The quantitative section is probably the most notorious and daunting section of the GMAT exam. It can feel like you need to be a genius to get a good score, but really all you need is practice!
In this guide, I’ll explain what you need to prepare for the GMAT quant section and list the best resources for GMAT math practice. Last but not least, you’ll see my best study tips for the math section to help you achieve your goal score.
What’s Tested on the GMAT Quant Section?
Simply put, the GMAT Quant section tests your ability to analyze data and draw conclusions using reasoning skills. There are two types of questions on the GMAT quant: data sufficiency and problem solving.
The quant section tests your content and analytical knowledge of basic math concepts, such as arithmetic, algebra, and geometry. Contrary to popular belief, the GMAT quant section doesn’t test on advanced math concepts. Instead, you’ll be tested on how you apply your knowledge of basic math concepts.
What Do I Need to Prepare for GMAT Quant?
When you’re studying for GMAT quant, you’ll need a mix of practice and study materials, including GMAT-style practice questions, math content review, and full-length practice tests.
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It’s also vital that you use high-quality GMAT math practice resources so you don’t waste precious studying time. Below, I’ve listed the qualities to look for in your study materials for GMAT quant.
#1: Use the Same Format as the Real GMAT
The GMAT is an unique test with often confusing question formats. The more time you spend answering questions that test the same content and look the same as the real test, the more comfortable you’ll be on test day. You won’t have to waste any time wondering “Where do I submit my answer?” or “Where are the directions for this question?”
#2: Test the Same Content as the Real GMAT
The GMAT quant section tests on the following concepts: algebraic equations and inequalities, arithmetic, decimals, percentages, ratios, exponents and square roots, geometry and coordinate geometry, integers, factors, multiples, number lines, and variable operations. You need to make sure that you’re practicing all of the content included on the GMAT quant, without adding in anything extraneous or missing any areas.
#3: Be Computerized, If Possible
The GMAT is a computer adaptive test (CAT). Practicing with online questions will help you be more comfortable reading and answering questions on a computer before test day.
#4: Cover a Variety of Content Areas and Difficulty Levels
The GMAT is an adaptive test, meaning that it gets harder or easier depending on how well you’re doing. You should practice easy, medium, and hard questions so that you’re prepared for whichever levels of questions you may face.
Your GMAT quant practice question sets should include questions organized by topic, so that you can drill specific skills (e.g., coordinate geometry) that you need to work on. Drilling specific skills helps you target your practice and focus on one skill per practice section, so that you can truly master it before moving on to the next skill.
Official GMAT Quant Practice Materials
Official GMAT practice questions are written by GMAC, the same company that writes the GMAT, and are often real questions that have been retired from the actual test. Practicing with official GMAT Quant practice questions is almost always the best option, since you know they’ll be accurate representations of what you’ll see on test day.
This guide, written by GMAC, provides official GMAT prep focused on the quant portion of the exam. It includes sections that review the fundamentals of the math section of the GMAT, including algebra, geometry, and arithmetic concepts, as well as word problems. The guide includes over 300 practice questions with full answers and explanations to test your understanding, as well as full-length practice CATs.
This guide is a great resource for official practice questions, especially since the online companion lets you build personalized practice sets to hone in on specific skills. However, it doesn’t go into that much depth in its review of skills and isn’t suitable for test-takers who need substantial quant review. It’s also insufficient for students who are looking to test themselves at higher skill levels, since it includes a limited number of hard questions.
This online software gives you access to two full-length practice CATs, with the option of purchasing more. The software also gives you access to 45 GMAT quant practice questions and lets you sort the questions into the sets so that you can practice specific skills. You can also purchase extra question packs for an added fee from MBA.com.
Like the official quant review book, this program is a solid resource for official practice questions. It also has the very useful “Exam Mode” which will familiarize you with the exact format of the CAT. Unfortunately, the basic software doesn’t have a wide range of questions, and some of the answer explanations can be convoluted and confusing.
