GMAT Algebra: Questions, Contents, Preparation Tips, and More


The GMAT Quantitative section tests Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry, and Word Problems. Algebra is one of the essential parts of mathematics and is tested in different ways on the GMAT as it helps business schools to get students with good levels of aptitude skills. Solving GMAT questions involving the algebraic analysis and quantitative reasoning is considered challenging by most of the aspirants, especially when these questions come in the form of Data Sufficiency. This is mostly due to a lack of knowledge of algebraic concepts. In this blog, you will get a detailed overview of Algebraic concepts tested on the GMAT exam.


1.GMAT Algebraic Concepts Tested on the GMAT
2.Basic Algebraic Terminologies
3.Important Algebraic Concepts tested on the GMAT
4.Important Algebra Formulas
5.Tips and Tricks to crack GMAT Algebra Questions


GMAT Algebraic Concepts Tested on the GMAT

You will see approximately 5-8 algebra questions in Problem-solving and Data Sufficiency formats combined. According to the GMAC, the following algebraic concepts are tested on the GMAT: Algebraic Expressions and Equations, Linear Equations, Factoring, Quadratic Equations, Inequalities, Functions, Formulas, and Measurement Conversion. It is vital to know all the important algebraic terminologies for a better understanding of the algebraic concepts tested on the GMAT.


Basic Algebraic Terminologies

Make sure that you know all the following algebraic terminologies before you move on to the next part:

Algebraic Terms Definition Examples
Variables A symbol that is used in mathematical or logical expressions to represent a variable quantity x, y, z, etc.
Constants A number representing a quantity assumed to have a fixed value in a specified mathematical context 5 is a constant in the polynomial expression 3x2 + 5
Terms A single mathematical expression. It may be a single number (positive or negative), a single variable (a letter), or several variables multiplied but never added or subtracted 3x2 and 5 are terms in the polynomial expression 3x2 + 6


Degree The highest power of a term or variable 2 is a degree of the polynomial expression 3x2 + 6
Coefficient The number in front of a term 3 is a coefficient of the term 3x2 in the polynomial expression 3x2 + 5
Algebraic Expression A symbol or a combination of symbols used in algebra, containing one or more numbers, variables, and arithmetic operations 2(3x – 7y)
Monomial an algebraic expression consisting of one term 2x, 3x2, etc.
Binomial an algebraic expression consisting of the sum or the difference of two terms 2x + 3y
Polynomial an expression of more than two algebraic terms, especially the sum of several terms that contain different powers of the same variable(s) 4x3 – 4xy + 7y3
Exponent A quantity representing the power to which a given number or expression is to be raised, is usually, expressed as a raised symbol beside the number or expression ab, 23, or 5x
Absolute Values The absolute value of a number may be thought of as its distance from zero. The absolute value or modulus of a real number x is denoted by |x|. It implies that the result will remain non-negative no matter whether x is positive or negative. |5| = 5

|-5| = 5

|0| = 0


Important Algebraic Concepts tested on the GMAT

GMAT Algebra Concepts Description Examples
Algebraic Equation A mathematical equation in which two expressions are set equal to each other 2(3x – 7y) = 10
Algebraic Inequalities A relation that makes a non-equal comparison between two mathematical expressions. 2x – 3 > 7y


5x2 + 2x £ 20

Linear Equations An equation between two variables that gives a straight line when plotted on a graph. It is represented by y = mx + b y = 2x + 3


2x – 3y = 5

Quadratic Equations A polynomial equation with the highest degree of 2. It is represented by ax2+ bx + c = 0 2x2+ 5x + 3 = 0
Functions An expression, rule, or law that defines a relationship between one variable (the independent variable) and another variable (the dependent variable). This relationship is commonly symbolized as y= f(x)—which is called as “fof x”—and y and x are related such that for every x, there is a unique value of y. That is, f(x) cannot have more than one value for the same x. If f(x) = 2x, then f(4) = 2 × 4 = 8
Sequences A sequence is a list of numbers in a particular order. The numbers in a sequence are called the terms of the sequence. The order of the terms in the sequence matters 2, 5, 8, 11, …


