When I was studying for GMAT, data sufficiency section was a nightmare for me. Data Sufficiency (DS) does not ask us to necessarily problem solve but, it asks us whether the given information is sufficient to solve the problem. So, why did I feel this topic as a nightmare?

We carry a preconceived notion that we need more things to be happy. We think we want more resources to solve our problems. We have not been creative enough to use the existing resources. This real-life notion affected my thoughts on data sufficiency section as well.

As I started solving more problems in the data sufficiency section, I discovered something interesting. DS wants us to interpret the given information in multiple ways thereby, helping us explore a deeper meaning in the data. For example, ’n’ is an even integer when divided by three leaves a remainder zero and when divided by five leaves a remainder ‘x.’ This implies that:

1. ’n’ is an even integer – Its unit place can have digits 0, 2, 4, 6, and 8. It does not have any decimal, and it is a multiple of 2.

2. n divided by 3 leaves a remainder zero – This means that n is also, a multiple of 3.

3. n divided by five leaves a remainder ‘x’. – This means that n is not a multiple of 5 and hence, its unit place cannot be 0. This leaves us with unit digits 2, 4, 6, and 8.

Once I realized this insight, I started extrapolating this idea to different things in real life. For example, in terms of money, more often we do not realize we have enough to lead a comfortable life. In terms of time, more often we do not realize we have enough to do more of things we love. In terms of information, more often we do not realize we have enough to solve problems in work and life.

So many musicians have made a career out of just interpreting existing tunes in multiple ways. Similarly, so many authors and inventors have made path-breaking discoveries by seeing and understanding things differently. In all these cases, ’noticing’ the obvious and non-obvious is what played a prominent role. However, we are so busy with the rat race that we do not stop to see things. We tend to carry this attitude with GMAT, personal and professional lives.

# Using GMAT Data Sufficiency for mindful problem solving

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