Archives For Integrated Reasoning

Integrated Reasoning, the newest addition to the GMAT, was added to the GMAT in response to real skills employers are looking for in new hires – namely, the ability to analyze information presented in multiple ways – in order to succeed in today’s data-driven workplace. Sounds tough, right? The good news is that Integrated Reasoning can be learned.

And we’ve created a new tool to teach it—available for free for a limited time only!

The complete GMAT INTERACT platform (coming in June!) will teach every section of the GMAT, but you can get started on the IR section right now, for free. It won’t be available for free forever, though, so be sure to sign up before it’s too late!

Your performance on Integrated Reasoning (IR) can affect the part of the test you really care about: the Quant and the Verbal. Follow the below 3 Keys to Success and you’ll be sitting pretty on test day.

Key #1: Minimize Brain Power Expended

Too many students have made this mistake already: they don’t study (or barely study) for IR, then kill their mental stamina during this section. When quant and verbal roll around, they’re mentally exhausted and what was already a hard test becomes impossible.

Your IR score does not directly impact your Quant and Verbal scores, but you’ll always have to do the IR section before you get to quant and verbal. In order to avoid an adverse outcome, you want to make sure that you can get a “good enough” score on IR without doing too much.

What’s a good-enough score? As of March 2014, the general consensus is to aim for a 4 or higher on IR; if you’re planning to apply to a top-10 school, aim for a 5 or higher. (The top score on IR is an 8.)

NOTE to future readers! The advice in the previous paragraph will likely change over time, so if you are reading this a year or two from now, check our blog for more recent advice.

Do not put your IR study off until the last minute. At least 6 weeks before the test, start to learn about the four types of IR problems: Multi-Source Reasoning (MSR), Table Analysis, Graphical Interpretation, and Two-Part Analysis.

Learn:

(1) the strategies needed to answer each question type

(2) the one or two question types you like the least

I’ll recommend one of our own products to help you with this: our IR Interact lessons. You’ll learn everything you need to know via a very engaging series of interactive videos, and best of all, it’s completely free (as I’m writing this right now—no promises for future!).

Key #2: Know When to Guess

Next, do you generally like quant or verbal better? How do you feel about fractions, percents, and statistics, the math topics the most commonly tested on IR? Do you like those topics more or less than you like critical reasoning problems? Do you like pulling data from tables and manipulating it to conclude something? Interpreting graphical information? Or do you prefer synthesizing material from two or three primarily text-based sources?

Decide what topics you like least and combine that information with the one or two question types you like least. For instance, let’s say that you dislike fraction and percent topics the most. You also hate graphs and you aren’t too thrilled about tables either.

We have some exciting news for you today! We have launched GMAT INTERACT™ for Integrated Reasoning, a truly interactive, video-based digital learning platform that engages you in all facets of learning.

INTERACT is our dynamic digital learning platform, and it’s unlike anything you’ve used to study online. It’s designed to engage your whole brain, keeping the student-teacher connection at the core of every lesson. It’s been called “the best self study method out right now.” Our full GMAT INTERACT program will be launching in 2014, but we’re bringing you all five IR lessons now, for free, so you can kick off your studies.

INTERACT prepares you for the newest section of the GMAT, Integrated Reasoning, which is the most significant overhaul of the GMAT in its 60 year history. The feature component of INTERACT for IR is an expert, on-screen instructor who engages with you as if you were actually receiving private tutoring. The INTERACT program, unlike simple video tutorials, actually receives answers from you and responds to them.

INTERACT has been a two year process of technological innovation, in which Manhattan Prep designers, coders, instructors, and videographers meticulously worked together to create the most interactive student-teacher focused experience available online.

Happy studying: http://www.manhattangmat.com/INTERACT/

Exciting news! GMAC (the owners of the GMAT) announced on Friday that, starting immediately, we’ll get our unofficial IR scores as soon as the test is over. They already do this for our Quant, Verbal, and Total scores, so IR will be added to the mix.

As with the other scores, the IR score will be considered an “unofficial” score until you receive your official score report. You can consider these test-day scores essentially official, though, as it’s incredibly rare for something to change after that day. The folks over at GMAC are professionals; they’re not going to release scores if there’s even a small chance that something could change, upsetting students who thought they had earned a different score.

So now you won’t have to wait to find out how you did on IR. (You’ll still wait for the essay score, of course, but that’s not quite so nerve-wracking, is it?)

Need to practice IR? Try our new free GMAT Interact lessons for Integrated Reasoning.

Happy studying and good luck on test day!

In the first part of this article, we took a look at how to read MSR passages and take some light notes. We finished off with a problem—now let’s talk about the solution! (Note: click on the link earlier in this paragraph; you’re going to want the tab text when reading through the solution.)