3, 6, 12, 24, …


1, , , , …

Absolute Value Equations Absolute value equations are equations where the variable is within an absolute value operator |x – 2|= 7


Important Algebra Formulas

  • (a+b)^2=a^2+b^2+2ab
  • (a-b)^2=a^2+b^2-2ab
  • (a+b)(a-b)=a^2-b^2
  • If ax^2+bx+c=0,then x=(-b±√(b^2-4ac))/2a, where Discriminant (D) = b^2-4ac. For x to be real, D  0.

Are You Planning to Prepare for GMAT?
Click Here to Book Your Free 1-On-1 Session with Experts

Tips and Tricks to crack GMAT Algebra Questions

The questions seen in the GMAT Quantitative section are similar to what one has once witnessed during high school. Having said that it is important to note that solving the GMAT questions is not the same as taking the high school GMAT math exam as approximately half of the questions come in the Data Sufficiency format which is very new for most of the GMAT aspirants.

Also, if you will solve the questions in the same conservative way as you used to during your school, you will end up wasting a lot of time resulting in an unfished section leading to a poor score. Thus, it is vital to understand the tips and tricks which are developed specifically for dealing with GMAT Quantitative questions. Some of these are as follows:

  • Use substitution – There are various ways to convert a complicated algebra problem into a simplified number problem by picking good numbers for unknown variables. Know and practice such techniques thoroughly to get the answer to the questions quickly and accurately. Understanding these techniques can help you turn the tables and improve your scores by a big amount in no time.
  • Guessing and Pacing – Solving every question which comes your way can be dangerous. You must let go of the question which you do not know how to solve. Don’t marry a wrong question. You should have a thorough understanding of your weak and strong areas. If you have spent around 1-2 minutes on a question and you are nowhere around getting the answer, make an educated guess and move on. You should also learn the Process of Elimination to increase the odds of picking up the right answer in case you have to make guesses on a few questions.
  • Scratch Paper – A lot of people use scratch paper while solving math questions. It is equally important to use scratch paper to solve verbal questions too. Doing calculations mentally adds to the fatigue factor and as a result will affect your pacing and accuracy.
  • In-depth Test analysis and Error log – It is a good idea to take a lot of practice tests and drills but doing it without maintaining an error log and analyzing the test thoroughly will not be much fruitful. Make sure that you analyze every question in your test. Learn how to minimize time on the questions that you get right but take more than 3 minutes.
  • Regular Practice – Make sure that you take at least 1 mock test every week and increase the frequency of test taking when you are close to the test date. Include GMAT Official tests (both free and paid ones) in your test plan. Take all the tests at the same time as your actual GMAT test time. Practice quant questions on an everyday basis.

Don’t get intimidated by Algebra questions on the GMAT exam. This is something that you have already worked through in high school. You just need to approach them differently when you see them on the GMAT. Follow the above-mentioned tips religiously and see an instant change in your scores. If you still have any doubts, feel free to talk to one of our GMAT Math experts today!


Manya – The Princeton Review Advantage

Manya – The Princeton Review offers end-to-end study abroad services encompassing admissions consulting services, test preparation, English language training, career assessment, and international internship opportunities to study abroad aspirants. Founded in 2002, Manya holds an impeccable track record of enabling more than 4 lac students to accomplish their study abroad dreams through its network of 47+ centers across India.

Manya has formed long-lasting global alliances with several market leaders in the education industry in order to maximize the benefits of its large service portfolio. Their list of esteemed partners and affiliations includes – The Princeton Review (TPR), Cambridge University Press (CUP), Cogito Hub, British Council, Tuding to name a few. Manya has also forged 600+ partnerships with international universities across top study abroad destinations.

Book your Free Counselling Session now!

Planning to study abroad?
Get free 1-on-1 counselling with our experts

Subscribe to this blog