For every five hours of studying combinatorics-type questions, the average GMAT student increases their chances of being able to correctly answer a question type that is found only on the very difficult end of the GMAT spectrum. Meanwhile, the same student will have to compute hundreds of basic computations without the aid of a calculator. For students who know how to quickly do these computations, they are rewarded with extra minutes that can be spent double-checking their work and critically thinking about whether their answers make sense. As BenGMAT Franklin might say- a second saved is a second earned on the GMAT… but it doesn’t matter if those extra seconds come from being faster at doing combinatorics questions or quicker at computations. So check out these five math tricks, learn the ones that you like, and practice them daily to give yourself some extra time to finish off that 37th and final quant question.
Note: like everything else on the GMAT, being able to do something and being able to do something QUICKLY are two different tasks. If you like any of the following tricks, make sure you know it inside and out before you try using it during your test.
1. Add or Subtract 2 or 3 Digit Numbers
To add numbers that aren’t already a multiple of ten or one-hundred, round the number to the nearest tens or hundreds digit, add, and then add or subtract by the number you rounded off. Do the opposite when subtracting.
144 + 48 = 144 + 50 – 2 = 192
1385 – 492 = 1385 – 500 + 8 = 893
This math trick comes down to the order of operations- adding and subtracting occur in the same step and can happen in either order. Like many other computation tricks, this one comes down to replacing one tricky computation with two simpler ones.