With a fairly consistent test format for more than fifty years, the Graduate Management Admissions Council has revamped the test with a few assessment changes in the past few years. Most recently, the Integrated Reasoning Section, a 30-minute portion of the GMAT made up of 12 questions, was added to the test. The Integrated Reasoning section was designed to measure the test taker’s ability to discern patterns and combine verbal and quantitative reasoning so solve problems. While the admissions committees at top schools seem to continue focusing on the traditional verbal and quantitative score combination, we will likely see an emphasis shift towards these new sections in the future (which also include a 30-minute writing analysis of a topic), since the skills they measure are critical to today’s business leaders.
Making sound decisions in business is perhaps the most important skill for the global business person in today’s marketplace. Even though they are often confronted with incomplete information, business professionals are still required to make choices on a daily basis which can impact organizations around the world. While the quantitative and verbal sections of the GMAT do a good job of measuring and predicting how students are likely to perform in business school, the fact that these sections separately measure these attributes, they are not necessarily a good indicator of how someone will combine these skills to make sound decisions. The Integrated Reasoning section measures these skills in a format which requires test takers to quickly assimilate information from a variety of sources and evaluate that information to discern the correct answers.
It was a massive survey of 740 business school faculty worldwide which resulted in the list of skills this section of the GMAT was designed to test. These faculty identified the most important skills they thought students needed to possess as they embarked upon the next phase of their business careers. Over time, as the admissions committees and rankings boards come to share the view that these skills are important, the Integrated Reasoning score will provide a new measure for admissions committees to find candidates who are the right fit for their programs, and it will also provide another way for you as an applicant to stand out. In the meantime, if you score well on this section of the GMAT, you may need to highlight your results to the admissions committee yourself. Until the Integrated Reasoning section of the GMAT catches on in the admissions process, at the very least you can rest assured the time spent preparing for this section and the extent to which you can develop your skill-set in this area will only help you navigate a challenging business school curriculum. It may just help you shine on the job in your chosen post MBA career as well.
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