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Breakdown of GMAT Quant Concepts by Frequency

Magoosh’s very own Mike McGarry, GMAT/Math Teacher/Tutor/Foosball player extraordinaire, went through 5 different sets of Official GMAT Practice Material and tallied questions based on the subject material they tested to find the most common GMAT questions.

Here are the samples of Official Material he used to figure out the GMAT Quant breakdown:

1.GMAT Official Guide (12th Edition) Problem Solving Practice Questions (Pg. 152-265)*

2. GMAT Official Guide (12th Edition) Data Sufficiency Practice Questions (Pg. 272-351)*

3. GMATPrep Test #1

4. GMATPrep Test #2

5. Released past exam from GMAC, test code 14, from the 90s/early 2000′s

*Side note: we have video explanations for all of the practice questions in the Official Guide here.

Below, we have separate rankings for each set of material (#1, #2, #3, #4, #5 ), and at the end, a breakdown by concept type for all of the material combined, as well as a master chart that ranks the frequencies of all the material combined.

 

GMAT Official Guide (12th Edition) Problem Solving Practice Questions (Pg. 152-265)

Total Percentage
Arithmetic Percents 21 10.71%
Arithmetic Properties of Integers 18 9.18%
Arithmetic Descriptive Statistics 12 6.12%
Arithmetic Fractions 11 5.61%
Algebra Linear Equations, Two Unknowns 11 5.61%
Algebra Simplifying Algebraic Expressions 9 4.59%
Arithmetic Powers & Roots of Numbers 8 4.08%
Arithmetic Counting Methods 7 3.57%
Algebra Linear Equations, One Unknown 7 3.57%
Algebra Functions/Series 7 3.57%
Geometry Coordinate Geometry 7 3.57%
Word Problems Rate Problems 7 3.57%
Arithmetic Ratio & Proportions 6 3.06%
Arithmetic Decimals 5 2.55%
Arithmetic Discrete Probability 5 2.55%
Algebra Exponents 5 2.55%
Algebra Inequalities 5 2.55%
Geometry Quadrilaterals 5 2.55%
Geometry Circles 5 2.55%
Word Problems Interest Problems 4 2.04%
Algebra Solving Quadratic Equations 3 1.53%
Geometry Triangles 3 1.53%
Geometry Rectangular Solids & Cylinders 3 1.53%
Word Problems Work Problems 3 1.53%
Word Problems Mixture Problems 3 1.53%
Geometry Intersecting Angles and Lines 2 1.02%
Word Problems Profit 2 1.02%
Word Problems Sets 2 1.02%
Word Problems Measurement Problems 2 1.02%
Word Problems Data Interpretation 2 1.02%
Arithmetic Real Numbers 1 0.51%
Arithmetic Sets 1 0.51%
Algebra Solving by Factoring 1 0.51%
Geometry Polygons 1 0.51%
Word Problems Discount 1 0.51%
Word Problems Geometry Problems 1 0.51%
Algebra Equations 0 0.00%
Algebra Absolute Value 0 0.00%
Geometry Lines 0 0.00%
Geometry Perpendicular Lines 0 0.00%
Geometry Parallel Lines 0 0.00%

GMAT Official Guide (12th Edition) Data Sufficiency Practice Questions (Pg. 272-351)

Total Percentage
Arithmetic Properties of Integers 30 19.23%
Arithmetic Descriptive Statistics 13 8.33%
Arithmetic Percents 11 7.05%
Algebra Linear Equations, Two Unknowns 11 7.05%
Word Problems Rate Problems 9 5.77%
Algebra Inequalities 8 5.13%
Arithmetic Sets 7 4.49%
Arithmetic Ratio & Proportions 6 3.85%
Geometry Triangles 6 3.85%
Geometry Circles 6 3.85%
Arithmetic Decimals 5 3.21%
Geometry Coordinate Geometry 5 3.21%
Arithmetic Fractions 4 2.56%
Algebra Linear Equations, One Unknown 4 2.56%
Algebra Exponents 4 2.56%
Geometry Rectangular Solids & Cylinders 4 2.56%
Arithmetic Discrete Probability 3 1.92%
Algebra Functions/Series 3 1.92%
Word Problems Interest Problems 3 1.92%
Geometry Lines 2 1.28%
Word Problems Work Problems 2 1.28%
Word Problems Discount 2 1.28%
Word Problems Profit 2 1.28%
Arithmetic Real Numbers 1 0.64%
Arithmetic Counting Methods 1 0.64%
Algebra Simplifying Algebraic Expressions 1 0.64%
Algebra Absolute Value 1 0.64%
Geometry Quadrilaterals 1 0.64%
Word Problems Measurement Problems 1 0.64%
Arithmetic Powers & Roots of Numbers 0 0.00%
Algebra Equations 0 0.00%
Algebra Solving by Factoring 0 0.00%
Algebra Solving Quadratic Equations 0 0.00%
Geometry Intersecting Angles and Lines 0 0.00%
Geometry Perpendicular Lines 0 0.00%
Geometry Parallel Lines 0 0.00%
Geometry Polygons 0 0.00%
Word Problems Mixture Problems 0 0.00%
Word Problems Sets 0 0.00%
Word Problems Geometry Problems 0 0.00%
Word Problems Data Interpretation 0 0.00%