Here’s the problem again:

“Based on the information in the passage and tables, it can be determined that the average monthly meat consumption, in pounds, by the residents of Barras in the AD 1000s was which of the following?

“(A) 9,600

“(B) 10,000

“(C) 16,000

“(D) 17,400

“(E) 18,000”

How did it go? Our first task is to figure out where to go. Which tab is likely to be most useful in answering this question? They ask about meat consumption and also specify Barras in the AD 1000s.

Both tables (in tabs 2 and 3) talk about Barras and meat consumption, but this question asks about pounds—that sends us to tab 3.

Read the key up at top. The table shows average monthly meat consumption (good, that’s what we want!) in pounds for a 4-person family. We want pounds. Do we want a 4-person family?

Nope. The question asks about the total consumption in pounds for the residents of Barras. We’re going to need to do a little calculating here.

In the 1000s, Barras’s average monthly consumption per 4-person family was 160 pounds. Per person, then, consumption was 160 /4 = 40 pounds. Hmm, now what?

We need to know the total number of residents in Barras in the 1000s. Where did they tell us that?

Right! Tab 1 gave some information about population at the end of the paragraph about Barras. The passage says that there were 400 residents, on average, in the AD 1000s.

400 residents multiplied by 40 pounds per resident is a total of 16,000 pounds.

What did you learn about MSRs from this problem? I think there are 3 key takeaways, which I list at the end of this article; try to come up with your own before you read them.

Let’s try another problem from this MSR; give yourself about 1.5 to 2 minutes total to answer all three parts of this problem.

Given that Integrated Reasoning may become more important for those who want to go into consulting or banking, let’s take a look at a Multi-Source Reasoning (MSR) problem!

In this first part, we’re going to take a look at how to read and take notes on the MSR text. In the next article, we’ll do a problem that goes with the text. This MSR is from the free GMATPrep test, so if you have not yet taken GMATPrep, don’t read this article yet! Put it away and come back to it after you’ve seen the problem yourself.

MSRs appear as three tabs of information. I can’t format things into tabs here, so I’ll just show it all to you one after the other. You have about 2.5 minutes per question on IR. This MSR has a total of 3 associated questions, but I’m only giving you one in this article. Spend about 2 to 2.5 minutes on the read-through, leaving yourself about 1.5 to 2 minutes to spend on each question.

Tab 1

“An archaeological team has been excavating three ancient village sites—Barras, Agna, and Cussaia—looking in particular at kitchen waste dumps as a way to understand the villages’ dietary patterns and trading relationships. What follows are brief summaries of their findings.

“Barras: The best data come from stratified finds in this oceanside village, which was inhabited from AD 600 to 1300 and was the only one of the three villages to produce seafood, its main dietary item. Though Barras residents hunted on land and raised crops, this provided relatively small amounts of food. As Barras’s overall prosperity rose, there was more food available per person, and its population increased from an average of 100 residents in the AD 600s to 400 residents in the AD 1000s to 600 residents in the AD 1200s.

“Agna: Agna was established in an inland forest around AD 800 and its residents mainly hunted but also ate considerable amounts of fruit, nuts, and other forest-vegetable products. They also traded meat to Barras for other goods. With no open fields, Agna grew no grain.

“Cussaia: Predating Barras, Cussaia depended heavily on raising grain crops and eventually obtained seafood and meat via trade. It traded directly only with Barras, because a mountain range separated it from Agna, though some products may have been traded between Agna and Cussaia via Barras.

“Additionally, there is no evidence that any other village traded with Barras, Agna, or Cussaia prior to AD 1300.”

Tab 2

“Barras: Percentages, by Estimated Weight, of Dietary Items Consumed per Person per Month”

 Century Seafood Meat Grains Other 600s 65% 10% 10% 15% 700s 65% 10% 15% 10% 800s 60% 15% 15% 10% 900s 45% 30% 12% 13% 1000s 45% 30% 12% 13% 1100s 60% 10% 20% 10% 1200s 55% 25% 10% 10%

Tab 3

“Barras, Agna: Estimated Average Monthly Meat and Seafood Consumption (lb per 4-Person Family)”

 Century Barras Agna Seafood Meat Seafood Meat 600s 240 37 not applicable not applicable 700s 250 38 not applicable not applicable 800s 275 70 60 240 900s 258 172 66 180 1000s 240 160 66 186 1100s 275 45 8 240 1200s 265 120 45 240

That’s a lot to read through in only 2 minutes or so. The key is to be able to divide the info into three categories:

Bloomberg Businessweek recently reported that Bain & Co, a well-respected management consulting firm, is considering using Integrated Reasoning scores in its hiring process. What does this mean for you?

