The Quantitative Section
The Quantitative Section is 75 minutes long, with 37 multiple-choice questions. This gives you approximately two minutes to answer each question. Many will be answered more quickly, and you may find that you need to spend more than two minutes on some questions. However, you should not take too long with any one question, as you do not want to run out of time at the end. There are two basic Quantitative question types, Problem-Solving and Data-Sufficiency. Within these two basic types, a variety of mathematical topics may be covered from arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and word problems. Some questions also test “data interpretation” and require you to analyze information presented in a graph. None of the problems require more than a high-school level of algebra and geometry, but that does not mean that the test should be easy if you have studied mathematics at a higher level. The GMAT is testing your ability to reason and to solve problems efficiently more than it is testing your knowledge of any particular area of math. For this reason, it is crucial not only to review the content that might be tested on the Quantitative Section, but to do enough practice problems that you become familiar with the kind of logic used to construct the problems and the most effective ways to quickly assess them and find the correct answer. At the testing center, you will be given a small erasable whiteboard or a laminated booklet to use for calculations and notes.
Problem-Solving problems present a problem and require you to select the correct answer from among five choices. The problem could be as straightforward as an equation, where you need to solve for x. It could be a word problem, or a geometry problem with a diagram that you may need to copy on your tablet. Solving the problem may involve doing simple computation (Of course, you don’t get to use a calculator, so brush up on your arithmetic skills!). You are expected to be proficient with such concepts as exponents, square roots, fractions and decimals, etc. as well as algebra (linear and quadratic equations) and geometry (for speed purposes you must memorize basic formulas which will be crucial to solving problems). One thing to keep in mind is that, unlike on your high school math tests, the correct answer to each question is already on the screen. You won’t be graded on “showing your work,” so getting to the answer quickly is much more important than getting to the answer using a particular method. You can even use the answer choices to help you.
Data-Sufficiency questions are quite different from Problem Solving questions. In a DS question, you will be presented with some initial information and two statements, labeled 1 and 2. Your task is to decide whether the statements give you enough information to enable you to answer the question. You must choose one of the following answers:
- Statement (1) ALONE is sufficient, but statement (2) is not sufficient.
- Statement (2) ALONE is sufficient, but statement (1) is not sufficient.
- BOTH statements TOGETHER are sufficient, but NEITHER statement ALONE is sufficient.
- EACH statement ALONE is sufficient.
- Statements (1) and (2) TOGETHER are NOT sufficient.
According to GMAC, Data-Sufficiency questions are designed to “measure your ability to analyze a quantitative problem, recognize with information is relevant, and determine at what point there is sufficient information to solve a problem.”
One thing to note is that there is no particular order to the questions that you will be asked. Due to the Computer-Adaptive format of the GMAT, no two tests will look exactly the same. Before the first question in a section from any given question type, the directions for that question type will appear on the screen. Don’t waste your test time reading them – move quickly to the questions. If you have completed the PowerScore course, you will not need to be reminded of the directions, and you should use every second answering questions.