1. Why IR Is Far More Important Than You Think

    There’s no better person than Vineet Chhabra, Director of Product Management of the GMAC® (Graduate Management Admission Council®) to answer one of the GMAT test takers’ greatest concerns – the Integrated Reasoning section. Since its introduction in 2012, this section has been the subject of many different, sometimes contradictory, rumors concerning its importance, its ability to predict candidates’ prospects to be accepted to business schools, and consequently, the importance of preparing for it.

    The Integrated reasoning section is yet another proof of why sound preparation for the GMAT cannot be done using books. This section was created in order to measure a set of skills that managers today must apply in today’s computerized, data-driven work environment. Based on a survey of 740 management faculty worldwide, the GMAC developed a unique tool for assessing managerial judgement and the ability to identify patterns and combine quantitative and verbal skills.

    What Is Integrated Reasoning?

    For those of you who are not familiar with the Integrated Reasoning section, it consists of 12 questions and has four question types: Multi-Source Reasoning, Graphics Interpretation, Two-Part Analysis, and Table Analysis. The time allotted is 30 minutes, and according to the GMAC, it measures skills such as the ability to organize and synthesize data presented in graphics, text, and numbers; and evaluate relevant data from different sources and how to use it to solve complex problems.

     Let’s see what Mr. Vineet Chhabra has to say about it.


    Vineet, it’s been about 5 years since you first introduced the Integrated Reasoning. Can you please tell us a bit about the process of developing it and how it came to be.

    In an era of big data, today’s business professionals are called upon to analyze more and more sophisticated streams of data, and business programs need to prepare their students for these skills. So it was a natural progression for the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) to add a section to the GMAT exam that assesses these skills. By doing so, the GMAT remains relevant and the premier admissions assessment for business programs worldwide. In fact, 9 out of 10 new MBA admissions are made using a GMAT score (refers to Top 50 US FT MBA programs).

    Specifically regarding the process, the Integrated Reasoning section was developed with input from faculty and admissions professionals from business schools and from corporate recruiters across the globe.



    And now, with 5 years’ perspective on IR, how has the IR been working as a predictor of success in the classroom?

    Over the course of four years, research has shown that the Integrated Reasoning section works well as a predictor of success in the business school classroom. While each individual business school program is different, overall results show that IR scores, as well as graduate grades and undergraduate GPAs, have similar correlations to scores on the Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning sections.

    Since admissions offices evaluate candidates based on a combination of factors rather than on just one, the predictive validity of these factors is used in combination. When integrated Reasoning scores are added to the prediction, the predictive validity is improved, regardless of the combination, which indicates that the IR score provides unique information to better predict success. Considering that the IR section is much shorter than the Verbal and Quantitative sections of the exam, the research shows that meaningful predictive value is added by the IR section.



    How do schools use the IR when they assess candidates for their programs?

    Schools use the IR section in several ways to assess candidates for admission to their programs. One way they use it is as an input and additional data point into the admissions decision, like other sections of the exam. Schools also use it to differentiate two similar candidates, or as an indication to take a closer look at one particular candidate. That is why we stress the importance of the Integrated Reasoning section to candidates. While it isn’t included in the Total Score, it can be a valuable means to differentiate oneself and stand-out from other similar candidates.


    So students should take it a bit more seriously.

    Students should definitely take it seriously!

    Schools use the IR section in several ways to assess candidates for admission to their programs.

    Additionally, validity studies have shown that the IR section adds unique information about a candidate’s ability to succeed in the business school classroom, so it is certainly not a section of the exam that should be taken lightly.

    As the GMAT exam scores are valid for five years and IR was introduced in 2012, now all test takers will have an IR score in a valid GMAT score report. This allows schools to compare IR scores across all their applicants, and schools will use it actively and consistently.

    The IR section was developed to assess the analytical skills that are in high demand globally in today’s business programs and workplace. A strong IR score can help a candidate stand out from other candidates.


    What, in your opinion, is the best way to prepare for the Integrated Reasoning section?

    As with any high-stakes exam, familiarization with the exam materials, understanding your strengths and weaknesses, and practice are keys to achieving your personal best.

    We always recommend using the Official Guide for GMAT Review to start the preparation, as the Guide features all four sections of the exam, including 50 Integrated Reasoning (IR) questions. These IR questions are accessible via the online portal of the Official Guide.

    In addition, our free GMATPrep Software has two full-length computer adaptive practice exams, which includes the IR section.

    We also offer additional prep materials in the form of the IR Prep Tool (with 48 practice questions) and GMATPrep Exam Packs 1 & 2, with 2 full-length, computer-adaptive GMAT practice exams each.


    In conclusion..

    The IR can greatly impact your chances of getting into your desired business school, and an increasing amount of business schools are considering the Integrated Reasoning section of the GMAT an important factor in their evaluation of your potential success.

    When preparing for the GMAT you should spend a sufficient amount of time practicing with Integrated Reasoning questions.

    Jack Oren Jackman
    CEO & Founder of examPAL. 21 years' experience in the field of test prep. Has written dozens of books and courseware, and personally taught over 4,000 students.

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