Importance of IR in college applications

GMAT scores are vital for students to be considered by top B-schools. This score is important for you as it will determine whether you’re in the competitive bracket of students and depending on what your score is. A majority of business schools place a high weightage on your total GMAT scores.

So, undoubtedly and naturally, you must be anxious. Most students are stressed out by the Quantitative and Verbal Reasoning sections, famed for their difficulty level. However, in recent times considerable importance is also being given to a section known as Integrated Reasoning (IR).

What is IR?

This is one of the four sections of the GMAT test. It is made up of 12 questions and must be answered in 30 minutes flat. It is designed to measure a student’s ability to evaluate data that is presented to them in multiple formats from various sources.  

What the IR measures

One of the most highly-prized skills a global business person must be armed with is good decision-making. MBA professionals usually have to take decisions on a daily basis without having complete information to make informed decisions.

To be fair, the GMAT is a good predictor of students’ abilities to perform in a business milieu, based on their performance in the Quantitative and Verbal Reasoning sections. This is seen as a good measure of how one can combine all these skills to make good business decisions.

The IR section measures these skills—Math and Verbal—by expecting students to collate information from several sources and rate it to arrive at the right answer. Anyone will agree that putting all complex notions together and analysing data in various formats successfully are the necessary tools for success in a highly technological age, driven by data.

Why students don’t fare well in IR

Unfortunately, many students taking the GMAT exam often spend a lot of their preparation time trying to max the Quantitative and Verbal Reasoning sections, and spend little time as possible on the IR section.

This is where they go wrong, and you would too, if this is how you prepared for the GMAT. In fact, you could lose precious scores by not doing well in this section. At first, it was set up only as an experiment, to see how students fared at it. Initially, experts felt that this section would never be seen as important to the overall GMAT application. But in recent times, it has been found that IR is gaining in importance in assessment of most students who take this exam.

As a student preparing for the GMAT, you might want to invest all your time in doing your best in the Quantitative and Verbal sections. But being negligent about the IR section can set you back big time in your overall GMAT score.

Helpful hints

You could do better in this section by first understanding the principles that govern the IR section. Here are a few important pointers you should know:

  • The IR section is the second section, You will come across with 12 objective type questions to be finished in 30 minutes. This leaves you with just a few seconds to assess the information put before you, and give the right answers. No matter how many times you have taken this test, you will always feel pressured to complete as many questions as possible in this section. That’s why practice is very essential here.
  • To get a credit for each question, you need to choose correctly from the options given in each question. Remember, you don’t get any partial credit. You may select correctly for most of the questions in this section, but ultimately your score won’t be more than two or three here because you didn’t get 100% of most of the questions in this section.
  • The information provided here is too much and maybe difficult to decode. Those with a Finance background can perhaps work with numbers and tables better than others, but may not be able to work with information quickly and correctly. So, believing that you have very little time on hand, you need to decode the information given to you at first glance itself.
  • If your foundation in the Quantitative and Verbal sections is really sound, you are likely to score higher in the IR section. This is because many of the questions in the IR section have data sufficiency questions and often need to be looked at closely due to the way they are worded. So, if you have some practice with working with the IR section, you could score higher in this section.
  • You can score a maximum of eight points in the IR section, not 12. Though you would want to score as much as you can in this section, don’t get stressed out about doing this as the questions here are very tough and complicated and therefore errors on your part are possible.

How to prepare for the IR section

With these pointers in mind, what is the best way of preparing for the IR section? The general rule is to keep practicing so that you don’t make as many mistakes. So, remember not to give this section step-motherly treatment.

Online and offline, you can easily locate IR practice questions, apart from those at the end of the Official Guide. All these put together should give you enough practice questions, while you continue to work assiduously on the Verbal and Quantitative sections.

You can also do well on the GMAT by realizing that excelling in the IR section is all about your mental strength. The GMAT test begins with the AWA and IR sections, and then moves on to the Quantitative and Verbal sections.

No matter how good you may be in the Quantitative and Verbal sections, you might still not fare well in the latter two segments if you mess up the initial AWA and IR sections. So, to start the test putting your right foot forward, you need to spend enough time on all sections, and that includes the IR section.