TheIR (Integrated Reasoning) section has been out for 1 year - so what are the stats and implications for MBA admissions now that bschools can better make sense of it?
Well, the average (mean) IR score was a 4.34 / 8.00 with a standard deviation of 2.1
Keep in mind 95% of all scores lie within 2 standard deviations of the mean.
That means 95% of IR scores are between 2.24 and 6.44 -- of course keep in mind this is not a normal distribution since the scores go by intervals of 1.
This is based on a sample size of 196,712
1) The IR score is becoming more and more versatile.
Now with 1 year of stats, MBA admissions committee can begin to better understand the score in the context of other applicant stats.
What specifically does it mean for you?
Well, if you come from an applicant pool that already has a high GMAT score - then having a high IR score
will help you stand out.
This is particularly true if a school gets a lot of applicants with a high GMAT Quant score. There are many students in the Q48+ range -- right now the difference between ~2 quant questions can drop you down below the 90th percentile. But the difference between Q48 and Q50 is not a compelling enough difference for an admissions officer to prefer the Q50 candidate over the Q48 candidate.
Hypothetical Example, if we take 2 candidates:
Candidate A: Q48 / IR 8
Candidate B: Q50 / IR 5
It becomes more compelling to admissions officers that Candidate A is the stronger candidate.
You'll see the IR "value" in an applicant pool that has a large discrepancy between GMAT score and IR score - namely China and India. If you are a Chinese or Indian applicant - having a high IR score can you give you that extra oomph!
2) IR scores Are Important for MBA Scholarships
For those following GMAT Pill, you may be aware that we have placed multiple students to top business schools by not only helping them with the 800 total score, but also helping them on the IR section.
The IR section is quite important for MBA scholarships. Why?
Because when a school decides which applicants to give scholarships to - they want to know that they are investing in someone solid - someone who the recruiting firms will love. Someone who can solidly integrate information and make good choices. The IR score can be an important factor in this big money decision for the school.
Case in point: Our student (and GMAT Pill instructor) James
- not only scored a GMAT 770 - but ALSO got an IR score of an 8/8 AND an AWA score of 6/6. It's no coincidence that he received a $93k MBA Scholarship from London Business School.
3) The IR score is important for Consultants
We mentioned above that consultants already like high GMATs and high GPAs. Well, now they're going to like high IR scores as well -- since IR tests the very same skills that consultants use every day.
4) Your IR score will be added to your unofficial score report that you receive right after your exam --- beginning in Fall of 2013.
Currently, you have to wait for your official score report to see your IR score. In the future, you won't have to wait - it'll automatically be calculated and printed right onto your unofficial score report before you leave the exam test center.
5) Your official score reports will arrive sooner.
Currently, the GMAC folks say your report will arrive within 20 days. Realistically, they've gotten that time closer to 1 week. They still reserve the right to say that you will receive the report in < 20 days, but most likely, you'll be receiving them much sooner.
6) Your IR score COULD potentially be integrated into the composite 800 score in the future.
Some business school staff have voiced their opinion about having one single total score on the 800 score with 4 subdivisions - quant/verbal/awa/ir.
Currently, the 800 score only has 2 subdivisions -quant and verbal.
Of course, GMAC would survey more schools to examine the implications of such a move before making a decision. Even if they were to make the move, it may take several years to adjust the scoring scale, etc.
We at GMAT Pill believe this would be the right move. Not only would admissions staff be better able to make sense of the score report, but it would also put greater emphasis on the IR score since it actually MATTERS towards our 800 score - the number that people compare with each other - the number that is published by all the top business school rankings, etc.
GMAC says no promises, but they will investigate the possibility.
GMAC folks ran the numbers and found that there indeed is a discrepancy between the average GMAT score and the corresponding IR score - by country.
The greatest discrepancy lies in applicants from Asia - people in Asia tend to have very high GMAT scores relative to applicants from other countries, but their IR scores don't seem to keep up in the rankings.
What does this mean?
