Veritas Prep GMAT Tips: Keep It Simple, Silly!

By - Dec 31, 09:56 AM Comments [0]

Brian Galvin is the Director of Academic Programs at Veritas Prep, where he oversees all of the company's GMAT prep courses.

On the GMAT, things can quickly get confusing when quantitative problems use large or seemingly-abstract numbers, such as 12!, 2^17, or multi-item expressions, such as 3^(x-2). The more convoluted a value might seem, the easier it is to grow frustrated, lose focus, or simply consider the problem to be too difficult.

Before you get too frustrated, though, remember that the GMAT doesn't exist to see if you can calculate 2 to the 17th power. To keep things simple, consider creating a variable as a placeholder for that term so that you can perform the calculations that surround it without the distraction of the intimidating term. Consider:

12! + 12!/2 + 3(12!)/2

This item would look to be quite intimidating to calculate, and may lead to debate over whether any of the individual terms could be combined. (Does 12!/2 = 6! ... It does not, but the thought may present itself to a flustered test-taker). However, if you were to replace 12! with x, the calculation becomes much clearer:

x + x/2 + 3x/2 = x + 4x/2 = x + 2x = 3x

Simplifying the expression, and then substituting in 12! for x, allows you to keep it simple. Here, the value of the above expression is 3(12!), which should match much closer with the format of the correct answer choice, or provide an easier basis for calculation with the rest of the problem.

Veritas Prep offers online GMAT courses and in-person courses available in more than 90 cities around the world.

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