If you’ve experienced the GMAT, you may have noticed that your score is higher on some sections than others. Some otherwise strong business school candidates struggle with their score on the quantitative section. The problem might derive from preparation style, in which case, you might consider professional GMAT tutoring, a service offered by a number of organizations including Apex GMAT. Until then, these tips will help kick start your prep process so you’re ready to ace the quant section.
What’s on the GMAT Quantitative section?
First, let’s talk about what exactly the GMAT quant section consists of. Test takers have 62 minutes to answer 31 math problems. This means that on average, each question should take two minutes. However, this isn’t a hard rule, so there’s no need to get nervous if one problem takes longer than others.
The questions are divided into two types: data sufficiency and problem-solving.
Data sufficiency questions ask test takers to analyze two given statements and determine whether the provided data tells readers enough to solve the problem. These questions are designed to evaluate quantitative fluency and critical thinking skills.
Problem-solving questions are multiple choice. They evaluate logical and analytical ability.
Keep in mind that both question types require only algebra, arithmetic, and geometry, so there’s no need to worry about trigonometry or calculus. Moreover, all of the problems can be solved using basic high school level math.
Why is the GMAT Quantitative section so difficult?
Based on the above description, you might think that the quant section won’t be too difficult. That isn’t exactly true. The GMAT is designed to confuse and restrict test takers in various ways. For example, each problem has a time limit and calculators aren’t allowed. Furthermore, problem solving and data sufficiency problems are in the same section, so test-takers must alternate between the two question types. These factors can cause stress.
The following tips will help you remain calm and collected as you prepare for the quant section.
1: Don’t overthink the math
First and foremost, don’t forget that the GMAT quant section consists of simple math problems. Use this to your advantage. Don’t do all of the calculations; rather, determine what makes a problem look more difficult than it actually is.
2: Start managing your time before the test
You can start saving time before you even pick up your pencil by practicing arithmetic. Limiting the time it takes to do simple equations means you can spend more time on the problems. Be sure to review exponent rules and brush up on decimals with fractions. And don’t forget about higher powers!
3: Use alternative strategies to find solutions
If you can’t solve a problem with simple math, try using an alternative path to the solution. There’s usually an easier way to solve quant problems–the GMAT is designed to test for efficient problem solving. Sometimes, straightforward logic or plugging in numbers will solve a problem faster. Keep in mind that a traditional approach might not be necessary for every problem.
4: Analyze each sentence step by step
During the GMAT preparation process, learn how to simplify each question. Some problems might seem daunting, but they can be broken into smaller steps that you can solve one-by-one. Trying to solve the whole problem at once can lead test takers to answer the wrong question. The more you break down the problem, the easier it will become. Don’t worry–you’ll actually save time by (re-)reading the questions.
Tip 5: Simplify the answer choices
In addition to simplifying the questions, the answer choices can also be simplified. For example, all data sufficiency questions use the same five answer choices:
- Statement 1 alone is sufficient but statement 2 alone is not sufficient to answer the question asked.
- Statement 2 alone is sufficient but statement 1 alone is not sufficient to answer the question asked.
- Both statements 1 and 2 together are sufficient to answer the question but neither statement is sufficient alone.
- Each statement alone is sufficient to answer the question.
- Statements 1 and 2 are not sufficient to answer the question asked and additional data is needed to answer the statements.
Seems wordy, doesn’t it? Fortunately, you can memorize these simpler versions:
- only statement 1
- only statement 2
- both statements together
- either statement
- neither statement
Tip 6: Scratch paper is a must
Although scratch paper may seem unnecessary for quant problems, it can help you keep track of calculations and clarify your thought process. It might take a little extra time, but ultimately, avoidable mistakes are even more time consuming.
Tip 7: Plug in the answer choices
Another way to save time with alternative solution paths is to start by reading all of the answer choices and plugging them into the problem. If you don’t know which answer choices to start with, start from the middle.
The most important tip of all is practice, practice, and practice! There are many different ways to prepare: memorizing rules and formulas, watching GMAT problem-solving videos (don’t forget to check out our YouTube channel), and enrolling in professional GMAT courses.
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