If you’re preparing for the GMAT MBA admissions exam, you’ve probably heard about the “800 score”. You’ve probably even set a target score, out of 800, that you believe would make you an attractive candidate for your targeted business schools. Still, there are two other sections of the exam – the Analytical Writing Assessment and Integrated Reasoning. For good reason, these sections tend to be secondary for most applicants. However, over the past few years the Integrated Reasoning has steadily grown in importance.
An alternative exam
In 2016, the GMAT test makers, the GMAC, launched a new graduate business admissions exam called the Executive Assessment (EA). The EA was intended to be used by part-time and EMBA programs in their admissions decisions, and since 2016 it has become a widely accepted alternative to the GMAT. Now, many programs accept an EA score as readily in an application packet as they would a GMAT or GRE score. This is great news for many candidates since the 90-minute EA exam is less than half as long an exam as the GMAT or GRE!
To most, the EA is broadly considered a shortened GMAT, and for the most part that is an accurate characterization. All of the content on the EA can be found on the GMAT, but not all of the content from the GMAT is on the EA. In particular, the EA has no plane geometry content nor an essay to complete. However, the Integrated Reasoning takes on added significance in the EA as the section is included in the overall exam score (scale 120-180) in direct contrast to being excluded from the overall GMAT 800 score. Furthermore, the fixed EA section order begins with the Integrated Reasoning, so how you perform on this section can set the table for your performance on the entire exam.
For more free videos about EA content, check out this Executive Assessment Prep YouTube playlist.
Even if you aren’t applying to a program that accepts the Executive Assessment as a GMAT alternative, there is evidence that some programs are at least considering the independently reported Integrated Reasoning score (scale 1-8) when evaluating applicants. I’ve personally had students with a 700+ overall GMAT score contact me to improve upon their previously ignored Integrated Reasoning score at the request of admissions offices, primarily those in Europe or Asia.
As a provider of online GMAT tutoring and not an admissions officer, my theory is somewhat speculative, but I believe that because the Integrated Reasoning section is part of the EA overall score, some admissions offices may be requiring competitive GMAT Integrated Reasoning section scores to compare against candidates submitting an EA. To avoid having to revisit the GMAT after reaching your overall target score, incorporate Integrated Reasoning practice as at least 10% of your preparation and aim to have that section score match the hundreds digit of your overall score.
Integrated Reasoning prep
The name of the section is self-explanatory. It integrates both quantitative and verbal concepts into its questions. Good conceptual understanding of the arithmetic and algebra needed to succeed on the Quantitative section, as well as the critical reasoning and reading comprehension skills required by the Verbal section, will put you on the path to a high score on this section as well. That said, it is incredibly important to practice the Integrated Reasoning section as part of every practice exam to see the unique ways that those concepts can be applied with figures, tables, and multi-source scenarios.
About the author
Stefan Maisnier has been a professional test prep tutor for over 15 years. He is currently Partner and Director of Online Instruction at MyGuru, where he leads a team of dozens of tutors. He and MyGuru recently partnered with Analyst Prep to author a unique and highly affordable self-paced Executive Assessment course (and a self-paced GMAT course too).