October 16, 2016

Three tips for the GMAT quantitative section

The GMAT is split into four parts – writing, verbal, quantitative and integrated reasoning. Practice makes perfect on this standardized test, so chugging away at practice tests is a must. If you find that your math skills aren’t quite at the level that they used to be, three simple tips can be used to maximize your score!

The quantitative section of the GMAT consists of thirty-seven problem solving and data sufficiency questions to be completed in an hour and fifteen minutes. The problem solving portion covers arithmetic, basic algebra and basic geometry, while the data-driven section involves analyzing a set of quantitative data and determining what parts of the data are sufficient to solve the problem.

The first tip for GMAT test takers is to remember that all GMAT math problems are designed to be completed in two minutes or less. Unlike in the integrated reasoning section, the GMAT does not provide a calculator for the quantitative section, so if you think that a problem might take a lot of long calculations, you may be overlooking something important. Shortcuts exist, either in rounding numbers in a problem to get something close to one of the answers, or perhaps in the digits of the given answers themselves!

Second, practicing mental math is the key to completing these questions quickly. Whether it involves rounding numbers to estimate an approximate answer or using greatest common factor rules to get simpler calculations, you must work quickly. Make sure you practice mental math as much as possible before your exam so you won’t freeze up when it counts! Plugging answers back into your calculations is another way to work fast and ensure accuracy.

Finally, calculations are less relevant for the data sufficiency problems. These problems ask test takers to look at two statements and some data and analyze if there is sufficient enough information to complete the problem. They take some getting used to, but again, practice makes perfect. Do not be afraid to go for the E answers as well, which typically state that the problem cannot be solved with the given information.

With enough practice and brushing up on your mathematics skills, you will be conquering the GMAT quantitative section – and be on your way to the MBA program of your choice!

About the author

Marc Zawel

As author of *Untangling the Ivy League*, Marc literally wrote the book on gaining admission to highly selective colleges. He earned a BA from Cornell University – where he met AcceptU’s co-founder – and an MBA from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At UNC, Marc chaired the admissions advisory board; he has also conducted alumni interviews for Cornell for more than fifteen years.