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Data Sufficiencies Part 1 (Exam Overview and Question Types)

In this article, we’re going to discuss best practices for data sufficiency questions on the GMAT exam. You can either read this article or watch this GMAT technical mathematics video on YouTube. To make things easier to digest, we’ve broken the contents of the video up into 3 parts. In this segment, hosted by one of MyGuru's most experienced GMAT tutors, we will specifically discuss the frequency and format of data sufficiency questions and their strategic implications. In segments 2 and 3, we’ll work through examples of data sufficiency questions and provide a clear outline of the problem-solving process.

Question Frequency and Format

In the Quantitative Reasoning section of the GMAT exam, also known as the quant section, you will encounter a set of questions called data sufficiency. These questions constitute one of the two categories of questions in this section. Although the exact number of data sufficiency questions may vary, they typically comprise at least half of the total number of questions in the quant section. Usually, the quant section consists of 31 questions, which means approximately 15 of them will be data sufficiency questions. Consequently, your performance in data sufficiency questions will contribute to around 50% of your overall quant score.

The GMAT data sufficiency questions are specifically designed to assess whether you possess all the necessary information to arrive at a decision (Yes/No) or provide a precise answer to a given question (Value). Each question typically consists of five fixed answer choices, which correspond to the provided conditions that are sufficient to yield a conclusive response to the question.

Strategic Implications

Data sufficiency answer choices always remain the same, and their order remains constant. Thus, a key tip to improve your scores in data sufficiency questions is to commit the 5 answer choices to memory.

Typically, you are given 62 minutes to answer all 31 quantitative questions, which translates to an average of about 2 minutes per question. However, for more complex problems, such as those classified as 700-800 level questions, it may require a bit more time to arrive at an answer, usually around 3 minutes.

Additionally, be sure to approach these problems consistently to facilitate effective elimination. In other words, don't work through the conditions in the problem out of order—as this will confuse how you engage with your constant choices.

Finally, articulate relevant information in the problem as mathematically as possible. Expressing the problem algebraically will enable you to streamline your evaluation. 

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We hope this overview of the data sufficiency questions on the GMAT has empowered you to strategize with newfound confidence. Remember to read parts 2 and 3 of this article, where we will discuss the problem-solving process and work through a few examples.

To see all of our GMAT videos, please check out our YouTube playlist. For further information about MyGuru's proven GMAT tutoring approach, visit the GMAT prep page on our website. To learn more about the GMAT and grad school admissions in general, visit our GMAT admissions blog

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