grad school test prep

GMAT Math — An Overview

What’s It All About?

Many students who’ve decided to take the GMAT for business school break out into a cold sweat when faced with the prospect of studying math on the quantitative section of the GMAT. Let’s face it – you may not have taken a math class since high school, and at this point you’re struggling to remember the formula for the area of a circle! Well, fear not. This brief overview of GMAT math questions will help to allay your jitters, and we’ll also let you know how to set up your GMAT math prep and offer some sources for GMAT sample math questions as well.

GMAT Math Content

The actual content of GMAT sample math questions does not extend beyond high school math up to the level of algebra 2. There is no trigonometry or calculus. Refer to a few GMAT sample math questions to get an idea.

  • Algebraic equations and inequalities
  • Arithmetic, including decimals, percents, ratios, and number properties
  • Exponents and square roots
  • Geometry and coordinate geometry
  • Number lines and absolute value
  • Variable operations
  • Word problems
  • Combinatorics, including probability, combinations and permutations
  • Data analysis

Incorporate GMAT Math Questions into your GMAT Math Prep:

The format of GMAT Math questions are of two types: Data Sufficiency and Problem Solving. The two question types are interspersed in a single 62-minute quantitative section. About 25 to 35 percent of the questions are data sufficiency and the rest are problem solving. Your GMAT Math Prep should include ample coverage for both.

  • Data Sufficiency are multiple choice questions that come with two statements of data.
    • The student must assess whether or not the statements provide sufficient data to answer the question.
    • Then the student has to decide whether one or both statements, by themselves or together, give you enough information to answer the problem.
    • Successful GMAT math prep comes from assaying many GMAT math sample questions.
    • The key is often NOT to carry the problem through to a solution, but to just assess if there is enough information to arrive at a solution, thereby saving precious time.
  • Problem Solving questions are multiple-choice questions that test the above listed high school math skills.
    • These questions are much more straight-forward than data sufficiency questions. They are like the more traditional questions you’ve seen on other standardized tests.
    • Problem Solving questions are in the form of multiple choice with 5 potential answer choices for each question.
  • Your GMAT math prep should involve strategies that take advantage of this format, such as plugging in for variables, picking “smart” numbers, and plugging those answers back into the question.
  • Also, you are not allowed a calculator on the GMAT quantitative section, so be prepared to find calculation shortcuts in your GMAT math prep.

Question Adaptive Testing and GMAT Math Prep

Unlike almost any other standardized test you have taken, the GMAT is unique because it is a computer adaptive test. What’s more, it is adaptive by question, which means that you must answer the question you are doing in order to move on to the next question. Further, this means that you cannot return to questions, an element that greatly affects your GMAT math prep.

Other Question Types on the GMAT

While the GMAT verbal questions are also question adaptive, the other two types of questions the AWA (writing assignment) and the Integrated Reasoning sections are not.

GMAT Math Prep with Inspirica: Learn Strategies, not Just Content:

In our 35+ years of tutoring, we’ve found that a strategy-first approach works best. The GMAT is no exception. While our Premier Prep GMAT tutoring programs do teach content, we focus mostly on testing strategies. Your tutor will help you figure out which math topics and question types need the most work, then teach you ways to overcome those questions. This is a very learnable test, so all it takes is some time and determination! If you haven’t started working with us yet, browse our tutors and get started today!