For many GMAT test-takers, the Quantitative section is the most daunting, and especially so for those who haven’t considered maths for a long time. However, the maths content covered on the GMAT is not considered too difficult or advanced. In fact, many will have seen similar questions before, during high school.
The Quantitative questions are comprised of arithmetic, algebra, and geometry. However, while participants are saved from answering questions on calculus and trigonometry, calculators aren’t allowed, so students must be prepared to brush up on their mental arithmetic as well as review the key concepts.
Roughly, the questions are divided up as follows:
- Arithmetic, which equals about half of all questions
- Algebra, equalling roughly a quarter of all questions
- Geometry, representing around a quarter of all questions
A lot of people are confused as to which maths concepts they need to know to get through the GMAT Quantitative section. As a basic checklist, test-takers should confidently be able to do the following, without using a calculator:
- Add, subtract, multiply and divide both positive and negative numbers
- Add, subtract, multiply and divide fractions
- Convert fractions to decimals and vice versa
- Solve an algebraic expression
- Find a percentage
- Find an average
- Find the areas of rectangles, triangles and circles
- Know basic terminology and definitions, such as knowing what an integer is
One of the keys to preparing for the Quantitative section is knowing which question types to expect. These consist of Problem Solving (approximately two-thirds of all questions) and Data Sufficiency (approximately one-third). Data Sufficiency questions are rarely found outside of the GMAT, so most people are unfamiliar with this question type.
Problem Solving is a classic question type on standardized tests. Students are presented with a question and given five possible answer choices. Some questions contain diagrams, which may be drawn to scale, meaning you can estimate measurements and size relationships. Each question that contains a diagram states if it is to scale, or not, so participants should remember to check first.
Data Sufficiency problems consist of a question and two statements of data. Students do not have to provide the answer to the solution here; instead the task is to determine whether the two statements provide sufficient data with which to answer the question.
Test-takers will be given directions on how to answer Data Sufficiency questions, and all of the questions will have the same answer choices. In other words, students have to say whether the question can be answered with one of the two statements, with both statements, or indeed with neither.
In order to succeed with these questions, a clear understanding of both the directions and also how to eliminate answers efficiently is required. This should come with strategic practice.
As well as an overall score, participants will also receive a scaled score for the Quantitative section, ranging from 0 to 60. This reflects performance compared to all other GMAT test-takers. The average test-taker score for the Quantitative section is 35, so students expecting a high score overall on their GMAT will need to score above that.