12 Steps to Achieving a Top GMAT Math Score

12 Main Steps to Increase your math score

  • Start with the basics: memorize all the glossaries and formulae until they are second nature.
  • Formulate a plan with dedicated math hours per day, per week, per topic and per test category.
  • Practice with each separate and related math conceptual area and sub-area, focusing on ONE at a time. Do NOT move on until you achieve your targeted proficiency level.
  • If you start studying 2 or 3 months before your scheduled exam date, do NOT time yourself initially as it may negatively impact your confidence level. Instead, after solving a problem, compare your solution to the one in the book, stop for a moment and think about other approaches you could have taken or intermediate steps you could have avoided to get to the same answer choice.
  • Write down the type of mistakes you made while practicing. Scan through the list of your common errors each time before you start to practice a series of problems. This will help to reinforce the correct approach in your mind.
  • Start with Problem Solving first to build or rebuild a solid math foundation. Master it. Then go on to Data Sufficiency.
  • When working on Data Sufficiency problems ask yourself, "Is the answer definitive with ONLY one result?" If yes, then ask yourself, "Which condition or combination of the conditions will lead to this ONE result." Do not get confused with the question "Can this problem be solved based on the conditions given?" Often times, the answer can be derived based on the conditions; however, multiple answers can be derived, not the single result the Data Sufficiency question is typically asking for.
  • After you've studied all the conceptual topics and finished a good number of practice problems related to those topics, start to time yourself and try to finish 37 questions in one go WITHOUT a break. If you are doing well, try to finish 40 questions at one time WITHOUT a break. Continue to increase number of questions you work on while keeping the same time span.
  • Take a mock computer adaptive test and focus only on math. Take another one.
  • Take an entire mock computer adaptive test with the scheduled breaks just as on the real test.
  • Practice, practice, practice! Consult with expert instructors when you need help!
  • You will achieve your targeted math score!

Additional Tips:

*Be aware of the relative weight the GMAT exam places on topics. Topics such as number properties and algebra come up again and again-master these topics before spending time on less commonly tested areas such as probability.

*Train yourself to avoid unnecessary calculations, particularly on Data Sufficiency problems. Remember that it is enough to know that a solution can be derived, whether or not you know the actual solution.

*Take a 30-question quiz on each topic – Number Properties, Algebra, Word Problems, Geometry.

*Identify whether you need to work on your concept building or Improving the process to solve questions. If you score less than 60% on a topic, you will have to work on your conceptual gaps. Therefore, you need to revisit the various concepts & formulas and then learn how to solve questions using these concepts by practicing 15-20 questions. If you score between 60-85% on a topic, you will need to work on correctly applying the numerous concepts you have acquired. Learn how to solve them systematically, and then practice 10-15 questions to solidify your learning.

It is important that you do these topics in the order mentioned below because topics in Quant are inter-dependent and hence it is important to follow this order.

Data Sufficiency Tips

Here are a few points that will help you approach data sufficiency questions better:

Write out all the important information in the question stem, whether it be certain constraints (integer, pos/neg etc.), equations, or the actual question. This helps avoid silly mistakes.

*Always break down and rephrase any equations, inequalities, fractions etc. For example, try to write expressions with exponents so that all the bases are the same, or whenever you see a sum with a root contained in it, try to multiply by its conjugate.

*Always translate word problems into an algebraic equation. There will most likely be an opportunity to break this equation down further and rephrase the question. This skill is key as it saves time in computing the two statements.

*Never try to prove a statement to be sufficient. Always try to prove insufficiency. Never make assumptions. On most questions where there aren’t any constraints given, people sometimes still assume some constraints and thus only test integer cases. By paying attention to what is given and what is NOT given, you can find the correct answer on a lot of questions.

*Never eliminate a statement just because you "feel" the statement is insufficient. Especially with quadratic expressions, people assume the data is insufficient since they can’t find a single solution. This is a big mistake. Always finish your calculation, because you don’t want to spend a lot of time on a question and end up being wrong just because you skipped the last step(s) of the calculation.