GMAT Integrated Reasoning: Coming June 2012

August 12, 2011

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By now, you may have heard of the upcoming changes in the GMAT: the "Next Generation GMAT" will have a new section, called Integrated Reasoning. For now, the important thing to know is that it won't become part of the test until June 2012, which means that if you are taking the exam in the next 9 months or so, you have nothing to worry about.

If you're thinking longer term (or you're finding this article months after I write it!), here is some information about the upcoming changes to the GMAT.

IR in, AWA out

With the new Integrated Reasoning section, the GMAT won't get longer. The IR section will be 30 minutes long, and it will replace one of the two 30-minute essays in the Analytical Writing Assessment.

The GMAC has announced that "the Analysis of an Issue and Analysis of an Argument scores are highly correlated, meaning one essay is sufficient in providing the predictive value." That doesn't surprise me at all.

What's the point of IR?

In theory, whenever a test like the GMAT makes changes, it does so in response to the needs of the schools it serves. As you might have noticed, GMAT Quant and GMAT Verbal don't have a direct connection to management skills, so it makes sense that the GMAT would make a gesture in the direction of the content of MBA programs.

As far as I can tell, the major philosophical shift here is toward mixing ("integrating") different types of data. After all, business decisions aren't made only with numbers or only with verbal information.

Here are a few things you can expect in IR:

  • More data, in more formats. You might see sortable spreadsheets, several snippets of text, or combinations of the different sorts of data in current GMAT test items.
  • Less reliance on the "five choices, pick one" multiple choice format. Other tests, such as the SAT, have moved toward user-supplied answers, and the GMAC has already announced that some question types may have more than one correct answer.
  • A continuing focus on the idea behind Data Sufficiency. DS questions ask, "what information do you need?" These problems don't have to be math-based, and IR will mix different types of content while still asking these sorts of questions.

Specific question formats

There will be four new question types on the Integrated Reasoning section. The GMAC hasn't released many details yet, but a recent article offers a glimpse at one of the question types: Multi-Source Reasoning.

You can read the official release here. Judging from the article and accompanying video, it seems like almost anything is fair game: math, verbal, data analysis, questions asking for deductions, questions asking whether information is necessary, and so on.

We'll get a lot more information about the GMAT Integrated Reasoning section as we get closer to June 2012. Keep checking GMAT Hacks--I'll make sure you get the updates you need to be ready for the GMAT, whenever you take it.



About the author: Jeff Sackmann has written many GMAT preparation books, including the popular Total GMAT Math, Total GMAT Verbal, and GMAT 111. He has also created explanations for problems in The Official Guide, as well as 1,800 practice GMAT math questions.

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