It is true: There is a new section coming to the GMAT. “Integrated Reasoning” is a 30-minute mini-section that will take the place of one of the AWA essays and have its own distinct score. The Integrated Reasoning section requires manipulation of spreadsheet data, and allows there to be multiple correct answers for certain questions. It is a question type that could only be offered on a computer-based test.
Integrated Reasoning Sample Question
Hot off the presses, here’s a sample question from the new Integrated Reasoning Section written by David Yourdon and John Davies on our crack team here at Knewton:
The table and graph below display data on a select group of 2009 Clean Air Choice Vehicles. Select the statements that are false based solely on the information given.
Click to enlarge:
1. Of the models with Gasoline Engine Type, the model with the greatest ratio of City MPG to Highway MPG is also the model with the greatest difference between Highway MPG and City MPG.
2. The minimum City MPG for a Toyota make is less than the maximum City MPG for a Volkswagen make.
3. A model chosen at random from those models with a Highway MPG greater than 30 miles per gallon has a 50% chance of being a Toyota.
4. The median carbon footprint for all models is greater than the mode carbon footprint for all models.
5. The standard deviation of the Highway MPG values for all BMW models is lower than the standard deviation of the Highway MPG values for all Toyota models.
See answer to Integrated Reasoning question below
Jose Ferreira Shares His View on the GMAT’s New Integrated Reasoning Format
Basically, Integrated Reasoning is what the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC) wishes the Critical Reasoning question type could have been, except the technology wasn’t available back when CR was created. To put it even more simply, Integrated Reasoning is Critical Reasoning meets MBA math. What’s MBA math? Stats, data analysis, and probability, all three of which MBA programs have long emphasized in the first semester curriculum. MBA programs have also long complained that many matriculating students lack basic competence in each. (The new Integrated Reasoning section came about in part from the results of 4 years of surveys given to business school faculty members.) In the past, schools have addressed these deficiencies by instituting mandatory math camps for incoming students, and/or offering first semester courses with names like “Decision-Making Under Uncertainty.” (At least, that was its name when I was a student at HBS.) These crash courses cover—you guessed it—stats, data analysis, and probability.
A few years ago, the GMAT began testing simple probability and statistics. But it’s hard to test these concepts out of context. Integrated Reasoning uses innovations in technology and testing to add the context, thereby testing probability and statistics in a more real-world setting.
I wonder how MBA programs and the GMAC will address the fact that many students who apply to business school have little or no experience with these kinds of tasks—and little to no knowledge of how to use spreadsheets. (Although finance and consulting types will find these questions quite easy.) Perhaps admissions boards will still primarily rely on the 200 – 800 score as their admissions criterion, and use the separate Integrated Reasoning score as a flagging mechanism for students who need extra help—kind of like a mini “AP Test” for MBA math, so students who do well can place out of math camp. Or perhaps it will be weighted along with the 200 – 800 in the decision-making process. If so, awkward questions of how much to weight each score are inevitable, and schools will inevitably vary in their approaches. (Just what the process needs – less transparency!)
As for how to prepare for Integrated Reasoning – well, let me just say that I’m looking forward to taking a crack at it! I’ve had my fair share of experience “cracking” test questions, and my experience is that the more highly structured a question type, the more amenable it is to strategic destruction. Any system with formulaic rules in it can be beaten using the weak spots and omissions in those rules. In the ‘90s, I forced ETS to abandon a new test section called Pattern ID due to my strategies. They admitted that I “broke the code, so we are removing the questions from the test.” Pattern ID’s undoing was the fact that it was highly structured and formula-driven. Integrated Reasoning is much the same—I look forward to finding some pretty fun strategies to “break the code” on this section as well.
Integrated Reasoning Answers: Statements 1 and 4 are FALSE; Statements 2, 3, and 5 are TRUE.