The Integrated Reasoning section of the GMAT exam will offer four new question formats that ask future business students to synthesize information from different sources to solve problems, sort spreadsheet-like tables, interpret graphics, and make comparative analysis. These formats will make their debut in the Next Generation GMAT exam, launching in June 2012.
“As technology provides us with tons of data, in diverse formats, business schools must develop new skills and cultivate the ability to discern and synthesize these new amounts and types of data,” said Luis Palencia, associate professor of accounting and control at IESE Business School in Navarra, Spain. Palencia served on a Next Generation GMAT advisory group of business school faculty and program directors that helped identify the skills modern management students need.
“Both the advisory group and a survey of 740 business school faculty worldwide found that the ability to synthesize and evaluate relevant information is increasingly important to management education,” said Ashok Sarathy, GMAC vice president, GMAT Program. “The skills they identified had a unifying theme: the ability to solve problems in a data-rich environment.”
The new 30-minute Integrated Reasoning section will include 12 to 15 questions in four new formats:
- Multi-Source Reasoning. The questions are accompanied by two to three sources of information presented on tabbed pages. Test takers click on the tabs and examine all the relevant information─which may be a combination of text, charts, and tables─to answer questions.
- Table Analysis. Test takers will be presented with a sortable table of information, similar to a spreadsheet, which has to be analyzed to find whether answer statements are accurate.
- Graphics Interpretation. Test takers will be asked to interpret a graph or graphical image, and select the option from a drop-down list to make response statements accurate.
- Two-Part Analysis. A question will involve two components for a solution. Possible answers will be given in a table format with a column for each component and rows with possible options; test takers will be asked to consider the options provided.
The question formats have undergone a comprehensive development process that included not only the advisory group and faculty survey, but also a think-aloud pilot study involving MBA students and field testing by more than 5,000 GMAT test takers in November 2010.
The GMAT exam has always tested higher-order Verbal and Quantitative reasoning skills, but Integrated Reasoning is a discrete skill apart from them. “The inclusion of Integrated Reasoning should encourage those with non-business backgrounds to take the exam, because it measures a different type of reasoning,” Sarathy said.
As the Integrated Reasoning section is added, the GMAT Analytical Writing Section will be streamlined from two 30-minute essays to one. Business school admissions professionals have said, and recent GMAT research has shown, that most students post similar scores for the two essays. The total length of the exam will remain 3 hours, 30 minutes, or approximately four hours with breaks. Like the Analytical Writing Assessment, the Integrated Reasoning section will be scored separately and will not factor into the Total GMAT score.