Next Generation GMAT: Introducing GMAT Integrated Reasoning Questions
Things tend to change. What was new and modern few years ago is no longer as useful, attractive, and innovative as it used to be. This is as true in the business world as everywhere else. The skill set that defined a successful manager ten years ago has been updated and expanded. Consequently, what business schools seek in their applicants has changed. To meet these new requirements and to better assess the reasoning and analytical skills of future MBA students, the Next Generation GMAT has replaced the current version of the test beginning on June 5, 2012.
What is changing?
Feared by many, this change probably won't make the test much harder, if any. The duration of the GMAT will remain the same, only a new section will replace the Analysis of an Issue section of the Analytical Writing Assignment. So the text will now be structured like this:
Note: Many test takers are curious whether the average total GMAT score of 200-800 will increase or decrease after the new section is introduced. Here's the answer: it is not likely to change; the new section will be scored separately on a scale of 0-8. As before, your total GMAT score will be calculated on the basis of your performance on the Quantitative and Verbal sections.
What will be tested?
The Integrated Reasoning section will consist of twelve questions in four new formats. The questions will ask you to analyze data from charts and tables and draw conclusions in order to answer the questions. The answer choices may be in the true/false format, you may be asked to select the answer from a drop-down list, or you may see the standard answer choices. From the questions that have been released so far, we can infer that the new section will be addressing mostly math and critical reasoning. The questions are often a mix where you are asked to draw a conclusion or evaluate a list of conclusions based on a given set of mathematical data.
The math skills required to answer the new GMAT questions will not exceed the skills already required for the Quantitative section; the only difference is that the information you will have to analyze will be presented differently. Generally, if you studied well for your Quantitative and Verbal sections, you will be prepared to do well on Integrated Reasoning. Remember, these questions look different, but they test very much the same skills tested before.
As you may expect from questions based on charts, graphs, and other similar sources, many of the questions will ask about percentages (percentage increase/decrease), statistics (central tendencies), and profits. Of course, the questions will not be limited to these concepts, but charts and graphs primarily present this kind of information.
The good thing is that you will have the calculator on your screen for the Integrated Reasoning section of the GMAT, although it will not be available during the Quantitative section. You will need to use your mouse for calculations, so practice precision clicking and think about calculating the easier expressions on your note board.
Integrated Reasoning question types and samples
Integrated Reasoning questions come in four different formats: Graphics Interpretation, Two-Part Analysis, Table Analysis, and Multi-Source Reasoning. To get a better idea of the questions, look at the following short description and samples of each question type.
Type 1: Graphics Interpretation Questions
From the few samples of GMAT Graphics Interpretation questions available, it appears that these problems are illustrated with graphs, pie charts, diagrams, or other images, accompanied by short descriptions of the data and perhaps instructions for reading them. Each Graphic Interpretation problem will be followed by two questions to which you will have to select the correct answers from drop-down lists. Graphs may be very confusing, but keep in mind that harder ones tend to come with easier questions, requiring minimal calculations or none at all. Easier graphs, naturally, will most likely be followed by trickier questions. So don't panic when you see a complex diagram or chart, and don't become careless when you see an easy one!
A good idea is to start by reading the description of the illustration and then the questions, so that you know what kind of information to distill from the graph.
Keeping all this in mind, look at the following Graphics Interpretation question, trying to find the answers within the next 2 minutes. You will have about 2.5 minutes per question, but some question types may require more than the average amount of time, so try to save time wherever you can.
The graph shows the percent profit earned by two companies, P and Q, on their investments.
In which year was the ratio of investment to income greatest for Company P?
If the income of Company P in 2006 was same as the income of Company Q in 2003, what would be the ratio of investment of company Q in 2003 to the investment of company P in 2006?
The graph itself is straightforward, so you should expect the questions to be more complex. Let's start with the first one.
Remember to begin by reading the description and questions before trying to analyze the graph. Here, you are told that the graph shows percent profit earned by two companies on their respective investments over a 7-year period. The key at the right of the chart assigns the blue bars to Company P and the red ones to company Q.
Question 1: Since the first question asks about Company P, you are interested only in the blue bars. When we recently presented this question at one of our webinars, students' preferences were almost equally divided between two answer choices: 2004 and 2007, so if you chose one of these options, you are in good company. Let's see whether one is correct. The ratio of investment to income can be represented mathematically as . The value of this fraction (any fraction) will become greater as the denominator gets smaller. Similarly, the ratio of investment to income was greatest when the percent profit was the least, and for the Company P this happened in 2004. The correct answer is 2004.
Question 2: The first question was easy, albeit tricky. This one is more straightforward, but it requires a mathematical way of thinking. You must find the ratio of the two companies' investments in different years, but all the information you have is about income. Use P and Q to mark the companies' respective investments, express incomes in terms of investments, and set them equal because the problem tells you that incomes were equal for the two companies for the years in question.
