When tackling the Quantitative section on the GMAT, studying is less daunting if you break the section down into its different components. To do this, you need to know how the section is divided, what kind of concepts the section covers and which concepts you can expect to be tested the most. By taking this approach, you’ll know what to study, and you’ll be better prepared for the actual questions on the test.
The GMAT consists of 90 questions spread throughout three sections — Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative and Verbal — which follow a 30 minute essay, the Analytical Writing Assessment, at the beginning of the test. The Quantitative and Verbal sections can be further broken down according to question type. Sentence Correction, Reading Comprehension and Critical Reasoning questions make up the Verbal Section while Data-Sufficiency and Problem Solving questions make up the Quantitative section.
You’ll have to answer 37 questions in order to complete the Quantitative section. Approximately, 19 to 22 of these questions will be Problem Solving questions while 15 to 18 will be Data-Sufficiency questions. Often, the GMAT may throw in a few experimental questions throughout the test. The makers of the GMAT add these questions to evaluate their difficulty level for possible future implementation in the GMAT; however, these questions do not count towards your score.
Even though the Quantitative section can be divided into Data-Sufficiency and Problem Solving questions, the concepts tested in each type are the same: The questions types just test them in a different manner.
Problem Solving questions are your typical multiple choice math problems where you must solve the problem to select the correct answer. Data-Sufficiency questions also present a math problem, but instead of asking you to solve the problem, you are asked to ascertain whether there is enough information to solve the problem.
The majority of the Data-Sufficiency and Problem Solving questions cover the following topics. Many of these topics contain multiple mathematical concepts, so it’s important to have a firm grasp of each topic.
Number/Integer Properties – This is a wide topic that includes many concepts such as even and odd numbers, prime numbers, factors, and consecutive numbers and consecutive sets. Most of these concepts are simple, and you probably learned them long ago, but since these related concepts are found in so many Quantitative questions, you should know them by heart.
Percents and Statistics – Percent questions include concepts like percent change, series of percent changes and interest while statistics questions often cover measures of central tendency and variance, such as mean, median, range and standard deviation.
Rates – Expect to see at least a number questions that involve distance, time and rate, i.e. the equation D = R x T, or rate of work.
Geometry – Brush up on geometry. This includes studying both coordinate geometry, which covers points, lines, and slopes, and shapes — calculating area and perimeter values, using the Pythagorean Theorem and the Triangle Inequality Theorem, and reviewing circles and polygons.
Fractions – Be sure you know how to add, subtract, multiply and divide fractions, and be familiar with proportions.
Systems of Equations – This is when there are two or more equations with multiple unknowns, a favorite of Data-Sufficiency questions. These questions revolve around the rule that for an equation with n number of variables, you’ll need n number of equations with these same variables in order to solve for the variables.
Exponents – Know the rules of using exponents, including how exponents in an equation can be distributed, added, divided and multiplied and negative exponents.
While not comprehensive, the topics on this list cover the core of the GMAT’s Quantitative concepts, and should provide a great starting point for studying GMAT math or reviewing what types of questions and concepts you need to review in order to improve your score.