Although much was made last year of some business school admissions officers’ comments that they were not yet relying on Integrated Reasoning scores when evaluating applicants. As we have written before, this stance was only natural, given that the section was so new (it launched in June, 2012) that MBA admissions officers had not yet developed a sense of what was an okay score vs. a great one. Still, some media outlets and blogger picked up this tidbit, and some applicants came away with the impressions that the Integrated Section was practically dead on arrival.
Now, Bloomberg Businessweek reports that business schools are inching their way into using the new section more. As the article points out, since a GMAT score is valid for five years (and since so many applicants rushed to take the GMAT before the new section launched), the majority of GMAT score reports that admissions officers have seen still do not include Integrated Reasoning scores. As time goes on, this will naturally change, and it’s reasonable to expect that an applicant’s IR score will factor into an admissions decision more and more, as admissions officers get more used to it as a gauge of one’s ability.
Business Schools Help Validate Integrated Reasoning
Some schools are even going so far as to help with the calibration of the new section. GMAC is working with Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management to have 60 second-tear MBA students take the Integrated Reasoning section, and their scores will be compared with their grades in core MBA courses to help GMAC validate the IR section as a means of predicting performance in the classroom.
Whether it happens this year or in another two years, clearly your Integrated Reasoning score will matter in MBA admissions. There’s no time like the present to get ready for it!
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Recently the Stanford GSB admissions team wrote a blog post that gives business school applicants one more reason to calm down about the new Integrated Reasoning section on the GMAT. Simply put, the Stanford admissions team will not take applicant’s Integrated Reasoning scores into account when making their decisions for the 2012-2013 application cycle.
“Wait, why wouldn’t they use it if the people behind the GMAT went through all the trouble to create it?” you may be asking. Don’t take this as a sign that Stanford or any other MBA program does not believe in the new Integrated Reasoning section. Instead, think about how much history MBA admissions officers have with the “old” GMAT… The Stanford admissions team alone looks at thousands and thousand of them every year. Now, a new number shows up on the report, and they need to get comfortable with that number before they can make life-changing decisions based on it.
So you’re not going to be able to take the GMAT before it changes next week. After all that you’ve read about how applicants who take the old GMAT will have a distinct advantage over those Next-Generation GMAT victims, do you really think you stand a chance of breaking a 700 on the exam now that you must face the new Integrated Reasoning section?
Contrary to what some might think, the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) didn’t create Integrated Reasoning in a drive to find a more fiendish question type, and no one is out to make your life harder. Integrated Reasoning does represent a new way that GMAC tries to measure your decision-making abilities and analytical skills, but it’s not an entirely new exam.
Here are three reasons you don’t need to stress if you plan on taking the GMAT after June 5:
It will be a year or two before admissions officers put much stock in your Integrated Reasoning score.
Put yourself in admissions officers’ shoes… This fall, when they first see GMAT scores come in containing IR scores, they’re not going to be ready to admit or reject someone based on that single number. What’s a great score? What’s a mediocre score? They will be able to look at percentiles to help them gauge how much better a score of 7 is than a 6, but even those aren’t going to be a sure thing for a while. GMAC has announced that the scoring percentiles will be updated every month for the first six months, so even those normally trustworthy numbers may be in flux. The bottom line? Admissions officers have a lot of learning to do about what looks, smells, walks, and talks like a great IR score. Until they do develop that intuition, you can be sure it will only be a very minor factor in their admissions decision, if any at all.
Integrated Reasoning does not factor into your overall score.
Are you aiming for a 760+ score? Just trying to break 700? Whatever the case may be, how you do on Integrated Reasoning will have no impact on your overall score out of 800. Just like the Analytical Writing Assessment was (and will continued to be) scored, Integrated Reasoning will have its own scoring scale, in this on a 1 to 8 scale.
If you prepare for the GMAT the right way, you don’t need much additional preparation for Integrated Reasoning.
We’ve seen some specious arguments about how taking the Next Generation GMAT will require you to prepare much more for the exam than will the old section. First, this argument assumes that you were going to spend little to no time preparing for the soon-to-be-dropped Analysis of an Issue AWA essay, which is probably not true. Second, it misses a real important point that we have been making all along: If you study for the GMAT the right way, and go beyond memorizing content to actually train yourself in the higher-order thinking skills that business schools want to see, then you won’t find the new IR section to be all that challenging. Veritas Prep students are already realizing this on their own, and many of them have said that they’re in fact glad that they will take the new GMAT, because they “get” Integrated Reasoning and would rather do that section than another drab AWA essay.
So, before you contemplate fleeing the GMAT completely, know that Integrated Reasoning is not all that hard if you’re prepared properly, it doesn’t matter that much if you do in fact do badly on it, and you may even find it to be fun. And if you don’t find analysis to be somewhat enjoyable, then brace yourself for business school!
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The GMAT’s new Integrated Reasoning section is still a few months away from going live, but applicants are already buzzing about this new question type. They want to know what the new Integrated Reasoning section is, and — more importantly — how to prepare for it.
Integrated Reasoning question present students with various data — presented various forms, including words, charts, and tables — and challenges them to pull out key insights to answer multiple questions about what’s going on. The questions vary by type, but they all measure your ability to truly perform analysis, rather than your ability to apply rote rules or memorize content.
With the new Integrated Reasoning section, the GMAT gets closer than ever before to measuring the type of analytical skills that truly matter in business school and beyond. These questions actually look quite similar to the mini-case studies MBA students get when interviewing for management consulting or some finance jobs. This sort of exercise is a great measure of someone’s analytical abilities. So often applicants hear “analytical” and assume this means “quant” or “numbers,” but great analysis actually goes much deeper and is much more challenging than just crunching numbers. That skill is just what many recruiters at top business schools look for, which is why it makes sense for the GMAT to measure it as well as a standardized test can.
So, how do you prepare for Integrated Reasoning questions? The good news is that, if you prepare for the GMAT the right way, that work will already help you succeed on the Integrated Reasoning section. Furthermore, as this section is designed to test your analytical abilities in a business context, your day-to-day activities will help you prepare, and you should note items such as “which data are most relevant to a decision” and “how could this information be displayed graphically to highlight important trends” when you perform professional and personal tasks that involve numbers and decisions.
To get start, we recommend looking at some of the GMAT Integrated Reasoning resources that Veritas Prep has created, including sample questions. Give yourself enough time and approach the Next-Generation GMAT with the right mindset, and you should have no trouble with the new section of the exam.
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