How to Score Well in GMAT Integrated Reasoning

    Sayantani Barman Sayantani Barman
    Study Abroad Expert

    Graduate Management Aptitude Test is considered to be one of the most sought after examinations to get admission in B-Schools across the world. This makes it one of the favorite children of competition. It goes without saying that in order to score well in GMAT, each and every section plays a very important role. The Integrated Reasoning section of GMAT is just an extension of the Quantitative Aptitude and Verbal Ability Sections. This is because the questions in the Integrated Reasoning demand the integration and application of Critical Reasoning, Reading Comprehension and Quantitative Skills to analyze the data in order to solve complex problems. The GMAT score is calculated only on the basis of the Quantitative Aptitude and the Verbal Ability sections. However, the candidate should also do well in the Integrated Reasoning Section as it can prove to be a key data point for a competitive candidate.

    In GMAT every section has a significant role in deciding the candidate’s fate. The GMAT Integrated Reasoning is no less and in fact, the importance of this section to admission into the top B- Schools are increasing with time. This can be understood through a 2015 survey, in which more than 200 admission officers from the B-Schools of the United Kingdom and the United States of America were asked about the GMAT Integrated Reasoning Score. The survey revealed that more than 59% of the admission officers consider this section as an important part of evaluating the candidate. The same survey was done in 2014, where the Integrated Reasoning Section was an essential part of the evaluation for just 41% admission offices. The same was 22% in 2012 when it introduced for the first time by the Graduate Management Admission Council. Every B-School has a variation in emphasizing the importance of the GMAT Integrated Reasoning Section, but it is for sure an important part today than it was in 2012 when it was introduced or even 2015.

    Types of questions asked in the GMAT Integrated Reasoning Section

    The Integrated Reasoning section lasts for 30 minutes and consists of 12 questions. These questions are selected randomly from a pool of questions. These questions are of four types:

    • Multi-Source Reasoning - Mixture of passages, charts, and graphs.
    • Table Analysis – Answer questions based on information from a table that is full of data.
    • Graphics Interpretation – Interpreting different graphs including pie charts, line charts, scatter plot, etc.
    • Two-Part Analysis – Answering questions based on the information that is divided into two different parts.

    While this is a separate section in itself, it is denoted as a combination of the GMAT Quantitative Aptitude and Verbal Ability Sections. The questions will involve these two sections either together or individually. It is also important to highlight that some questions have multiple sub-questions. The candidates are also provided with a basic online calculator only for the Integrated Reasoning Section.

    Purpose and Importance of the GMAT Integrated Reasoning section in MBA admissions

    The requirement of a new section came when the B-Schools were finding it difficult to differentiate between the best performers just on the basis of the GMAT Score and the work experience. With several discussions between the Graduate Management Admission Council, top B-Schools and various Recruiters, the decision was made to add the integrated reasoning section individually which will not impact the GMAT Score but would be scored and a percentile would also be reported. The importance given to the score of this section depends on the B-School or the Recruiter. While some B-Schools or recruiters will use it actively whereas some would not consider it essential.

    The GMAT Integrated Reasoning Section is all about solving complex problems that require good reasoning skills. The candidate will be presented with lots of data, which is to be analyzed. The data presented in the questions could be in multiple formats, for example, tables, charts, and graphs. Thus, the GMAT Integrated Reasoning section requires the integration of the Quantitative ability as well as the reasoning ability of the candidate.

    GMAT Integrated Reasoning Section in comparison with Quantitative Aptitude and Verbal Ability Sections

    Even though the Integrated Reasoning Section in GMAT is an integration of the Quantitative Aptitude and GMAT Verbal Ability Sections, there are still a few differences:

    • The GMAT Integrated Reasoning section is not computer adaptive as compared to the Quantitative or the Verbal Ability Section. The questions in the IR section are selected randomly from a pool of questions just before the beginning of the section.
    • In the GMAT Score report, the GMAT integrated reasoning scaled score is reported along with a percentile score based on historical 3-years of score data. The scaled score is separated by 1 point with the score ranging from 1 to 8.
    • This section will contain questions having multiple sub-questions, where each must be answered correctly to get the credit. There are no partial credits.
    • The candidate will get the facility of the online calculator with basic functionality in the GMAT integrated reasoning section, whereas there is no calculator

