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Advantage GMAT

Almost a year after the integrated reasoning section was added to the Graduate Management Admission Test, Gauri Kohli finds out how it is helping candidates and b-schools.

education Updated: Mar 15, 2013 13:22 IST
Gauri Kohli
Gauri Kohli
Hindustan Times

It has been about nine months since the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), a widely used MBA admissions test, saw a major change with the addition of a new section on integrated reasoning (IR).

Since then, the IR section has been very well received by schools and test-takers. According to Ashok Sarathy, vice president of the GMAT programme, “While schools face a learning curve in determining how to use IR scores in the admissions process, the IR section has relevance in courses like finance, operations and marketing management — in case studies, handling spreadsheets of data, and interpreting diagrammatic representations of information. The IR score is being looked at as an additional data point with which schools can make admissions decisions.”

How IR section can help you
For prospective applicants, IR scores represent a way to shine a spotlight on skills that are considered important for success in not just the classroom but in the corporate environment as well.

To succeed in today’s business world, you will need to analyse information that comes from a variety of sources. You also need to develop strategies and make decisions based on this information. The IR section measures your ability to find solutions in this area.

“We have delivered nearly 140,000 GMAT tests since the introduction of the IR section on June 5, 2012. The average IR score has increased from 4.14 in June 2012, to 4.36 as of February 2013,” says Sarathy.

All about the IR section
This 30-minute section includes 12 questions of four different types: multi-source reasoning, table analysis, graphics interpretation, and a two-part analysis.

This section does not require the student to be good at calculations since an on-screen calculator will be provided. “This section differs from the quantitative and verbal sections in two important ways: It involves both mathematical and verbal reasoning, either separately or in combination; and questions are answered using four different response formats rather than traditional multiple-choice,” says Ulhas Vairagkar, director, TIME.

Experts say that this new section is somewhat akin to the logical reasoning/data interpretation areas included in the MBA entrance tests like CAT and XAT.

However, complexity and variety of questions and options is much greater, making scoring in this section much tougher.

GMAT has become tougher thanks to the IR section - which will require more practice for skill-building in the new areas.

“IR section questions may include ‘irrelevant’ and ugly’ data and sifting of data to find the relevant parts will be critical. Students will need a longer preparatory period. They should take an additional 30-day period to learn and practice to build competency in this new area. The questions in IR section are likely to be much longer and may contain much more text and data as compared to an average question in the quantitative section, and students are likely to be under a more intense time pressure with only 2.5 minutes per question available. This factor will need to be given the due importance during the practice,” says Vairagkar.

Ultimately, it all comes down to self-awareness and preparation. “The GMAT exam is computerised adaptive and, therefore, presents a different complexity for each test taker. That’s why it’s so important to know one’s own ability level before sitting for the exam, as well as to have an understanding of how they might pace themselves or whether to guess or not if a time crunch happens since the effect on one’s score will be different depending on an individual’s capability level,” adds Sarathy.

Tips for test-takers
Above all, test takers should be comfortable with the types of questions on the GMAT exam and strategise their preparation with this goal in mind. Certain question formats were designed specifically for the GMAT exam and remain unique to this test. “And because it is a timed exam, a test-taker should be prepared to pace their progress to finish each section in the allotted time. The goal for a candidate is that when they sit for the exam, no matter what thequestion – data sufficiency or reading comprehension – they will only need to read a question once before completing an answer - which will help keep a good pace and not waste valuable time,” says Sarathy.

Buying lots of books and going through and solving each and every one isn’t really required for an aptitude test like GMAT, say test-takers. What is important is that the basic concepts should be clear and candidates should be able to handle any type of questions. The two official mock GMATs are extremely useful. Work hard, get a good score, and then forget about it and focus on the other aspects of your application, especially your essays, which are the single most important part of your application.

The majority (73%) of score reports sent by Indian test-takers in 2012 went to MBA programmes, although this represents a decline from the 81% of scores sent to MBA programmes in 2008.

GMAT trends
* In all, 30,213 Indian citizens (residing anywhere in the world) took the test in 2012, a 41% growth since 2007, up from 21,481. Looking only at Indian residents, growth in the country is 71% — over 22,803 residents in 2012, up from 13,324 residents in 2007
* Of all GMAT examinees in Asia, Indian citizens sent the highest average number of score reports per exam taken in 2012 (4.4) compared with an average of 3.2 GMAT score reports for all Asian citizens, and greater than the worldwide average of 2.9 scores per exam taken

* The GMAT consists of four sections — analytical writing assessment, integrated reasoning, quantitative, and verbal
* You have three-and-a-half hours to take the test. But you should plan for a total time of close to four hours to include optional breaks during the test
* The registration fee for the GMAT is US$250
* The total score for the GMAT is reported on a scale of 200-800 and is based on performance on the quantitative and verbal sections. In addition to the total score, there are separate scores for all four sections
* Your GMAT score is valid for five years
* GMAT scores are accepted by more than 5400 graduate programmes in countries such as India, USA, UK, Australia, Canada and Singapore

Institutes accepting gmat scores
Currently, there are 80 institutions in India that use the GMAT exam including Indian School of Business, Hyderabad & Mohali; Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Calcutta, Lucknow, Indore, Kozhikode, Ranchi; Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai; ICFAI Business School, Hyderabad; KJ Somaiya Institute of Management Studies & Research, Mumbai; Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad; Panjab University, Chandigarh; SP Jain Institute of Management and Research, Mumbai; Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai; XLRI, Jamshedpur; Faculty of Management Studies, New Delhi

The list is not exhaustive

We cracked it!
I prepared using the material provided by my coaches, the official GMAT guides, sample papers, Manhattan Review, mock papers and online tutorials. My first step was to cover the basics of all the topics and then improve on my timing, accuracy etc -- Joanna Shruti Sundharam

Have you joined a coaching class? Then attending classes regularly and solving the official GMAT guides are sufficient for acing the test. The IR section is nothing to be scared of. One does not have to search for relevant material for this section because it is purely logical and the questions that will be asked and your performance will just be a function of your logical reasoning capabilities. No high level maths is involved. The 50 questions given with the official guide are sufficient to get a general feel of the questions in this section -- Shubham Agarwal

First Published: Mar 12, 2013 16:49 IST