GMAT Impact: Update on Integrated Reasoning for 2013

When it comes to the GMAT, raw intellectual horsepower helps, but it is not everything. In this weekly blog series, Manhattan GMAT’s Stacey Koprince teaches you how to perform at your best on test day by using some common sense.

Those of you who are applying this year already know that Integrated Reasoning (IR) is not an important section of the GMAT for the 2012 application season (for 2013 admissions). Others, though, are starting to get an early jump on the GMAT to get the test out of the way before applying next fall to start school in 2014. What should those folks do about IR?

The short answer is that nobody knows for sure, and the best we can do is make an educated guess. Assuming that the emerging IR data indicate that this section is a valid predictor of success in business school, we can expect schools to start using IR during next fall’s admissions season. Will IR instantly become as important as Quant and Verbal? Probably not—the schools will still have just one year’s worth of IR data compared with decades’ worth of Quant and Verbal data.

So what is a good goal for IR right now, when we cannot predict what schools will think nine months from now? This year, we have been advising people to aim for a 4 or higher (the high score on IR is 8). For next year, if you are aiming for a more highly regarded school, you will probably want to score a 5 or 6 (or higher!). Others may be able to continue aiming for the 4-or-higher standard.

Why not just go for the highest possible IR score you can get? We are trying to strike a balance, because we know that Quant and Verbal (Q and V) are going to be just as important as always—and IR comes before Q and V during the test. Given limited mental energy/brainpower, we have to figure out how to spend our time wisely. As long as IR is not as important as Q and V, we want to spend somewhat less effort in that section so that we can save ourselves for the “main event.”

Finally, some schools could decide to weight IR more heavily than expected next fall, so taking the test now involves a small amount of risk. You may have to take the GMAT again if your IR score ends up not being “good enough.” Even with this risk, though, getting the GMAT out of the way this winter or spring is still a good idea so that you (hopefully) do not have to worry about anything other than applications in the fall.

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