Is MBA Admissions Affected by IR Scores?

The IR section has been around for a year now, with 196,712 scores recorded. With all these scores taken into account, the average (mean) IR score was found to be 4.34 / 8.00 with a standard deviation of 2.1

Since 95% of the distribution lies within 2 standard deviations, we can roughly say that 95% of the distribution lies between 2.24 and 6.44. Please take into account that this is not a normal distribution and that the score intervals only change by 1.  

Interesting points

  1. The IR section is more than just another score.

Ever since the IR section’s debut in 2012, the MBA admissions committee has begun to understand how the IR score compares in relation to a student’s overall application.

How should this affect the students who apply?

Well, the MBA programs always have qualified applicants looking to get in. However, there are not always enough seats for all of the applicants. Those who can score a high enough IR score can set themselves apart from the others.

 How so?

It’s no surprise that students with high GMAT Quant scores are qualified for MBA School. After all, business is a career that reveals around numbers. However, with so many qualified applicants, the mere difference of 2 quant questions can completely alter a score’s percentile.

For example, a Q48 student may not even be in the 90th percentile of scores anymore. Fortunately enough, the difference between two questions is not enough for the admission committee to select the Q50 student over the Q48 student.

Imagine this scenario: Two qualified applicants remain for the final seat at Stanford MBA. Which one would you choose?

Candidate 1: Q48 / IR 8
Candidate 2: Q50 / IR 4

Based on these statistics alone, Candidate 1 can potentially appear to be more well-rounded than Candidate 2. There is too much discrepancy between Candidate 2’s overall GMAT score and his IR score.

Speaking of discrepancies between GMAT scores and IR scores, the difference is quite noticeable among Chinese and Indian applicants. As a result, if applicants from China or India can score well enough on the IR section as well as the overall GMAT, then they can beat out other applicants from the same region.

  1. Scholarship Money

The GMAT Pill community is to proud to admit that several alums have gone off to attend top business schools around the world. But even more impressive are the ones who scored a merit-based scholarship along the way. These candidates often have high marks across all categories on the GMAT exam – including IR.

Why is so much emphasis placed on the IR?

The IR section is more than just another score. It was carefully designed to test a student’s ability to analyze information and make appropriate decisions. Such qualities are what attract colleges and potential job recruiters. If a college is able to determine a student’s capabilities beforehand, then they will be more willing to invest in that student through scholarships and grants.

Proof: One of GMAT Pill’s former students (and now GMAT Pill instructor) James –obtained a $93k MBA Scholarship from London Business School. It’s no surprise considering that his stats included a GMAT score of 770, an IR score of 8/8 and an AWA score of 6/6.

  1. Consultants understand the IR score

When job recruiters visit college campuses, they are mostly interested in those who have relevant work experience. And among those with relevant work experience, the ones with high GMAT scores and GPAs may stand out. However, soon enough, another requirement will be added to that criterion. High IR scores can be play a factor for those interested in consulting because the IR section test the same skill sets that consultants use on the job.

  1. After the fall of 2013

As of today, GMAT test takers will enter the testing room, take the test and receive an unofficial score report that does not have their IR scores. However, all that will change after the fall of 2013. After finishing the exam, test takers will receive an unofficial score report with their IR scores.

  1. 20 Days or less

The official score report is said to come within 20 days of the testing day. However, test takers often find the score reports in their mailboxes within a week. Chances are, your official score report will come within a week as well.

  1. One GMAT score

Talk has taken root about a single GMAT score of 800, made up of 4 sections, quant/verbal/awa/ir. This would be a huge change considering that the current 800 score is only made up of quant and verbal.

Despite all this talk, this type of change is not likely to take place anytime in the near future. Several years would pass before all of the adjustments are made to the scoring system, the test booklet, etc. That is, if GMAC decides to create a single 800 score.

Here at GMAT Pill, we believe that having a single overall score would be a smart move. If all of the sections are distributed evenly, the IR section will be much more emphasized than it is now. It will have a place within the 800 score—the score most students take account to– the score that top business school will display on their admission pages, etc

More opinions need to be gathered before GMAC actually makes any decisions, but the GMAT Pill community remains hopeful.

Analyzing the IR Stats

With a year passing since the IR section’s release, the GMAC community found some interesting information about the relationship between a country’s average GMAT scores and IR scores.

Test takers from China and India have been found to face the largest discrepancy between GMAT scores and IR scores. The IR scores appear to be inadequate in relations to the GMAT score.

