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GMAT Tips from Veritas Prep

GMAT Tip: Diagnose Your Own Data Sufficiency Difficulties--Part II

GMAT Tip: Diagnose Your Own Data Sufficiency Difficulties--Part II

Photograph by Laura Doss/Corbis

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

As you learned in Part 1 of this series, Data Sufficiency answer choices fit into a hierarchy:


A  or  B



The trap-and-reward system for Data Sufficiency can be well-navigated by keeping that hierarchy in mind. In Part 2 of this series, you’ll learn more about how to use this chart and your own results to practice questions to diagnose your Data Sufficiency difficulties and learn to master this question type. Here are the steps to diagnosing your mistakes:

1) Gather information to make your diagnosis

Go back through all of the completed data sufficiency questions you can find, looking through your practice tests and the practice problems you have completed. Think about all the sources of data sufficiency problems that you have been using. (For example: problems from the Official Guide, Verbal Review, and GMAT Prep Pack 1.)

2) Use recent data

Problems you completed before you really began studying the quantitative section will not be as useful as problems that indicate your more recent abilities. If you missed a question a couple of months ago because you did not know a particular number property, that question will be less useful in diagnosing difficulties that relate specifically to data sufficiency. Once you have completed your diagnosis, those questions that you did very early in your studies can be attempted again, using the prescriptions below.

3) Analyze the data

Create two columns: “Too High” and “Too Low.”

• The “Too High” column represents those questions for which you think you have more information than you do. In other words, you mistakenly chose A or B when the answer was C, or you chose C when the answer should be E, and so forth. Make a mark in this column for each question for which your answer was “too high.”

• The “Too Low” column represents those questions for which you thought you had less information than you had. In other words, you marked choice E when it should have been C, or choice C when it should have been A or B, and so forth. Place a mark in this column for each question for which your answer was “too low.”

4) Diagnose your difficulties

Now count the questions in each column to see which mistake you made more frequently. In some cases, you will not need to count—one column will be noticeably more populated. Based on the type of mistake you are prone to making, follow the prescription below. If you find large numbers of mistakes in each column, you had better follow both prescriptions.

Merely analyzing your results in this way should help you recognize patterns in the mistakes you make. Since this diagnosis should be accompanied by a prescription, check back for Part 3 of this series to find a blueprint for how to use this diagnosis to become a Data Sufficiency expert.

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Veritas Prep GMAT Diagnostic Quiz

Created for Bloomberg Businessweek readers, this diagnostic quiz is designed to measure your ability level with 25 realistic GMAT questions. Click here to take the quiz and get instant feedback about your performance.

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