How to Think About the GMAT’s Integrated Reasoning Section

The GMAT’s new Integrated Reasoning section (coming in June, 2012) will go beyond the traditional “pick one of these five answer choices” format. It will ask test takers to assess information in a variety of formats, synthesize the information given, and draw conclusions from the information given. Sounds like the test just got that much harder, right?

Not really. I you have prepared properly, then you should need very little preparation for the new Integrated Reasoning section beyond what you’ve already studied. Answering these new questions will require the same higher-order thinking skills that the GMAT already tests; it just tests them in a new way, taking advantage of the computer-based format for the first time in the test’s history.

By the way, some applicants hear “mini case study” and assume that the questions call for “anything goes” answers. Don’t assume that you’re going to be asked to write a short argument or devise a strategy for the company in the question setup. These new Integrated Reasoning questions certainly will be more open-ended in that you may be asked to select which statements are true given a set of data, and one, two, or even all five statements could possibly be true. In this case, you won’t be tasked with simply converging on THE right answer each time. However, there STILL will be a correct way and an incorrect way to answer a question. You just may need to be more creative in how you get there.

Again, if you have studied for the GMAT properly, this will be a piece of cake. In many ways, replacing an AWA question with the new Integrated Reasoning section actually removes ambiguity from the test, since it replaces a long-form, written response (graded by a computer) with questions with clear-cut right and wrong responses. And, the best part is… This is exactly the type of stuff you’ll be asked to do in many MBA job interviews. So, you may as well get good at it now!

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