    Preparation tips for the GMAT Integrated Reasoning Section - Graphics Interpretation Type Questions

    In graphics interpretation type of questions, the candidate will be shown data in form of charts and graphs. The candidates need to interpret this data and then answer the questions. A question might have multiple sub-questions and in order to get the full credits, attempting each sub-question correctly is important. However, these types of questions take a lot of time, candidate’s can follow the below GMAT Preparation Tips for such questions:

    • It is important to understand the real meaning of the data and what the data is trying to tell.
    • As the data will have a lot of numbers, it is very important to pay attention to the units of measurement followed in the question.
    • Since there will be a lot of charts involved, try to find a trend in the data such as directly proportional, inversely proportional, etc.
    • Always check the answer choices before starting the calculation to have an idea of what type of answer is required like in the absolute term or in percentage term, etc.
    • Candidate must be aware of all the different types of charts and graphs like pie charts, scatter plots, etc.

    Preparation tips for the GMAT Integrated Reasoning Section - Table Analysis Type Questions

    For those from the data analytics field, this is a cakewalk as here the data is presented in the form of a spreadsheet-like table. This table is sorted by the leftmost column in the table. The questions will have two options like yes/no, true/false, supported/not supported. Candidates can follow the following Preparation Tips for the Table Analysis type of questions:

    • Candidate must take cognizance of all the different columns that are given in table.
    • Some variables are built with the use of two variable, known as the calculated variable, can be used to determine certain values in the table.
    • It is not recommended to spend too much time in identifying any patterns or trends in the data provided as it will only eat up the important time.
    • Understanding the questions is similar to the skills required for the reading comprehension section in GMAT verbal. Thus, try to gain the perspective as to what the question is referring to.
    • The candidate must use the sorting functionality as it is there to save the time and gather the important information quickly.

    Preparation tips for the GMAT Integrated Reasoning Section - Two-Part Analysis type Questions

    These types of questions have two tasks and these tasks have the same answer choices having 5-6 answer choices. This type of question can be subdivided into three different types including Quant questions, Critical Reasoning questions and Follow the Rules Type of questions. Listed below are few preparation tips and a few pointers which will help in solving such questions:

    • Candidate must first try to identify and determine if the question is quantitative i.e. having numbers or algebraic expressions or Critical Reasoning i.e. having keywords such as infer, conclude, assume, etc.
    • In case of GMAT critical reasoning type of question, the candidate must identify the premises and conclusion.
    • Further, it is important to determine if the tasks are dependent or independent of each other, i.e. if the value of one answer determines the value of the other.
    • In case the tasks are dependent on each other, then look for an approach that relates the two answers like in a quant type question with dependent tasks, using a system of equations based approach would work best as it would effectively relate the two answers and in case of the independent task, it is better to tackle the easier task first as it may give an additional insight that may be helpful in solving the harder task.

    Preparation tips for the GMAT Integrated Reasoning Section - Multi-Source Reasoning Type Questions

    Here, the data is presented in the form of 2-3 tabbed pages where the information provided can include text, tables or graphics, along with the corresponding tasks which are presented in the other half of the computer screen. The candidates can follow the below Preparation tips to attempt the multi-source reasoning questions:

    • Candidates must acquire all the information as it will help in connecting the dots while answering the questions
    • With the Reading Comprehension Questions, the candidate must read the content and summarize the key information. It will also help in answering questions having 3-4 different sub-questions as summarizing the content will help in finding the correct answer.
    • Candidate can wisp divide the scratchpad into different columns. This will help in noting down the summary of each tabbed page.
    • With a few tricky questions, the answer suddenly changes with respect to some questions from tab to tab. Hence it is important to not stop reading as there could be some important additional information in further tabbed pages.



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