The GMAT's quantitative section is increasingly emphasizing problem solving skills over calculation abilities, and often does so in the form of "Number Properties" questions. The authors of the exam are also quite adept at recognizing "mathematical psychology", and creating questions that increase an examinee's anxiety by enough to make that process of problem solving a bit more difficult. One of the major themes that arises as a result is the use of exponents, which carry with them a number of properties extremely useful to the writers of the GMAT.

Exponents

• Inspire fear (or at least apprehension) in test takers

• Lead to cumbersome, time-consuming calculations involving large numbers

• Are actually quite pattern-driven, and reward those who seek out those patterns rather than attempt to perform the extensive calculations

How can this help you on the exam?

If you embrace the pattern-driven quality of exponents, you can rest easy on exponent questions involving large numbers, knowing that you can test the pattern with small numbers, and simply extrapolate it to solve the overall question. Take, for example, a question that asks:

What is the sum of the digits of 10^25 - 37?

Listing out the numbers will be time consuming and contains the potential for error (counting to 25 when writing out the zeroes, then writing out that many digits in the difference, is a...

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