The GMAT Quantitative Section is designed to test your content and analytical knowledge of basic math concepts, including arithmetic, algebra, and geometry. The section consists of two question types: Data Sufficiency and Problem Solving.
GMAT quantitative section basics:
- GMAT Quantitative Section Time: 62 minutes
- GMAT Quantitative Section Format: 31 questions
- You will be tested on Arithmetic, Algebra, and Geometry
Slightly fewer than half of the multiple-choice questions that count toward your overall score appear in the Quantitative (math) section. You’ll have 62 minutes to answer 31 Quantitative questions in two formats: Problem Solving and Data Sufficiency.
These two types of questions are mingled throughout the Quantitative section, so you never know what’s coming next. You can expect to see 13-14 Data Sufficiency Questions and 17-18 Problem Solving Questions.
GMAT Quantitative Section: Data Sufficiency
Data Sufficiency questions consist of a question and 2 statements of data. It’s your job to determine whether the statements provide sufficient data to answer the question. This question type really requires you to quickly identify what information you would need to know and to efficiently eliminate answer choices.
GMAT Quantitative Section: Problem Solving
You’ve been here before…Problem Solving is the classic standardized test question type. You’ll be presented with a question and 5 possible answer choices. Problem Solving questions test your skills in high school-level math. Simple, right? Well, when’s the last time you tried your hand at high school math questions? If you answered, “high school,” then you’ll want to brush up. The key to success is to clearly understand what the question is asking and to avoid answer traps.
Your total GMAT score is calculated from “scaled scores” from the Quantitative section (62 minutes, 31 questions) and Verbal section (65 minutes, 36 questions). Theoretically, these scores range from 1 to 60, but the extreme scores exist only to allow room for future expansion. Currently, possible scores range from about 11 to 51. These scores are meant to provide a timeless, absolute measure of skill. For example, a Quant score of 40 in 2006 represents the exact same level of ability as a Quant score of 40 does in 2016.
The scale might seem arbitrary to you. You may be wondering, “Why 11 to 51, of all possible scales?” One reason to have a scale such as this one is to avoid confusion with percentiles or percentages. If scaled scores ranged from 0 to 100, for example, a score of 70 might be confused with answering 70 percent of the questions correctly.
While the scaled scores haven’t changed over time, the population of test takers has. Quant performance has gone up over time, and Verbal performance has gone down. While Verbal section scores still follow a fairly even distribution, Quantitative scaled scores now skew high. In recent years, up to 12 percent of test takers received a 50 or 51 on the Quant section. Because of the shift over time and the nature of the population, percentiles don’t match exactly to scaled scores. As that fact indicates, there is a third way of slicing and dicing GMAT performance: percentiles.
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The most important score on the GMAT is the total score, which ranges from 200 to 800. This score is the GMAT result that schools look at primarily. The population of these scores follows a standard distribution: most students score near the mean score, and more than half of all GMAT test takers score within 100 points of 550, the approximate mean. Pulling yourself out of that cluster is an important part of distinguishing your application: the top 10 business schools accept students with an average GMAT score of 720, the 94th percentile. Learn more about what’s considered a good GMAT score >