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Tips for Excelling in the GMAT Quant Section

The GMAT does not allow access to a calculator for the quant section of the exam.

For those who are not well-versed in math, taking the exam without a calculator may seem nerve-wracking. However, experts say, applicants can still excel in the quant section without the need for a calculator.

Scott Woodbury-Stewart, founder & CEO of Target Test Prep, recently offered a few tips on Fortuna Admissions for how to earn a high GMAT quant score without the need for a calculator.


On the GMAT, the quantitative reasoning section measures test takers’ ability to “reason mathematically, solve quantitative problems, and interpret graphic data,” according to

The section consists of 31 multiple choice questions and test takers are given 62 minutes to complete them.


Woodbury-Steward, of Target Test Prep, says that the GMAT quant section is conceptual in nature, meaning the questions for the most part won’t require a calculator.

“You may be asked to … Determine whether the standard deviation of a set is zero,” he writes. “You’ll never be asked to … Calculate the standard deviation of a set of numbers.”

Woodbury-Stewart says understanding the concept is key to excelling in the quant section.

“As you learn how to recognize which concept is being tested in a given question and how to apply that concept to efficiently answer the question, you’ll see that you don’t need a calculator after all,” he writes.


Practicing basic arithmetic and math function can give you an edge when it comes to the quant section.

“Although GMAT Quant doesn’t require complex calculations, you will need to perform some basic math to answer certain questions,” Woodbury-Stewart writes. “Force yourself to master basic operations, such as multiplication, division, addition, and subtraction, using pen and paper.”

The more practice you have, the better off you’ll be when it comes test time. And, according to Woodbury-Stewart, daily life offers more opportunities for practice than you might think.

“For example, if you need to figure out the sale price of a $175 item that is marked down by 15%, rather than using your calculator, write out the calculation,” he writes. “If you need to split a $250 dinner check 6 ways, again, write out the division by hand and do the calculation. The more you practice basic operations, the more prepared you’ll be to use them on the actual GMAT.”

Sources: Fortuna Admissions,

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