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Integrated Reasoning

In face of the increased competition from GRE, administered by the ETS, and the changes in admissions processes preferred by business school worldwide, Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC) has decided to add a new section, Integrated Reasoning, to its challenging Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT).  This new section of the exam is designed to test advanced reasoning skills and is separately scored from the total 800 score of verbal and quantitative sections. It is to launch in the 10th edition of the GMAT on June 4, 2012, less than two years away from now.

In spring 2010, GMAC piloted the new section with current MBA students and plans to pilot it again with thousands of students this fall.

GMAC states: “The new section will replace one of the two writing sections currently on the exam.  It will be scored separately and have a new audio component for some questions.  The test’s current verbal and math sections will remain unchanged.”  The new changes in the exam are the following:

  • Test takers will need to interpret charts, graphs, and spreadsheets, and answer interactive questions that will test their analytical skills.
  • Test takers will be asked to analyze information, draw out conclusions and determine relationships between data points.
  • Test takers will wear headphones while taking this portion of the test.  The use of headphones is a new feature that will help schools assess students’ auditory learning style.
  • Rather than just multiple-choice questions, test takers will drag-and-drop data points, as well, as write mini-essays.

GMAC has released a sample question similar to questions that will appear on the new test. Students are asked to look at a table that sorts like a spreadsheet and detail the number of passengers and airline movements at 21 airports around the world. They are then presented with a list of statements about the information in the table and asked to determine which of the statements are true based on the data in the spreadsheet. Other exercises include using the same table to evaluate the reason for or likelihood of certain outcomes, or to use the table to determine where other airports rank.  Some other possible questions may be to determine a country’s plans for a road.  This would include looking at maps and government data.

Below is a sample question with the data tables and charts test takers will see in the new version of the GMAT. To view the data table and graph click on the link below!

Sample Question Data Table/Graph

1. Of the models with Gasoline Engine Type, the model with the greatest ratio of City MPG to Highway MPG is also the model with the greatest difference between Highway MPG and City MPG.


2. The minimum City MPG for a Toyota make is less than the maximum City MPG for a Volkswagen make.


3. A model chosen at random from those models with a Highway MPG greater than 30 miles per gallon has a 50% chance of being a Toyota.


4. The median carbon footprint for all models is greater than the mode carbon footprint for all models.


5. The standard deviation of the Highway MPG values for all BMW models is lower than the standard deviation of the Highway MPG values for all Toyota models.

Integrated Reasoning Answers: Statements 1 and 4 are FALSE; Statements 2, 3, and 5 are TRUE.

Why the new changes?  These changes are due to the evolving trends seen in business school classrooms.  This is a way to distinguish between those students who will adapt well in the classroom rather than just score a high score on the GMAT, making it easier for business schools to select who to be admitted. This new change is welcomed with great enthusiasm by business schools. GMAC created the section after b-school faculty members expressed a preference for proof that students could read, synthesize and reason well from a set of data within a limited amount of time without relevant in-depth knowledge and any memorization.

The addition of 30-minute Integrated Reasoning in replacement of one of the Analytical Writing Assessment sections is the biggest change to GMAT since it became a computer-adaptive test in the late 1990s. Other recent year changes occurred in 2006 after the switch over of the test administration from the ETS to Pearson. However those changes are more in rules and format, less in content.

Some students may fear that with this new section added to the GMAT, their score may not be as high than with the old exam.  Fear not.  GMAC is planning outreach and educational programs for business school faculty and students.  These programs will include information sessions and details on the new tests.

To get a better sense on the new integrated reasoning section click on the title below:

 Next Generation GMAT Question Demonstration

We at Manhattan Review wholeheartedly support such a constructive change on the GMAT and are prepared to incorporate the teaching of the new section into our curriculum. We strongly feel that without changing the existing verbal and math questions and one of the writing sections, the new Integrated Reasoning section will make the test much improved and effective while minimizing implementation costs. A win-win solution for all parties involved! However, this new section does seem to put more emphasis on extensive data analysis, which might be a challenge for students who are not used to seeing a large amount of data in a spreadsheet format. 

Posted on June 28, 2010 by Manhattan Review

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