How Do I Improve My Quantitative Skills?


Do you remember your high school teachers telling you that you’d use math one day in the real world? They were right! Both the GRE and the GMAT feature a quantitative section. So, if you have one of the tests in your future, you may be wondering how you can improve your quantitative skills. Let’s dive in!

quantitative business skills

Quantitative reasoning is the ability to apply math concepts to analyze real-world math problems. During your online MBA, you will be expected to analyze numerical data to solve business scenarios, ranging from corporate budget analysis to start-up fees. For example, an owner of a coffee shop will need to think about how many residents live within their city, how many pounds of coffee were consumed last year, and the population increase to project how many pounds of coffee they will most likely sell this year. This will prevent a business from purchasing too much inventory.

If you earned an undergraduate business degree or have business work experience, you have most likely already encountered these problems in either case studies or consulting projects. It’s important that you tap into the knowledge you already have when completing the quantitative section of the GRE or GMAT.

Many students struggle with test anxiety, but you can improve your score on the quant section of the test with these study tips.

Brush up on Your Basic Math Skills

Much of the test covers information you most likely learned in high school or even before. This is great news because it’s really not that difficult, but it also means you may be a bit rusty. Arithmetic, algebra, and geometry concepts are covered. You should look over the steps to PEMDAS, how to solve inequalities and graph functions, and the volume and area equations for 2D and 3D shapes. If you know a high school student, volunteer to help with their homework. This will be a win-win, as they have adult support, and you can refresh your memory as you work through their homework problems or test reviews alongside them. Graduate students will also utilize basic math skills in their accounting and finance courses.

Plug It In

If the question asks you to solve an unknown variable, you should work smarter, not harder. Plugin the answer choices for the variable. Start with the answer choice you think might be correct. If you’re really not sure, start with the answer choice that has a value in the middle. After plugging in this answer, you will at least know if you need a larger or smaller quantity. This trick can help you solve problems by working your way backward, rather than having to know every step to work out the problem.

quant graph

Draw It Out

On graphing problems, first plot your points. Now, you will have a visual representation to look at when comparing answer choices. On questions with ratios, drawing a picture can help you evaluate if your answer is reasonable.

Process of Elimination

Read the question very carefully. Standardized tests often try to trick students. Pay particular attention to words such as EXCEPT or NOT. Mark out any answer choices that you know couldn’t possibly be the answer. Use estimation and reasonableness to determine if the answer could possibly be correct. The more answer choices you can eliminate, the higher your odds of getting the question right.

Time is Precious

Time management is a skill you’ll need to acquire in grad school and also applies to your test-taking strategy. On the GMAT, you’ll have 62 minutes to answer 31 quantitative reasoning questions. Don’t spend too much time on a really difficult question, especially if you’re not sure how to work the problem. This will waste time, and one common issue test takers encounter is running out of time or feeling rushed. Don’t leave any questions unanswered, though, because then you will definitely miss it. Select the answer choice you think may be correct and move on to problems you know how to solve, so you can get as many points as possible. You can always return to the trickier questions if you have time left over at the end of the section.

Action Plan

study quant

To improve your quantitative skills, the name of the game is to start studying early and study often. Just as you wouldn’t want to wing a big business presentation, you also shouldn’t go into the GRE or GMAT without adequately preparing. First, schedule in your study time like it is your job. Next, is to find the right tools to brush up on your quantitative skills. (And when you are ready, work on your writing and verbal skills.) Luckily, the internet has many preparation tools available, including video tutorials, practice tests, and reputable study guides.

Khan Academy

If you want to refine your math skills without spending a penny, check out Khan Academy. Qualified instructors teach short videos, and then you have the opportunity to practice solving problems through quizzes throughout the unit and testing all of your knowledge by completing a unit test. Lessons are available by skill, such as equations with variables on both sides, dividing line segments, and proportional relationships, so you can choose to complete the ones you need a refresher lesson on.


Kaplan offers a free full-length GMAT practice test. This will help you get a baseline score, so you see areas where you need to improve. Upon completion of this test, students will receive a detailed report of their strengths and weaknesses and gain access to two weeks of instructional videos and additional study materials.

Graduate Management Admission Council

The official GMAT website is your source for online registration for your test date, learning more about how the exam will be scored, and receiving answers to questions you may have regarding procedures for the day of testing. The GMAT features an online exam option, so students can test in the comfort of their homes. Unofficial scores will be available immediately following the test, and official score reports will be sent within seven days of testing.

Whether you love it or hate it, math is inevitable if you are pursuing a business career. Strengthening your quantitative skills can help you be successful when taking the GRE or GMAT, throughout your grad school courses, and in a corporate setting. It is important to interpret numerical data, so you can confidently make decisions that will advance your goals.