Integrated Reasoning: The Next Generation GMAT

The GMAT is changing this June with the addition of a novel section called Integrated Reasoning (IR).

What is IR?

A new 30 minute section replacing one essay

The IR section replaces one of the two essays at the beginning of the test. Like an essay, Integrated Reasoning takes 30 minutes, so the whole exam takes the same amount of time as before. It tests the same core skills as GMAT Quant & Verbal, but with a twist or two and rest of the GMAT stays exactly the same.

The new IR section is replacing one of the two 30-minute essays

Separately scored from the rest of the GMAT

IR will not count towards your overall 200-800 score. The GMAT will release more news in April.

Only moderately important for now

Most likely, admissions officers will put only moderate importance on IR at first, until they observe how performance on the IR section correlates with academic performance in business school.

When is IR?

IR launches on Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

The last day the current GMAT will be offered is Saturday, June 2nd, 2012.

What will MGMAT have, and when?

Public - April 24th MGMAT students - April 9th
  • New Official Guide 13th Edition w/ online IR problems
  • New GMATPrep on
  • Book + online question banks
  • Practice exams with IR sections
  • Online workshops

When Should I Take the GMAT?

If you can be ready by June 2nd, take it before

Why bother with a new section if you don’t have to? Schools will take valid older scores and popular slots and locations are likely to fill up.

If you aren't ready until June 5th or after, it's fine

All the work that you’ll have done is worthwhile—just do some additional prep on IR specifically. Your official score will take 20 days to arrive.

Why IR?

Most business schools use case studies to teach some or even most topics. Cases are true histories of difficult business situations: they include vast amounts of real information, both quantitative and verbal, that you must sort through and analyze to glean insights and make decisions. In short, the new IR section seeks to measure your ability to do case analysis in business school.

Quant and Verbal are integrated

You'll see Quant questions with a lot of words and Verbal questions with a lot of numbers.

Real-world data

Unlike GMAT Quant, IR will contain ugly numbers and extraneous information.

On-screen calculator

You will need to use the on-screen calculator to work with the numbers provided.

IR Content Snapshot

IR tests the same core skills as the rest of the GMAT. By preparing for the GMAT Quant and Verbal you are also preparing for Integrated Reasoning.

IR Prompt Types

An IR section contains 12 prompts and 4 types.

Interactive Prompts (probably 2 of each) Static Prompts (probably 4 of each)
  • Multi-Source Reasoning
  • Table Analysis
  • Graphics Interpretation
  • Two-Part Analysis
  1. Multi-Source Reasoning: Click on 2 or 3 tabs of info

    Multi-Source Reasoning prompt type

  2. Table Analysis: Sort the table by any column

    Table Analysis prompt type

  3. Graphics Interpretation: Figure out a graph

    Graphics Interpretation prompt type

  4. Two-part Analysis: Answer a two-part question

IR Question Types

Four types of questions can be asked. The question types look only slightly different from each other and more than one response per question is required on the three new types of questions.

  1. Traditional Multiple-Choice: Pick one of five choices

    Traditional Multiple-Choice question type

  2. Either/Or Statements: Choose one side or the other for each 3-4 statements

    Either/Or Statements question type

  3. Drop-Down Statements: Make one choice for each of 2 statements

    Drop-Down Statements question type

  4. Two-part question: Make one choice in each column

    Two-part question type


Required Mental Adjustments

The IR section will require a couple of interesting mental adjustments. On the Math side, IR will contain ugly numbers and extraneous information, while GMAT Quant will usually contain clean numbers and will require that you leverage all information given.

Integrated Reasoning - Real World GMAT Quant - Math tricks

Numbers are ugly, as if from the real world. The calculator provided on-screen is useful, even necessary. Results are sometimes "real," as if to answer a business question.

$0.478 billion ÷ 0.763% = ?
= 0.478 ÷ 0.00763
= $62.7 billion

Numbers are rigged. Once you see how, you can manipulate them nicely. No calculator is provided--or needed. Results are often artificial, like those for a math puzzle.

317 - 316 + 315 = ?
= 315(9 - 3 + 1)
= 315(7)

Extra information is often provided. You must sift the data to find what's relevant.

Example: In the following big table, how many cities have both >3% job growth and <8% unemployment?

Many cities in the table won't fit

Extra information is rarely provided. If you didn't use everything, you probably made a mistake. Your task is to follow a chain of deductions.

Example: x < y < z but x2 > y2 > z2, which one of the following must be positive?

Use all the constraints given.

Necessary data is provided in many different forms, such as tables and charts. Numbers can be embedded in lots of descriptive text.

Tables and charts are provided infrequently. Numbers are embedded in smaller quantities of text, such as short word problems.

On the Verbal side, IR will be closer to GMAT Verbal, with the exceptions outlined below. Most importantly, however, IR will require you to assess mindsets and interpret dialogs, while GMAT Verbal will require that you not read too much into the text.

Integrated Reasoning (30 minutes) GMAT Verbal
  • Lots to read
  • Fragmented prompts
  • Wide-ranging content and form
  • Integrated with Quant
  • Lots to read
  • Prompts in one piece
  • Somewhat narrower in range of content and form
  • Not integrated with Quant

Our Advice

Don't let IR mess up the rest of your test

Unfortunately, the Integrated Reasoning section is much harder than the Issue essay that it replaces. You have to absorb a ton of new data of various types, repeatedly shift mental gears, and make a swarm of decisions… all in 30 minutes. That’s some intense time pressure.

  • You will have to work fast to avoid rat holes.
  • Most importantly—you will have to recover very quickly for the rest of the exam, as your brain will be spent. How should you prepare to deal with this mental exhaustion?
    • Build stamina in advance. Take more than one full practice exam with the IR section included.
    • During review, study the fast and easy way to do each problem. Then drill that way into your head. Don’t be too cool to use the calculator.
    • Replenish your brain’s food—glucose. During the break after IR, drink Gatorade or a similar energy drink. Nothing else will work faster to counter so-called “decision fatigue” and restore your mental willpower. As you go to your locker, only get a beverage or an energy bar. Do not touch your cell phone or anything else—your exam will be immediately disqualified.

Make a few adjustments after IR

Quant adjustments
  • The IR section will give you ugly numbers so you'll need to use the calculator given. The Quant section will give you rigged numbers and no calculator is provided nor is it needed.
  • The IR section will make you sift through data and ignore much of it. The Quant section, however, will rarely give you extra information so try to use everything given.
Verbal adjustments
  • The IR section will make you interpret dialogues and assess mindsets. On the Verbal section, don't read too much into the text.

Advanced Integrated Reasoning Workshop Video

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