GMAT Data Sufficiency

The Data Sufficiency (DS) section makes up part of your quant score for the GMAT. Any concept that is tested on the Problem Solving (PS) section can be tested on the DS section, and vice versa; that said, certain concepts do tend to come up more on the DS section, and studying these concepts can help boost your score. There are also certain structural elements to the DS section with which you will need to become familiar. Like any standardized test, the GMAT tests not only your conceptual mastery but also your ability to take tests. Ready to take a stab at DS? Check out some sample Data Sufficiency questions here.

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Data Sufficiency Tips
  • Be very familiar with the answer choices. No excuses: On Data Sufficiency, they’re always the same! Know in the blink of an eye what choice C is. On test day, if you find that Statement 1 is insufficient, be able to cross out choices A and D without hesitation.
  • Get in the habit of writing down what you absolutely need in order to find certain quantities. Each statement alone will be sufficient if both of the statements on their own contain all the information necessary to answer the question. The statements will be sufficient together if they contain every piece of necessary information between them. Take the area of a parallelogram, for example. Do you need to know every side length to determine the area? If you have every side length, can you find the area?
  • Train yourself not to look at the statements together. Statement 2 may tell you that x is negative, but that fact has no bearing on Statement 1 when viewed by itself. Explore all the possibilities offered by each statement individually. If you’ve scrutinized Statement 1 and found it sufficient, be equally merciless when it comes to Statement 2. Don’t let it off the hook just because it doesn’t contradict Statement 1.
  • Remember that important information is often buried in the prompt. Don’t pay so much attention to the statements that you forget the rest of the question. Often, half the information that you need is in the set-up.
  • Know when it’s actually necessary to solve single-variable equations. If the question asks for the value of x and you whittle the problem down to an equation like 305x = 2(500) – 10205, don’t waste your time solving for x! It’s only important to know that you COULD solve if you wanted to. Remember, all linear one-variable equations have a unique solution, but quadratic equations—equations with an x^2 term—can have zero, one, or two solutions.
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