On Tuesday, June 5th, the GMAT is changing with the addition of a new section called Integrated Reasoning (IR). All of our Manhattan GMAT prep classes now cover Integrated Reasoning and will prepare our students for both the old test and the new test. Our IR Strategy Guide will be released on April 9th, along with IR practice exams and online IR workshops for our students.
The following article is Part 2 of a two part overview of Integrated Reasoning written by Manhattan GMAT’s Vice President of Curriculum, Chris Ryan. Part 1 covered the questions “What is Integrated Reasoning” and “When Should I Take the GMAT?”. Part 2 covers “What Is Different About IR” and “What’s the real danger of IR?”.
What’s different about IR?
Integrated Reasoning emphasizes certain topics at the expense of other topics:
- Emphasis on Percents, Statistics, Reading Comprehension, and so on.
- DE-emphasis on topics such as Grammar and Number Properties.
IR also has some funky new formats of questions. Hey, sort this table! Pick two answers, one in each column! You just have to get used to these new looks.
As the label says, Integrated Reasoning is integrated: it mixes together Quant and Verbal. You get Quant with a lot of words, or Verbal with numbers—take your pick.
You will also encounter real-world data—lots of ugly numbers. You’ll be able to call up a simple calculator on-screen—and in fact, you should be ready to do so, because some of these IR numbers fell out of the ugly tree and hit all the branches.
Why is IR this way? In business school, you’ll analyze cases—real-world histories of companies that include a lot of text and numbers. More than any other section of the GMAT, Integrated Reasoning gives you a foretaste of case analysis.
That’s why “real-world” topics such as Percents, Decimals, Statistics, and Reading Comp are more important on IR than “math puzzle” or “grammar nerd” topics.
What’s the real danger of IR?
The real danger is that IR could mess up the rest of your test, if you let it. This new section will throw big charts and long passages at you. You’ll be under real time pressure to finish.
And once you’re done, you’ll have to start the part that really matters!
So how do you make sure that IR goes down smoothly and then vanishes like a burp in the wind?
- Build stamina in advance. When you take your second practice test, your third, and so forth, don’t skip IR. Our tests will be enabled with IR sections in April.
- Why not do your first practice test with IR? Because then you’ll over-focus on this section in your studies. Remember, what matters is GMAT Quant and GMAT Verbal—the two 75-minute multiple-choice sections that form the main event of the exam. Wait until you’ve got some real preparation under your belt before you start worrying at all about IR.
- Study the fast and easy way to do problems. Of course, you’re doing the same thing for GMAT Quant and Verbal. Just practice with these new looks, and don’t be afraid to use that on-screen calculator.
- Feed your brain at the break. After IR, your mind will be literally depleted of fuel (this state is called “decision fatigue” or “ego depletion,” if you look it up). As a result, you’ll be less ready to handle additional rapid-fire decision-making for the next 2 ½ hours.
- What’s the fuel of your brain? Glucose, exclusively—your brain only eats the simplest of sugars. Recent studies show that eating or drinking something with carbs in it fights ego depletion. So drink half a Gatorade. Of course, don’t overdo the sugar—don’t gobble half a birthday cake. Just get some carbs back in your brain.
After IR, make a couple of adjustments as you proceed into the rest of the test.
- Give up the calculator without regret.
- On IR, you needed it. But on GMAT Quant, you don’t need it. The numbers are now pretty! They’re rigged to allow for estimation or other approaches you can reasonably take by hand.
- Stop ignoring things.
- On IR, you’ll be given some giant table. To get the big picture, you’ll look the whole thing over, then you’ll sort and sift away all the dreck to find the two numbers you need.
- In contrast, on GMAT Quant you’re rarely given anything you don’t need. Try to use all the info provided.
Next time, we’ll talk about what IR looks like in detail. In the meantime, good luck in your studies!
This is Part 2 of a two part series. Part 1 can be found here. For more on Integrated Reasoning, visit our IR page.