GMAT Data Sufficiency Quantitative Section Overview

Instructor: Joseph Madison

Joseph received his Doctorate from UMUC in Management. He retired from the Army after 23 years of service, working in intelligence, behavioral health, and entertainment.

This lesson will contain an overview of the format of the Quantitative section of the GMAT. It will focus on the data sufficiency questions, what they look like, and what they involve.

Quantitative Section

The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is an exam that universities use as a tool to determine whether students are admitted into graduate business programs. This exam is 3 1/2 hours long, and contains four parts:

  • Analytical Essay
  • Verbal
  • Quantitative
  • Integrated Reasoning

The Quantitative section has a total of 37 questions that must be answered in 75 minutes. This will give students approximately 2 minutes per question. The math that is addressed in this section is no more challenging than high school math. There will be arithmetic, elementary algebra, and basic geometry. This section is broken down into two types of problems:

  • Problem Solving
  • Data Sufficiency

The problem solving questions are similar to most test questions. They are math problems that have an equation, text, or data, with 4-5 multiple choice answers to choose from. There are 20-23 of these questions in the quantitative section, which leaves 14-17 data sufficiency questions. The format of these questions is really unusual, so we'll talk more about them here.

Data Sufficiency

The data sufficiency questions have a unique format. They will provide an equation, followed by two statements. But these problems are not asking you to find an answer to the equation; instead, they ask if the statements are sufficient or not sufficient to solve or understand the original equation. Then there will be 5 multiple choice answers beneath the problem. The answer options are identical for every question. They are:

  • A. Statement 1 ALONE is sufficient but statement 2 ALONE is NOT sufficient to answer the question asked.
  • B. Statement 2 ALONE is sufficient but statement 1 ALONE is NOT sufficient to answer the question asked.
  • C. Both statements 1 and 2 TOGETHER are sufficient to answer the question but NEITHER statement is sufficient alone.
  • D. Each statement ALONE is sufficient to answer the question.
  • E. Statements 1 and 2 are NOT sufficient to answer the question asked and additional data is needed to answer the statements.

Since all of the provided answers will be the same, it's important to memorize them prior to the exam. That way, when these problems come up in the test you don't have to read the answers, you can just address the questions. This will save time. Another way to save time is to think of the answers above this way:

If statement 1 is sufficient, then the answer can only be A, C, or D. If statement 2 is sufficient, then the answer can only be B, C, or D. If statement 1 is NOT sufficient then the answer can only be B or E. And if statement 2 is NOT sufficient the answer can only be A or E. This way of thinking about the questions will leave you with a smaller number of answers to pick from, which improves your changes of getting the question right.

Sample Data Sufficiency Questions

To assist in visualizing these questions, there are two example problems below.

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