Terrible Timing on Integrated Reasoning?

This post will improve your IR score (no additional studying required)

To be the best GMAT tutor possible, I’ve taken the GMAT 9 times. Yes, that’s a lot and technically one more than the current 8 lifetime limit. I went all in on the two “freebie” online GMATs when they didn’t count against the total number of tests allowed.

To the point. On most of my Official GMATs I clicked through integrated reasoning. Why? Because it doesn’t factor into the main score and, let’s face it, no-one is impressed by an 8 on IR. It just doesn’t quite sparkle as much as a 780 or the 99th percentile. No tutoring clients ask: what was your IR score?

However, I did do one IR section with real dedication and got a perfect 8!


I can understand why not. An 8 just seems to be missing a few points…

But that’s not really the point. I ran out of time on that IR section and didn’t even complete the last two questions. So I most certainly got them wrong.

What can you infer from that? Yes, you can get two questions wrong and still earn a perfect IR score. That’s great to know especially if you are tending to run out of time on IR. Why? Because you can safely skip at least two questions and still get a great score.

BTW, here is one of the GMAT reddit posts that gave me the idea for this article. You see a lot of these questions related to IR because it is a meaty section in which it is easy to get lost.

gmat ir timing issue reddit

So let’s boil this down to an IR timing plan!

For integrated reasoning a great number of people should aim to skip 3 entire questions to leave breathing room for the other 7. Yes, you may lower your ceiling a little bit but that is much better than stressing the entire section and getting a catastrophic 1.

The “best” way to skip is to identify questions that you generally find difficult and to skip those. But, as you may already discovered in your own GMAT studying, that’s not always easy to do in the heat of the moment.

It can take a lot of coaching to coax our GMAT tutoring students into letting go of questions. Few people feel comfortable with that. Here’s the little timing trick that works for many of our clients:

Pick numbers in advance (we call them auto-skips) and skip those without any other analysis. For instance, 3, 7, and 9. Or whatever.

This way you don’t have to decide in the moment. There are variations to this strategy that allow some decision making but sometimes it’s best to keep it simple (especially on the IR).

This timing strategy also works on the rest of the GMAT

You can also apply this timing strategy to the quant and verbal sections (we use it more often on quant than verbal but that is very student dependent). You can also vary the number of skips depending on your timing needs and your score goals.

In the tutoring program we use a version of this strategy but adapt it to the individual. Still, the above without anything additional can be incredibly helpful.

If the above is a bit confusing or you simply want help getting your GMAT preparation organized get in contact via our GMAT consultations form with your study history and your goals. We’ll get back with a tutoring plan and estimate of hours. From there, if the plan makes sense, we’ll schedule a call to discuss everything in depth, answer any questions, and see if this is a good fit.

Feel free to comment with any questions on Integrated Reasoning timing or with your own experiences. Happy studies!