GMATPrep Test #1

Total Percentage
Arithmetic Properties of Integers 6 17.14%
Arithmetic Ratio & Proportions 4 11.43%
Arithmetic Descriptive Statistics 4 11.43%
Algebra Exponents 3 8.57%
Algebra Functions/Series 3 8.57%
Arithmetic Percents 2 5.71%
Arithmetic Powers & Roots of Numbers 2 5.71%
Word Problems Interest Problems 2 5.71%
Arithmetic Fractions 1 2.86%
Arithmetic Counting Methods 1 2.86%
Algebra Equations 1 2.86%
Geometry Intersecting Angles and Lines 1 2.86%
Geometry Triangles 1 2.86%
Geometry Circles 1 2.86%
Word Problems Work Problems 1 2.86%
Word Problems Sets 1 2.86%
Word Problems Measurement Problems 1 2.86%
Arithmetic Decimals 0 0.00%
Arithmetic Real Numbers 0 0.00%
Arithmetic Sets 0 0.00%
Arithmetic Discrete Probability 0 0.00%
Algebra Simplifying Algebraic Expressions 0 0.00%
Algebra Linear Equations, One Unknown 0 0.00%
Algebra Linear Equations, Two Unknowns 0 0.00%
Algebra Solving by Factoring 0 0.00%
Algebra Solving Quadratic Equations 0 0.00%
Algebra Inequalities 0 0.00%
Algebra Absolute Value 0 0.00%
Geometry Lines 0 0.00%
Geometry Perpendicular Lines 0 0.00%
Geometry Parallel Lines 0 0.00%
Geometry Polygons 0 0.00%
Geometry Quadrilaterals 0 0.00%
Geometry Rectangular Solids & Cylinders 0 0.00%
Geometry Coordinate Geometry 0 0.00%
Word Problems Rate Problems 0 0.00%
Word Problems Mixture Problems 0 0.00%
Word Problems Discount 0 0.00%
Word Problems Profit 0 0.00%
Word Problems Geometry Problems 0 0.00%
Word Problems Data Interpretation 0 0.00%

GMATPrep Test #2

Total Percentage
Arithmetic Descriptive Statistics 6 18.75%
Arithmetic Properties of Integers 4 12.50%
Arithmetic Ratio & Proportions 2 6.25%
Arithmetic Percents 2 6.25%
Algebra Simplifying Algebraic Expressions 2 6.25%
Algebra Exponents 2 6.25%
Geometry Coordinate Geometry 2 6.25%
Arithmetic Fractions 1 3.13%
Arithmetic Powers & Roots of Numbers 1 3.13%
Arithmetic Counting Methods 1 3.13%
Algebra Equations 1 3.13%
Algebra Linear Equations, Two Unknowns 1 3.13%
Algebra Inequalities 1 3.13%
Algebra Functions/Series 1 3.13%
Geometry Triangles 1 3.13%
Geometry Circles 1 3.13%
Word Problems Rate Problems 1 3.13%
Word Problems Discount 1 3.13%
Word Problems Measurement Problems 1 3.13%
Arithmetic Decimals 0 0.00%
Arithmetic Real Numbers 0 0.00%
Arithmetic Sets 0 0.00%
Arithmetic Discrete Probability 0 0.00%
Algebra Linear Equations, One Unknown 0 0.00%
Algebra Solving by Factoring 0 0.00%
Algebra Solving Quadratic Equations 0 0.00%
Algebra Absolute Value 0 0.00%
Geometry Lines 0 0.00%
Geometry Intersecting Angles and Lines 0 0.00%
Geometry Perpendicular Lines 0 0.00%
Geometry Parallel Lines 0 0.00%
Geometry Polygons 0 0.00%
Geometry Quadrilaterals 0 0.00%
Geometry Rectangular Solids & Cylinders 0 0.00%
Word Problems Work Problems 0 0.00%
Word Problems Mixture Problems 0 0.00%
Word Problems Interest Problems 0 0.00%
Word Problems Profit 0 0.00%
Word Problems Sets 0 0.00%
Word Problems Geometry Problems 0 0.00%
Word Problems Data Interpretation 0 0.00%