Bain represents one of two major post-MBA career paths: management consulting and banking. Harvard Business School, for example, reported that approximately 35% of graduates enter the financial services industry and 25% accept a consulting job (these stats represent the first job after obtaining the degree).

Because so many students want these jobs, the consulting firms and banks can afford to be choosy. At the same time, they have to wade through a large number of resumes—what to do?

One possibility, evidently, is to let the GMAT do some of the sorting for them. Keith Bevans, global head of recruiting at Bain, told Bloomberg Businessweek, “The IR scores are trying to test analytical abilities, which is important to us. We hope it’s a good match for determining if you’ll be successful at Bain.”

Quick GMAT aside: did you spot the errors in that quote? The which modifier improperly refers to a verb, not a noun. Also, it’s whether you’ll be successful, not if. We’ll give Mr. Bevans a pass, though; nobody actually speaks in fully grammatical sentences. (…with the possible exception of Oprah Winfrey—have you ever really listened to how well she constructs her sentences, even in speech? It’s impressive.)

[Edited to add: One of my fellow teachers, Pedro Ledesma, pointed out to me that the sentence could be corrected in a different way. The IR scores are trying to test analytical abilities, which ARE important to us. In this case, the which modifier would refer to abilities. Alternatively, if Mr. Bevans had wanted to refer to the whole clause, he might have said: The IR scores are trying to test analytical abilities and this  (the fact that they are doing so) is important to us.]

Bain hasn’t actually decided yet whether to use IR scores (or, if so, how). Mr. Bevans did make a point of saying that other important factors—such as “work experience, education, leadership experience, and one-on-one interactions with staff”—will still be just as important as ever.

So what should I do?

If you don’t want to go into banking or consulting, then your only IR concern is what the business schools think. Last year, the schools didn’t use IR, so most test prep companies and admissions consultants were counseling students to aim for 4 or higher (the high score on IR is 8).

Some schools may begin to use IR this year, so we’ve been counseling people to go for a 5 or higher—possibly a 6, if you’re applying to a top 5 school. Several schools, though, have said that they want to see how well IR scores predict success in business school, so it will be a couple of years at least before they begin to place any serious emphasis on this section.

I do want to go into consulting / banking…

You have a choice to make. You can take more time to study now and focus on maximizing your IR score as well. To be competitive at the very best companies, you’ll need a 7 or 8.

Let’s say, though, that you have very limited time now, or that you’re not sure yet whether you’ll want to go into banking or consulting. In that case, you might decide to take the test again after starting business school, either before your first summer break (if you need the score to help secure an internship) or before the recruiting season begins in earnest in the winter or spring of your second year in school.

Realistically speaking, a lot of people will want to follow that second path. I just want to warn you: the last thing you’re going to want to do in a year or two is to re-take the GMAT just for the IR score. You’ll also have to study again for quant and verbal because you won’t want to risk a big score drop in those areas; the firms will see those scores as well.

If you are applying in 2 months and you just don’t have time to add thorough IR prep into the mix, then the decision is made for you. Quant and Verbal are more important now, so you might have to re-take the GMAT in the future to get that IR score.

If you have the luxury of time, though, then use it. Plan to add about 4 weeks to your overall study timeframe. Then start incorporating IR throughout your study (there are actually a lot of overlaps between IR, quant, and verbal). Some starting points are below.

If you’re one of our students, watch the two-hour IR workshop tape in your student center. Use that in conjunction with our IR Strategy Guide to learn all of the strategies for IR questions.

Here are four free How To Analyze articles, one for each of the four IR question types:

Table

Two-Part

Multi-Source Reasoning

Graph

Questions? Concerns? Let us know here or contact our office to discuss (800.576.GMAT).

My title is a little odd there “ why the very specific timeframe? Well, we know that business schools aren’t using the Integrated Reasoning (IR) section much (if at all) this first year, for admission in the fall of 2013, but we also know that IR will probably become more important over time.

How much more important? Nobody knows, but it’s a good guess that the process will be fairly gradual. We have decades of data for the quant and verbal sections, so the schools can feel confident in interpreting that data to help make admissions decisions. After the first year of IR, we’ll still have only one year of data; as a result, it’s highly unlikely that IR will suddenly rise to the same level of importance as quant and verbal.

So what should you do if you’re taking the GMAT sometime this year in preparation for a fall 2014 start? How much attention do you really need to pay to IR and what kind of score will be good enough?

Here are the current percentile rankings for the 1 to 8 IR scoring scale:

 Percentile Score 92% 8 81% 7 67% 6 52% 5 37% 4 24% 3 12% 2 0% 1