# Right Answer / Wrong Question

by on March 8th, 2010

The GMAT is notorious for many reasons.  As you continue to study with relevant books and materials, you’ll find that one aspect of the test will continue to frustrate you – getting the correct answer, but not answering the right question.

On problem solving questions in the Quant section, you’ll have to do some pretty hefty calculations.  While calculations themselves are relatively straight forward, the GMAT’s twists and turns can create frustration.  However, a few simple steps can help ensure you don’t fall for the trap.  Let’s take the following question:

In 2008, the profits of Company N were 10 percent of revenues.  In 2009, the revenues of Company N fell by 20 percent, but profits were 15 percent of revenues.  The profits in 2009 were what percent of the profits in 2008?

In business school you’ll be talking about the process by which a firm would experience reduced revenue but still manage to increase profits (hint: think off-shoring).  However, the qualitative side is irrelevant to this problem.

We jump into the problem to organize our data points.  In this case, it is best to pick a number to represent both revenues and profits at Company N.  Any good ideas on a good number to pick?  Let’s go with: Revenues = 100 and profits = 10 in 2008.  On test day, you’ll write these numbers down on your noteboard.  Then, the next step is to apply the 2009 changes to these figures.  In 2009, the revenues and profits were, 80 and 12, respectively.

Ok.  We have our figures.  Here is where we need to make sure we slow down a bit on test day.  Let’s look at our answer choices:

• 80%
• 105%
• 120%
• 124.2%
• 138%