How Much Does Integrated Reasoning Matter?

March 7, 2012

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Starting in June, the GMAT will replace one of the two essays with the new "Integrated Reasoning" section. That means another component score on your score report, and new types of questions to prepare for.

Many students are reacting with panic. It's totally new! They need to be in the 90th percentile ... or else!

There's no need for anxiety. The GMAT is stressful enough as it is. Everyone else preparing for the GMAT is facing the same uncertainty about Integrated Reasoning, and no one knows any secrets that the world is keeping from you.

Most importantly, MBA admissions officers aren't yet familiar with the format. The key word in "standardized test" is "standardized." An admissions person can look at your score and consider how previous acceptees with that score have performed at their business school. When they start getting Integrated Reasoning scores this fall, they won't have any similar benchmark to use.

My guess is that it takes at least one full year, and probably more like two, before the Integrated Reasoning score is used in any meaningful way as part of admissions. And even then, it may function the way the Analytical Writing Assessment score functions now--as a generally crude supplementary measure.

No one is losing their spot at a top business school because of a 4.5 instead of a 5.0 on the AWA, and no one will lose their spot anytime soon because of a 60th percentile instead of 80th percentile on the Integrated Reasoning section.

Be reasonable: Become familiar with the question types, prepare for the type of reasoning the new section requires, but stay focused on the much more important Quant and Verbal sections. Most crucially, don't let IR-related anxiety hamper your test-day performance.



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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