Kaplan: Out with the old, in with the Integrated Reasoning

By - Nov 17, 08:00 AM Comments [0]

By Lucas Weingarten

While I’m not certain GMAC is adequately addressing its competition, I do want to throw laurels where deserved. So, props, GMAC, for attempting to make your test more relevant.

In this Inside Higher Ed article, the reporter discusses this push for increased relevance and has some interesting things to say about the new question types. I found particularly interesting his comments on the new questions as a response to ETS eroding GMAC’s market share with the GRE. I generally agree with Mr. Jaschik’s assessment, but I can’t help but wonder about an aspect of the new question types he mentioned:

“The reason that the GMAT was open to a challenge is that it is not a test specific to business schools, but rather features general verbal, quantitative and writing sections. While designed to test someone’s ability to succeed in a business program, the test itself doesn’t stress economics or accounting or any specific business school skill set — or at least that has been the case until now.

See, I’m not entirely convinced that this is a good thing. Take, for example, the LSAT. This is a test that any aspiring lawyer must take as part of the admissions requirements to be considered eligible to study law and litigation. A notable omission from the tested attributes is a given test-taker’s legal knowledge. That is, the LSAT tests skills and abilities that are considered necessary to be successful in law school. The inferred assumption on the part of LSAC and academia is that is one can adequately employ certain modes of thinking within the arena of this test, then they can learn about and be successful at practicing law.

Taking a page from this book, I am hard-pressed to see the value in prior knowledge of, say, accountancy. Are we to assume that everyone seeking an MBA either has been or wants to be an accountant? Clearly, that is absurd. Individuals are attending institutions of higher learning to do just that: learn. I am not arguing against a core curriculum that exposes all MBA students to the various facets of business management regardless of their intended concentration or their career path. I am, however, arguing that it could be to the detriment of business schools, companies, and the greater economy if we narrow our selection pool to those with prior (corporate) experience and shy away from respecting the fact that universities actually can (and should) teach their students what they need to know.

The more we learn about Integrated Reasoning, the better sense we’ll get about what exactly it’s testing. At this point, my expectation is that Integrated Reasoning will not test accounting knowledge, or “knowledge” in general. People may perceive the section that way, though. GMAT test takers consistently maintain the mythical notion that the GMAT tests vocabulary, for example, though it’s not intended to. We may see similar misconceptions about the new section.

Related posts:
1. GMAT vs. GRE
2. The GMAT Gets a New Section in 2012: Integrated Reasoning
3. New Details on the GRE: What it Means for GMAT Takers
4. Is there anything you should be doing if you’re even thinking about grad school? Yes!
5. The GMAT: What’s the point?

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