One More Reason Not to Sweat Integrated Reasoning

Last week the Stanford GSB admissions team wrote a blog post that gives business school applicants one more reason to calm down about the new Integrated Reasoning section on the GMAT. Simply put, the Stanford admissions team will not take applicant’s Integrated Reasoning scores into account when making their decisions for the 2012-2013 application cycle.

“Wait, why wouldn’t they use it if the people behind the GMAT went through all the trouble to create it?” you may be asking. Don’t take this as a sign that Stanford or any other MBA program does not believe in the new Integrated Reasoning section. Instead, think about how much history MBA admissions officers have with the “old” GMAT… The Stanford admissions team alone looks at thousands and thousand of them every year. Now, a new number shows up on the report, and they need to get comfortable with that number before they can make life-changing decisions based on it.

If you walk up to any admissions officers and bark out a GMAT score (“750 with a 49 on Quant and a 45 on Verbal!”), that admissions officer will immediately be able to put that score in context. But bark out a “6!” to an admissions officer (the Integrated Reasoning scoring scale goes from 1 to 8), and it will be harder for them to form an immediately opinion on whether or not that’s a great score. They simply haven’t seen enough applicants to develop a strong intuition for what those numbers mean. So, they’re going to use this year to learn more about Integrated Reasoning and what strong or weak scores look like, and then probably start factoring that into their decision-making processed next year.

Going back to the Stanford example, they don’t only want to see thousands of IR scores, but they specifically want to see the IR scores of the people they will admit this year based on everything else in their applications, including the rest of their GMAT score reports. “What does a Stanford GSB look like in terms of an Integrated Reasoning score?” is the question they will ask themselves this year. They’ll need to take some time to answer this, and in the meantime, you don’t have to worry about what your IR score looks like if you take the GMAT after June 5 this year.

Sound familiar? This is what we wrote back in May:

Put yourself in admissions officers’ shoes… This fall, when they first see GMAT scores come in containing IR scores, they’re not going to be ready to admit or reject someone based on that single number. What’s a great score? What’s a mediocre score? They will be able to look at percentiles to help them gauge how much better a score of 7 is than a 6, but even those aren’t going to be a sure thing for a while. GMAC has announced that the scoring percentiles will be updated every month for the first six months, so even those normally trustworthy numbers may be in flux. The bottom line? Admissions officers have a lot of learning to do about what looks, smells, walks, and talks like a great IR score. Until they do develop that intuition, you can be sure it will only be a very minor factor in their admissions decision, if any at all.

So, sit back, relax, and focus on killing it in the rest of your business school applications!

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By Scott Shrum