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GMAC on GMAT Integrated Reasoning Importance: “Wait and See”

Now that the GMAT’s “new” Integrated Reasoning section has a year of statistical data under its belt, two obvious questions emerge:

  1. GMAT Integrated Reasoning Score Distribution - Year 1

    Figure 1: GMAT Integrated Reasoning Score Distribution – June 2012 – March 2013

    How are people doing on it?

  2. Do business schools even care what your IR score* is compared to your main 200-800 point collective Quant and Verbal score?

* Note: Your GMAT Integrated Reasoning score is on a scale from 1-8 and is reported separately from the other sections of the test and have no effect on your Verbal, Quantitative, or Total scores. For a complete review of the IR section including tips and strategies, check out our video lesson “GMAT Integrated Reasoning.”

I’ll address the first question in an upcoming article (you can see some of the results in Figure 1), but let me shed some light on the second question here. Last month I had the privilege of attending the yearly international conference for AIGAC, the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants, of which I’m a member. One of the panels was hosted by Joanna Graham of the GMAC and it focused on lessons learned from the new Integrated Reasoning section one year in.

Here’s a transcript of one part of the Q&A that I think you’ll find particularly instructive:

Question from Paulo Oliveira of Philadelphia Consulting:

“Are you getting any feedback from schools on how they’re interpreting Integrated Reasoning and evaluating students based on that? Are they doing a formal addressing of what they’re looking for [sic]?”

Response from Joanna Graham, Director of Field Marketing for the GMAC:

“It’s been mixed. Anecdotally, like I said a lot of schools are still in that ‘wait and watch’ mode or ‘wait and watch’ period where they don’t necessarily want to unfairly penalize students who don’t have a IR score and they recognize that over the next five years they’re going to see candidates, since the [GMAT] scores are good for five years, they’re going to see a mix of students who have both [some with IR scores, some without]. I think for all intents and purposes candidates who do have a [good] IR score it certainly doesn’t hurt them, just because if nothing else it gives them an extra data point on which the schools can evaluate them. I think schools are really just hungry for as much data about the candidates as they can get their hands on. One of the things that has been of benefit is the fact that we didn’t change any other aspects of the test, so you know a 680 total score still means the same thing than a 680 did a year ago [before the IR section was added]. So there’s some consistency, and I think that’s one of the things that was really important for us as well, making sure that while there was going to be a learning curve and a little bit of a transition, that it wasn’t a completely uncomfortable transition.”

In other words, your GMAT Integrated Reasoning score isn’t a big deal to MBA admissions offices…yet! So don’t lose any sleep over it. Continue to focus on the core components of the GMAT that comprise your 200-800 point score — the Verbal and Quantitative sections — and remember that everything you’re doing to prepare for those parts of the GMAT will prepare you for the IR section anyway.

As always, don’t hesitate to let me know how I can help you to dominate the GMAT!