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WSJ asks Kaplan what GMAT’s 2012 Integrated Reasoning change means

December 1, 2011 by

GMAT BlogThe Wall Street Journal published an article today on the impending added section to the GMAT.  In six short months, would-be b-schoolers will have to be ready to tackle a brand new question type: integrated reasoning.  The basic format will be a set of data from which test takers must identify relationships and draw conclusions.  This new section will replace one of the essays and give admissions officers one more score to assess their applicants.

WSJ, America’s most widely circulated daily paper, reached out to Kaplan to learn more about what this means for test takers now and those that wait until June to wrestle the new GMAT.  Our director of pre-business programs, Andrew Mitchell, is one of many experts who recognize the value-add the new q-types offer.  “You’re much more likely to have to analyze an integrated set of data than you are to do a geometry problem [in business school].”  Don’t get too excited—geometry is still covered in the quantitative section, but the relevance of the integrated reasoning questions is not going unnoticed.  INSEAD’s deputy dean is quoted in the article, as well: “It’s a step in the right direction.”

Admissions officers may share those sentiments, but they also recognize that it is going to be at least a year before they know how to assess the score and learn what it really means in terms of b-school success.  This presents an opportunity for test takers.  Integrated reasoning will require preparation time as soon as June comes, but won’t take prominence for a year or more. Meanwhile, scores are valid for 5 years. The upshot is that there’s an arbitrage opportunity in taking the test before June. You can save time (the equivalent of “buying” at a “lower price”) and hence achieve a higher total score on average that you can “sell” (just an analogy, of course) when you apply in the post-June world for up to five years.

So what does it all mean?  Quite simply: take the test before June.  As a GMAT instructor, I see student after student walk into class with the assumption supported by well-earned self-confidence that they’ll cruise through prep and give the GMAT a little chin music.  Inevitably, everyone is humbled by the test.  Everyone.  Prepping for this thing is hard and takes a lot of work.  Adding another it-gets-as-hard-as-you-want-it-to section is just going to compound an already extremely demanding workload.  Is it doable?  Absolutely.  Should you avoid it if at all possible?  Without question!


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