New section added to revised GMAT exam
‘Integrated Reasoning’ will test future MBA students’ data analysis skills
May 30, 2012, 7:17 pm · Updated May 30, 2012, 10:16 pm·
Future MBA students will soon have an additional section to study for, as the Graduate Management Admission Test will introduce a 30-minute Integrated Reasoning Section starting June 5.
The IR section will consist of four question types: graphics interpretation, two-part analysis, table analysis and multisource reasoning.
“These are skills that businesses have said that they want,” said Bob Ludwig, spokesperson for the Graduate Management Admission Council, which produces the GMAT. “In the information age, if you don’t do data you don’t do business.
There’s an emphasis more and more on data analysis in everything from marketing to manufacturing … it makes sense that they would want students that have these skills.”
GMAC conducted a survey of 740 business school faculty members from around the world in 2008, and the results were clear, Ludwig said. Business schools identified certain emerging skills as factors important to success in business school and students’ careers. But the new section is not just about academic and professional success, Ludwig added.
“In addition to verbal and quantitative skills, this is an opportunity for test-takers to shine in a way that they haven’t been able to before,” he said.
The test is currently comprised of verbal and quantitative sections as well as two writing prompts. The IR section will replace one of the 30-minute prompts, keeping the total test time constant at three and a half hours.
While the section’s emphasis on charts and interpretation is new, the old exam also measured students’ ability to analyze information. The verbal section also has “logic questions thrown in,” said 2012 College graduate Mike Contillo, who took the exam last year. “There are an infinite number of things that would help you, but that doesn’t mean that the GMAT ought to incorporate it.”
2012 Wharton graduate Alex Fishman felt that there was a lack of data analysis on the GMAT when he took the exam this March. “The other sections aren’t that much about interpreting graphs,” he said. “It’s more straight problem solving.”
Scoring of the exam will remain the same, with a combined score for the quantitative and verbal sections and a separate writing score. The IR section will be scored separately on a 1-8 scale. Because data for placing students in percentiles for the IR section is currently unavailable, GMAC will be updating IR percentiles on a more frequent, monthly basis, rather than the rest of the exam’s three and a half year rolling average, Ludwig said.