How do I Improve My Integrated Reasoning Skills?


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Integrated reasoning measures how well you comprehend and use information to problem-solve issues that would commonly show up for an MBA holder in action. It is a part of the GMAT exam, which tests this skill of rational thought and action. Integrated reasoning is also a skill that you will need as a future business leader when it is time to make difficult and thorough decisions in the workplace. 

The GMAT Test


At the most, the GMAT is almost three hours and 30 minutes with two optional breaks. If the important and fundamental skill of integrated reasoning isn’t demonstrated in the GMAT exam, you might not pass the application process for your Online MBA. However, not every MBA program requires you to take the GMAT.

This Integrated Reasoning section is one of four sections on the GMAT exam. It consists of 12 questions, with four question types expected to be completed in 30 minutes. That section is graded on a scale of one to eight. The entire exam is graded on 200-800, and all questions must be answered in total.

Integrated Reasoning

There are several ways you can study and practice improving your integrated reasoning. First, you have to understand exactly what you are trying to learn. Test takers are expected to synthesize information that is presented in graphics, numbers, and text. They must evaluate relevant information from several sources and have the ability to combine and manipulate information from these sources to solve complex problems. Lastly, organize information to see relationships and solve interrelated problems.

Essentially, from the scatter point of data you obtain, you must be able to pull it together into relevant information that you can act on. It is a test to see how well you interpret data. Specifically, you will review graphs, two-part analysis, table analysis, and multi-source reasoning. You will study this information to find problems and come up with solutions that will benefit your company. 

Studying for the Test


Integrated Reasoning (IR) tests your math and verbal skills. This portion is not memorization but rather requires you to engage your critical thinking and problem-solving skills. You will have to solve some math problems as well. These will relate to graphs, charts, and tables and will include some calculations. You will pick out the relevant data from that with clues being given to you in the text passages. You can use this information to guide your study habits and preparation plan. You can prepare for this portion by working on math problems. There are books, study guides, and practice questions available for this section. Acquire as many as you need and put in the work.

The IR (integrated reasoning) questions are multi-part, and there are no partial credit points. All parts of a question must be answered correctly to earn full credit. The four question types are pulled from table analysis, interpreting graphics, multi-source reasoning, and two-part analysis. In this section, your quantitative and verbal reasoning will be tested. You can’t go back and answer questions that are skipped, and in order to complete the test in a timely manner, you should aim to spend up to two minutes and thirty seconds on each question in this section.

Why is Integrated Reasoning Important?

When you are leading a company, your decisions won’t be made in isolation. You will be working with a team, whether as a manager, colleague, or otherwise. You must be able to communicate the data you’ve collected and the reasoning for your conclusions both written and verbally. This information will need to be clear and understood so that your team can execute your decisions. Preparing for the IR section of the GMAT can help you get into an Online MBA program but will also help you improve the critical thinking required for top management positions. 

What You Need to Know about Multi-Source Reasoning


For Multi-Source Reasoning questions, all of the information you need to know to answer the question is provided to you. This type of question requires attention to detail and understanding the data-so analyze the source data intently. The data will be text passages and graphic elements such as charts, tables, diagrams, and graphs. The questions require careful attention to detail as you must understand exactly what information they want. You might need to catch an inconsistency, come to a conclusion, or decide whether or not the information is even relevant. Don’t let prior knowledge of the subject influence your choice. Mentally reference the practice you have done on how to solve the problems but use the data given to you to make your final choice. 

What You Need to Know about Table Analysis Questions

Table Analysis questions are presented as data in a table, to be sorted by column. You will answer as yes or no, or true or false. You must carefully read the question to understand what data you need to analyze and what choice it is asking you to make. The table and the corresponding text show the type of information. It is important to judge each answer statement carefully on the basis of the condition specified and focus your attention on whether the given condition has been met.

What You Need to Know About Graphics Interpretation Questions

For this section, your data will be presented as a graphic or visual with supporting text and information to explain. You will choose the most correct answer from a multiple-choice drop-down. You must analyze the data and pay attention to scales on the axis, marked values, and labels, making sure to note any discrepancies between the graph units and text units. Reading any supplemental text is essential as it might contain information that isn’t included in the graphic. This will make sure you understand what the problem is asking you to do. Skills utilized in this section are interpreting and integrating data, discerning relationships, and making inferences from a set of data. You will want to read all the choices in the drop-down menu and make your decision. When you do, you will receive more information about your task. You will choose the answer that seems most correct to complete the statement. While more than one answer might seem correct, select the one that is the most logical for that particular statement.

What You Need to Know about Two-Part Analysis Questions 


For the Two-Part Analysis questions, you will be presented with either a problem or a scenario, and you will choose two answers that are connected to each other. Your responses will be in table format with a column for each answer. Your task will be to select the best answer for each column by reading and analyzing the information carefully. The question might include quantitative, verbal, or some combination of both. It is meant to be challenging, and you will want to only use the data presented in the question. You must also evaluate if your tasks are dependent or independent of each other. Meaning, some tasks presented will be dependant on both being completed, while others might be unrelated and independent. While both answers might seem correct, one might be more accurate than the other and could satisfy the condition of both answers in one column. 

Action Steps

  • Find books on Integrated Reasoning for the GMAT online. 
  • Search Youtube. Youtube is a massive search engine, and there are others who have wondered how to ace this portion of the GMAT-and succeeded!
  • Look into tutoring and test prep services or some of the top GMAT apps.
  • Set aside time for dedicated study and practice.
  • Review what questions you get wrong and work to understand what you missed. If it’s a reading comprehension issue, spend more time reading intentionally every day. Is it a focus issue? Remove all distractions from your practice and study space. Keep a log of the errors you make. If you find you’re missing the same kinds of questions and recognize the issue, you can correct it. This in itself is an application of integrative reasoning.
  • Give yourself enough time to study but also a firm deadline for when you’ll take your GMAT. If you try to cram information before you’re ready, then you’ll be unprepared and more likely to fail the first time around. On the other hand, if you never set a deadline, you might find yourself in a cycle of studying and procrastination.

When it comes down to it, consistent practice and review will be the majority of the work you need to do to prepare for this portion of the exam. The more you practice and improve, the more confidence you will have for the GMAT.

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