Integrated Reasoning

The SBC GMAT Files

GMAT Integrated Reasoning
Zeke Lee, GMATPill.com
Why The New GMAT Integrated Reasoning Section
The integrated reasoning section of the new GMAT exam is GMAC’s (the organization that creates the GMAT) attempt to make the GMAT exam more relevant for the organizations and institutions that use the test for comparison and screening purposes. These organizations include primarily top business schools from around the world. Although the GMAT exam has become the gold standard of testing for business schools, that does not mean the GMAT exam can stay the same decade after decade. Skills used in business acumen and decision making have evolved and so should the GMAT exam. Before randomly making a new section, the GMAC folks surveyed many business schools and asked them what kinds of skills were typically used in business school and after. Respondents mentioned more real-world elements like sorting tables, interpreting graphs, drawing upon multiple sources of information, and critically processing information in multiple steps. The result is now the new GMAT integrated reasoning section.
New GMAT Exam Format
Test Structure
Part 1: Analysis of an Argument Essay (30 min)
Part 2: Integrated Reasoning (30 min)
Part 3: Quant (75 min)
Part 4: Verbal (75 min)
Total: 3 hours and 30 mintues
The structure of the test is divided into 4 major parts. First, you will start off with the Analysis of an Argument Essay. You will have 30 minutes to complete this essay. This section is also known as the Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) section.
After the essay, you will have 30 minutes to complete the Integrated Reasoning section. After the integrated reasoning section is the Quant and Verbal section. Each section will be 75 minutes long (1 hour and 15 mintues) with the Quant section giving you a total of 37 questions and the verbal section giving you a total of 41 questions. These two sections contribute to your overall 800 score and this is the score that business schools really care about. The essay and integrated reasoning scores do not count toward your 800 score and, arguably, do not matter *as* much.
After completing your exam, you will receive your score out of 800 immediately on the computer screen. You can then collect an Unofficial Score Report from the test center which will list out your GMAT score. Note that your AWA Essay and Integrated Reasoning scores will not be listed on this Unofficial Score Report because they will be scored later – there will be no score for these sections provided immediately after your exam on the Unofficial Score Report. Instead, within 20 days, your Official GMAT Score Report will be sent to you, and that report will contain your AWA and IR score and percentiles, as well as your GMAT score out of 800.
Note that since the Essay and Integrated Reasoning sections are positioned before the “main” part of the exam (Quant and Verbal), you should take steps to make sure you don’t get mentally fatigued after the first two “introductory” sections. These sections certainly are important but they don’t matter as much as the two and a half hours you’ll be spending on Quant and Verbal. Yes, put in a solid effort to familiarize yourself with the question types and multiple parts (there are 4 question types and each of them can have 2-3 subquestions), but don’t get obsessed over any single question to the point that it affects your ability to fully concentrate on what really matters – the Quant and Verbal sections.
The 4 Integrated Reasoning Question Types
Within the integrated reasoning section, you will see four question types. They are called 1) Two part analysis 2) Graphics Interpretation 3) Table Analysis, and 4) Multi source Reasoning.
Two Part Analysis: Upon looking at these two-part questions, we can see that they can generally be quant or verbal based. The question stem presents a passage – this passage can be a very long reading/critical reasoning-type passage or it can be a longer-worded Quant question. The actual question will be presented in two columns with 5 (or sometimes six) answer choices displayed in rows. Your job is to connect one of the columns with the corresponding answer choice (one of the 5 or 6 rows) and then match the second column with another corresponding answer choice (one of the 5 or 6 rows). The exact nature of how these columns connect with the answer choices varies from question to question. So it is generally wise, to read the question in its entirety to fully understand what exactly is being asked.
Some examples of categories for the two-columns include:
1) True | False
2) Assumption | Possible Fact
3) Characteristic | Prediction
4) Happened | Did Not Happen
5) Either | Neither
The categories for the two columns can really be anything that makes sense. Just be prepared for the unexpected here. As long as you’re familiar with the question format, you’ll be able to figure it out once you get the hang of it. Try some Two-Part Analysis Practice GMAT Questions here.
Graphics Interpretation: These questions present a single graphic with two dropdown questions. Each dropdown shows a few answer choices – there can be anywhere between 3 and 6 choices in the drop-down menus. The graphics can vary from your basic bar chart, to clustered bar charts, line graphs, scatterplots, segmented charts, double axis bar charts, Venn diagrams, and all kinds of custom charts. While the charts themselves can be visually pleasing, don’t underestimate the difficulty of what may be asked.
