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Solving numbers related issues in GMAT
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Sayantani Barman

Study Abroad Expert

The majority of the students, especially non-engineer ones have been heard of explaining their issues with the quant section in GMAT. GMAT is indeed a tricky exam that is globally accepted for pursuing MBA. The quant section of GMAT has certain divisions one of which is the numbers section under the arithmetic heading. As it is commonly known by the MBA aspirants that the time allotted for each question is around 2 minutes. So, the student has to be very thorough with the knick-knacks and be aware of the easiest and fastest way of solving the problem. The numbers section is found problematic by some students and today we have come up with few points which when kept in mind during attempting the questions, will help the students solve them with ease.

Problems with choosing the number

One will come across certain questions in the GMAT quant section displaying variables, and to solve those one very probable way is to find numbers for deriving the solution. The immediate next question which arrives from the students is: ‘What is the way to pick numbers?’ and ‘Are there any good strategy to find good numbers?’ to streamline it, let us answer the second question – NO. There is no strategy to find good numbers to proceed with the problem. The reason is, numbers are problem-specific and one good number for a particular problem will result differently in another one. Though in some cases picking numbers can be a nice strategy but numbers are question specifics which means the nature of the question keeps on changing and is not constant. While one number is perfect for a particular question, it is totally the opposite in another one.

Clearing doubts about the term ‘numbers’

If you are somebody who is new to the whole concept of GMAT and obviously the GMAT quant section, then it is necessary to know numbers don’t mean only 1, 2, 3, 4, 5….. 10. If you are thinking alike then it is vital to know that the term number is an umbrella term where ¾ is also a number, and so is -5, 0, -1/7, a pie is a number, square root of 15 is a number, and more. In this sense, the categories of numbers will help you out.

Integers are … -4, -3, -2, -1, 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and positive integers are 1, 2, 3, 4, 5…. Negative integers are the counterparts of positive integers. Zero is neither a positive nor an integer. One of the most difficult things that the GMAT quant section will ask one to do is to count the positive integer. It might sound very easy and funny to you but the question might somewhat be like: ‘There are three girls in a blue dress, five boys in black trousers, four girls in pink skirts. How many ways can they stand in 7 rows, if ………?’ Still sounds funny? No right.

Fractions and decimals are two more terms that are parts of numbers and can be both positive and negative. Fractions include solely the rational numbers and decimals both rational and irrational. Number sense is the process of finding the best possible number of patterns to fit in a particular problem.

Problems related to percent

One commonly used number is 100 while solving percent problems in the GMAT quant section. Here, one step if followed will give the students an edge to solve the problem is – pick numbers like 500 or 1000 which the test makers have not guessed. The majority of students take up the number 100 according to which the questions are designed. A little out of the box thinking will reward students with easily bringing out round number percent. Another very tricky way to handle these kinds of problems is, going for the number which is a shade away from the obvious one and that will make it not too obvious to proceed with. Multipliers are another good way to handle percent problems in GMAT.

Dimensional Analysis in the GMAT Quant Section

Physics students will be familiar with this term. This states if different variables provide distinguishing quantities of different units then recognizing which combination will provide them with the correct answer is the way out. Let us take an example to explain it: if K is in units of miles per gallon, and O is units per miles then to derive the units of gallons the formula is: O/K. Any other combinations like – K.O or K*O will result in wrong answers. This point has been acknowledged by many for its method of keeping all the other questionable methods at bay. This will help the student pursuing GMAT to acquire the right answer by opting for the right method.

Understand the bait

As it has been already discussed that GMAT is a very tricky exam and its nature is much evident from the traps that it lay. The test makers of the GMAT quant section lay down some probable traps which are much anticipated. The saddening part is witnessing the students follow the trail blindly without realizing that the right answer lies somewhere else. But one optimistic factor among all these is, the student also get to learn from their mistakes and recognize exactly where the problem is and even after practicing what exactly went wrong. Few places where this trap is found are percent increase and decrease, fractions, exponent properties, and power, and even in some parts of algebra.

Refrain from choosing 1 as the value in the quant section of GMAT

Why are we asking to avoid the number 1 is: it has certain unique features to it which no other number has. All the powers of 1 are equivalent to 1 – this feature is booked by the number. If a situation comes where there are distinctions to be chosen among variables that are comprised of different powers and you choose 1, the power for all the other variables would become equal resulting in the hardship of which answers to be excluded. It is because of this reason that at times 1 is avoided.

But if you are looking for quick eliminations of answers then easy ones like 1 or 2 can be of good help. They will aid you in excluding the inessential answers and thereby fasten the solving of the GMAT quant section.