MLT Blog

Mastering GMAT Quant: Three Key Steps

By Mark Skoskiewicz

Mark Skoskiewicz is the founder of MyGuru, a provider of 1-1 GMAT tutoring in Chicago, New York, Boston, and online. Check out his post on Mastering the GMAT.

Many GMAT students are very intimidated by the quantitative section of the exam, as they haven’t taken a math class in a long time. So, what are some foundational steps you can take to begin to master the GMAT quant section?

#1: Fully embrace why it is (or may seem) difficult

Here’s why GMAT quant is or can seem difficult:

  •  You may not have studied math for a long time.
  •  You must work at a fast pace under intense time pressure with no calculator.
  •  There is a lot of math theory they could potentially test.
  •  There are lots of little traps meant to trick you in each question.
  • A minor calculation error will cost you.

Step #1 is simply to get comfortable with the above and begin to focus on overcoming these challenges.

#2: Learn how GMAT quant questions are designed

Here are some truths about GMAT quant questions:

  •  The actual math tested doesn’t go beyond advanced high school algebra.
  •  Also, GMAT questions are not even meant to test your high school math skills.
  •  Instead, they are intended to be little puzzles you must solve.
  • Any of the questions can be solved on the back of a napkin, but often require you to calculate numbers quickly in your head.
  • Performing well is a function of using the available math tools to evaluate options and design solutions to little puzzles/problems that are thrown at you. It’s not an intense math test.

#3: Begin embracing mental math

How do you build the ability to do quick calculations in your head? It’s a skill just like any other, developed in large part through practice. Here are some easy ways to practice:

  •  Look at the clock. Choose 2 or 3 numbers, and add, subtract, multiply, and divide them. Get comfortable driving to the answer as quickly as  possible.
  • When at a restaurant, always calculate the tip in your head.
  • When you are shopping online, figure out what the price of any given item would be if it was magically 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 35, or 45% off.
  • Finally, spend a little time each week browsing

For more tips and strategies visit

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