What can we do with this information?

This information is important for Chinese/Indian test takers because if they can manage to score well on BOTH the overall GMAT and the IR section, then they can stand out among ordinary Chinese/Indian test takers who have high GMAT scores, but insufficient IR scores.

With China and India facing the largest discrepancy between scores, Australia and America face the least discrepancy between GMAT scores and IR scores.

If an MBA admissions committee wanted to determine an applicant’s future graduate GPA, they would look at his IR score. Why? Although not completely accurate, research has been made to determine which testing metric would best predict an applicant’s future graduate GPA.

Using the total 800 score, the AWA score, the undergraduate GPA, and the IR score to test the prediction, it was concluded that the IR score was the victor. The IR score best predicted graduate GPA in comparison to the other testing metrics.

What kind of influence does the IR score have on a student’s admission?

The IR score usually portrays an idea of whether or not an applicant should be accepted or denied. Although there might npt always be a clear cut answer on who should be accepted, it helps to decide which students should be denied.

How does it work?

For applicants scoring 650 or higher, the number of students scoring low on IR (1, 2, or 3) was 2%, 3%, and 6% respectively. In other words, if a student scored high on GMAT, chances are that he/she scored at least a 4 on IR.

So what does this mean?

Well, you don’t want to stand out in a bad way. You don’t want to score 650 or higher and then be one of those 11% who bombs the IR.

Advice: Try to be as well rounded with your scores! Having a superb GMAT score and an insufficient IR score will do more damage than good.

Chinese and Indian applicants may be an exception to the advice above because large discrepancies are common among their regions. But if they want to have an edge during admissions, they should try to score on higher end of the IR section. An 8 would be incredible, but it’s not completely necessary. Simply scoring a 6 or 7 should be good enough.

A high IR score is not just desired by upper tier programs, but by all MBA programs, including the less competitive ones. A good portion of applicants end up receiving a score of 1, 2 or 3 on the IR. In fact the chance of scoring a 1, 2 or 3 is 6%, 10%, and 14%, respectively, which means 30 percent of IR test takers end up with a 1, 2 or 3.

Predicting a career path
Despite being around for only a year, the average IR score differs among MBA careers. For example, MBAs who head into Consulting, Operations, and Finance have scored higher on the IR than MBAs who head into human resources, marketing, or general management.

GMAC confirmed that top consulting firms such as McKinsey, Bain and BCG have taken interest in asking a job candidate for his IR score.

Consultants can evaluate with IR Scores
Since the IR section tests the same skills that consultants must use, consultants can use IR test results to find out who is best suited for a job. For example, in order to become a management consultant, it is necessary to understand the prime objective, and what is necessary to achieve it. After analyzing data and finding the lurking pattern, appropriate decisions must be made in order to turn that goal into a reality.

Before establishing GMAT Pill, I used to work at Booz & Company, as a managing consultant. As a result, I can understand, first hand why consulting firms want students with high IR skills. These are the students that have the necessary skills to succeed as a consultant and help strengthen the firm.

Future management consultants should take this information into account and begin prepping for the IR section. It may play a huge role when it’s time to find a job.

Final Thoughts & Outcome

As the IR section grows older, the MBA admission committee has a clearer understanding of how the IR score contributes to an applicant’s statistics.

There are several things to keep in mind, with  regards to the IR section. Chinese and Indian applicants often notice a huge difference between their 800 GMAT score and their IR scores. About 30% of the test takers received a 1, 2, or 3 on the IR score. The importance of the IR score differs based on region and it’s important to do GMAT practice questions to get used to the new question types. 

Sometimes a decent score of 4 is good enough for certain individuals to get into the school of their choice.

High scores in all categories – verbal, quant, AWA, and IR- will be beneficial in obtaining scholarship money. As previously state, London Business School offered former GMAT Pill former (and now GMAT Pill instructor) James a full tuition scholarship after he scored a GMAT score of 770, an IR score of 8/8 and an AWA score of 6/6.

In the long run, IR scores will play a role in influencing MBA admissions AND corporate recruiting. Keep in mind that high scores always be a plus!

The unofficial score report received after the test will carry your IR score following the fall of 2013. Talk has taken root about a single GMAT score of 800, made up of 4 sections, quant/verbal/awa/ir.

More opinions need to be gathered before GMAC actually makes any decisions, but the GMAT Pill community remains hopeful.



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