If the investment of Company P in 2006 = P, then its income in 2006 was P + 85% of P or 1.85P.
If the investment of Company Q in 2003 = Q, then its income in 2003 was Q + 66.5% of Q = 1.665Q.
Knowing that the two incomes were equal, we can form the equation: 1.85P = 1.665Q
From this expression we can deduce that or 10:9. This is the kind of question where you want the calculator.
To sum up, for Graphics Interpretation questions:
- Learn to read different types of graphs.
- Before analyzing a graph, read the accompanying explanation to see what information it presents.
- Before analyzing a graph, read the question(s) to see what exactly you need to infer from the graph.
- Try to use the calculator only when the answer is not intuitively obvious or cannot be calculated manually without wasting time on the calculator.
- Do not get frustrated when you get a scary graph; it will likely be followed by easy common sense questions that can be answered without any calculations.
- Do not get careless when you see an easy graph; it may be followed by tricky questions that will require your full concentration.
In general, the only new skill tested by Graphics Interpretation questions is your ability to read charts; all other reasoning and math skills are the same as those you need for the Quantitative or Verbal section. If you're good at Critical Reasoning and Problem Solving and you learn to read information presented in graphical form, you'll do just fine.
Type 2: Two–Part Analysis Questions
One thing is certain—these questions will have two parts. Some will present math problems and ask you to figure out values for two variables, others will present passages from which you must draw two valid inferences, and other styles are probably coming. While Graphics Interpretation questions mostly address math, Two-Part Analysis questions can address either math or logical reasoning. Again, if the passage presents a lot of information, it's a good idea to start by reading the questions to see what information you are going to need. In this example, we will dissect a reasoning type of question. Are they hard? Of course, they are. But if you're careful and attentive, you should find them manageable.
The following is an extract from a sports commentator's speech, which discusses a fictitious location, called Sanura, on a playing field.
"And now we can see that in the final minutes of the match, almost all the players have gathered in anticipation near the only gate where the goal can be scored and are waiting for the ball to be thrown into play. Each coach puts one defenseman from his team in Sanura. While until recently controlling Sanura was considered a good idea only at the beginning of a game when a face-to-face game was developing , now it has become clear that even in situations like this one, when the play is occurring far from Sanura, it is crucial to put some players there."
Based on the definition of the fictitious word Sanura as inferred from the extract above, which of the following events CAN happen in Sanura and which CANNOT? Make only two selections, one in each column.
This GMAT Integrated Reasoning question is similar to a Critical Reasoning question. It has several premises (statements of evidence) about Sanura, a fictional location on a playing field, and you need to infer which activities can and cannot occur there. This is nothing new, just the same inference question in a new format. Let's look at answer choices.
1. Wrong. Nothing in the extract indicates whether the ball can be thrown in Sanura. You know that players are waiting for it near the gate, and probably, at least in some cases, the ball is thrown in somewhere in that area, but you do not know whether throwing in the ball may take place in Sanura.
2. Trap question. You know from the personal experience that any sport is accompanied by trauma risk; however, the extract does not mention trauma, so any inference about it is just your assumption and therefore wrong.
3. CANNOT. The passage describes the gathering of all players near the gate as occurring far from Sanura, so the gate is obviously not in Sanura. Since the gate is described as the only place where the goal can be score, scoring a goal cannot occur in Sanura.
4. Wrong. Nothing is said about whether all members can or cannot gather in Sanura.
5. CAN. The passage states that each coach has put one defenseman in Sanura, so it is obvious that members of different teams can meet in Sanura.
Type 3: Table Analysis Questions
Table Analysis questions present a data table, which can be complex or contain only a few rows and columns. You will be allowed to sort values in each column by size or alphabetically. Like other illustrations, a table is just information; without the questions, it is useless. So approach Table Analysis questions by first reading the questions. After that, you can sort the relevant column(s) to see whether certain trends appear or not. Let's take a look at the question.
There are four movie stores in a town. The table below shows the in-town movie rentals and sales by genre at Mark's Movie Emporium.
|Genre||Rental %||Rental Rank||Sales %||Sales Rank|
This is an easy table; with only nine rows and four columns, sorting may not be necessary. Nevertheless, you should know that you not only CAN sort your tables, but also SHOULD do so. The key is to figure out what to sort, and the clue to that is in the question. (On the test, the sort field will be above the table, but we can't add it in our blog, so here you can sort by clicking the arrow at the top of a column).
The first question is about genres in which Mark's leads in rentals, so you sort by Rentals Rank and you see that Mark's leads in rentals of Documentaries and Romance movies. Now look up these genres in the Sales Rank column. For Romance movies, Mark's store also leads in sales, but for Documentaries, it ranks 2nd, so the answer is Yes, Mark's store does not always lead in sales in the genres in which it leads in rentals.
