GMAT Tips: Strategic Guessing on the GMAT
Today’s GMAT tip comes from Kaplan. In this article, Kaplan GMAT instructor Bret Ruber provides advice on how to guess strategically on quantitative problems:
Almost every GMAT quantitative problem can be solved in more than one way. Some of the various approaches to GMAT math questions include picking numbers, backsolving and doing the straightforward algebra. But you will encounter some GMAT problems that you are unable to solve. Because the GMAT is a computer adaptive test, this does not necessarily mean you are doing poorly. It just means that you will be faced with a problem on which you will need to guess and move on, which happens to everyone, since as you do better, the problems become more challenging. With only about two minutes per question in the quantitative section, it is important that you guess sooner rather than later on problems you do not know how to solve.
However, in such situations you are not completely out of luck. Just because you do not know a mathematical way to get to the answer, it does not mean that you cannot find the right an answer via some other means. Specifically, this is when your strategic guessing skills will come into play.
Because the GMAT is a multiple-choice test, if you come across a problem on which a must guess, you do not need to do so randomly. Instead, you should determine whether the answer must have any specific properties. Consider whether it is large or small, even or odd, positive or negative and so on. Once you have done this, eliminate any answers the do not conform.
Next, think about units. If your question asks for inches, and one answer is twelve times larger than another, there is a good chance the smaller of the two is a trap answer that gives the result in feet. The larger of the two would be the guess to make. Try to think about common traps like that, which may vary depending upon what type of problem you are facing.
Lastly, if you are on a ‘which of the following’ problem solving question, your best guess is choice ‘D’ or choice ‘E’ if you have no other clues as to which answer is correct. ‘D’ and ‘E’ are correct slightly more often than the other options on ‘which of the following’ questions and thus increase your odds of guessing correctly.
By making sure you always guess strategically when you guessing on a problem you give yourself a chance to answer a question correctly even if you do not know how to solve. Guessing strategically, therefore, can lead directly to a higher score. For more on strategic guessing, view our Kaplan GMAT Video on Strategic Guessing.
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