B-Schools Still Lukewarm on GMAT IR Section…For Now

According to Kaplan Test Prep’s 2014 survey of admissions officers at over 200 business schools across the United States,  60% say that an applicant’s score on the GMAT’s Integrated Reasoning section (launched in June 2012) is not currently an important part of their evaluation of a prospective student’s overall GMAT score.

This represents a slight uptick from Kaplan’s 2013 survey, when 57% said an applicant’s Integrated Reasoning score was not important.  Despite that finding, Kaplan’s survey also finds that 50% of business schools pinpoint a low GMAT score as “the biggest application killer,” confirming that applicants still need to submit a strong score overall.

And because GMAT takers receive a separate score for the Integrated Reasoning section, poor performance on this section cannot be masked by stronger performance on the Quantitative, Verbal or Analytical Writing Assessment sections of the exam.

Brian Carlidge, executive director of pre-business and pre-graduate programs at Kaplan Test Prep, says the current lack of emphasis on the IR section may be due to the fact that applicants in 2012, 2013, and 2014 probably submitted scores from the old GMAT, since scores are good for five years.

The tide will likely change though as more applicants submit scores from the current iteration of the GMAT with the IR section. For that reason, Kaplan advises MBA applicants to continue preparing for and doing well on the IR section.

“Similar to how not scoring well on Integrated Reasoning cannot be masked  by good performance on other sections because it receives its own separate score, doing well on Integrated Reasoning can set you apart from other applicants in a positive way,” says Carlidge. “Use it to your advantage.”

For the 2014 Kaplan survey, admissions officers from 204 business schools from across the United States – including 11 of the top 30 MBA programs, as ranked by U.S. News & World Report – were polled by telephone between August and September 2014.

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