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What Makes the Quant on the Actual GMAT "Harder"? [#permalink]
02 Apr 2003, 21:29

Hi everyone,

As this is my first post on this forum, I'd first like to commend BB and the gang for setting up a such a helpful and informative site (not to mention great-looking).

My question is to all those who have taken the GMAT - what is it about the quant. section that makes it more 'difficult'? On many posts on this and several other GMAT boards, I've seen the same post-mortem comment over and over: math on the actual GMAT is somewhat tougher than the math presented in OG/PowerPrep, Kaplan, PR, etc.

I'm not looking for actual questions or anything like that, but I'd just like to get a feel for how it differs from the guides we're all studying from. Is it the wording or complexity (e.g. multi-stage problems)? The time it takes to solve them? Greater focus on probability/perms./combs.? Or just outright weird questions? I've done fairly well on quant on the practice tests so far (49Q and 50Q on PP#1 and PP#2) but I'm wondering if I'm overestimating my ability... please share your thoughts. Thanks.

1. The actual test is a strong stress -- we all are nervous (many books advise to relax, but they don't advise how to do so. I know people who took the test just for training; nevertheless, their hands were shaking after the ordeal).
2. The GMAT likes to give several unusual problems abruptly.
3. I myself had a couple of problems that have no right answers among options. They confused and disbalanced me much.

1. The actual test is a strong stress -- we all are nervous (many books advise to relax, but they don't advise how to do so. I know people who took the test just for training; nevertheless, their hands were shaking after the ordeal). 2. The GMAT likes to give several unusual problems abruptly. 3. I myself had a couple of problems that have no right answers among options. They confused and disbalanced me much.

Actual GMAT Math takes more calculations, besides they like to mix different types of problems. I myself got a problem which was a mix of coordinate geometry, geometry, probability, and also several problems, which required the knowledge of some tricks in order to solve them quickly without wasting time.

Actual GMAT Math takes more calculations, besides they like to mix different types of problems. I myself got a problem which was a mix of coordinate geometry, geometry, probability, and also several problems, which required the knowledge of some tricks in order to solve them quickly without wasting time.

Hm... it seems I got away quite easily..

I had only one probability problem and the rest were pretty much "normal"....

I think time limit and just how much depends on the score is what makes it difficult and stressful.

I got two probability problems, two statistics and about 3 problems which were quite unusual and difficult.

It does look like GMAT is mutating.

I think they are trying to prevent people from being able to run though all the possible kinds of problems and this way "solve problems in advance"

I heard some rummor about a GMAT prep course in China - New Oriental School that they have people who go to the test center every month and memorize the test questions. (Sounds like a fun job to me). This way they can then charge $4,000 for a course.

I think this is what ETS wants to prevent - people like this and as the result everybody has to pay...

I fully agree with BB on this one. There's no shred of doubt in my mind that GMAT math is getting progressively more difficult over time. I ran through both POWERPREP simulations and Kaplan's CATs and found the actual GMAT quant. more difficult. In hindsight, I think I might have gotten bogged down on some experimental quants. As a result, I was short of time near the end. Keep in mind that they might be taking the overall 'increased' difficutly of the quant section into account. I received 690 and got only 64th percentile on the quant. Sure, I did very well on verbal, but I'm still suprised. I'd love to know how ETS' score engine works. For example, does a 45 quant and a 45 verbal always mean a certain overall score (e.g. 700), or are the individual section scaled scores meaningless, and only the overall is relevant. I think ETS should provide more info regarding score calculation.

I also agree, I took the test today and noticed that I had 2 graphs on the quant section. As far as I knew, they didn't have graphs in the past. Regardless, I also felt like the quant on the exam was much harder than the test prep material. I used Kaplan's math workbook and GMAT 800, and the quant was still very difficult for me. I ended up with a 600 overall, 48% quant and 82% verbal. It's good enough for me to get into my progam, so I'm pleased. And it only took me 3 times taking it.

I wrote ETS about it and the difficulty to them is still the same, unless you can show proof, don't say it is, your scaring people who haven't taken it.

If you can show to that to them, write them at gmat@ets.org

One thing to note is the level of math ETS says it will test.

The difficulty does not depend on whether problem appeared before or not. E.g. if a graph question comes up and it has not ever been on the GMAT before - it does not mean that it is more difficult - it is just different/new. It may be but just as well may not. If you prepare using tests - then for sure it is more difficult, but if you prepare using textbooks and you review the level you need to, I don't think the "new" questions will be as difficult.