Is the Integrated Reasoning Section Bullshit?

Yes, it’s complete bullshit. It’s a bluff. In fact, it’s so unimportant that I spend almost no time on it in class.

Want proof of how meaningless your Integrated Reason score is in the admissions process? The next time you’re in a room with an MBA admissions officer, ask him what his school’s average GMAT score is. After he tells you, ask what his average Integrated Reasoning score is.

He’ll stammer, realizing for the first time that his school doesn’t calculate average Integrated Reasoning scores. You’ll notice that they don’t publish their IR numbers on their websites, despite the fact that they all publish their average GMAT scores.

Why Even Have the Integrated Reasoning Section?

It was a mistake – just like the essay section (the AWA). Even though the essay and the Integrated Reasoning sections are scored separately from the rest of the GMAT, you’ll notice that schools never publish their average essay and Integrated Reasoning scores. That’s because they don’t use those scores in the admissions process. Both sections have been a complete failure, and neither will ever become a significant factor in the admissions process.

When Might a School Use Your AWA Score?

The only legitimate excuse for a school to use the sample essay you wrote during the exam is to see whether you can communicate in English. In other words, this applies mostly to non-native English speakers. And it isn’t the AWA score that the schools look at, it’s the essay itself.

Yes, schools can pull up your actual GMAT essay on a computer and evaluate your written communication skills. But why would they do that for a native English speaker? The essay isn’t designed for that purpose. It exists to determine how well the writer can analyze an argument and either defend or attack it. And that ability has already been evaluated by the time the business schools get your scores. So the only useful insight that admissions officers can gain from reading the essay is a little insight into how an international applicant can communicate in written English.

What Should You Do To Prepare for Integrated Reasoning?

Very little. You should familiarize yourself with the Integrated Reasoning question types, and you should do practice problems out of the Official Guide, but you shouldn't take time away from the math and verbal sections of the GMAT. Those are the two sections that are going to put you into grad school, not the Integrated Reasoning section.