Few Strategies for GMAT Data Sufficiency

    Sayantani Barman Sayantani Barman
    Study Abroad Expert

    In the Data Sufficiency section of GMAT, problems are asked a question with two mathematical statements. Now it is here you then decide as to which statements give you enough information to answer the question. Focus is mainly on which statement (or both statements) gives data that is sufficient for finding an answer. These types of questions are very apt for GMAT as they test your managerial skills.

    Data Sufficiency is perhaps the most dreaded on the Quantitative section of GMAT exam and remains a challenge and you need to work Data Sufficiency questions into your practice schedule as the Critical Thinking skills tapped by Data Sufficiency require regular exercise. In the Quantitative section, 31 questions have to be attempted in 62 minutes and of these 31 questions, approximately 11-13 will be Data Sufficiency questions.

    As the name suggests data sufficiency questions ask you to determine when you will have enough information (when is the data sufficient) to make a conclusive decision which in turn assesses your ability to plan ahead for a task; to elicit an effective return-on-investment (remember, you can’t use both statements if one of them is, alone, sufficient), to find flaws with conventional wisdom, and to think flexibly where GMAT data sufficiency questions often require you to use more than one skill.

    The strategies which we bring out to you are for those who seek the highest quant scores and who are more concerned with conquering Data Sufficiency than with enduring it and will definitely be instrumental in your GMAT quantitative success.

    • Learning the meaning of these data statements and register them to memory is the foremost thing to do in GMAT data sufficiency section. For every data sufficiency question, the answer choices are the same.
    • One of the most important GMAT tips is to have a routine which is extremely important for data sufficiency. A point to be noted is that Data Sufficiency is strategically focused, more so than PS or the three verbal question types, and each question follows a similar pattern, and to achieve a high score in quant approaching each problem the same way isn’t only possible.

    Evaluate the Statements Individually First

    Evaluate each statement as if they are different. Once you have determined whether each statement is sufficient on its own, you will be able to put them together. Evaluate each statement individually. This strategy will also save you time. For example, in case neither of the statements is sufficient on its own, elimination of answers A, B and E is easy. And by any chance, If both statements are sufficient on their own, then A, B, C, and E can be eliminated right away.

    Don’t evaluate the statements in order. Solve the simplest statement first. Once you become familiar with the pattern with practice you will notice that one statement is extremely simple, and the other one is extremely long and convoluted. So remember the thumb rule to consider the two statements separately

    Decide the type of Questions- Value Question or Yes/No question

    Whether it is value question asking to find a numerical value (For Eg. What is the value of 5x?) and if you are able to find a specific value then that statement is sufficient.

    For a Yes/no question, a definite yes or a definite no is both considered sufficient. (e.g., is y an even number?). and the answer that is sometimes yes or sometimes no is not sufficient.

    Remember: The golden rule is a definitive answer is always sufficient. And that answer which may or may not be correct is not sufficient.

    Plug-in Smart Numbers

    Be smart about picking numbers when solving GMAT data sufficiency questions solve them by plugging in real numbers for the variables in equations that have algebraic answers, or questions that ask for the values of algebraic expressions instead of just the values of variables. Try using easy, whole integers that match the constraints of the question. Not to forget about negative integers, positive and negative decimals, positive and negative fractions, etc. when analyzing a data sufficiency question. The writers of GMAT many times generally pick positive whole numbers to plug into their equations.

    Don’t Calculate the Right Answers- asspecific Answers not required

    Remember not to waste your time trying to solve a problem because in data sufficiency one is not looking for specific answers. They are only looking for statements that contain enough information to find a specific answer.

    Take, for instance, a question asking “What is the value of y” and one of the statements is 24y + 34y = 1200, recognize that you can solve for y without taking the trouble of going through the entire process to solve that problem. Here you are just evaluating data sufficiency and so don’t have to go through the entire process of solving for a specific answer.

    Memorize the Answer Choices

    The five answer choices are always the same. Know them cold. If someone breaks into your residence at night, wakes you with a bucket of ice water, and demands that you recite the five DS answer choices, you should be able to rattle them off with no problem.

    Here are those five answer choices (exact wording):

    1. If you learn theses statements by the exact wording it will be easy to attempt such questions wherein “Statement 1 alone is sufficient but statement 2 alone is not sufficient to answer the question asked.”
    2. The second option states that “Statement 2 alone is sufficient but statement 1 alone is not sufficient to answer the question asked.”
    3. Third option reiterates that “Both statements 1 and 2 together are sufficient to answer the question but neither statement is sufficient alone.”
    4. Each answer unique “Each statement alone is sufficient to answer the question”.
    5. Last but not the least “Statements 1 and 2 are not sufficient to answer the question asked and additional data is needed to answer the statements.”

    That’s really all of the strategies you’ll need for Data Sufficiency. With adequate practice, one can take less time to complete because the answer choices are always the same and you are testing for sufficiency, not solving for one answer.



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