Words and numbers

by on Saturday, 28 March, 2015

The Two Levels of GMAT Quant Questions

In GMAT, as in life, you won’t get very far with only one skill. You can be a creative, who has brilliant ideas, but if you can’t bring those ideas to fruition, you won’t get very far. You can be a footsoldier, who’s great at implementation but needs to be given an action plan. Or you can combine the two skills and be successful.

When faced with a Quant question, there are two operations you need to perform:

1. Work out what needs to be done

2. Do it

or, if you prefer business jargon,

1. Brainstorm

2. Execute

Part 2

As is often the case on GMAT questions, it’s easier to start at the end. Work out what mathematical processes the GMAT involves ~ my site contains plenty of clues ~ and make sure you’ve got them down pat. Practise, practise, practise. Go through the theory until you understand it back to front.

These processes will involve numbers. You need to know what you’re allowed to do with them; you need to be familiar with their properties; you need to be able to combine them using different operations. The numbers from 1-100 are especially important.

Part 1

Here’s where the words come in. Some words and phrases have mathematical meanings – there’s a lot more on that subject in The Ultimate GMAT Quant Guide. Certain modes of verbal expression allude to certain mathematical topics and/or processes. I made that last sentence a little more complex, in terms of its vocabulary, because for many people this is the most complex part of GMAT Quant. Have you ever said, if only to yourself,

I understand the words. I understand the sentences. But I have NO FREAKIN IDEA how any of it relates to that stuff I learnt in Part 2

You’re not alone. You can learn. Use The Ultimate GMAT Quant Guide. Use the explanations in the Official Guide if you must. Ask me. Always make a note of how words relate to numbers. Never make the same mistake twice.

There is a limited number of ways in which mathematical problems are expressed on the GMAT. There’s even a limited (although very large) number of possible questions. Keep going. Eventually words, phrases and concepts will repeat. You’ll recognise them. And you will improve.

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