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Solving Math Problems on the GMAT

Instructor: Yuanxin (Amy) Yang Alcocer

Amy has a master's degree in secondary education and has taught math at a public charter high school.

Gain tips for solving the various types of math problems you will encounter when taking the GMAT. Practice answering these types of problems in different math areas such as algebra and geometry.

GMAT Math Problems

The best way to get on your way to pass the GMAT is to practice, practice, practice. This is especially true for the math questions on the GMAT. Not only do you need practice to make sure your math knowledge is readily available to you, you also need to practice so you know exactly how to use your math knowledge to answer the questions on the GMAT.

In this lesson, you'll get a chance to practice with several problems taken from different math areas. The problems are divided into three sections, with one section for each question type you'll encounter on the GMAT.

Integrated Reasoning

Your Integrated Reasoning math problems are about looking at data shown in chart, graph, or table format, reasoning on the data, and then coming up with the correct conclusion and/or solution to the questions.

Try answering this question.

Question 1

Lana is at the pet store buying dog and cat food for her dog and cat at home. She spends exactly $130 on cat food that costs $20 per bag and dog food that costs $35 per bag. How many bags of cat and dog food did Lana buy?

Use the table to make your selection.

Bags of cat food Bags of dog food Number
(A) - (A) - 1
(B) - (B) - 2
(C) - (C) - 3
(D) - (D) - 4
(E) - (E) - 5

One way to answer this question is to insert each number of bags into either the number of cat food bags or dog food bags to see if the resulting answer is a whole number. For example, inserting 1 for the number of bags of cat food and solving for the number of dog food bags will give you this.

20c + 35d = 130

20(1) + 35d = 130

20 + 35d = 130

35d = 110

d = 110 / 35 = 22 / 7

22 / 7 is not a whole number, so you keep going. When you insert 3 into the number of cat food bags and solve for the number of dog food bags, you get a whole number 2, which tells you that is the correct answer. So, it's 3 bags of cat food (option C) and 2 bags of dog food (option B).

Problem Solving

Problem Solving math problems test your ability to use your learned math knowledge to solve math problems from various math areas.

Try this problem.

What is the measure of an exterior angle of a regular pentagon?

A) 360 degrees

B) 540 degrees

C) 108 degrees

D) 72 degrees

E) 180 degrees

From geometry, you know that a regular pentagon has interior angles of 108 degrees. The exterior angle then is 180 minus 108, which equals 72 degrees.

Data Sufficiency

Data Sufficiency math problems give you a math problem along with two additional bits of information. It is your job to figure out which bit of information is necessary to answer the math problem.

Let's try a problem.

Rudy has just purchased tickets to the theme park. He spent a total of $220 for both adult and child tickets. How many child tickets did Rudy buy if the number of adult tickets is twice the number of child tickets?

1. One adult ticket costs $20.

2. A child's ticket saves $5 from the adult ticket price.

A) Statement 1 alone can answer the problem, but statement 2 alone cannot answer the problem.

B) Statement 2 alone can answer the problem, but statement 1 alone cannot answer the problem.

C) Statements 1 and 2 together are enough to answer the problem, but neither statement 1 nor 2 alone can answer the problem.

D) Statement 1 alone can answer the problem and statement 2 alone can answer the problem.

E) Statements 1 and 2 together are not enough to answer the problem, as more information is needed to answer the problem.

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