Some basic topics such as slope, correlation, units manipulation (between metrics like thousands versus millions), and decimal calculations that require use of the on-screen calculator will be covered. The best way to familiarize yourself with these questions is to get some practice with Graphics Interpretation questions here.
Table Analysis: These questions will involve a table of information. It is important to note that a lot of the information in these tables are actually not useful in answering the question at hand. But they are provided there purposely to mimick the real-world nature of data. Useful data in the real world often appears in the context of a clutter of other data points. It is your job to sort it all out and find only the pieces that matter for answering a specific question.
The questions for this question type will be in what I call the “This/That” format – 3 questions presented in a 3 rows, each of these 3 questions has a “Yes” or a “No” response. The answer will either be in “This” column (first column) or “That” column (second column). There will be many conditional questions that require you to sort the table and apply some constraints. You may be asked to calculate the mean, median, and range of a set. While that may sound easy, finding the median in a large set of 11 numbers not sorted in ascending order isn’t something that one can typically answer quickly. While there is a “sort” feature, you can only sort once for the Table Analysis questions. The complications in getting the correct answer arise from doing multiple steps after that first sort has been committed.
The best way to familiarize yourself with these questions is to try some Table Analysis Practice GMAT Questions here.
Multi Source Reasoning: These questions include passages in the form of multiple tabs. Each tab could represent an email as part of an email chain. Or each tab can represent a different source of data. With multisource, you may see both multiple choice questions as well as Yes/No questions. For these yes/no questions, you will be presented with three statements and you’ll need to answer them individually as yes/no or true/false. This format is the same format used in Table Analysis questions. Typical topics that may be covered include inference statements, assumption/support statements, true/false statements, and questions involving multiple constraints or processes in order to figure out the answer.
The best way to familiarize yourself with these questions is to try some Multisource Reasoning Practice GMAT Questions here.
Getting Credit on Integrated Reasoning
Note that each of the four major question types in integrated reasoning consists of multiple parts. In order to get credit for that question, you must get all parts of that question correct. With so many parts to each question, the probability of accidentally guessing a question correctly is very, very low. That’s part of what makes integrated reasoning more difficult than traditional question types.
So in two part analysis, you must get both columns correct. In graphics interpretation, you must get both drop downs correct. In table analysis, you must get all three rows correct. In multi source yes/no questions, you must get all 3 statements correct. The only exception where you can get the question correct by only answering one part correctly is the multiple choice question type within multi source. You’ll likely only see one of these questions in the integrated reasoning section.
Scoring on Integrated Reasoning
Scoring for this new GMAT integrated reasoning section will be out of 8. Unlike, the scoring for the writing section, which has intervals of .5, scoring for integrated reasoning will have intervals of 1.0. So the possible scores you may get in this section are 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8. It is possible to get a question or two incorrect and still score a “perfect” 8. The reason is due to experimental questions – of which there may be anywhere between 2-4 experimental questions out of the 12 IR questions you get. These experimental questions will not be factored into your score calculation. Your scoring will be scaled out of 8 based on the total # of questions you got that *actually* count and their difficulty levels. It is impossible to know which questions are experimental and which ones are real. IR scoring can get a little complicated but you can read more about some possible integrated reasoning scoring scenarios here.
Order of Integrated Reasoning Questions
You will see a total of 12 integrated reasoning questions during the 30 minute section. The type of question you receive will be in a random order. Your very first question could be graphics interpretation. But it could also be a multi source reasoning question. It’s impossible to tell which question type you will see first. But note that by the end of the section, you will have seen all four question types. You will see anywhere between 2-4 questions of each question type.
Click here for GMAT practice test questions from GMAT Pill and additional information on the new GMAT integrated reasoning section.

More Testing Advice from our blog

Return to the GMAT Files Main Page