Author: Apex GMAT
Contributor: Altea Sollulari
Date: 22 July, 2021
We know what you’re thinking: math is a scary subject and not everyone can excel at it. And now with the GMAT the stakes are much higher, especially because there is a whole section dedicated to math that you need to prepare for in order to guarantee a good score. There is good news though, the GMAT is not actually testing your math skills, but rather your creative problem solving skills through math questions. Furthermore, the GMAT only requires that you have sound knowledge of high school level mathematics. So, you just need to practice your fundamentals and learn how to use them to solve specific GMAT problems and find solution paths that work to your advantage.
The Quantitative Reasoning section on the GMAT contains a total of 31 questions, and you are given 62 minutes to complete all of them. This gives you just 2 minutes to solve each question, so in most cases, the regular way of solving math equations that you were taught in high school will not cut it. So finding the optimal problem solving process for each question type is going to be pivotal to your success in this section. This can seem a daunting start, so our expert Apex GMAT instructors recommend that you start your quant section prep with a review of the types of GMAT questions asked in the test and math fundamentals if you have not been using high school math in your day to day life.
What types of questions will you find in the GMAT quant?
There are 2 main types of questions you should look out for when preparing to take the GMAT exam:
Data Sufficiency Questions
For this type of GMAT question, you don’t generally need to do calculations. However, you will have to determine whether the information that is provided to you is sufficient to answer the question. These questions aim to evaluate your critical thinking skills.
They generally contain a question, 2 statements, and 5 answer choices that are the same in all GMAT data sufficiency questions.
Here’s an example of a number theory data sufficiency problem video, where Mike explains the best way to go about solving such a question.
Problem Solving Questions
This question type is pretty self-explanatory: you’ll have to solve the question and come up with a solution. However, you’ll be given 5 answer choices to choose from. Generally, the majority of questions in the quant section of the GMAT will be problem-solving questions as they clearly show your abilities to use mathematical concepts to solve problems.
Make sure to check out this video where Mike shows you how to solve a Probability question.
The main concepts you should focus on
The one thing that you need to keep in mind when starting your GMAT prep is the level of math you need to know before going in for the Quant section. All you’ll need to master is high-school level math. That being said, once you have revised and mastered these math fundamentals, your final step is learning how to apply this knowledge to actual GMAT problems and you should be good to go. This is the more challenging side of things but doing this helps you tackle all the other problem areas you may be facing such as time management, confidence levels, and test anxiety.
Here are the 4 main groups of questions on the quant section of the GMAT and the concepts that you should focus on for each:
- Algebraic expressions
- Permutations and combinations
- Surface area
- Coordinate geometry
Check out this Profit and Loss question.
- Number theory
- Basic statistics
- Power and root
- Integer properties
- Real numbers
Make sure to try your hand at this GMAT probability problem.
5 tips to improve your GMAT quant skills?
- Master the fundamentals! This is your first step towards acing this section of the GMAT. As this section only contains math that you have already studied thoroughly in high-school, you’ll only need to revise what you have already learned and you’ll be ready to start practicing some real GMAT problems.
- Practice time management! This is a crucial step as every single question is timed and you won’t get more than 2 minutes to spend on each question. That is why you should start timing yourself early on in your GMAT prep, so you get used to the time pressure.
- Know the question types! This is something that you will learn once you get enough practice with some actual GMAT questions. That way, you’ll be able to easily recognize different question types and you’ll be able to use your preferred solution path without losing time.
- Memorize the answer choices for the data sufficiency questions! These answers are always the same and their order never changes. Memorizing them will help you save precious time that you can spend elsewhere. To help you better memorize them, we are sharing an easier and less wordy way to think of them:
- Make use of your scrap paper! There is a reason why you’re provided with scrap paper, so make sure to take advantage of it. You will definitely need it to take notes and make calculations, especially for the problem-solving questions that you will come across in this GMAT question.
- Only statement 1
- Only statement 2
- Both statements together
- Either statement
- Neither statement