What if I fail Integrated Reasoning or AWA?

failed IR Reddit GMAT

Are there any admissions repercussions from low Integrated Reasoning (IR) or AWA scores?

The short answer: not really.

IR and, even more-so, AWA don’t matter much in terms of admissions.

I had a student score a 1 on IR and still get admitted to a top MBA program.

It is very rare that we even cover IR in tutoring sessions because it’s just so much less important than the quant, verbal, and composite scores.

Does a 1 on the IR look good?

Certainly not. Don’t get a 1 on the IR. If you’ve studied for the GMAT and notched decent test scores then you shouldn’t get a 1 on the IR since it is based on the same set of fundamentals as the rest of the exam.

Put another way: studying for the verbal and quant sections prepares you for the integrated reasoning.

That’s why in the GMAT tutoring program we almost never cover IR directly. It’s a waste of time (and money).

I prepared for the GMAT and scored well overall and I really tried on the IR but still got a 1

This can happen. Maybe you were just incredibly fatigued. Or got stuck on the first question and completely doomed yourself in terms of timing. And then you got a 680 overall but 1 on the IR.

You know what: don’t worry about it.

Again, the IR factors in very little if at all in admissions decisions.

What about the AWA score?

Somewhat the same thing goes for the essay. It’s not majorly on admissions radar.

Yes, you can probably get the lowest score and still get admitted to a great school. Still, if you are capable of a solid GMAT score then you are capable, without much work, of getting a decent AWA score.

Just memorize these AWA templates on GMAT Club and you are all set!

Is there anything I can do to prevent myself from failing the integrated reasoning?

Yes. Two things.

  1. Do two full IR practice sections to make sure you are familiar with the format.
  2. Have an integrated reasoning timing strategy. The basic idea is that you should skip 2 to 3 full IR questions to make sure you have plenty of time for the rest. You can still get a perfect IR score skipping.

And if I get a 1 on integrated reasoning, should I retake?

You can. But for IR alone it really may not be worth it.

retake ir

If your composite score (overall) or sub section scores (quant and verbal)  are lower than they need to be then certainly consider retaking. Improving those scores can have a real impact on your MBA opportunities.

But, improving your IR score is much less important than just about anything else in your applications package.

So, given that there are other things to work on and that you have limited time I would invest elsewhere for greatest impact.

Now, if you have loads of time and enjoy taking GMATs then, sure, go for it. Perfect your integrated reasoning. But while you are at it, you may want to get quant and verbal perfect as well.

So, does the IR matter at all?

Yes, on the Executive Assessment it’s very important. On the GMAT, not so much.

Why have the IR section if it has no value?

A long time ago, the folks at GMAC wanted to improve the GMAT and make it more “real world”. So they poured a ton of time and money into developing a new section. And they actually did this in cooperation with MBA programs and corporate leaders.

There was a lot of to do and hyperbole and out came: the integrated reasoning section.

At first it was just in an “experimental mode” that didn’t count for admissions since it was new and many applicants (taking the GMAT pre IR) wouldn’t have the score anyways. It also didn’t have percentiles, again, because non-one had taken it.

The thought was that once the data came in for IR and it could be judged better as an admissions standard that it would be widely adopt as a metric and maybe even become the most important part of the GMAT.

That never really happened.

Fast forward a decade and it’s now found its home: the Executive Assessment.

There, the IR actually works pretty well. So it’s been a bumpy road but we got there finally and found some relevance for the section.

Wrap up

I hope that has been helpful. Once again: don’t worry about the IR. Don’t get a 1 but a low score probably isn’t a big deal. Good luck on your GMAT preparation.

Comment with any questions!