Integrated Reasoning Question Types
The IR section contains four question types. The mix of non-experimental questions among these four types has not been disclosed but will be the same for everyone. The links below open up sample questions provided by the GMAC for each of these question types; answers are given but no explanations are provided.
- Graphics Interpretation questions require you to interpret some sort of graph, which often but not always contains vertical and horizontal axes. Each question will have two fill-in-the-blank statements with drop-down boxes. The drop-down boxes allow you to select from three to five possible answers for each statement, with one correct answer per statement. Before proceeding with any calculations, be sure to review the available answer options in the drop-down box.
- Two-Part Analysis questions provide a stimulus with a two-part question. Both parts of the question will be related somehow, and may even be dependent on each other. You are given five or six possible answers in a column format, and must choose one answer for each part of the two-part question by selecting one answer in the first and the second columns. Although uncommon, it is possible for the same answer to be correct for both question parts.
- Table Analysis questions present a spreadsheet-like table of information that can be sorted by any column by selecting the column title from a drop-down box. Tables can be as big as 21 rows by 9 columns, not including title rows. You will be presented with three statements with two opposite answer choices (e.g. yes/no, true/false) and you must choose the correct option for each statement. We recommend that you understand what information the table contains (at a big-picture level) before proceeding to the questions.
- Multi-Source Reasoning questions provide two or three sources of information on tabbed pages that you can switch between, but cannot view simultaneously. The information provided is often text, but can include a chart or table. You will be given either three opposite-answer questions (as with Table Analysis) or one multiple choice question with five answers (as with Reading Comprehension). Making reasonable inferences from the information presented is particularly important.
Integrated Reasoning Approach and Scoring
By design, IR questions can be challenging and require a combination of verbal and math skills. IR questions require careful reading of the stimulus and strong logical reasoning abilities, similar to what is required on the verbal Critical Reasoning question type. Some IR questions require knowledge and usage of certain math concepts, such as percents, statistics, overlapping sets, and probability. In tacking IR questions, start with a big picture approach. If you are given a table or graph, quickly review it to understand what information you have at your disposal when answering the questions. Since lots of extra information may be presented in the question stimulus, you will need to quickly extract the relevant data to answer the questions.
The IR section does not factor whatsoever into your main 200-800 GMAT score. You get a separate IR score on a scale from 1 to 8. Your IR score is based on the percentage of questions that you answer correctly (meaning all sub-questions were answered correctly), with no additional penalty for incorrect responses. The four question types are all weighted equally. On official GMAT practice tests, you can miss as many as three of the 12 IR questions and still score a perfect 8. On the real GMAT, however, you can only miss one of the nine non-experimental IR questions to score a perfect 8.
Sample GMAT Integrated Reasoning Problem
Let’s try a sample two-part analysis problem. Attempt the problem on your own before viewing the answer and explanation.
Read the information provided, review the options presented in the table, and indicate which option meets the criterion presented in the first column and which option meets the criterion presented in the second column. Make only two selections, one in each column.
The organizers of a major technology conference to be held in 2012 are scheduling keynote speakers for the two-day event. Six speakers are required for each day. To reflect the entrepreneurial spirit of the technology industry, more than 50% of the speakers on one day will be from start-up companies. Consistent with the conference’s theme, at least five speakers on the other day will be from social media companies. Neither day should have more than two speakers from the same company. The conference organizers have already scheduled 10 speakers, five for each day, as listed below in alphabetical order by last name.
|Day 1||Day 2|
|Steve Ballmer, Microsoft, software, big company
Dick Costolo, Twitter, social media, big company
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook, social media, big company
Ben Silbermann, Pinterest, social media, start-up
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook, social media, big company
|Paul Berry, RebelMouse, social media, start-up
Billy Chasen, Turntable, social media, start-up
John Donahoe, eBay, auctions, big company
Ian Hunter, Zaarly, social media, start-up
Meg Whitman, Hewlett Packard, hardware, big company
Select a speaker who could be added to the schedule on either day. Then select a speaker who could be added to the schedule on neither day. Make only two selections, one in each column.
|Either Day||Neither Day||Speaker|
|Mona Bijoor, Joor, fashion, start-up|
|Paul Davison, Highlight, social media, start-up|
|David Ebersman, Facebook, social media, big company|
|Kellee Khalil, Loverly, wedding planning, start-up|
|Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn, social media, big company|
|Nate Westheimer, PictureLife, file backup, start-up|
Explanation to Problem
|Either Day||Neither Day||Speaker|
|Mona Bijoor, Joor, fashion, start-up
Paul Davison, Highlight, social media, start-up
David Ebersman, Facebook, social media, big company
Kellee Khalil, Loverly, wedding planning, start-up
Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn, social media, big company
Nate Westheimer, PictureLife, file backup, start-up
The stimulus provides certain facts about the scheduling requirements, facts that will help us choose the correct answers. Let’s walk through how we can interpret the provided facts before turning to the questions.
- There will be six speakers for each of two days.
- One day must have more than 50% of the speakers from start-up companies. With six speakers, we therefore need four or more speakers from start-up companies. Since Day 1 already has four big company speakers, this requirement must pertain to Day 2. Day 2 currently has three start-up company speakers, so we must add an additional start-up company speaker to Day 2.
- On the other day (which we now know pertains to Day 1), at least five speakers will be from social media companies. Since Day 1 already has four social media company speakers, we must add an additional social media company speaker to Day 1.
- Neither day can have more than two speakers from the same company. Looking at our two days, Day 1 currently has two speakers from Facebook. So we cannot add a speaker from Facebook to Day 1. We don’t have any problems here with Day 2.
Now that we have translated the general guidelines provided by the stimulus into specific requirements, let’s turn to our two-part question.
Speaker who could be added either day. For Day 1, we need a social media speaker. So we can eliminate Mona Bijoor, Kellee Khalil, and Nate Westheimer. But since we cannot add a Facebook speaker on Day 1, we can also eliminate David Ebersman. That leaves Paul Davison and Jeff Weiner. Let’s then turn to Day 2. For Day 2, we need a start-up company speaker, so we can eliminate Jeff Weiner. So Paul Davison is the only speaker who could be added on either day.
Speaker who could be added neither day. This is the opposite of the first part, but is inherently trickier because we must now eliminate possible speakers. We said above that Paul Davison and Jeff Weiner are the only possibilities for Day 1. So for this part of the question, we can eliminate them and keep Mona Bijoor, David Ebersman, Kellee Khalil, and Nate Westheimer since these four are not possible for Day 1. Let’s turn to Day 2. For Day 2, we need a start-up company speaker and therefore cannot have a big company speaker. Of the four people we are still evaluating as the possible correct answer, three are from start-ups and could be possible speakers on Day 2. These three names can be eliminated. That leaves only David Ebersman who could not be added on either day.