The GMAT Integrated Reasoning Section: What’s It All About and How Do I Prepare For It?

The Integrated Reasoning section was added to the GMAT by the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC) in June of 2012. It was designed to supplement the Verbal and Quantitative sections of the GMAT by directly testing the skills important in both the business school classrooms and in the business world beyond.

What’s the Purpose of the Integrated Reasoning Section and How Does One Prepare for it?

The Integrated Reasoning section is designed to measure higher order reasoning skills and requires GMAT test-takers to analyze and integrate information (thus, the name “Integrated Reasoning”!) presented in different formats: charts, tables, graphs, inter-company memos, and the like. Any student seeking to prepare for the IR section should first become intimately familiar with the format of the section. In addition, there are some other factors that set the Integrated Reasoning section apart from the main sections of the GMAT, and one’s GMAT online test preparation should take note of these differences.

  • Integrated Reasoning questions, unlike the main Quantitative and Verbal sections, are not computer adaptive. The differing difficulty level of questions is random and NOT based on the student’s performance on previous questions. Like the adaptive questions, however, the student must answer the previous question in order to move on the next.
  • The Integrated Reasoning section consists of 12 questions, and students have 30 minutes to complete the section (with standard time). Most of the questions will require more than one response, and the student must answer all question parts correctly in order to receive credit for the entire question. Students preparing for the IR section should incorporate timing and pacing strategies into their online test preparation for the GMAT.
  • The Integrated Reasoning Section is scored separately from the other components of the GMAT. The IR score is not factored into the Verbal or Quantitative sub-scores or the Verbal and Quantitative composite score. The student receives a separate Integrated Reasoning scaled score of 1 to 8, in one-point increments.
  • An online calculator is offered for the Integrated Reasoning section (and this is NOT the case for the main Quantitative section of the GMAT), but the student is not required to use it.

What Are the Question Types on the GMAT Integrated Reasoning Section and How Do I Prepare for Them?

In order to prepare for the IR section of the GMAT, students should thoroughly review the various question-types. Here is a breakdown of the question-types on the GMAT Integrated Reasoning section:

  • Multiple Source Reasoning: measures ability to examine information from text passages (emails, press releases, etc.), tables and graphs, or some mixture of these sources. Sample multiple source reasoning questions offer helpful insight into preparing for the Integrated Reasoning section.
  • Table Analysis: measures ability to examine and sort data from a spreadsheet-like table and filter relevant data.
  • Graphics Interpretation: measures ability to interpret data in various types of graphs and requires one to identify significant relationships among data elements.
  • Two-Part Analysis: measure one’s capacity for solving complicated problems—verbal, quantitative, or both. These may resemble some standard critical reasoning or quantitative questions from the other main sections of the GMAT. One’s preparation for the Integrated Reasoning section must involve a thorough review of the two-part analysis questions.

How Important is the GMAT Integrated Reasoning Section and How Much Should It Factor into My Online Test Preparation?

The Integrated Reasoning section is not quite as important as the GMAT sub-scores for the Verbal and Quantitative sections or as important as the main composite score. Roughly half of all business schools, however, do deem the Integrated Reasoning score to be of some importance, so incorporating strategies to prepare for the IR section should be a part of one’s GMAT online test preparation.