An Overview of GMAT Data Sufficiency

    Sayantani Barman Sayantani Barman
    Study Abroad Expert

    Data Sufficiency is a new kind of math for students giving the GMAT test, the first and the foremost important thing to understand about Data Sufficiency questions is to understand the meaning of the options and remember them. The answer choices are the same for all the Data Sufficiency questions and thus it is important to read all the choices and think what all them mean. Similar to many other things in the GMAT, the answer choices in Data Sufficiency are mentioned in a confusing way.

    The type of questions asked in GMAT Data sufficiency is aimed towards checking the candidate’s knowledge of basic math facts, skills along with their reasoning, analytical, and problem-solving abilities that can help them in getting admission in business schools. Each data sufficiency presents a question and the candidates don’t have to look for the answer to the problem; rather they need to decide whether or not the information presented along with the question is sufficient enough to answer the question. There are five answer choices for each question asked, each of which builds the relationship between the question and the information provided differently. And the candidates need to choose that answer choice which describes this relationship accurately.

    Importance of Understanding Answer Options

    In GMAT Data sufficiency problems, each question includes two statements labeled I and II, where some kind of information related to them is given. The candidates have to use their problem-solving skills to decide whether the information provided in the statements is sufficient to answer the question or not. By using the information mentioned in the given statements along with the knowledge of mathematics and well-known facts, the candidates must indicate whether:

    • The answer can be obtained from Statement I alone but statement II alone is not fully sufficient to come to the answer;
    • The answer can be obtained from statement II alone; however, a statement I sufficient enough to answer the question asked;
    • The answer can be obtained from both using both the statements I and II together, but neither statement I nor statement II alone individually can answer the question asked ;
    • Answer can be obtained from either statement I or statement II;
    • Answer to the question asked can not be obtained from any of the statements, I and II together, and additional information is needed to answer the question.

    Note: The candidates must remember that in data sufficiency problems, the information provided in the statement is sufficient only in case it is possible to determine exactly one numerical value as an answer to the problem.


    Example 1 – Three bags have a combined weight of 50 kilos. What is the weight of the heaviest bags?

    1. One bag weighs 12 kilos.
    2. One bag weighs 24 kilos.


    • Statement A alone is sufficient to answer this question, but statement B alone is not fully sufficient to come to an answer.
    • Statement B alone is enough to answer the question, but statement A is not enough to come to an answer.
    • Both statements together are required to obtain the answer, but neither statement alone is sufficient.
    • Any of the statements are sufficient to answer this question.
    • The given facts are not enough to come to any answer

    The correct answer to the above question is option 2. Statement A is not sufficient to determine the weight of the heaviest bag. It implies only that the combined weight of the other two bags is 36 pounds. Statement B alone is sufficient enough to come to an answer. Since the weight of the 24 –kilo packages is equal to the total weight of the other two bags, the heaviest package must be 24 kilos. (Eliminate options 3 and 5). Since statement B alone is sufficient to come to an answer, but statement A alone is not, so the answer to this question is statement 2.

    Example 2 – Is the product of two numbers greater than 100?

    • The sum of the two numbers is more than 50
    • Each of the numbers is more than 10.

    Solution: Let us consider each of the statements individually and then take them together. Statement A alone is not enough to come to a question and this can be proved by many examples.

    • If two numbers are 30 and 31, then there would obviously be more than 50 and their product is greater than 100; but in case two numbers are 50 and 1, though their sum is more than 50, their product is only 50, and lesser than 100.
    • Statement B is sufficient. In case both of the numbers are greater than 10, then their product must be greater than 10 x 10, or greater than 100.

    Therefore the second statement is sufficient to solve the question. Option B is the answer.

    Importance of Understanding Questions

    The GMAT aspirants must understand what is being asked in the question. Do they need to find a value or do they have to check a relationship? Before starting considering two numbered statements, take a few seconds to understand the question by itself and then figure out what is being asked in the test. There are mostly 2 possibilities a specific number may be sought so you must understand what the question is asking. Once you have understood the type of question asked then start considering what kind of information is required to answer the question. This depends on the kind of question asked. In case a question related to geometry is asked, then the information required will depend on the rules candidates’ learned related to geometric facts. For instance, in case you want to know the area of a circle, then you must find out its radius, its diameter, or its circumference while to know the length of the hypotenuse of a right triangle, you must know the length of the other two sides.

    On the other hand, in case a percentage question to percentage is asked then you need to apply different rules. To calculate what percentage X is of Y, you first need to know the value of X and the value of Y. When there is a change from one value to another, then increase the value of an investment. For instance, you must know the old value and the percentage by which it has increased in case you want to calculate the new value.

    It is important to consider each statement individually

    You must know the nature of the question asked and what information is needed to answer while attempting Data Sufficiency section. Look at each of the two numbered statements provided to you in the question and consider both of them, one by one, without building any relationship with each other. First, look at statement A and ask yourself does it provide sufficient information that can help you to reach to the question? If so, then already you have narrowed down the choices to just two: 1 and 4. If not, then the other three answer choices include 2, 3 and 5. After that look at the statement B and check is it offering enough information to answer the question? If yes, then only answers 2 and 4 are possible. If not, then considering analyzing other only answers 1, 3 and 5 as well. This way you will be able to select the right kind of answer. If any statement by itself offers much-needed information to answer the question, then you can pick from answers 1, 2 and 4, based on which statement is sufficient or whether either statement will do. If none of the statement in itself is sufficient to answer the question, then go to the third stage of combing tow statements.

    Combination of Two Statements

    Third, if needed, the candidates must combine two statements. If none of the statements by itself is sufficient to answer the question, then you must consider whether you can answer the question by combining the information given in both statements. If yes, then your answer is 3; if not, the answer is 5.

    What makes Data Sufficiency questions different?

    The questions asked in Data Sufficiency section aimed at testing the individual’s knowledge of basic math facts. One of the challenges in DS questions, as they are popularly called, is not to solve the question but instead understanding whether the question has a solution or not. The candidates get five answer choices, each of which establishes the relationship between the question and the information provided in a different way. The candidates have to select the answer choice that describes this relationship accurately.


    • The candidates many times get confused with different answer options and end up marking the wrong choices.
    • Also, cross-check the answers, whether you are marking the right option or not, and stop assuming that the examiner would always present the options in default order.
    • The candidates must go through all the answer options to check whether the order of statements is as expected or not.

    Data Sufficiency: Key Learning

    In the end, we can say that it is very important to read all the questions carefully in the case you are attempting GMAT Data Sufficiency questions.

    • One of the most common mistakes done by many students is that when the answer has to be yes/no and normally whenever you get the answer as no, most of the candidates mark the answer as insufficient.

    So use your problem-solving skills to reach the right answer in your GMAT Data Sufficiency test!!



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