All About The GMAT

In the Next Generation GMAT® launched on 5th June, 2012; an Integrated Reasoning (IR) Section has replaced the “Analysis of an Issue” component. The other areas tested on the GMAT® remain the same. Most of the students should be able to answer the 12 questions within the time limit of 30 minutes quite comfortably. As per the information provided by GMAC, the new section will not be computer adaptive and the scoring pattern is on a scale of 0 to 8. An “on screen calculator” will be provided for this section.

The four question types in the IR section are:

  1. Graphic Interpretation that tests ability to understand graphs and draw inferences from them.
  2. Two Part Analysis that measures ability to understand relationship between two entities.
  3. Multi-Source reasoning that measures ability to assimilate information from multiple sources of information. The sources can be tables, graphs, emails etc.
  4. Table Analysis that presents questions based on a sortable data table.

The Integrated Reasoning questions assess one’s ability to apply concepts presented in the information; organize, integrate and synthesize different kinds of information; evaluate information qualitatively or evaluate tradeoffs and possible outcomes of a course of action; draw inferences from the information; recognize parts or relationships in the information and make strategic decisions or judgments based on the information.

An important point to be noted is that one needs to get all answers within a question correct to earn credit for the question, as there is no partial credit on the GMAT I.R.

Importance of the New IR (Integrated Reasoning) Section:
In today’s world of business, it is very unlikely that data appears to a manager in only a verbal format or only a quantitative format. It is extremely important that one is able to understand and evaluate multiple sources and types of information—graphic, numeric, and verbal—as they relate to one another; use quantitative and verbal reasoning to solve complex problems etc. These higher order reasoning skills are assessed in the Integrated Reasoning Section.

The IR section differs from the Quantitative and Verbal sections in two ways:

  1. It involves both quantitative and verbal reasoning
  2. Questions are answered using four different response formats rather than only the traditional multiple-choice.

So earlier, while attempting reading comprehension questions on the GMAT®, one rarely thought of the application of numbers or quant. Similarly, while attempting problem solving or data sufficiency questions, one rarely had to criticize or evaluate an argument or caselet in the verbal sense. All this has changed with this new section. One will have to wear two hats at the same time – applying your verbal and quantitative skills simultaneously to solve questions. The overall data presented will be much closer to real life information. It should be noted that the IR section will not be offered separately and students who want an IR score must retake the test. A good score in the IR section sends a strong signal about one’s managerial abilities to B-schools and will work in one’s favor.

A brief about the I.R. Question Types:
A sizeable prompt will outline the scenario. You will be asked to make 2 choices given in 2 columns related to the information.

Nature of the Questions/Information
Questions can be:

Numerical eg. The 2 numbers might be the solution values of two variables, or 2 percentages that satisfy some condition, or 2 proportions of 2 different components in a mixture etc.

Algebraic – Similar to Problem solving questions involving variables in the answer choice.

Verbal – Questions will pose 2 related tasks, eg. first step + second step; biggest advantage + biggest liability; satisfies all conditions + satisfies none; something gained + something lost
Directions to answer and Test Taking Strategy
  1. Read the information provided.
  2. Determine exactly what the question is asking.
  3. Review the options presented in the table.
  4. Do not choose an answer before reviewing all available answer choices.
  5. Determine whether tasks are dependent or independent.
  6. Indicate which option meets the criterion presented in the first column and which option meets the criterion presented in the second column.
  7. Remember that only 2 choices are to be made.
  8. Keep in mind that one answer choice can be the correct response for both columns.
A sortable table of numbers similar to a spreadsheet. It can be sorted on any of its columns by selecting the column’s title from a drop-down menu. A column can be sorted so that it appears in increasing or decreasing order.
Nature of the Questions/Information
"Multiple dichotomous choice" questions - There will be a prompt (table and a brief text) and then 3 questions each having 2 choices from which to select (eg. True/false; yes/ no; wins/ loses; consistent/ inconsistent; can be determined/ cannot be determined). The question presents three phrases, statements, numerical values or algebraic expressions and it will be required of you to determine whether or not it meets a certain condition.
Directions to answer and Test Taking Strategy
  1. Examine the table and accompanying text to determine the type of information presented.
  2. Determine exactly what the question is asking. Read each phrase, statement, numerical value or algebraic expression to determine the data analysis required or evaluate the conditions specified.
  3. Understand the nature of the numbers in each column and their interrelationship.
  4. Understand the comparison in percent changes and the value of ranks, if required.
  5. Analyze the table, sorting on columns as needed to determine whether each of the options meets the given criterion or not.
  6. Answer the question.
2/ 3 sources of data, each labeled with a tab, which appears on the left side of a split computer screen. One or more sources will contain a passage. Others may be tables, graphs, diagrams etc.
Nature of the Questions/Information
Questions can be either:

a) "Multiple dichotomous choice" questions – The data will be followed by 3 questions each having 2 choices from which to select (eg. True/false; improve/ detract; make money/ lose money; can be determined/ cannot be determined).

b) Ordinary 5 choice Multiple-choice questions
Directions to answer and Test Taking Strategy
  1. Don’t be intimidated with the information.
  2. Be aware of the information from each source provided and try to determine the process that works best for you.
  3. One strategy is to examine the sources carefully and thoroughly, another is to skim the sources the first time through or to read the first question before examining the sources.
  4. Not every MSR question will quiz you on all three tabs of data. Identify which tabs you need to refer to in order to answer the question.
  5. Map, don’t memorize. You need to figure out where the pieces of information are located and how information given in one tab influences or plays into information given in other tabs.
  6. Be careful to distinguish what must be true from what could be true.
  7. Make sure you verify the answer to each question with concrete information on the tabs/ sources.
Most graphs display numerical information in visual form. Various graphs (pie, bar, column, line, scatter-plot and bubble) will account for more than 90% of all G.I. questions. Organization charts and flowcharts will be rare.
Nature of the Questions/Information
Graphical Interpretation questions present a graph, diagram or other visual representation of information followed by one or more statements containing one or two blanks.

The blanks should be filled in with the option from each drop-down menu in order to create an accurate statement.

Directions to answer and Test Taking Strategy
  1. Get familiar with the graph types.
  2. To read the graphs, determine what information is represented on each axis. Carefully read the graph title, axis labels, scales on axes, accompanying text etc.
  3. Scan the choices in the drop down menu or options.
  4. Estimate – If you see the words "is nearest to", "is close to" it means you need to be good at estimation.
  5. Choose the option that best completes the statement.