For the second question, look up Mark's rentals share for Documentaries, which turns out to be 50% of total documentaries' rentals. All other stores account for the other 50%, which does not exceed Mark's share, so the answer is No.
For the third question, you find that Mark's rentals share of Dramas is 23%, while the other three stores combined rent 77%. You know that Mark's ranks second in this category, so the leader could well be renting more than 25%, and the answer is no.
Type 4: Multi-Source Reasoning Questions
Multi-source Reasoning questions are similar to Reading Comprehension questions in that they usually present a significant amount of information, requiring you to distill the bits of information needed to answer the questions. It's a good idea, as always, to start by reading the questions and then skim the information provided to locate what's relevant. The information will be presented in three tabs (at least, questions we've seen so far all have three tabs), so don't assume that all the information you get is what's on the screen initially; there are other tabs you must click for access to the rest of the information. The questions are also very similar to Math and Critical Reasoning: they usually ask you to decide whether a certain statement can be inferred logically or mathematically from the sources provided. Look at this example:
From the Chief Operations Officer of Jackson's Auto Company to Quality Control on March 23, 2011.
I am concerned about the wiring of the front seat adjustment system in our POGO X3 car. We currently have 8500 cars that were made before upgraded components began to be installed. Should the wiring system in these cars have additional tests run to ensure proper functioning? If so, what tests need to be run and on how many cars?
From the VP of Quality Control to the COO on March 24, 2011.
On small initial tests previously conducted, the old wiring works properly in 75% of cars tested. This was done on a small sample however. In my opinion, the pass rate should be close to the original, and we should randomly test around 30% of the cars, fixing those that fail.
From COO to VP of QC on March 25th, 2011.
The cost to uninstall the old components and upgrade them is around $400 per car if done here in our factory. The cost to repair this component in the field will exceed $500, as well as damage our image. However, this is not a safety issue and we are losing significant amounts as they are being tested. Test 25% of the cars.
For the first question, take a closer look at Memo #3, in which the COO discusses his concerns. He states, "This is not a safety issue," and chooses a cheaper testing option, since there are no safety considerations and his choice is presumably less costly than potential brand damage accruing from other options. So the answer is No; the COO considers cost more important in this instance than safety and reputation.
For the second question, see Memo #1. According to the COO, 8500 cars were cited as having the potential for this wiring problem. In Memo #2, VP/QC estimates that 75% of the cars will not actually turn out to have problems with their wiring. The number of cars that are probably fine, therefore, is 8500 × 0.75 = 6375. This leaves 8500-6375=2125, or around 2100, at risk for having the problem. The answer is Yes.
The third question is trickier. The COO would endorse the inference presented to you, but this is only his opinion, however expert it may be. You are asked to endorse a statement of fact about which no data are provided. You cannot infer anything about future losses from brand damage, so you can't compare it to any estimated cost of testing and replacing. The answer is No; you cannot infer this.
We have presented several main points for you to consider about the new GMAT Integrated Reasoning Questions:
- Starting June 5, 2012, the GMAT will include a new format. If you want to take the current version of the test, you need to schedule your GMAT appointment before June 2, the latest date the current version will be administered.
- The new GMAT Integrated Reasoning section will not test any distinctly new skill set. It will test the good old math and logic it tests now, but in a different way. The only new thing is that you will have to get used to a new format in which information is presented and learn to read effectively information presented in graphical form or in tables.
- The new section of the GMAT will be scored individually, so it will not affect your overall 200-800 score, but it will be present in your score report as a separate score. The GMAC says it will be scored on a scale of 0-8, but the official GMAT Prep software seems to score it for 0-25 points. When this has been cleared up (well in advance of June 5, we hope!), we will share that clarification with you.
- They give you the calculator, but for the majority of questions, you do not need it. Most answers can be found either manually or by approximation or they are of the Critical Reasoning type and do not involve math at all.
- Timing is extremely important. Random guesses are not as effective as in previous questions. In the Quantitative section and in the Verbal section, you have five answer choices, so even a random guess will give you a 20% chance to get the question correct. In Two-Part Analysis, however, assuming that the correct answer is selection of the correct option in both columns, with 5-6 options for each column there are 25-36 combinations from among which you might choose. Making a random guess will be very unproductive, so GET USED TO TIMED PRACTICE. It is the only way to become more familiar with the questions, with effective solving algorithms, and with the new and different format of GMAT Integrated Reasoning questions.
Of course, the information we have about the New GMAT Integrated Reasoning questions is very limited right now, but we are continually updating ourselves and will post new information as soon as new details become available. Be sure to keep checking this site! We are actively developing new prep materials at GoGMAT, too, and they will be available to our customers soon.