Test-Taking Strategies for Data Sufficiency Questions on the GMAT

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 discuss the data sufficiency questions that are in the quantitative section of the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). It will cover test-taking strategies and general tips for the exam.


The Graduate Management Admission Test, or GMAT, is an exam that's required by many universities for admission into graduate business programs. This exam is scored from 200-800, though the average is usually between 400 and 600. The exam is broken up into four sections:

  • Analytical Writing Assessment
  • Integrative Reasoning
  • Quantitative
  • Verbal

The section we'll be delving into now is the quantitative section.

Quantitative Section & Data Sufficiency

Within the quantitative section of the GMAT there are 37 questions. These questions must be answered in 75 minutes, and within the 37 questions there two types:

  • Problem Solving
  • Data Sufficiency

The problem solving questions are similar to those in many other exams: you're given problems and multiple choice answers. However, the data sufficiency problems are different. There are usually an average of 15 on the exam, and although you're also given multiple choice answers, they're all identical. These are the exact answers as you'll see them on the exam:

  • 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 asked, but neither statement alone is sufficient to answer the question asked.
  • D. Each statement alone is sufficient to answer the question asked.
  • E. Statements 1 and 2 together are not sufficient to answer the question asked, and additional data specific to the problem are needed.

Since the answers are the same, it's the question itself that changes which answer to pick. In the data sufficiency questions, you'll be given text, graphs, or other data. In addition to this, you'll be given two statements underneath the data. It's from these statements that you must then determine if the statements are sufficient or not, which is why the answers are identical. For example:

Is x + 8 > y - 9

Statement 1: x > y

Statement 2: y = 12

The data sufficiency questions use fairly regular math, but it's good to focus on ''prime factorization'' and ''divisibles.'' These math ideas are seen often within these questions, so it's important to have a good handle on them.

Tips for the Data Sufficiency Questions

Now that you know how these questions will look, here are some tips and strategies to help in answering the questions:

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