GMAT Impact: All About Integrated Reasoning, Part 3

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.

(Part 3 in a series; read Part 1 and Part 2.)

In previous posts, we’ve talked about what Integrated Reasoning (IR) is, when the new test is going to launch and what the questions will look like. We’ve also talked briefly about the scoring and implications for b-school applications.

Probably the single biggest challenge we face with IR is the sheer volume of information we’re given. For some prompts, it doesn’t seem possible that we can even read through all of the information in 2.5 minutes, let alone answer the questions. One major difference between IR and the quant section is that we are given a lot of extraneous information. Part of our task is to figure out what we do need and what we can ignore.

Fully reading and analyzing every last piece of information in all of the prompts is therefore not going to be possible—in fact, we’re going to have to be even more aggressive about reading selectively than we have to be when reading Reading Comprehension (RC) passages. Multi-Source Reasoning (MSR) prompts tend to be the most text heavy; luckily, these include three separate questions, so we have a total of 7.5 minutes (on average) to read the prompt and answer all the questions. Two-Part Analysis prompts that are more like verbal questions tend to be the length of long Critical Reasoning (CR) passages; those that are more like quant questions aren’t all that different, though they do tend to be on the long-and-wordy side, like a math story problem. Both of these types benefit from a complete read through, though, as with RC, you’ll have to recognize which things are just details and skim over those more (you can come back to the details later).

Table Analysis prompts can often be the most intimidating at first glance—a table might include 15 or 20 rows of data! Read the text that describes what’s in the table, but don’t even bother looking at the data itself until after you’ve read the question and know what you need to do. On one of the Table questions, I had a chart with 17 rows of data, but I only needed four of the rows to answer the questions. I was able to literally ignore the rest.

Graphical Interpretation prompts will often include graph types with which you may not be very familiar right now.  Familiarizing yourself with the different types of graphs you might see is important; this will make the Graph questions a lot easier to answer. Again, go straight for the graph description text first. There’s a good chance you’ll need to look at the graph to help yourself understand what the description is saying. I found that I had to do this on all three of my Graph prompts on my first GMATPrep.

Want to try some out? You can download GMATPrep 2.0 at There are also sample questions available on that same Web site. Have fun!

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