The Quantitative Section of the GMAT
The quantitative section of the test is one of two sections that together determine the headline GMAT score that is required by so many Masters-level programs in business. This section contains 31 questions in 2 distinct categories, and must be completed in 62 minutes.
Problem-Solving, or PS questions, are designed on the American multiple-choice model. Each question has 5 answer choices, multiple solution paths, and a (hidden) difficulty score. The topics covered are listed extensively in the Official Guide, and in many places online. Indeed, the first phase of an independent study plan for the GMAT involves identifying and prioritizing these topics.
Data-Sufficiency, or DS questions, are less familiar to most people. They seem to be modelled after the American multiple-choice format, but in fact they more closely resemble GRE quantitative comparison questions. Your first smart move is to memorize the meaning behind each of the 5 answer choices. These meanings do not change from one question to the next. You'll also need a good framework for operating within the DS context. The most popular framework was "designed" by Manhattan Prep. But there's a far more efficient framework. Get it for free, before they copyright it.
USING THE SECTION PERCENTILE SCORES
Once you know the score gap you need to bridge, use the section-level percentile scores to guide your next move. These numbers together indicate if you should take a quant course, a verbal course, or both - or else some combination of course work, private tutoring, and self-study. There are several factors to consider, but the section scores are the first facts to take into account.
MAXIMUM RETURN ON INVESTMENT
Continuing with our example, where the score gap was 17 points, let's assume that the verbal score is in the 40th percentile, while the quant score is in the 50th percentile. Many people assume they need to improve their quant score, no matter what. And indeed it is possible to reach 600 in several ways. But studying quant won't always offer the best return on investment.
REVERSION TO THE MEAN
Actually, the lower the percentile result, the easier it will be to raise it. This technical feature of percentile rankings of normal distributions is called Reversion To The Mean, and it means that raising a 40th percentile score to the 50th percentile is easier than going from 50th to 60th. And so, in our example, it is advisable, in terms of return on investment, to study verbal at the 600 level.