On Tuesday, June 5th, the GMAT is changing with the addition of a new section called Integrated Reasoning (IR). All of our Manhattan GMAT prep classes now cover Integrated Reasoning and will prepare our students for both the old test and the new test. Our IR Strategy Guide will be released to Manhattan GMAT students on April 9th and the general public on April 24th.
The following article is an overview of Integrated Reasoning written by Manhattan GMAT’s Vice President of Academics, Chris Ryan.
What is Integrated Reasoning (IR)?
IR is a new, 30-minute section that’s going to replace the Issue Essay on June 5. No other part of the GMAT will be affected. IR will have a separate score—it will not factor into the 200-800 score that you really care about.
Moreover, the new IR score will be relatively unimportant in the admissions process, for at least years. Why? The 200-800 score (together with your undergrad GPA) is a pretty good predictor of your first-year grades. That’s why the GMAT exists—to help admissions committees figure out how well you can handle the academic side of business school. Decades of research support this use of the 200-800 score.
Now along comes a brand-new section of the GMAT with a separate score. How will admissions committees use this score? They’ll look at it as just another piece of data on you—a piece of data that isn’t calibrated, because there’s absolutely zero history. Right now, it’s impossible to examine the relationship between IR scores and academic performance in b-school. There’s just a hypothesis that these things will correlate.
So, while we think this new section is interesting and well-designed, don’t overstress about it, because schools won’t care that much about your IR score.
Plus, Integrated Reasoning tests the same core skills as the rest of the GMAT! By preparing for GMAT Quant and Verbal, you’re doing the most important prep work you can do for IR.
When should I take the GMAT?
If you can be ready by June 2 (the last day of the old GMAT), take it!
- Why bother with the new section at all?
- For 99.99% of folks, the Issue Essay is easier than Integrated Reasoning.
- Schools will take valid older GMAT scores, which are good for up to 5 years.
So if you’re ready by June 2 for the main event of the GMAT (the Quant and Verbal sections), then by all means, go ahead. Popular locations and time slots will fill up quickly, so book as soon as you can.
But if you won’t be ready until after the new section goes live, you’ll be fine!
- All the preparation that you’re doing now (or that you will do by June 5) will apply to the new GMAT.
- You’ll just need to do some additional training for IR specifically.
By the way, after June 5, it’ll take a full 20 days to receive official scores, so keep that fact in mind as you schedule your test.
What’s different about IR?
Integrated Reasoning emphasizes certain topics at the expense of other topics:
- Emphasis on Percents, Statistics, Reading Comprehension, and so on.
- DE-emphasis on topics such as Grammar and Number Properties.
IR also has some funky new formats of questions. Hey, sort this table! Pick two answers, one in each column! You just have to get used to these new looks.
As the label says, Integrated Reasoning is integrated: it mixes together Quant and Verbal. You get Quant with a lot of words, or Verbal with numbers—take your pick.
You will also encounter real-world data—lots of ugly numbers. You’ll be able to call up a simple calculator on-screen—and in fact, you should be ready to do so, because some of these IR numbers fell out of the ugly tree and hit all the branches.
Why is IR this way? In business school, you’ll analyze cases—real-world histories of companies that include a lot of text and numbers. More than any other section of the GMAT, Integrated Reasoning gives you a foretaste of case analysis.
That’s why “real-world” topics such as Percents, Decimals, Statistics, and Reading Comp are more important on IR than “math puzzle” or “grammar nerd” topics.
What’s the real danger of IR?
The real danger is that IR could mess up the rest of your test, if you let it. This new section will throw big charts and long passages at you. You’ll be under real time pressure to finish.
And once you’re done, you’ll have to start the part that really matters!
So how do you make sure that IR goes down smoothly and then vanishes like a burp in the wind?
- Build stamina in advance. When you take your second practice test, your third, and so forth, don’t skip IR. Our tests will be enabled with IR sections in April. Why not do your first practice test with IR? Because then you’ll over-focus on this section in your studies. Remember, what matters is GMAT Quant and GMAT Verbal—the two 75-minute multiple-choice sections that form the main event of the exam. Wait until you’ve got some real preparation under your belt before you start worrying at all about IR.
- Study the fast and easy way to do problems. Of course, you’re doing the same thing for GMAT Quant and Verbal. Just practice with these new looks, and don’t be afraid to use that on-screen calculator.
- Feed your brain at the break. After IR, your mind will be literally depleted of fuel (this state is called “decision fatigue” or “ego depletion,” if you look it up). As a result, you’ll be less ready to handle additional rapid-fire decision-making for the next 2 ½ hours. What’s the fuel of your brain? Glucose, exclusively—your brain only eats the simplest of sugars. Recent studies show that eating or drinking something with carbs in it fights ego depletion. So drink half a Gatorade. Of course, don’t overdo the sugar—don’t gobble half a birthday cake. Just get some carbs back in your brain.
After IR, make a couple of adjustments as you proceed into the rest of the test.
- Give up the calculator without regret. On IR, you needed it. But on GMAT Quant, you don’t need it. The numbers are now pretty! They’re rigged to allow for estimation or other approaches you can reasonably take by hand.
- Stop ignoring things. On IR, you’ll be given some giant table. To get the big picture, you’ll look the whole thing over, then you’ll sort and sift away all the dreck to find the two numbers you need. In contrast, on GMAT Quant you’re rarely given anything you don’t need. Try to use all the info provided.
For more on Integrated Reasoning, visit our Integrated Reasoning page.