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How to Increase Your GMAT Quant Score in Days

What if there was a way, however, that you could be guaranteed to nail groups of questions that will invariably be easy?

There are two ways to think about it. The first is the “organic” approach that could take a while.

However, it is decidedly simple: organize your study based on question type.

If you go to the answer explanations in the back of your Official Guide, you will find that there exists a taxonomy of question types.

Each question is marked with a type: “Properties of Numbers,” “Operations on Real Numbers,” and other such things.

Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses, so if you know that you have problems with Properties of Numbers questions, for example, simply drill those until you have no more trouble with them.

This is the “organic” approach that I recommend.

(Furthermore, the specific Manhattan GMAT math books—a worthy addition to anyone’s GMAT library—have excellent, useful lists of the specific Official Guide questions that are relevant to the topics discussed.)

The second approach is the “low hanging fruit” approach. This is something to consider if you only have a few days before taking your GMAT.

Focus on particular question types such as Coordinate Geometry, Combinatorics (Permutations and Combinations), and Probability.

These are considered “more difficult” than others by virtue of their topic rather than by conceptual difficulty of the question.

As we know, GMAT preparation focuses on learning math theory exceptionally well so that we can focus on concept. After all, it is the tortuous presentation of simple concepts that makes the GMAT so fiendish!

However, with these topics, the testtaker (you!) is often rewarded by simply knowing the very basics of the topic.

That is, if you can comfortably read a graph in coordinate geometry, then you will be able to answer 95% of coordinate geometry questions. If you know basic probability or combinatorics, you will be able to answer 95% of these questions.

Thus while many GMAT questions involve 3-4 distinct operations, questions in these topics can range to 650+ with only 1-2 operations!

In fact, the missing 5% or truly difficult questions—usually 700+–in these topics in fact find their difficulty by blending one or more of these topics.

Still, if you are pressed for time, remember that these surfaces are barely scratched. Learn the basics and get a few free points. Only then worry about blending the topics.

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p.s. There are classic OG problems that blend probability and combinatorics, or even combinatorics and coordinate geometry! Can you find one?

p.p.s. What other topics do you think the testwriters don’t expect you to know?

About the author

Rowan Hand

Head Coach Rowan Hand has been a GMAT tutor and content developer for more than 10 years. Rowan has coached hundreds of clients in private and group classes. Former clients have gone on to Harvard, LBS, INSEAD, Wharton, and other excellent business schools.