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Does my GMAT Integrated Reasoning score matter?

September 13, 2012 by

Does my GMAT integrated reasoning score matterThe Associate Director of MBA Admissions at Stanford University, Allison Davis, amplified the discussion over the potential impact of the Integrated Reasoning (IR) score in an admissions decision. Back in August 2012, she posted on her department’s blog titled “Why you shouldn’t worry about Integrated Reasoning.”

Since you are reading Kaplan’s GMAT Blog, I can only assume that you are in the midst of prepping for the GMAT exam or otherwise quite interested in topics surrounding the GMAT exam such as business school, MBA programs, graduate school admissions, etc.  I can also imagine that Ms. Davis’ provocative title may well have sparked a hesitant albeit palpable feeling of relief.  After all, such a bold statement about a generally feared section of the test from a representative of one of the most competitive and influential MBA programs in the world must be either commonly held or similarly held within most if not all MBA programs out there, right?

Evidence suggests that this is likely true.  In “Schools To Ignore New GMAT Section,” David Byrne, founder of, quotes top admissions officials at the Wharton School, INSEAD, and Kellogg as saying very similar things to Ms. Davis at Stanford.  Granted, despite the high profile of these four institutions, we are hard-pressed to come to a generalization about MBA admissions committees worldwide.  However, what we do know a few things that, considered together, present a meaningful list of evidence that support an inference or two about what IR scores will mean for this year’s round of admissions decisions as well as those in the near future.  Here’s what we know:

  1. Admissions officers have never seen IR scores before.
  2. Because they have never seen IR scores before, they have no established student data from which to measure prospective student data.
  3. GMAT scores are valid for 5 years.
  4. Many people will have valid GMAT scores that do not include an IR score to present to admissions committees.
  5. GMAC has a percentile distribution table for IR scores achieved and GMAC updates this table with new data regularly.
  6. A reported IR score will be accompanied by its then current percentile range.
  7. Admissions officers will see the IR score along with the other scores in the Official GMAT Score Report of an applicant.
  8. Some have said that, this year in particular, they will not factor the IR score into an admissions decision.
  9. Even those who claim the IR score will not impact this year’s decisions, they also say that they will be actively collecting the data and devising a structure for how to incorporate the new scoring data into admissions decisions made in the future.
  10. Integrated Reasoning will not be removed from the GMAT.

So what does all this mean to us?  What supported inferences are we able to draw, and what should a test taker do during GMAT prep with respect to the IR section?

  1. The IR score will become more and more important in the future.  Therefore, at minimum, those folks who are not submitting applications to b-school for the upcoming admissions cycle should diligently prepare for the IR section.
  2. It might be true that many are not taking the IR section as seriously as they could in light of the generally accepted idea that the IR score is not very important right now.  Thus, the IR scoring data currently collected might be skewed.  If that is the case, then the percentile distribution of IR scores might become more competitive.  (Note:  In the first published scoring scale, a 4 equated to the 50th percentile.  When the scale was recently updated, a 5 now represents the 50th percentile.)
  3. Although some admissions committees are on record as saying they will not use IR scores in the established decision-making process, they will see the scores.  Hence, there is a chance that a low IR score could have some impact in the mind of an admissions officer when evaluating an applicant.  This impact, if it occurs, could be positive or negative.
  4. It can be imagined that some MBA applicants who do submit applications this year will not be accepted.  Some of those individuals will like their GMAT score and not want to take the test again.  Some of these individuals might have a low IR score which does not align with the percentile range of their Verbal, Quant, AWA, or Total GMAT scores.
  5. Finally, the absolute best and safest thing to do for any future GMAT test-taker is to diligently study for the Integrated Reasoning section and score as high as possible.

So, what do you think about the new IR section?  What are you doing to prepare?  How do you anticipate the scores to come into play in the future?  Do you think that they will have any impact this year despite what some admissions departments are saying?  We’d love to hear your thoughts!


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