What is a GMAT Data Sufficiency Question?Of the quant question types on the GMAT, Data Sufficiency (DS) questions very well may be the most feared by new GMAT students. Even though you don’t need to calculate a “numerical” answer for a DS question,
successfully solving these questions takes a combination of quantitative knowledge, critical thinking, and analytical skills. The good news is that after reading this article, you will see that DS questions do not actually need to be feared.
Now, you may be wondering, what exactly is a Data Sufficiency question?
What Are GMAT Data Sufficiency Questions?Data Sufficiency questions constitute about one-third of the quant questions on the GMAT. So,
of the 31 questions on the GMAT quantitative section, you can expect to see 10-12 DS questions. Thus, when preparing for the GMAT, spending a fair amount of time mastering this question type will be an investment that pays big dividends.
At the most basic level, a Data Sufficiency question begins with a question stem that contains a question and some optional information followed by two statements (Statement One and Statement Two). Your job is to determine whether you have enough information to answer the question in the stem.
DS questions are one way that the GMAT tests your ability to use logic and decision-making skills in a mathematical setting. A DS question is a blend of math and information processing, a tough combination, especially when you’re taking an intense exam and you’re in a time crunch.
If you’re a bit nervous so far, rest assured: With the right approach and a healthy dose of practice, GMAT Data Sufficiency questions can become not only something you excel at but also a question type that you are happy to see on test day.
Before we explore the various types of Data Sufficiency questions, let’s start by taking a look at the 5 standard answer choices that are given for every DS question.
The Data Sufficiency Answer ChoicesData Sufficiency questions have 5 possible answer choices: A, B, C, D, and E. These answer choices are the same for every DS question, so memorizing them will save you valuable time on the GMAT. The answer choices are as follows:
- Answer A: Statement (1) ALONE is sufficient, but statement (2) alone is not sufficient to answer the question asked.
- Answer B: Statement (2) ALONE is sufficient, but statement (1) alone is not sufficient to answer the question asked.
- Answer C: BOTH statements (1) and (2) TOGETHER are sufficient to answer the question asked, but NEITHER statement ALONE is sufficient to answer the question asked.
- Answer D: EACH statement ALONE is sufficient to answer the question asked.
- Answer E: Statements (1) and (2) TOGETHER are NOT sufficient to answer the question asked, and additional data specific to the problem are needed.
How to Analyze GMAT Data Sufficiency QuestionsTo see how we can analyze GMAT Data Sufficiency Questions, let’s take a look at an example.
The following DS question provides a question stem in the form of a brief question. The two statements that follow the question provide information that may or may not be enough for you to be able to definitively answer that question. Let’s get started.
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