New GMAT Section: Integrated Reasoning
If you are planning to take the GMAT Exam soon, you probably already know that significant changes are awaiting test-takers starting in June 2012. Namely, one of the two Analytical Writing Assessment tasks will be removed, and the spare 30 minutes will be allotted for Integrated Reasoning, a completely new GMAT section. GMAT creators believe that the new section will better detect whether prospective MBA students possess the skills essential to future success in managerial roles, especially the ability to work with data presented in tables, graphs, spreadsheets, and similar forms. They call the renewed version of the test Next Generation GMAT.
While test creators proudly boast of their innovation, Next Generation GMAT takers expect a drop in their scores resulting from the novelty. For the time being, while the new section is on trial, only a portion of test-takers will face Integrated Reasoning questions, and their scores for the section will not be revealed to business schools. Six months from now, however, the change will be as serious as it gets, and prospective test takers are looking for question samples, explanations, and tips to prepare themselves for the change. If you are one of those eager to learn as much as possible about Next Generation GMAT, read on!
The new Integrated Reasoning section to be faced in June will include four types of task: (1) Table Analysis, (2) Graphs Interpretation, (3) Multi-Source Reasoning, and (4) Two-Part Analysis. In each type of task, you will need to get acquainted with and analyze a set of data, and then answer one or more questions about it, for which you will have access to an on-screen calculator throughout the entire section. The types of answer choices will include but will not be limited to True/False questions, Fill-in-the-Blanks using drop-down lists, and Multiple Choice.
This section is not adaptive, which means that your questions will not become more difficult as you progress, bringing you more points if your previous answers were correct. Please note that these questions do have correct answers (as opposed to analytical writing assignments, where the answer depends on your interpretation) and their scoring is automated, not evaluated by a human. In practice, this means that a mistake is a mistake, and if you miscalculate, you will not get points for attempting the question, even if you were proceeding along the right track. Now, let us take a closer look at each type of the Next Generation GMAT sample questions.
In a Table Analysis assignment, a sortable table with multiple rows and columns will serve as your data source. You will face a set of statements, and your task will be to determine whether each of them fulfills one of the two conditions (true/false, yes/no, correct/incorrect, etc.). To succeed at this task, you will need to be able to detect patterns in data, compare objects according to various criteria, and perform basic statistical interpretation of the data. For instance, a question might ask whether more than 30% of objects in the table fulfill at least two of three requirements, or whether a certain object satisfies both of two criteria.
Graphs Interpretation will require you to analyze information presented in graphical form, and then fill in the blanks by selecting correct answers from drop-down lists. Obviously, this type of question is similar to conventional multiple-choice questions, with only one correct answer among the options presented, but the data on which you will base your answer will be drawn from a graph, chart, or other visual, non-verbal, representation. As a rule, you will be asked about relationships between objects at certain points on the graph or in general, or about the number of points at which an object fulfills a certain requirement.
Multi-source Reasoning will ask you to draw information from several sources and interpret it correctly within context of the question. You will see three short texts on the same topic taken from different sources (for example, three e-mail messages on an issue, or three articles responding to one another), followed by a set of statements, each of which you will need to label as true or false. Here, your answers will be based not on the raw data but on the relationships among the texts or inferences that can be drawn from them.
In two-part analysis, you will be given information about two parallel objects or processes, along with a question about the relationship between them in a certain period. A typical sample question would ask in how much time certain indicators would become equal, given their initial values and rates of change. In contrast to conventional Math Section questions, this type of assignment requires you not only to calculate accurately but also to think constantly within the context of the defined environment and ever-changing conditions.
These four types of Next Generation questions will assess your ability to use information from various sources, determine relationships and patterns, and make assumptions based on observed trends. You will get a better feeling of how the new section is organized and how the questions are formulated if you look at the GMAT sample questions posted on the official GMAT web site. The questions are definitely not easy, but you weren't expecting pennies from GMAT heaven, were you? Anyway, it is too early to draw ultimate conclusions before the Official Guide for GMAT is issued (probably in April 2012), when the public will be given numerous samples for every type of question, as well as answer keys and detailed explanations that will help test-takers arm themselves to the teeth for the new GMAT section.
We recommend that you monitor the official GMAT website, mba.com, and hone your skills in Quantitative, Verbal, and Analytical Writing, so that as soon as Next Generation GMAT prep materials are released, you can dive into Integrated Reasoning and apply your best effort to mastering it!