What you need to know about GMAT Problem Solving

Of the total 37 questions on the quant section, you will see two different kinds: problem solving and data sufficiency.  You have probably seen problem solving type problems all throughout studying math in school.  These types of questions simply lay out a problem for you to solve and give you 5 answer choices from which to chose.

Let’s look at an example:

Jeb and Carla start at opposite ends of a 10 mile trail and start jogging towards each other at the same time.  Jeb runs at a speed of 5 miles per hour and Carla runs at a speed of 3 miles per hour.  How many miles will Jeb have traveled when they cross each other?

o   1.25

o   2

o   4.5

o   5.8

o   6.25


Some important things to note: the answer choices are always from least to greatest, so if you are guessing and testing answer choices, start somewhere in the middle.

Always pay attention to what the question is asking. The GMAT often tries to trick you.  For example, 1.25 is the amount of time that it will take for Jeb and Carla to pass each other.  If you lose sight of what you are looking for when you are doing the calculations, you might see that answer, pick it and move on.  But you would be wrong and lose this point for a silly mistake.

So, how do you study for the GMAT Problem Solving section?

You will basically have to relearn a lot of the math you did in high school.  To do this, you will need to take a course or get your hands on a comprehensive set of books.   Because you will be learning a whole bunch of new rules, I suggest that you take lots of notes.  People who write things down are more likely to remember them.  You will also need to brush up on your mental math.  You are not given any sort of calculator for the problem solving section, so try to memorize your basic arithmetic, fractions and exponents so that you can work through the problems more quickly.

Meet the Author

Eliza Chute

I was always just an average student, but with the right course prep I was able to score a 770 on my first try. I had to wade through a lot of material to find what was right for me, but luckily for you I've done all the research for you! See more on my GMAT courses page.

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