Your performance on Integrated Reasoning (IR) can affect the part of the test you really care about: the Quant and the Verbal. Follow the below 3 Keys to Success and you’ll be sitting pretty on test day.
Key #1: Minimize Brain Power Expended
Too many students have made this mistake already: they don’t study (or barely study) for IR, then kill their mental stamina during this section. When quant and verbal roll around, they’re mentally exhausted and what was already a hard test becomes impossible.
Your IR score does not directly impact your Quant and Verbal scores, but you’ll always have to do the IR section before you get to quant and verbal. In order to avoid an adverse outcome, you want to make sure that you can get a “good enough” score on IR without doing too much.
What’s a good-enough score? As of March 2014, the general consensus is to aim for a 4 or higher on IR; if you’re planning to apply to a top-10 school, aim for a 5 or higher. (The top score on IR is an 8.)
NOTE to future readers! The advice in the previous paragraph will likely change over time, so if you are reading this a year or two from now, check our blog for more recent advice.
Do not put your IR study off until the last minute. At least 6 weeks before the test, start to learn about the four types of IR problems: Multi-Source Reasoning (MSR), Table Analysis, Graphical Interpretation, and Two-Part Analysis.
(1) the strategies needed to answer each question type
(2) the one or two question types you like the least
I’ll recommend one of our own products to help you with this: our IR Interact lessons. You’ll learn everything you need to know via a very engaging series of interactive videos, and best of all, it’s completely free (as I’m writing this right now—no promises for future!).
Key #2: Know When to Guess
Next, do you generally like quant or verbal better? How do you feel about fractions, percents, and statistics, the math topics the most commonly tested on IR? Do you like those topics more or less than you like critical reasoning problems? Do you like pulling data from tables and manipulating it to conclude something? Interpreting graphical information? Or do you prefer synthesizing material from two or three primarily text-based sources?
Decide what topics you like least and combine that information with the one or two question types you like least. For instance, let’s say that you dislike fraction and percent topics the most. You also hate graphs and you aren’t too thrilled about tables either.
Exciting news! GMAC (the owners of the GMAT) announced on Friday that, starting immediately, we’ll get our unofficial IR scores as soon as the test is over. They already do this for our Quant, Verbal, and Total scores, so IR will be added to the mix.
As with the other scores, the IR score will be considered an “unofficial” score until you receive your official score report. You can consider these test-day scores essentially official, though, as it’s incredibly rare for something to change after that day. The folks over at GMAC are professionals; they’re not going to release scores if there’s even a small chance that something could change, upsetting students who thought they had earned a different score.
So now you won’t have to wait to find out how you did on IR. (You’ll still wait for the essay score, of course, but that’s not quite so nerve-wracking, is it?)
Need to practice IR? Try our new free GMAT Interact lessons for Integrated Reasoning.
Happy studying and good luck on test day!
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Bain & Co., one of the most coveted MBA employers, may soon use scores on GMAT’s new Integrated Reasoning section to screen applicants for consulting jobs.
Did we miss your favorite article from the week? Let us know what you have been reading in the comments below or tweet @ManhattanGMAT
My title is a little odd there “ why the very specific timeframe? Well, we know that business schools aren’t using the Integrated Reasoning (IR) section much (if at all) this first year, for admission in the fall of 2013, but we also know that IR will probably become more important over time.
How much more important? Nobody knows, but it’s a good guess that the process will be fairly gradual. We have decades of data for the quant and verbal sections, so the schools can feel confident in interpreting that data to help make admissions decisions. After the first year of IR, we’ll still have only one year of data; as a result, it’s highly unlikely that IR will suddenly rise to the same level of importance as quant and verbal.
So what should you do if you’re taking the GMAT sometime this year in preparation for a fall 2014 start? How much attention do you really need to pay to IR and what kind of score will be good enough?
Here are the current percentile rankings for the 1 to 8 IR scoring scale:
After seeing quite a few Integrated Reasoning problems floating around out there, I’ve found that one of the toughest situations to deal with is when instead of providing a single solution, the GMAT constructs a world with multiple possible solutions and then asks you to pick something that works within those parameters. Let me show you an example:
x, y and z are positive integers. The sum of x and y is 40. The positive difference between y and z is 20.
In the table below, identify values for x and z that are together consistent with the information. Make only one selection in each column.
Found the answer yet? If not, I think I might know why: You’re trying to solve for y. The problem is, y could be almost any integer from 1 to 39, as long as you pick values for x and z that work. You could figure out x and z for every single value of y, but that’s a very time-consuming strategy! Without the answer choices, there are more than 50 different solutions to this problem. So what is a better strategy than trying to solve for y?
