GMAT Quantitative Reasoning Section

GMAT Quantitative Section: Developing an Approach

The Quantitative Reasoning section of the GMAT utilizes math skills to test your reasoning and critical thinking skills. This may be an intimidating prospect, but the good news is that the math you are expected to know is generally at a high school level. However, this section is harder than it may seem. The math itself may be simple, but sometimes the format of the questions can throw test takers off. It is essential to have a plan to attack the Quant section so that on exam day, you can really show your critical and reasoning skills as well as your math skills.

The goal of the GMAT Quantitative Section is to measure your ability to reason quantitatively, interpret graphic information, analyze and implement data given in a problem, and to solve quantitative problems. For this section, you will need to not only have a good grasp on basic math concepts, but will also need to be able to understand when to use which concepts. These questions can at times seem deceptively simple because the math itself is not difficult, but it takes close reading to comprehend exactly what you should be calculating.

The key to feeling confident about taking the GMAT is preparation. If you have an organized approach to the Quants, you will be able to showcase your problem solving and critical reasoning skills for the MBA programs you are interested in.

  • Read the Questions Carefully

    While the Quants Section of the GMAT will utilize the math you have learned in school, it will not always present the questions in the way you are used to. We are generally trained to solve a problem for a variable, but the GMAT is not always asking you to solve for x. Read the question carefully so that you are sure you are solving the right problem. Otherwise, you could easily sink 6 minutes into a problem which does not even help you get the correct answer! For example, remember that when you are presented with Data Sufficiency questions, you are not even solving a problem. The aim is to show whether you know when you have enough information to solve it.

  • Pace Yourself

    You will have 62 minutes to complete 31 questions. While this averages to 2 minutes per question, you should not expect each question to take you the same amount of time. Often times, the questions with the most text utilizes the simplest math, so do not be discouraged and skip through questions you perceive will take you too long before evaluating the problem.

    Pacing yourself is also important because your score is based on an algorithm which is computer adaptive. This means the test is evaluating you as you go, not at the end of the test. If you are not able to finish all of the questions, it can throw off the algorithm and negatively affect your final score. Spend a reasonable time trying to solve the problem, but be ready to move on if needed.

  • All Roads Lead to Practice

    It is impossible to adequately feel comfortable with the types of questions you can expect to see and pace yourself without practicing both individual questions and timing yourself through a practice test. As with most things in life, practice is a key component to success on the GMAT.

    First thing's first. You'll want to brush up on your basic math skills so that you are prepared to take the Quant Section of the GMAT. You are expected to have competence in basic algebra, geometry and arithmetic. You are not allowed to use a calculator, so you will need to refresh yourself on basics which you may have gotten in the habit of relying on a calculator.

    In order to efficiently use the time allotted, you will need be able to approach the questions with flexibility. For some questions, it will make most sense to solve using a traditional method; however, sometimes simply plugging in the possible answers is a faster way to approach the question. It is important that you feel comfortable implementing these different methods, and especially that you know when to use different strategies.

    Through practice, you will gain the familiarity with the types of questions you will see, which you will need to be able to quickly assess the fast way to solve the problem at hand. We also strongly advise that aside from practice questions, you sit down for at least one practice test. The closer to a real test setting, the better. Practice is important early on to pinpoint your areas of weakness, but continues throughout the preparation process to be a way to help refresh some math skills you may not have used in a while.