Since June 2012, the GMAT exam went through a significant change. After years in which the exam had started with two consecutive writing assignments, one of those assignments was removed to make way for a new section entitled Integrated Reasoning (IR).

As this change was triggered by pressure from many leading business schools, the IR section's score is sure to have a major influence on your MBA application.

General information about the IR section:

The score is given on a 1 to 8 scale, in integer numbers. It's given mainly based on the number of questions that you have answered correctly, although there's a difference between the weight given to some questions, triggered by the variation in the percentages of test-takers which managed to answer that question correctly (again, that is why some of the questions are actually 'pilot questions').

Unlike in the quantitative and verbal sections, there's no penalty for leaving some answers unanswered, but of course you will not get any grade for those questions. In order for an answer to count as a correct answer, all its sub-questions must be answered correctly - there is no partial scoring of a question. For example, if a 'two part analysis' question requires you to make two selections, and you make one correct selection and one wrong one, the whole answer will be classified as wrong. That is why it is particularly difficult to be able to guess a correct answer in this section: In the quantitative and verbal sections, any blind guess has a 20% chance to turn out as a correct answer. On the integrated reasoning section, those chances drop to 11.1% for some questions and even lower for others. As always in the GMAT, each score is accompanied by a percentile, to help the business schools compare the achievements of the candidates. However, as the integrated reasoning section is new, its percentiles are still based on a relatively low number of test takers, and thus could change more often than the percentiles of the other sections of the exam. Currently, the percentiles are updated on a monthly basis.

Integrated Reasoning question types:

  • Graphic interpretation:

    In this type of questions you are shown a graph, a diagram or a chart, and then you are asked to complete 2 sentences about the graph by using a drop-down menu (each drop-down has 3 to 4 different options).

    PrepWizard's crew tip: when solving a graphic interpretation question, always isolate 1-3 pieces of data from the graph in order to make sure that you completely understand its structure. This should be done before you even begin to complete the sentences you are asked about.

  • Table analysis:

    In this type of questions you are shown a table with many data, which you can sort based on headlines of the table (just like a table in an Excel file). You are asked, based on that table, to refer to 3 statements and for each one to determine something about it (true or false, inferable from the table or not, could explain the data in the table or not etc).

    PrepWizard's crew tip: when solving a table analysis question, always isolate 1-2 pieces of data from the table in order to make sure that you completely understand its structure. Then, sort the table differently and isolate another piece of information. This should be done before you even look at the statements in the question.

  • Two-part analysis:

    In this type of questions you are given a text with some data, and then you are asked 2 questions about it. For each question you should mark an answer from a few options in a column. The 2 solutions are always connected in some manner (reflect a certain ratio between 2 numbers, different characteristics of a certain object etc). Often two-part analysis questions are based on quantitative problems.

    PrepWizard's crew tip: always remember that the 2 solutions are mutually dependent. This could help you eliminate some options and point at others. For example, you could be looking for the value of 2 numbers. If you know that one is greater than the other, finding the value of one of them could greatly help you find the other. Another helpful tool in these questions is the calculator - use it!

  • Multi source reasoning:

    In this type of questions you are given 3 tabs with related data. Those could be different aspects of a certain project (e.g. schedule, personnel and budget), correspondences between people etc. You can navigate between the tabs by pressing them. On the other side of the screen you are presented with a question regarding this text.

    Note that a few multi source reasoning questions (usually 3) are presented consecutively about the text, so don't be alarmed by the mass of the data (remember that this text is 'worth' 3 questions), read the text carefully and note details such as dates and places, as these could be useful when solving the questions.

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