Released past exam from GMAC, test code 14

Total Percentage
Arithmetic Properties of Integers 7 13.73%
Arithmetic Ratio & Proportions 5 9.80%
Arithmetic Percents 5 9.80%
Arithmetic Descriptive Statistics 4 7.84%
Word Problems Sets 4 7.84%
Arithmetic Powers & Roots of Numbers 3 5.88%
Algebra Linear Equations, Two Unknowns 3 5.88%
Word Problems Rate Problems 3 5.88%
Arithmetic Fractions 2 3.92%
Arithmetic Counting Methods 2 3.92%
Algebra Exponents 2 3.92%
Algebra Inequalities 2 3.92%
Geometry Triangles 2 3.92%
Algebra Simplifying Algebraic Expressions 1 1.96%
Algebra Equations 1 1.96%
Algebra Functions/Series 1 1.96%
Geometry Quadrilaterals 1 1.96%
Geometry Circles 1 1.96%
Geometry Rectangular Solids & Cylinders 1 1.96%
Geometry Coordinate Geometry 1 1.96%
Arithmetic Decimals 0 0.00%
Arithmetic Real Numbers 0 0.00%
Arithmetic Sets 0 0.00%
Arithmetic Discrete Probability 0 0.00%
Algebra Linear Equations, One Unknown 0 0.00%
Algebra Solving by Factoring 0 0.00%
Algebra Solving Quadratic Equations 0 0.00%
Algebra Absolute Value 0 0.00%
Geometry Lines 0 0.00%
Geometry Intersecting Angles and Lines 0 0.00%
Geometry Perpendicular Lines 0 0.00%
Geometry Parallel Lines 0 0.00%
Geometry Polygons 0 0.00%
Word Problems Work Problems 0 0.00%
Word Problems Mixture Problems 0 0.00%
Word Problems Interest Problems 0 0.00%
Word Problems Discount 0 0.00%
Word Problems Profit 0 0.00%
Word Problems Geometry Problems 0 0.00%
Word Problems Measurement Problems 0 0.00%
Word Problems Data Interpretation 0 0.00%

Breakdown by concept type, all material

Total Percentage
Arithmetic Properties of Integers 65 13.83%
Fractions 19 4.04%
Decimals 10 2.13%
Real Numbers 2 0.43%
Ratio & Proportions 23 4.89%
Percents 41 8.72%
Powers & Roots of Numbers 14 2.98%
Descriptive Statistics 39 8.30%
Sets 8 1.70%
Counting Methods 12 2.55%
Discrete Probability 8 1.70%
Algebra Simplifying Algebraic Expressions 13 2.77%
Equations 3 0.64%
Linear Equations, One Unknown 11 2.34%
Linear Equations, Two Unknowns 26 5.53%
Solving by Factoring 1 0.21%
Solving Quadratic Equations 3 0.64%
Exponents 16 3.40%
Inequalities 16 3.40%
Absolute Value 1 0.21%
Functions/Series 15 3.19%
Geometry Lines 2 0.43%
Intersecting Angles and Lines 3 0.64%
Perpendicular Lines 0 0.00%
Parallel Lines 0 0.00%
Polygons 1 0.21%
Triangles 13 2.77%
Quadrilaterals 7 1.49%
Circles 14 2.98%
Rectangular Solids & Cylinders 8 1.70%
Coordinate Geometry 15 3.19%
Word Problems Rate Problems 20 4.26%
Work Problems 6 1.28%
Mixture Problems 3 0.64%
Interest Problems 9 1.91%
Discount 4 0.85%
Profit 4 0.85%
Sets 7 1.49%
Geometry Problems 1 0.21%
Measurement Problems 5 1.06%
Data Interpretation 2 0.43%
Total 470 100.00%

Ranked by frequency, all material

Total Percentage
Arithmetic Properties of Integers 65 13.83%
Arithmetic Percents 41 8.72%
Arithmetic Descriptive Statistics 39 8.30%
Algebra Linear Equations, Two Unknowns 26 5.53%
Arithmetic Ratio & Proportions 23 4.89%
Word Problems Rate Problems 20 4.26%
Arithmetic Fractions 19 4.04%
Algebra Exponents 16 3.40%
Algebra Inequalities 16 3.40%
Algebra Functions/Series 15 3.19%
Geometry Coordinate Geometry 15 3.19%
Arithmetic Powers & Roots of Numbers 14 2.98%
Geometry Circles 14 2.98%
Algebra Simplifying Algebraic Expressions 13 2.77%
Geometry Triangles 13 2.77%
Arithmetic Counting Methods 12 2.55%
Algebra Linear Equations, One Unknown 11 2.34%
Arithmetic Decimals 10 2.13%
Word Problems Interest Problems 9 1.91%
Arithmetic Sets 8 1.70%
Arithmetic Discrete Probability 8 1.70%
Geometry Rectangular Solids & Cylinders 8 1.70%
Geometry Quadrilaterals 7 1.49%
Word Problems Sets 7 1.49%
Word Problems Work Problems 6 1.28%
Word Problems Measurement Problems 5 1.06%
Word Problems Discount 4 0.85%
Word Problems Profit 4 0.85%
Algebra Equations 3 0.64%
Algebra Solving Quadratic Equations 3 0.64%
Geometry Intersecting Angles and Lines 3 0.64%
Word Problems Mixture Problems 3 0.64%
Arithmetic Real Numbers 2 0.43%
Geometry Lines 2 0.43%
Word Problems Data Interpretation 2 0.43%
Algebra Solving by Factoring 1 0.21%
Algebra Absolute Value 1 0.21%
Geometry Polygons 1 0.21%
Word Problems Geometry Problems 1 0.21%
Geometry Perpendicular Lines 0 0.00%
Geometry Parallel Lines 0 0.00%

