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GMAT Permutation and Combination

The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is a critical step for individuals aspiring to pursue a graduate business degree. Within the GMAT, the Quantitative Reasoning section plays a pivotal role in assessing a candidate's ability to analyze data and solve problems.

One of the key topics within this section is Permutation and Combination. In this article, we will delve into the intricacies of Permutation and Combination, providing a thorough understanding of these concepts to help GMAT aspirants boost their quantitative skills.

I. Understanding the Basics:

a. Permutation:

Permutation involves the arrangement of elements in a specific order. For instance, consider a set of distinct elements A, B, and C. The permutations of these elements are ABC, ACB, BAC, BCA, CAB, and CBA. The formula for calculating permutations is nPr = n! / (n - r)!, where n is the total number of elements and r is the number of elements to be arranged.

b. Combination:

Combination, on the other hand, deals with the selection of elements without considering the order. Using the same set A, B, and C, the combinations are AB, AC, and BC. The formula for combinations is nCr = n! / (r! * (n - r)!), where n is the total number of elements, and r is the number of elements to be selected.

II. Permutation and Combination in GMAT Problems:

a. Problem Solving:

GMAT often presents complex problems that require a deep understanding of permutation and combination. These problems may involve arranging a set of items or selecting a subset from a larger group. Practicing a variety of problems is essential to develop the skill of quickly identifying the correct approach.

b. Counting Principles:

Understanding counting principles is crucial for solving GMAT permutation and combination problems efficiently. This includes the multiplication principle, addition principle, and the concept of factorial. Mastery of these principles is essential for tackling complex problems that may involve multiple stages of arrangement or selection.

III. Advanced Concepts:

a. Overlapping Sets:

GMAT problems often involve overlapping sets, where elements can belong to multiple groups simultaneously. Understanding how to account for such overlaps is essential for accurately solving permutation and combination problems in a time-sensitive environment.

b. Probability and Statistics:

Permutation and combination are closely linked to probability and statistics. GMAT questions may require candidates to calculate the probability of a specific event or analyze statistical data using permutation and combination concepts. A solid grasp of these interconnections is vital for success in the Quantitative Reasoning section.

IV. Tips for GMAT Preparation:

a. Practice Regularly:

Consistent practice is the key to mastering permutation and combination problems. Utilize GMAT preparation resources, practice exams, and dedicated study materials to reinforce your understanding of these concepts.

b. Time Management:

The GMAT is a timed test, and efficient time management is crucial. Develop strategies to quickly identify the type of permutation and combination problem presented and choose the most effective approach for solving it within the allocated time.

c. Seek Guidance:

If certain concepts prove challenging, seek guidance from GMAT tutors or online forums. Collaborating with others can provide valuable insights and alternative approaches to problem-solving.


Permutation and combination are integral components of the GMAT Quantitative Reasoning section. A thorough understanding of these concepts, coupled with strategic practice and time management, is essential for success on the exam.

Aspiring business professionals should approach GMAT preparation with dedication and a focus on building a strong foundation in permutation and combination, ultimately boosting their overall quantitative skills.

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