Unofficial GMAT Quant Books
In addition to the Official Guide for GMAT Quant Review, there are tons of unofficial prep books out there. These tend to have more extensive content review, but lower quality practice questions. Here are a few books that are worth looking into for their overviews of the quant section.
Manhattan GMAT Math Guides
These single-focus guides, which range in price from $14 – $26 on Amazon, will help you take deep-dives into the specific content areas that you’re struggling with. For instance, you can be a guide that focuses specifically on fractions, decimals, and percents, or on algebra strategy. Each guide also comes with access to six online CATs and additional online question banks that focus on the specific skill you’re working on.
Manhattan Prep guides are great because they provide in-depth instruction, so you’re really mastering the content knowledge required to solve each of the questions. However, they don’t contain as many practice questions as most competitors’ books (you’ll only get access to 25 online questions per skill), so they’re most useful when used in conjunction with the GMAT official practice materials and questions.
Kaplan GMAT Math Workbook
This book, which costs $13.38, offers comprehensive review for every part of the GMAT quant section, building up your skills as you work through it. It’s mostly focused on building your knowledge, and includes a lot of skill drills, rather than GMAT-style questions. This book is a nice option if you want to buy one resource that’ll take you through the basics of GMAT math.
However, this book doesn’t include many difficult questions and skips a few important math topics, so it’s not a good choice for people who are looking for a high score.
Manhattan Prep’s GMAT Advanced Quant
This book, which costs $15.49, is great if you need more advanced GMAT math practice to help you knock your quant score out of the park. This guide reviews more advanced concepts and offers you the opportunity to work on mainly hard questions. I wouldn’t recommend it for beginners or people who need more foundational review.
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Unofficial GMAT Math Practice Tests
Practice tests are an important way to measure your progress and build your stamina on all four sections, including the quant. Here are some full-length, free CATs that you can take to develop your skills. Lots of practice tests also offer answer explanations which will help you diagnose mistakes that you made and hone your GMAT math practice.
Veritas Prep offers one free GMAT practice test with explanations. If you’d like, you can purchase 6 more tests for $49. Veritas Prep tests have solid practice questions that are reflective of the actual GMAT and offer the option to take the test with the standard time constraints or with 50% or 100% extra time.
Manhattan Prep offers free access to one full-length GMAT online, which includes rigorous and accurate GMAT-style questions. However, this practice test doesn’t come with answer explanations, which severely limits its utility.
Kaplan offers two types of free online GMAT practice tests: self-proctored and instructor-proctored. For the self-proctored test, you’ll receive your scores and answer explanations to peruse at your leisure. For the instructor-proctored exam, you’ll get your scores, and then work with an instructor in real-time online to get answer explanations.
Despite extensive answer explanation, this practice test isn’t a great option for most students. Kaplan practice questions are OK, but you’ll notice that some are either a little different in format or a little off from GMAT core content. This resource can be helpful if you’d really like someone to walk you through a few questions and you aren’t planning to hire a tutor, but otherwise you should focus on other resources.
Unofficial GMAT Math Practice Question Banks
The GMAT quant section is notoriously tricky, so there are a ton of question banks out there with hundreds of GMAT math practice questions.
Nova’s GMAT Prep Course
This book, which costs $39.95, isn’t a question bank, strictly speaking, but it might as well be. This book is simply a collection of math problems with clear answer explanations. It’s a great resource if you’re looking for more GMAT quantitative practice questions, especially at harder difficulty levels. However, it does include a fair number of typos and misprints, which can be frustrating.
Tagged Question Banks in GMAT Forums
Beat the GMAT and GMAT Club are great resources for GMAT knowledge and, if you need it, emotional support as you go through the business school application process. Many users have uploaded question banks that they used to practice during their own GMAT prep, and can often help explain tricky questions.
You can search for tags in the forums like “quant questions” to find downloadable materials. Check out this list of question banks to get started.
Other GMAT Quantitative Practice Question Resources
In addition to the books and software listed above, there are a number of other resources that you can use to boost your GMAT quantitative practice.
