How Important is the Integrated Reasoning Section of the GMAT?

By: Dana Coggio
Published: 15th June 2021

What is the Integrated Reasoning Section? 

The Integrative Reasoning section on the GMAT attempts to measure your ability to solve complex problems through data interpretation. Doing well on this portion of the test is necessary for your overall GMAT score. Plus, according to MBA.com, MBA programs look at this score in order to assess your ability to do the following: 

  • Synthesize information presented in graphics, text, and numbers.
  • Evaluate relevant information from different sources.
  • Organize information to see relationships and to solve multiple, interrelated problems.
  • Combine and manipulate information from multiple sources to solve complex problems.

These are all valuable skills which can set you apart from other candidates. Proving you can excel in these qualities reflects your ability to succeed not only in your MBA program but also in your business career as well. 

How is the IR portion split up? 

The Integrated Reasoning portion of the exam contains four question variants totaling 12 questions overall. Usually, these questions have multiple steps meaning the 30 minutes allotted for you to complete the portion will most likely be utilized fully. The questions provided utilize both quantitative and verbal reasoning in various combinations. It is imperative that you answer all sub-questions of a single question correctly. Points are awarded only to questions completed with 100% correctness. 

The four types of questions in this portion are: 

  • Multi-Source Reasoning 
  • Table Analysis
  • Graphics Interpretation 
  • Two-Part Analysis
Multi-source Reasoning:


Utilizes text, table, and/or graphics to measure your ability to recognize discrepancies, draw inferences, and determine relevant data from the given information. This portion provides solutions as either ‘multiple choice’ questions or ‘multiple dichotomous’ questions. Multiple Choice questions has you select the best option from five possibilities. Multiple Dichotomous questions offer three phrases, statements, numerical values or algebraic expressions that need you to select the proper condition. 

Table Analysis:

Presents you with a table of data with which you prove your ability to analyze and sort present information. A simple text is provided with the presented data or table. You are then required to pick one of the conditions provided in that is the best suited response. Examples of how the possible solutions are formulated are as follows: 

  • Each statement is true (yes or no), according to the information in the table
  • Each statement or numerical value is consistent or inconsistent with the information in the table
  • Each statement or numerical value can or cannot be determined on the basis of the information in the table 
Graphics Interpretation:

Utilizes graphs or similar imagery to measure how well you can read and interpret the information displayed. Graphs on the portion present themselves as bar graphs, line graphs, scatter plots, bubble graphs, pie charts or flow charts. It is necessary that you brush up on these various graphs and how to read them in order to ace the Integrated Reasoning portion. 

Two-Part Analysis:

Is the complex problem portion where you are given either a quantitative and/or verbal question to solve. These questions usually are broad in topic and are written as a brief scenario. Be sure to read these questions carefully so to understand what the question is asking. An example of answers are formulated are as follows: 

  • Calculate the proportions of two different components in a mixture
  • Determine something that would be lost and something that would be gained in a trade-off
  • Find the maximum number of two different products that could be purchased within a certain budget
  • Identify a first action and a second action that together would bring a company into compliance with a new rule 

What is a good IR score? 

Scores on the Integrative Reasoning portion of the exam range from 1-8. Seven percent of test-takers (or the 93rd percentile) score a perfect score (8) on the exam. Following that, a score of 7 ranks you in the 82nd percentile, a score of 6 in the 70th, a score of 5 in the 55th, a score of 4 in the 40th, a score of 3 in the 26th, and a score of 2 in the 12th percentile. 

While it is quite impossible to say the exact score top-tier business schools look for when assessing an applicant, achieving a high score is looked favorably upon by recruiters. Because your Integrated Reasoning score directly reflects your abilities as a student and an employee in the business world, it is vital to take time to study this portion fully. Having a high overall GMAT score but with a low Integrative Reasoning score will help you application stand out, however, not in the way you would like. Some studies show that your Integrated Reasoning score does positively correlate with your future GPA as a student. This is something that top-tier business schools do take into consideration when sifting their piles of potential applicants. 

Tips for excelling at the IR portion

It is important not to lose sleep over your Integrated Reasoning score as it is not the be all and end all, however, learning how to crack the code of this section can mean the difference between having your positively stand out to admissions teams, or to be sidelined when compared to other applicants. If you are looking for tips on how to study for the integrative reasoning portion then Apex GMAT has written an entire article dedicated to helping you with your studies! You can read more about the Integrative Reasoning portion and study techniques here: 

As with all sections of the GMAT, understanding the nuances of the exam can help you succeed. Working with a private tutor can help you achieve your goals and streamline your understanding of the various GMAT sections. You can find more information on working with a private tutor HERE

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *