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GMAT Data Sufficiency


The other question-type is the famous, dreaded, Data Sufficiency. Here, you must determine whether you have enough information to answer the question. Sometimes, but not always, the question itself provides useful but incomplete information. Once you've digested this, you then consider two additional propositions and decide if one, both or neither of them provides the additional information you need. The answer choices are standardized based on the combination of propositions needed to correctly answer the question. Data Sufficiency is very tricky for the uninitiated, but because up to 15 question in the section are this type, your performance on Data Sufficiency will make or break your Quantitative score.

Let's see how Data Sufficiency works with the following sample question:

Two automobile manufacturers, Nash and Tucker, declared profits on the sales of their cars for the year 1998. Which manufacturer posted the greatest profit?

1. Nash's total cost per automobile is 78% of the sales price, and in 1998, it sold 250,000 automobiles.

2. Tucker's total cost per automobile is 85% of the sales price, and in 1998, it sold 200,000 automobiles.

A. Statement 1 BY ITSELF is sufficient to answer the question, but statement 2 by itself is not.

B. Statement 2 BY ITSELF is sufficient to answer the question, but statement 1 by self is not.

C. Statement 1 and 2 TAKEN TOGETHER are sufficient to answer the question, but NEITHER statement BY ITSELF is sufficient.

D. Either statement BY ITSELF is sufficient to answer the question.

E. Statements 1 and 2 TAKEN TOGETHER are NOT sufficient to answer the question. More data pertaining to the problem is necessary.

Tips: Data Sufficiency rewards a methodical approach.

Start with the question itself: what do we want to know? Answer: which manufacturer posted the greatest profit.

So we need information about both Nash's and Tucker's profits, right? Now look at Statement 1 BY ITSELF. Nash's total cost per automobile is 78% of the sales price, and in 1998, it sold 250,000 automobiles.

Does this tell you anything about Tucker's profit? No. So Statement 1 BY ITSELF is not sufficient. What answer choices can you eliminate? The first and the fourth.

Now let's repeat the process looking at Statement 2 BY SELF. Tucker's total cost per automobile is 85% of the sales price, and in 1998, it sold 200,000 automobiles.

There is no information here about Nash. So Statement 2 BY ITSELF is not sufficient. We can now cancel the second choice.

What's left? We have to look at Statements 1 and 2 TAKEN TOGETHER.

Nash's total cost per automobile is 78% of the sales price, and in 1998, it sold 250,000 automobiles AND Tucker's total cost per automobile is 85% of the sales price, and in 1998, it sold 200,000 automobiles.

Reading. The statements give us a relationship between cost and sales price for each company, but can we calculate actual figures for profit? No, because we don't have any real numbers to work with. Can we compare these relationships directly? Only if the sales prices are the same, and this we don't know! Statements 1 and 2 TAKEN TOGETHER are therefore not sufficient. Cancel out the third answer choice.

By elimination, we know the last answer choice must be the correct response. By now, you might be thinking that Data Sufficiency is a long, slow, painful process. But like any method, the more you practice, the faster you get.




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