GMAT Prep

GMAT Tip: Diagnose Your Data Sufficiency Difficulties - Part III


GMAT Tip: Diagnose Your Data Sufficiency Difficulties - Part III

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This tip on improving your GMAT score was provided by David Newland at Veritas Prep.

In Parts I and II of this series, you learned about the hierarchy of Data Sufficiency answer choices and you learned how to diagnose your own mistakes along those lines to better embrace effective Data Sufficiency thought processes. In this final article in the series, you’ll learn how to act on that diagnosis.

Prescription for those who answer “too high” on the hierarchy:
Remember that if your answer is too high, this means you have overestimated the information that you have.

What this means is that you have likely made an assumption or forgotten to consider all of the possibilities.

Since the data show that you may have a tendency to forget these possibilities, you should emphasize the list of number properties. Write this list down and think about if for EACH data sufficiency question until it becomes automatic for you.

Number properties list:
Does it make a difference if I consider:
1) Positive values vs. Negative values?
2) Odd integers vs. Even integers?
3) Non-integers vs. Integers
4) The numbers 0 and 1

There are other ways to help catch yourself before you choose an answer that is too high on the list. One of these ways is to understand that the statements must have at least some agreement between them. The basic point is this: If the two statements disagree with each other completely, then you have forgotten to consider all of the possibilities. For example, if your analysis of statement 1 tells you “x is greater than 10” but your analysis of statement 2 tells you “x is negative,” you’ve done something wrong.

Just knowing that you have a tendency to make this kind of mistake can put you on the path to improvement! The prescription comes down to this: If you tend to answer questions “too high,” you need to slow down before you answer and consider the possibilities that might make a statement or statements NOT SUFFICIENT.

Prescription for those who answer “too low” on the hierarchy:
Frequently answering “too low” means that you are not paying enough attention to the “hidden facts” and other limitations that can work together with the information from the statements—thereby making a statement sufficient. In other words, you are not fully utilizing all of the information given as well as all of the implied limitations of the problem.

Write it out!
Remember that if you are answering “too low” on Data Sufficiency questions, it is because you are forgetting or not noticing the full value of the information you have. Make those Hidden Facts come out into the light! If it is a geometry question asking for a distance, write out “not negative” on your note board. Do not assume that you will remember this since you may have a tendency to sometimes forget this information.

Make sure you get the most out of each fact that you are given in the question stem. It is not just hidden facts we need to highlight. You also want to make a point of noting each fact that you are given in the question stem!

Rephrase the question!
Sometimes the reason people do not feel they have enough information to answer a given question is that they have not analyzed the question itself. Remember to rephrase the question itself to make it as useful as possible to you!

Just knowing you have a tendency to make this kind of mistake can put you on the path to improvement! The prescription comes down to this: If you tend to answer questions “too low,” you need to slow down at the beginning of the process and make sure that you note all of the information you have been given and that you analyze the question that’s asked. Focus on that question: How much information do you need in order to answer that particular question?

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