Integrated Reasoning in GMAT
Scoring, sample questions, practice tests, best books and prep tips for GMAT Integrated Reasoning
What is Integrated Reasoning (IR)?
Integrated Reasoning (IR) is a relatively new section (launched in 2012) designed to test the ability of a candidate to analyze the data presented in various formats and solve related problems. The questions belong to 4 different types: graphical interpretation, 2 part analysis, table analysis, and multi-source reasoning. It consists of 12 questions in total and the score can range from 1 to 8. The duration of the section is 30 minutes, and the IR score does not contribute to the final GMAT score.
The IR section strives to test the skills that are considered vital for a 21st-century business professional: the ability to assimilate data in written and visual forms such as charts, graphs, and tables. The candidate should also be adept in differentiating between the useful and superfluous information. The 4 different question types are as follows:
- Graphical Interpretation: this type focuses on the ability to decipher information presented in a visual format such as graphs, charts, and tables etc. There are a couple of questions with a minimum of 3 answer choices, and it is a good idea to decide on the approach after looking at them. Beware of the trick choices though — the test-taker likes to set traps.
- Multi-Source Reasoning: this type focuses on the ability to grasp data from multiple/disparate sources. You need to navigate among multiple tabs to look at all the information. The questions are typically related to Critical Reasoning, though it can also be a simple quantitative type.
- Two-Part Analysis: this type focuses on the ability to extract information from a couple of inter-dependent components. The questions might need both quantitative and/or verbal skills. The prompt is usually quite verbose, and a couple of answers need to be selected from a total of 5 or 6.
- Table Analysis: this type focuses on the ability to differentiate between useful and non-useful data presented in the form of a sortable table.
GMAC, the test-setter, does not divulge many details about how the section is scored. Out of the 12 questions in total, 2-4 could be experimental (won’t count towards the final score). It is safe to assume that every question has the same value regardless of the difficulty level, and one will see at least one question from all four types. Trying to guess which questions are the experimental ones cannot be beneficial in any way.
The questions are given in a random order, and they are NOT computer adaptive. The raw score is scaled to a range of 1-8 (with single point increments), and a percentile is also provided based on the historical 3 years of score data. It is delivered within 20 days of taking the test along with the official score report.
IR Practice: Where to find IR Sample Questions
Solving a sufficient number of practice questions for GMAT Integrated Reasoning is a good way to make sure that you avoid any nasty surprises on the test day.
- Magoosh has a wonderful compilation of the official IR practice questions with answers and explanations (link).
- You can also try out some IR lessons for free (link) provided by Manhattan Prep.
- Four sample practice tests for IR (link) (one for each question type) are provided by majortests.com.
- Veritas Prep also provides with around a dozen IR sample practice questions for free (link).
- GMATClub serves as a good destination for IR overview and practice (link).
IR Tips and Strategies
Since the Integrated Reasoning score does not count towards the total score, most of the candidates focus on IR after their quant and verbal preparation. As a high score on IR section is dependent upon good quant and verbal skills, it is not a bad approach either.
- The total number of questions on the section is 12, and each question generally has 2-3 associated “tasks”. Considering the fact that there is no partial credit awarded, the amount of time that needs to be spent on a particular question should be carefully decided. If you are confused about two tasks out of 3, it might be better to guess and move on.
- Be well-versed with graphs and tabular data, especially within context. Magazines such as the Wall Street Journal and the Economist are excellent sources to hone your data interpretation skills.
- It is a good idea to chalk out the relationships between different variables at the start after reading all the presented labels. Also, make sure that you convert any units (if applicable). The answer might require speed in kilometers per hour, while the graph might depict speed in meters per second.
- Knowing your strengths and weaknesses for different question types will make sure that you skip question(s) intelligently. The IR section appears before the quant and verbal section — it is imperative to not expend too much mental energy before the “actual” test.
- Some candidates attempt only the quant and verbal sections while giving full-length practice tests which is a lousy strategy. You need to attempt them including the IR and AWA sections to get the pacing just right on the test day.
- It is a good idea to practice using an on-screen calculator. While it will be used sparingly, it can be a huge time-saver for some particular quant-based questions.
- Take advantage of the sorting functionality wherever available by using a drop-down menu to reorganize. The tables will need some restructuring before they start making sense, and certain data points should be prioritized over others based on what is asked.
IR GMAT Books
Most of the GMAT Prep books have a section dedicated to Integrated Reasoning. Manhattan GMAT Integrated Reasoning and Essay is a great resource available on Amazon.
Magoosh has a wonderful guide to GMAT integrated reasoning PDF for download (link) which offers section-wise tips and strategies.
The Official Guide for GMAT Review has a special section for IR and includes an online companion with 50 additional problems for practice.
GMATPrep software gives you access to not only a couple of full-length practice tests but also 15 additional free IR practice problems.
GMAT Club has a compilation of free IR e-books for download and practice sets (link).
You can also find a host of IR practice questions at GMAT Pill (link).
800score.com provides with demonstrations of all 4 IR question types (link), and as a bonus, the interface is pretty close to the actual GMAT.