The launch of the Integrated Reasoning (IR) section is getting close! The last administration of the old version of the GMAT will be on 2 June; the next-generation GMAT will launch on 5 June. It’s not too late to study for the old version, but it’s also not too early to start thinking about studying for the next-gen test, including IR.
So let’s talk about one of the four IR question categories: the Two-Part Analysis. IR in general is a mix of quant and logical reasoning, so expect to bring your critical reasoning and reading comp skills into play on this section.
Before we dive in, just a note: a new Official Guide (13th edition!) will be published next month (April) with an IR section and the test makers will also launch additional online IR resources. I would guess that most test prep companies will also be releasing their IR study materials next month (we certainly are!).
Try the problem
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 next-gen GMAT website, and then, about halfway down the page, click on the “Two-Part Analysis” link. We’re going to try the 2nd of the 5 questions.
Note: when you are done, do NOT click the “next” button. Just leave it up on the screen and come back here.
Set your timer for 2 minutes 30 seconds and go! (Note: we have an average of 2 minutes and 30 seconds for each IR question in the section, but some question types are more complicated than others. I recommend trying this one for 2 minutes initially, but take the full 2 minutes 30 seconds if you think you need it. Just note that, as you study, you’re going to have to determine your strengths and weaknesses so you can learn to balance your time appropriately.)
A morefa? Huh?
Oh. They told us that this “morefa” word is made up. Make sure you read the little opening line at the top, if there is one. The beginning of the sentence (“The following excerpt…”) makes it seem unimportant, but if they bothered to include the sentence, there’s a reason. In this case, I’ve learned that “morefa” is a made-up word and also that it is some type of location.
If there is quite a bit of material to work through before getting to the question (a whole paragraph of text, a complicated table or graph), then preview the question before diving into the actual text or table.
In this case, we do have a long paragraph to read, so let’s read the question first. Let’s see…
Based on the definition. that can be inferred from the previous paragraph…
Apparently, the paragraph is going to define this word “morefa” for me. So now I know that I need to figure out what that definition is when I’m reading the paragraph.
Keep reading. Remember how the opening line told us that the morefa is a type of location? The question is asking us what activities do take place within a species’ “location” (I don’t know what morefa means yet) and what activities don’t take place there. When I read the paragraph, then, I need to make sure that I (a) understand the definition of a morefa, and (b) know which activities do and don’t take place, by definition, in a specific morefa.
Dive in and take notes
Great, I’m ready to dive into the paragraph. I’m going to take notes here – I’ve got a space on my scrap paper for the definition of the morefa and I’ve also drawn a quick table with two columns. One says “IN m.” and the other says “NOT in m.”
Below, I’ll show in italics what I’m thinking, and then I’ll show what I’d write on my scrap paper.
(Reading sentence 1) Hmm. Scientists are observing birds in the “morefa” during breeding season. (Sentence 2) By doing this, they can study courtship displays and social hierarchy, so this things must occur in the morefa, whatever that is. (Sentence 3) Some species keep returning… I guess that means maybe some of them leave when it’s not breeding season? Or they just sometimes leave – who knows when or why. (Sentence 4) They also want to observe the morefa when the birds aren’t there, such as when… oh, this is interesting, such as when they’re off somewhere else building nests. So that’s not happening in the morefa.
Okay, so the morefa is like a habitat or a place for the birds to live, though they don’t necessarily live there all the time. The focus seems to be on breeding in the morefa.
Def: habitat; place to live, breed
Now the question makes a little more sense. I need to find an answer that represents something that always occurs in the morefa and something else that never occurs in the morefa.
Here are the options:
Sleeping: I don’t see anything in my notes about sleeping. This isn’t it.
Occupying the location multiple times: they did mention that some birds leave, yes… but I don’t think they said that all of the birds leave and come back. I’ll leave this one for now.
Establishing nests: Oh, yes, the last sentence specifically said they leave to make nests elsewhere. This is the answer to the second part.
Gathering together with members of their own species: Let’s see, they’re both courting and breeding in the morefa, and animals have to breed with members of their own species. So this one is sounding pretty good for the first part.
Territorial competition with members of different species: I don’t have anything in my notes about competition or other species. Nope.
Okay, I’m confident that the answer to the second part is “establishing nests.” For the first part, I just want to examine the text again where it talks about leaving and coming back. Okay, sentence 3 says that “some species repeatedly return” – which means that not all species keep going back to the same morefa. Therefore, this isn’t something that absolutely has to happen. The first sentence does link the morefa to “breeding season,” though, and obviously the birds need to be with members of their own species in order to breed.
The answer to the first part is: “gathering together with members of their own species.” The answer to the second part is: “establishing nests.”
Key Takeaways for Two-Part Analysis questions:
(1) The Two-Part questions will always contain two parts. (Surprise, surprise.) The two halves may be dependent upon each other or may be determined independently; either way, we have to answer both halves correctly in order to get any credit.
(2) On the more “critical-reasoning-like” questions, the details are going to matter. Preview the question stem so that you have a good idea of what you’ll be asked to do. That will help you to read the paragraph and take notes with a purpose, focusing on the ideas and details that are most applicable to the specific question asked.
(3) Be aware that, though this particular question was more like a critical reasoning question, these two-part questions can also be much more quant focused.
* All quotes copyright and courtesy of the Graduate Management Admissions Council. Usage of this material does not imply endorsement by GMAC.