 

The categories

The list of concepts tested on the quantitative section is from GMAC, which you can see on page 107 of the Official Guide (either 12th or 13th edition). It isn’t perfect– “Integer Properties” is a wide area of knowledge, whereas something like “Circles” is very specific.

Observations

  • Based on the master chart alone, Arithmetic is the clear “winner”, while Word Problems and most Geometry question are ranked much lower.
  • Though the rankings vary slightly from chart to chart, there are no extreme outliers in terms of  the sets of data– even the old released exam is quite consistent with all of the other exams.

 

“Well, I guess I’ll just throw parallel/perpendicular lines out the window, then”

NO. For the sake of simplicity and accuracy in reporting absolute frequency, we’ve only assigned each question to one concept. This means that even though GMAC lists “Perpendicular lines” as a topic tested on the GMAT, and we have 0 questions marked as pertaining to that topic, that certainly doesn’t mean the idea of perpendicular lines did not come up at all on all of the exams. It certainly appeared, but often in questions that were better categorized, overall, as “Coordinate Geometry”, or “Intersecting Angles and Lines”.

 

Takeaways

We hope this serves as a guideline for the relative frequency of math topics tested on the GMAT to help you decide how to focus your time! In Magoosh practice, you can set up customized practice sessions to focus on specific concepts, as well as review your performance on individual concepts to identify your weak spots using our Review tool.

Let us know whether you find this type of breakdown helpful, and whether you have any questions about any of the information above! :)

About the Author

Margarette Jung graduated from UC Berkeley as a double major in English Literature and Linguistics. She has been teaching for large companies and tutoring privately for more than 5 years. Follow her on Google+!

7 Responses to Breakdown of GMAT Quant Concepts by Frequency

  1. Suresh October 27, 2012 at 5:18 pm #

    Good job! Mike.

  2. veeramani June 21, 2012 at 6:28 am #

    it would be nice,even if u had video explanation for verbal SECTION of OG guide,it would be very helpful for non native speakers like us. hope we will see soon

    • Margarette
      Margarette June 21, 2012 at 4:40 pm #

      Hi, Veeramani

      We’re working on getting those up as soon as possible :) We’ll post about it on the blog when they’re ready to go!

      Best,
      Margarette

  3. veeramani May 23, 2012 at 11:07 pm #

    good work, really help full and after completing my OG and few practice tests. i noticed that mostly problems related to coordinate geometry and probability are getting wrong. rite now i just want to improve in coordinate geometry. someone suggested in your blog that when one figured out his week area, first he shoulld be well versed with fundamentals of the topic n next, practice number of problems ranges easy to moderate. but am not finding practice problems regarding co ordinate geometry(real gmat problems). i just had og and manhattan strategy guides, so pls suggest me what to do.and first of all just tell me 1) what are the testing areas in co ordinate geometry(types of questions frequently comes)
    even am getting wrong in DS questions, generally apart from approach what will be helpful in getting problems correct(fundamentals or way i look at the problem or getting clear idea how DS OR on what it tests). the thing is if am out from this prob am almost done with math.and sure i will get 50+ in quant

    • Mike
      Mike May 24, 2012 at 11:22 am #

      Veeramani: I would recommend signing up for the Magoosh product: that’s where you’ll find all our questions on coordinate geometry. I see that, about a week ago, you signed up for the free trial but only tried a couple questions: that where you will find the questions, but now you need to sign up for the product to get there. We have a series of video lessons explaining everything you need to know about coordinate geometry, and another series explaining all the strategies you need for DS. Inside the Magoosh product is where you will find everything you are seeking. I hope this helps.
      Mike :-)

  4. Komal May 18, 2012 at 12:20 pm #

    Wow, this is quite interesting! Thanks!

    • Margarette
      Margarette May 18, 2012 at 12:24 pm #

      We’re glad you like it, I’ll pass your compliments along to Mike! :)

      Best,
      Margarette


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