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GMAT Tip: The IR Matters

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Many test takers spent the vast majority of their preparation working towards improving in the Quantitative and Verbal Reasoning sections, only taking a day or two to skim through the Integrated Reasoning sections, and almost always skipping the IR section on practice exams.

Not giving the Integrated Reasoning section due diligence and/or just a tenth of preparation time may be detrimental for a competitive application. Set up as an experimental section, many b-school experts felt that the IR would never become a valid aspect of a GMAT application. But more recent surveys indicate that IR is, in fact, becoming an increasingly important assessment of the most competitive applicants.

While you still may want to spend significantly more time preparing for the Quantitative and Verbal sections, not being dismissive of the IR section in each practice test can make a big difference in the appearance of your overall score.

Even just understanding the basics of the Integrated Reasoning section can help you get your bearings come test day. A few important points to note:

  • The Integrated Reasoning section is the second section on the test with 12 multi-part questions in 30 minutes that leave you mere seconds to assess the information given, plus answer the questions effectively. Even the most strong, seasoned test-takers feel pressed for time on this section. Practice makes a big difference in how to approach the section more effectively.
  • There is no partial credit. Many of the IR questions may have four or five answer choices you have to select, and all of your selections have to be correct to get credit for a question. Many test takers will have a correct selection for the majority of the questions they are asked to assess, but will still score a 2 or 3 on the section simply because they didn’t get 100% of very many questions right.
  • The information is dense and difficult to decipher. Test takers who’ve been in operations and/or finance may be more familiar with the large, number heavy tables and complex scatter plot graphs, but will still fail to adequately assess information in a timely fashion. The key is recognizing you have very little time – therefore, the information must be more in your face than you think it to be at first glance.
  • The stronger your foundation in the Quantitative and Verbal sections, the more likely you will score better on the IR section. Many questions are similar to data sufficiency questions and/or require close attention to nuances in wording. Provided you’ve familiarized yourself with the IR section, the better your score is likely to be.
  • The IR section is scored out of an 8 – not a 12. Don’t stress on getting every question right – these are highly complex and there is (some) room for error.

So, how can you prepare for the Integrated Reasoning section? Practice makes perfect – don’t skimp on your practice tests. also offers additional IR practice questions, beyond those found in back of the Official Guide. Do as many practice questions as you can find, while also working on Verbal and Quantitative concepts.

Finally, recognizing that doing well on the GMAT is also about mental fortitude is a big key into doing well on the IR, and all, sections. The GMAT is structured first with the AWA and IR sections, then the Quantitative and Verbal sections. As good as you may be in the last two sections, still having a rough go of it on the first two sections can impact how you perform as you make your way through the test. Similar in the way that a good day starts with a well-balanced breakfast, so does getting off on the right foot with the first two sections.

The above GMAT Tip comes from Veritas Prep. Since its founding in 2002, Veritas Prep has helped more than 100,000 students prepare for the GMAT and offers the most highly rated GMAT Prep course in the industry.

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