Flashcards are a quick and easy way to build your fluency with formulas and rules you’ll see on the test. They can help you drill important skills at any time, in any place!
Magoosh GMAT Flashcards
Magoosh offers free online flashcards to help you practice GMAT math topics. You can download these flashcards online or as an app for iPhone or Android. They aren’t full-length GMAT questions, but rather drills that can help build your foundational knowledge.
GMAT Club Flashcards
GMAT Club flashcards are great for honing in on specific topics for each of the parts of the GMAT quant section. You’ll cover all of the math concepts tested on the GMAT in concise and easy-to-use cards.
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Like flashcards, GMAT apps are helpful for studying on the go, though they’re no substitute for full-length practice tests or drilling with official GMAT questions.
Veritas Prep GMAT Question Bank
This app by Veritas Prep lets you practice hundreds of realistic GMAT math practice questions and is 100% free. You can customize and create your own GMAT quizzes to work on skills that you’re struggling with. However, some users have complained about the confusing layout and frequency of crashes.
Prep4GMAT (or Ready4 GMAT) is a free app that has over 1,000 verbal and quantitative questions and explanations, as well as hundreds of flashcards and practice tests. It’s great for traveling, because you can download it on your phone. The app can be a bit buggy and some users report that it crashes frequently.
Economist GMAT Tutor App
The Economist’s free app covers every section of the GMAT with lessons and practice questions, and offers the Ask-a-Tutor feature, which helps put you in touch with live GMAT coaches. Unfortunately, the app doesn’t let you customize your prep, so you have to follow the prescribed lessons and question sets in order.
4 Key GMAT Math Study Tips to Help You Prep
Although having high-quality GMAT math practice practice resources is an important place to start, you also need to know how to use them effectively for high-impact prep. Check out our top study tips below:
#1: Practice Without a Calculator
You don’t get a calculator on the GMAT quant section, meaning you’ll have to do all of the arithmetic in your head. You absolutely must get practice doing these calculations by hand, so you should never use a calculator for your GMAT math practice. I know it can be frustrating, especially at first, but it’s vital that you get comfortable without a calculator or you’ll really struggle on test day.
#2: Analyze Your Practice Test Results to Target Your Prep
You can be much more efficient with your prep is use your practice tests to inform your studying. Practice tests will tell you the areas you’re doing well on and the areas that need work. For example, you might look at a practice test and realize you missed half of the exponent questions but only one geometry question. In that case, you probably need to spend more time studying exponents that geometry!
You can (and should) use your analysis to figure out which areas you need to spend the most time on, but don’t forget to review every section of the test. Getting all of the algebra questions on one practice test right doesn’t guarantee you’ll have the same success on the test itself.
#3: Familiarize Yourself With the Format of GMAT Quant Questions
The GMAT quant section only has two types of questions: problem solving and data sufficiency. Both, but especially data sufficiency, have their own unique style and quirks that you need to be comfortable navigating if you want to excel on the exam.
To that end, it’s vital you spend time familiarizing yourself with the format, features, and directions for these sections. Learn exactly what to expect and how questions will be phrased. The more familiar you are with the style of the questions, the more quickly and easily you’ll be able to answer questions.
#4: Drill the Basics
Contrary to many myths surrounding the GMAT, the quant section only tests basic math concepts that you’ll have covered in high school: pre-algebra, algebra, and geometry. What makes the GMAT math section challenging is the tricky ways it test you on these relatively basic concepts.
As such, you really have to have the foundational skills mastered to ensure you can tackle harder questions. Even if you consider yourself good at math, take the time to drill basic GMAT math skills until you’re able to quickly, easily, and accurately identify and execute the math you need to answer questions correctly.
Looking to make a study plan to get you ready for test day? Read our GMAT study plan to find out where to start.
Struggling with the Verbal section? Check out our guide to the GMAT Verbal section to brush up on your skills.
Want to learn more about the GMAT total score? Take a look at our guide breaking down what it is and what it means.