Well, it means that if you're an applicant from Asia (primarily China and India) - having a high IR score IN ADDITION to your high GMAT score will help you stand out from the crowd. MBA programs can now better distinguish you from all your peers who also have a strong verbal/quant score if you ALSO have a high IR score. This is true everywhere, but particularly true in Asia.
It is also interesting to note that both Australia and the US have the least discrepancy between average 800 Total score and average IR score.
Of all the major testing metrics, IR seems to have significant potential in terms of predicting your graduate GPA.
Of course, the data may not be accurate, but based on their findings, IR surpasses the Total 800 score, AWA score, and undergraduate GPA in terms of predicting your GPA in the graduate program.
Now, how does the IR score help admissions folks figure out who to admit and who not to admit?
Well, the IR score probably doesn't help you choose which ones to admit - but it DOES help you choose who NOT to admit.
Well, you see the blue circle above? Only a small percentage of test takers score a 1, 2, or 3 -- 2%, 3%, and 6%, respectively. Although not always true, an adcom member might look at multiple applicants with GMAT scores of 650 and up. But only a few of them bombed the Integrated Reasoning section.
Takeaway: Don't be one of those applicants with a 650 or higher who bombs the IR section. You will stick out!
For applicants from India/China scoring 650 or higher - make an effort to score on the slightly higher end for IR - you don't need an 8, but shoot for a 6 or 7 and it'll help you stand out from all the other applicants from your region with a high GMAT score.
For less competitive MBA programs, a high IR score
can also help you stand out. Notice the percentage of applicants scoring a 1, 2 or 3 are generally higher --- 6%, 10%, and 14%, respectively. This adds up to 30% of applicants scoring in the 1, 2, or 3 range - relatively high. So if you happen to be one of the few applicants scoring a 6, 7, or 8 - you'll really stand out.
What about careers?
The IR score has only been out for 1 year, but the initial surveys show that the average IR score for MBAs going into Consulting, Operations, and Finance are significantly higher the average IR score for MBAs going into human resources, marketing, or general management.
In particular, during the conference call with GMAC - we had a discussion about how top consulting firms (McKinsey, Bain, BCG, Booz, etc) are starting to ask applicants for IR scores.
The prediction is that consultants will use IR scores to help evaluate candidates.
Because the skills tested in IR are exactly what consultants use. For consultants - especially management consultants - it's all about understanding what the big picture items are, and what the key takeaways are. You take a bunch of numbers, find the patterns, and figure out what to do with the data.
As a former management consultant with Booz & Company, I can confirm this need for IR skills on the job. Indeed, it would make sense for top consulting firms to start asking for IR scores in an effort to better weed out candidates.
Consulting firms generally like people with high GPAs and high GMAT scores.
In the future, I would imagine that consulting firms will like high IR scores even more so since IR directly tests the skills that consultants use on a daily basis. Management consulting firms may even ask for your GMAT/IR score combo on your resume and they may use this as a screening tool in their recruiting process.
So certainly if you are hoping to enter management consulting as a career route, put in the effort now and make sure you do well on the IR section of the GMAT exam.
In conclusion, the IR score has now been out for 1 year and admissions committees can now better make sense of the score in the context of all other applicant stats.
Some insights including the high discrepancy between 800 scores and IR scores for applicants from Asia - or that only a small % of applicants scoring 650 and up bomb the IR section, etc -- all of these insights can help you figure out how important IR score are for your particular demographic background.
For some applicants, having a "good enough IR score of at least 4 will make the cut. For others shooting for an MBA scholarship - it's helpful to score super high in all categories - verbal, quant, AWA, and IR.
As shown above, our student and instructor James scored high in all 4 categories. It's no coincidence that he ended up with the top MBA scholarship (full tuition) from a top business school - London Business School.Even outside of admissions, the IR score may have implications in corporate recruiting.
Management consulting firms, in particular, will be interested in applicants who have scored high in IR.
Lastly, the GMAC folks will be including your IR score on your unofficial score report in Fall 2013
and may potentially investigate the possibility of combining all 4 scores into one composite score of 800. We'll see if that happens in a couple years - we think it would be the right move.
For a complete copy of the presentation, click here
For more information about IR including sample questions, click here