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GMAT Data Sufficiency Questions: Expert Tips To Improve Scores

GMAT Data Sufficiency Questions: Expert Tips To Improve Scores

There’s no doubt anyone would find the data sufficiency questions in GMAT confusing, especially if you’re handling them for the first time. While they tend to look like most of the questions you’ve come across in your math class, they’re far from testing your mathematical abilities. Instead, these questions are designed to gauge your ability to analyze any given set of data and find out whether you’ve got the information you need to answer a question. So here you’re not in any way trying to solve a problem, but checking whether the information provided is sufficient to give a solution.

That said, you need to prepare for this section of the GMAT exam differently to maximize your scores. In this article, we are going to walk through the data sufficiency section of the GMAT exam, share some golden tips on how to effectively solve these questions, and guide you on best exam practices to better your scores.

Keep reading!

What to Expect in GMAT’s Data Efficiency Section

A set of data sufficiency questions is one of the two categories of questions you’ll come across in the Quantitative Reasoning section of the GMAT exam, otherwise known as the quant section. Even though there isn’t a fixed number of data sufficiency questions in the quant section, they make at least half of the total number of questions you’ll come across in this section. Usually, the quant section contains 31 questions, meaning approximately 15 of them will be data efficiency questions. That said, about 50% of your quant score will be determined by your overall performance in data efficiency questions.

Usually, you’ve got 62 minutes to answer all the 31 quantitative questions, which narrows down to an average of 2 minutes per question. However, for more complex problems e.g. 700-800 level questions, it might take a little longer to give an answer, say 3-5 minutes.

What Are GMAT’s Data Efficiency Questions All About?

If you’re out to assess your business management skills, GMAT’s data efficiency questions should get you there. Whether you’re a manager, an investor, or a consultant, there’s no day you’ll have a perfect or complete set of information required to solve a problem. In most cases, you don’t even have enough time and resources to get whichever information you need to make a decision.

The data efficiency questions in GMAT are designed to test whether you have all you need to make a decision (Yes/No) or answer a specific question (Value).

Sample Value Data Sufficiency

If x is an integer greater than 7, what is the value of x?

(1) x < 9      🡪 Sufficient

(2) x > 10    🡪 Not Sufficient

Sample Yes/No Data Sufficiency

If x is an integer greater than 7, is x > y? 

(1) y < 5     🡪 Sufficient

(2) x = 10   🡪 Not Sufficient

Data Sufficiency Choices

Usually, each of the questions contains five constant options correlating to any of the conditions provided that’s sufficient to give a definitive answer to the question asked. The good thing is that these options are always the same, and the order never changes. Therefore, the number one tip to scoring better in your data sufficiency questions is to Memorize The 5 Answer Choices.

You can memorize the choices and order with the following mnemonic: (1)-(2)-(T)-(E)-(N). 

It’s worth noting that this correlates to the sufficiency of statements (1) and (2). Take a look at the full breakdown of the mnemonic below to understand the range of five choices.

A – (1) ALONE is sufficient, but (2) alone is not sufficient

B – (2) ALONE is sufficient, but (1) alone is not sufficient

C – TOGETHER are sufficient, but NEITHER ALONE is sufficient

D – EACH ALONE is sufficient

E – NEITHER ALONE NOR TOGETHER is the statements sufficient

Data Sufficiency Process

Now that you know what a typical data efficiency question looks like and the five choices you expect in each case, it’s time to learn one or two things about the answering process.

Step 1

Carefully Read & Evaluate the Given Conditions as Mathematically as Possible by Asking Three Questions :

  1. What Do I Know? | Note with “K:”
  2. What am I Looking For? | Note Question and if Yes / No Format
  3. What Do I Need to Find What I am Looking For? | Note with “N:”

Step 2

  • Carefully Read & Evaluate Statement (1) as Mathematically as Possible
  • If Sufficient – Choices A and D Remain Viable
  • If Not Sufficient – Choices B, C, and E Remain Viable

Step 3

  • Carefully Read & Evaluate Statement (2) as Mathematically as Possible
  • If (1) & (2) Each Sufficient – Select Choice D
  • If (1) Sufficient, but (2) Not Sufficient – Select Choice A
  • If (2) Sufficient, but (1) Not Sufficient – Select Choice B
  • If Either Choice is Sufficient – STOP HERE!
  • If Neither (1) nor (2) Alone is Sufficient – Choices C or E Remain Viable

Step 4

  • Read & Evaluate Statements Together as Mathematically as Possible
  • If Together Sufficient – Select Choice C
  • If Together Not Sufficient – Select Choice E

Quick Tips to Score Better in GMAT Data Sufficiency Questions

Don’t think of calculating the answer

With data sufficiency, you don’t need to know the exact solution to the question. Therefore, don’t try to solve the system of equations provided. All you need to do is simply recognize that putting together the two statements gives you sufficient information to answer the question.

Consider each statement separately

Consider each of the statements separately and find out whether it gives you sufficient information on its own. The only time you should consider both statements is after you’ve determined that they’re insufficient on their own.

Plug-in real numbers

It’s essential to plug in real numbers for the variables given in the equations. Be sure to use simple integer values that are in line with the constraints of the questions. Depending on the given question, you might have to plug in several numbers to reach a decision.

The GMAT’s data efficiency questions are not as difficult as most students perceive them. In addition to sharpening your mathematical skills, it’s essential to up your answering strategy to find your way around. Additionally, spend some time going through practice questions before sitting for your exams. If you’re planning to register for your GMAT exams any time soon, you can get a package of practice questions from AnalytPrep to prepare adequately. There are thousands of questions practice questions in the question bank that should help you prepare exhaustively.



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