schools may have a slight incentive not to take you because a fear that you would lower the average GMAT score of the incoming class, which is published in the news.
On the other hand, if you have a good GMAT score, business schools like that because you can potentially make the school look good. Right now, the integrated reasoning scores are not published anywhere so a bad IR score from you won't make a business school look bad. But who knows? In the future, if the IR score is ever published and included in rankings, they may force schools to put a greater emphasis on integrated reasoning.
Of course, the schools at the very top have plenty of applicants with high GMAT scores so their average GMAT scores are always very high in the low 700s. But for second-tier business schools, having a high GMAT score is a good thing as such a score helps you make the school look good in rankings. Does that make sense?
IR scores are likely to have a greater significance than the AWA Essay, but a lower significance than the Quant and Verbal breakdown of the overall 800 score.
Q: Why was the new integrated reasoning section added to the new GMAT?
Because times have changed. Technology has moved fast and the amount of data people work with is a lot more than it used to be 15 years ago. The GMAT folks can't just sit around and pretend the exam they invented years ago is still applicable today. So in order to keep up with the times and changes in the business community, the GMAT folks have to make sure their exam is up-to-date and reflective of the skills that a business school student should have upon enrolling.
After surveying a bunch of recruiters and business schools, the GMAC folks got a better idea of what the industry marketplace is looking for. And so the new GMAT exam is the GMAC's attempt at trying to create a modern, more realistic exam that better tests and prepares students for business school.
Additionally, some business schools -- in an effort to increase the number of applicants, lower their admission rates, and appear more prestigious-- have begun to accept GRE scores. So the GMAT folks need to make sure they stay on top. They're definitely the still the standard exam, but the fact that the GRE is entering their turf makes them a little nervous. So the GMAT needs to prove itself as the better exam. So that's part of the reason driving the GMAT exam to be a better indicator of success in business school than it was before.
Q: Which Integrated Reasoning section is the most difficult?
Each section can be easy or difficult - depending on a particular person's skills and previous background. But if we had to pick a section, we would say the verbal focused Two Part Analysis questions and the Multi Source Reasoning questions are the most difficult.
The two part analysis questions actually require you to think - especially the verbal focused ones. They tend to be like critical reasoning on steroids. The structure of the questions with two columns and 5 or 6n answer choices is also a bit un-natural so may take a little getting used to for most test takers.
The multi source questions are kind of like reading comprehension where you are presented with a passage of information and asked to draw conclusions or inferences from them. So this section also requires a bit of thinking.
Q: Which Integrated Reasoning section is the easiest?
We wouldn't say there's such a thing as the easiest. But generally speaking, the graphics interpretation and table analysis sections may seem a bit more intuitive to most people. Graphics are visually appealing and require you to think less. You may be interpreting weird charts and working with unusually large or small numbers. But the data here tends to be actual, real-world data. So because of the realness of the data behind graphics and table questions, you might find these types of questions a bit more inviting than the two-part analysis and multisource questions.
Q: What are the percentile rankings for the IR scoring scale?
These numbers may constantly be changing, but the most recent percentile rankings released by GMAC are as follows:
94% => 8
85% => 7
70% => 6
54% => 5
46% => 4
26% => 3
17% => 2
0% => 1
You'll want to shoot for at least the 50th percentile in order to get a score that is good enough for admissions purposes. So in this case, that's between a 4 and a 5. If you're going for a top school, you'll want to hit at least a 5.
Q: Do you have any examples of students who aced the IR score?
Absolutely. Here's an official score report from a student who aced ALL sections - including integrated reasoning.
Q: What is the Integrated Reasoning Pill?
The Integrated Reasoning Pill (IR Pill) is the video online course solution for preparing for this new GMAT section. It is taught by renowned instructor, Zeke Lee, a Stanford graduate known for his very easy-to-understand approach to difficult GMAT questions. His thought process approach is very clear and efficient, thereby helping students minimize the amount of time required to answer any single GMAT question.
In the IR Pill, Zeke walks you through over 100 integrated reasoning questions spanning all four categories including two part analysis, graphics interpretation, table analysis and multi source reasoning. Each walk through is a separate video. And some more complicated videos (especially ones in the two part analysis section) are broken into 3 parts each to better help explain the complexities of the question at hand. Each video is roughly between 5 and 10 minutes long.
The IR Pill includes video solutions to all the questions you see here on the Practice Pill. So if you get stuck or if you'd like to see how an expert thinks through these multi-part integrated reasoning section, the Integrated Reasoning Pill is your solution.
Q: Sounds great! Where do I get the Integrated Reasoning Pill and how much is it?
The Integrated Reasoning Pill sells for $97 and you can purchase it here
Alternatively, members of the full package get access to the integrated reasoning section as part of the full package. You can purchase the full package here
As usual, each pill you purchase will give you a lifetime of upgrades. We are continually adding additional material to every section. Your purchase now will include all future updates.
Updates include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Additional GMAT questions
- Additional GMAT video explanations
- Modified GMAT videos to clarify points brought up by other students
- Answers to questions posted by other students
- Additional viewing experiences like watching videos on-the-go with your iPad mobile device.