Standard Deviation Problem On The GMAT (Normative Distribution)

Standard Deviation 700+ Tips

Hey guys! Today, we’re going to take a look at a standard deviation problem. And standard deviation is a concept that only comes up infrequently on the GMAT. So it’s more important to have a basic understanding of the concepts associated with it than to go really deep. This is true largely for much of the statistics, probability, and combinatorics problems. They show up infrequently until you get to the higher levels and even when you’re at the higher levels, relative to the algebra, arithmetic and even the geometry problems, they play such a small role.

And yet there’s so much math there that it’s very easy to get caught up in spending a lot of time prepping on problems or on these types of math that offer very little in return relative to spending your prep time really mastering the things that come up frequently. I’m not saying don’t learn this stuff I’m saying balance it according to its proportionality on the GMAT. As a general rule you can assume that stat, combinatorics and probability, all that advanced math, constitutes maybe 10 to 15% of what you’ll see on the GMAT. So keep that in mind as you prep.

Problem Language

In this problem the first step is to figure out what the heck we’re actually being asked for and it’s not entirely clear. This one’s written a little bit in math speak. So we have a normal distribution which doesn’t really matter for this problem but if you studied statistics it just means the typical distribution with a mean m in the middle and a standard deviation of d which they tell us is a single standard deviation. So they’re really just telling us one standard deviation but they’re saying it in a very tricky way and they’re using a letter d. If it helps you can represent this graphically.

Graphical Representation

Notice that they tell you something that you may already know: that one standard deviation to either side of the mean is 68 in a normal distribution. This breaks up to 34, 34. But they’re asking for everything below. The +1 side of the distribution. Since the m, the mean is the halfway point, we need to count the entire lower half and the 34 points that are in between the mean and the +d, the +1 standard deviation. This brings us to 84 which is answer choice D. This is primarily a skills problem, that is, you just need to know how this stuff works. There’s no hidden solution path and the differentiation done by the GMAT here is based upon your familiarity with the concept. Rather than heavy-duty creative lifting as we see on so many other problems that have more familiar math, that everyone kind of knows.

I hope this was helpful. Check out below for other stat and cool problem links and we’ll see you guys next time. If you enjoyed this GMAT Standard Deviation problem, try this Data Sufficiency problem next.

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