This is the latest in a series of How To Analyze articles that began with the general How To Analyze A Practice Problem article (click on the link to read the original article). This week, we’re going to analyze a specific IR question from the Graph prompt category.
Let’s try out the question: here it is. Just in case that link changes, you can also click on this link to go to the mba.com website, and then, about halfway down the page, click on the Graphics Interpretation link. We’re going to try the 2nd of the 4 questions. If you’re going for an average IR score, give yourself 2.5 minutes; if you’re going for a really good score, give yourself between 1.5 and 2 minutes.
Note: when you are done, do NOT click the next button. Just leave it up on the screen and come back here.
First, read the complete solution to the problem. In that article, I discussed how I was able to answer one of the questions correctly even though I wasn’t 100% confident that I understood part of the description of the graph. I also talked about an important lesson I learned regarding how to read the questions.
This is the latest in a series of How To Analyze articles that began with the general How To Analyze A Practice Problem article (click on the link to read the original article). This week, we’re going to analyze a specific IR question from the Multi-Source Reasoning prompt category.
These prompts typically come with multiple questions (similar to a Reading Comp passage). First, give yourself about 2 to 2.5 minutes to read the prompt and take short notes. Then take up to about 2 minutes to answer the question.
Click on this link for the prompt and question. In case that link changes or gets broken, I’ve also included the text below “ but it’s best to use the link if it works because then you’ll be doing the problem in its official format. When you’re done, leave that page open (don’t click next) and come back here to discuss the solution.
Multi-Source Reasoning prompts consist of 2 or 3 tabs of information. Here is the prompt:
We’ve been telling you for some time now that admissions officers have been indicating that Integrated Reasoning (IR) scores won’t factor much into admissions decisions this year. Now, Stanford has gone on the record on its own blog.
Stanford GSB Associate Director of MBA Admission Allison Davis confirms that the school will focus on the verbal, quantitative, AWA, and total scores this year and that they will use this year to determine how to evaluate them in our process for next year.
Note, though, that Stanford is figuring out how to bring IR into the admissions process starting next year “ so if you are taking the GMAT now but might want to use the score next year (or later), then you will likely need to prep more for the IR section than will this year’s candidates. While there may be a bit of leeway next year as well, it sounds like the IR score will be a factor “ assuming, of course, that GMAC has done its job and the IR section is a valid indicator of b-school success.
I see no reason to think that the IR section will turn out not to be valid, so I do expect this score to become an important part of the admission process longer term “ but if you’re applying this year, take Stanford’s announcement as one more strong piece of evidence that you don’t need to worry about IR for now!
This is the latest in a series of How To Analyze articles that began with the general How To Analyze A Practice Problem article (click on the link to read the original article). This week, we’re going to analyze a specific IR question from the Two-Part prompt category. First, give yourself up to 2.5 minutes to try the below GMATPrep problem.
An architect is planning to incorporate several stone spheres of different sizes into the landscaping of a public park, and workers who will be applying a finish to the exterior of the spheres need to know the surface area of each sphere. The finishing process costs $92 per square meter. The surface area of a sphere is equal to 4Ï€r2, where r is the radius of the sphere.
In the table, select the value that is closest to the cost of finishing a sphere with a 5.50-meter circumference as well as the cost of finishing a sphere with a 7.85-meter circumference. Make only two selections, one in each column.
Circumference 5.50 m Circumference 7.85 m Finishing cost $900 $1,200 $1,800 $2,800 $3,200 $4,500
After trying the problem, checking the answer, and reading the given solution (if any), I then try to answer the questions listed below. First, I’ll give you what I’ll call the standard solution (that is, one we might see in an Official Guide book if this were an official guide problem “ a correct solution but not necessarily one that shows us the easiest way to do the problem). Then we’ll get into the analysis.
Standard solution: The formula for circumference is C = 2Ï€r. We can use this to calculate the radii of the two spheres (note that the problem asks us to find the closest values, so we can estimate):
This is the latest in a series of How To Analyze articles that began with the general How To Analyze A Practice Problem article (click on the link to read the original article). This week, we’re going to analyze a specific IR question from the Table prompt category. The GMATPrep problem we’re using this week is one that we’ve already discussed how to solve in a previous article; click here to read that article and try the problem first.
After trying the problem, checking the answer, and reading and understanding the solution (which you can do via the original article, linked above), I try to answer these questions:
1. Did I know WHAT they were trying to test?
- Was I able to CATEGORIZE this question by topic and subtopic? By process / technique? If I had to look something up in my books, would I know exactly where to go?