How to Achieve a Perfect 8 in Integrated Reasoning:

by on September 24th, 2016

integrated-reasoningThe GMAT Integrated Reasoning (IR) scoring algorithm is difficult to predict. Scoring for the IR section (12 questions in 30 minutes) depends on the number of experimental questions and the difficulty level of the questions answered correctly, but the IR section is not computer adaptive. Students should assume that an IR score of 8 correlates to at least 9–10 correct answers. Each question prompt includes 1-3 parts (subquestions), all of which must be correct in order to receive credit (there is no partial credit). Time management is a significant issue for the IR section. Answering 12 prompts in 30 minutes means that you get an average of 2.5 minutes per prompt, but some types of questions may take more or less time. We advise the following strategies for each question type:

Two-Part (2PA) questions:

Among all the question types in IR, only the Two-Part (2PA) questions are similar to those that appear on the quantitative and verbal sections. You should make every effort to do each 2PA question in less than 2.5 minutes. There are a few inherent efficiencies with 2-part questions. For example, if you get a prompt concerned with speed/time/distance, the question may ask about “Time to reach the destination” in the first part and “Distance to reach the destination” in the second part. While calculating speed, time, and distance, you are likely to get the answers to both parts of the question simultaneously, which saves time. The same idea applies to some verbally oriented questions. For example, if you get a question testing your ability to strengthen an argument and weaken an argument, you can review all five to seven options while analyzing each option for both strengthening and weakening. These types of efficiencies may allow you to solve 2PA questions in under 2 minutes.

Graphic Interpretation (GI) questions:

You should attempt to answer all Graphic Interpretation (GI) questions, as they only have two parts. This makes them simpler than most Table Analysis (TA) and some Multi-Source Reasoning (MSR) questions, which have three parts. As with 2PA, GI questions also save time, provided your concepts of graphs and charts are strong. Analysis done for the first part is often helpful for the second part, which allows test-takers to answer these questions more efficiently.

Table Analysis (TA) questions:

Though a few long tables in Table Analysis (TA) questions may seem scary, don’t be intimidated by the size of the tables. You should focus on a particular part of the tables for a given question. Be sure to attempt all the TA questions. The only disadvantage with TA questions is that each has three parts, and all of these parts must be correct to get the credit for the question. On the plus side, the calculations in TA questions are not intensive, so these questions should not take an inordinate amount of time.

Multi-Source Reasoning (MSR) questions:

Multi-Source Reasoning (MSR) questions are the most unfamiliar and time-consuming. There may be 2–3 tabs of information, with 2-4 prompts per dataset. If your exam clock shows only 2.5 minutes left and you get an MSR dataset, you may not be able to attempt even one prompt (reading 2–3 tabs of information may take more than 3 minutes). Though GMAT-IR is not an adaptive section, it is possible that after a couple of TA/GI questions, you will get an MSR dataset. If this happens, you should make a judgment call to either go for it or leave it. “Leaving it” means that you randomly mark radio buttons, without solving any MSR question. On the negative side, it’s possible that the MSR dataset you left was an easy one. You have to decide how strong you feel about IR and which types of questions (TA/2-PA/GI/MSR) are your forte.

The implementation of the strategies discussed above depends on your particular strengths, which will determine the question types that should be attempted and those that should be guesses if necessitated by time constraints. The key is to practice IR and identify your strengths and weaknesses. IR was introduced to the GMAT in June 2012, and it has now been a part of the GMAT for several years. Though some test prep companies provide large sets of IR practice questions, many of these are not completely representative of the GMAT IR section, and some even include mistakes. Students preparing for the GMAT should therefore seek GMAT practice materials from the most credible, reliable, and authentic sources.


Manhattan Review is a multi-national boutique test prep firm. Founded in 1999 by Dr. Joern Meissner, an internationally renowned business school professor, Manhattan Review is the oldest test prep company of its kind in New York City. Manhattan Review operates in many cities in the United States and select major cities around the world, for example, in Hong Kong. For more information, please visit the Manhattan Review website.

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