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Types of Questions on the GMAT Quant Part

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Types of Questions on the GMAT Quant Part [#permalink] New post 26 Nov 2012, 05:25
I have all this material to cover for Quant (5 strategy guides) and it seems I don't have the necessary time to study all of it very well.
Which types of questions are the most likely to be tested?

For example, I have read that's it's quite unlikely that there will be more than 1 combinatorics question on the exam. At the same time I have a really tough time understanding this area. So if it's the case that there will most likely only be 1 question, then I might as well skip this section altogether and not focus too much time on it.

That said, which are the areas that I should focus on. I believe a number of word problems will be there. What else?

Could someone provide a rough breakdown of the number of questions (out of the 37) that will come from each field? For example 5 q algebra, 5 questions word problems, 5 questions divisibility, 2 q probability and combinatorics etc.

That would really help me in arranging my studying time wisely.

Thanks!
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Re: Types of Questions on the GMAT Quant Part [#permalink] New post 26 Nov 2012, 08:27
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Sadly, it's not possible for anybody (including, I suspect, the test-writers themselves) to give you an accurate, simple breakdown of the question distribution. Many of the questions on the GMAT are difficult to categorize, since a single question can cover several topics (it isn't unusual to see probability mixed with number properties or geometry mixed with ratios, for example). Even if we could categorize questions perfectly, it seems that the question composition differs substantially from test to test, partly because there seems to be some unpredictability built into the GMAT algorithm, and partly because you'll see some experimental questions that could come from any category.

So the useless answer is that you should be prepared for anything. :|

If you absolutely have to skip some topics, then I would probably spend less time on rates, combinations and permutations, probability, and overlapping sets. For each of these four categories of questions, you probably will only see one or two questions, and you might see zero questions from one of the categories if the GMAT gods are in the right mood. Then again, I've heard of GMAT test-takers who saw as many as five probability questions on a single test. That's extremely rare... but if you have to cut something out of your studies, these four categories would probably be the best areas in which to cut corners. I would recommend understanding the most basic variations in each of these topics so that you don't miss easy questions, but if your score goals are relatively modest, you probably don't need to master the hardest concepts in these categories.

The topics that are important, in my eyes: algebra (including inequalities, absolute values, exponents, certain word problems), arithmetic (including ratios, percents, roots, exponents, and more word problems), and number properties (factors, multiples, primes, remainders, etc.). About 2/3 of your questions will come from these three categories. You can usually expect to see somewhere around 5 geometry questions, so you probably want to spend at least some energy there, and it's usually worthwhile to spend a few minutes making sure that you understand the GMAT's favorite statistical terms (mean, median, range, standard deviation). Get as much exposure as you can to official GMAT questions so that you have a good sense of the GMAT's funny way of phrasing questions and combining concepts.

Sorry, I know that this is an unsatisfying answer, but the GMAT is a strange beast. Some people don't need to study much at all to achieve their score goals, but if you're like most of us, you'll find that the test really isn't friendly to test-takers who have limited time on their hands.

I hope this helps a little bit. Good luck with your studies!
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Re: Types of Questions on the GMAT Quant Part [#permalink] New post 26 Nov 2012, 09:08
That's a fantastic answer! Thank you!

By the way, I bought the "Advanced GMAT Quant" book from MGMAT. The problems there seem to be really difficult. Do you think these problems could be categorized as 750+ problems? Or even lower??
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Re: Types of Questions on the GMAT Quant Part [#permalink] New post 27 Nov 2012, 21:58
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It's awfully tough to accurately categorize questions with that sort of precision. Difficulty levels on actual GMAT questions are determined by testing: if a huge percentage of test-takers miss a certain question, that means that the algorithm will consider it a hard question. And sometimes, our perception of difficulty really doesn't match the actual statistical difficulty of a question. So I'm not sure that we can accurately distinguish between, say, 700-level and 750-level questions.

In any case, the hardest MGMAT questions are really, really nasty. If you can get half of their "700-800 level" questions right, you're doing incredibly well. The style isn't quite the same as the actual test (MGMAT questions tend to be wordier and more step-intensive than GMATPrep questions), but they'll give you one heck of a good workout.
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Re: Types of Questions on the GMAT Quant Part [#permalink] New post 28 Nov 2012, 06:51
GMATNinja wrote:
It's awfully tough to accurately categorize questions with that sort of precision. Difficulty levels on actual GMAT questions are determined by testing: if a huge percentage of test-takers miss a certain question, that means that the algorithm will consider it a hard question. And sometimes, our perception of difficulty really doesn't match the actual statistical difficulty of a question. So I'm not sure that we can accurately distinguish between, say, 700-level and 750-level questions.

In any case, the hardest MGMAT questions are really, really nasty. If you can get half of their "700-800 level" questions right, you're doing incredibly well. The style isn't quite the same as the actual test (MGMAT questions tend to be wordier and more step-intensive than GMATPrep questions), but they'll give you one heck of a good workout.


Thank! By the way did you really get a 51-48 Q-V! Wow! Congrats!
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Re: Types of Questions on the GMAT Quant Part [#permalink] New post 28 Nov 2012, 16:20
Thanks, elgreco1! I eventually got an 800/51Q/51V, but that result doesn't display on my profile for some reason. It's all a lot less impressive than it sounds, though--I've been teaching the GMAT in some form or another for more than a decade, so I've had literally thousands of hours of exposure to the test. I have a feeling that a lot of people would ace the test if they spent this much time with the GMAT, so I'm definitely not special! :)
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Re: Types of Questions on the GMAT Quant Part   [#permalink] 28 Nov 2012, 16:20
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