When you have a calculation question, hopefully the formula will appear in the air in front of you and show you the answer. If that doesn’t happen, take your best estimate at it. Before you mark an answer, look at what you’ve come up with and compare it to the answers provided. Think logically about your answer in making the comparison. If there is a difference in the fourth position to the right of the decimal, you’re probably right on track. If your answer is 472.8491 and the answer choices are all less than 10.0000, you probably have the wrong formula. This might sound very elementary to you as you read this, but it has happened and it is true.
In a calculation question, you will be given everything you need to know to answer the question. If the first thing that pops into your head when you’ve read the question is “They didn’t tell me something”, you haven’t read the question thoroughly and completely or you didn’t recognize an alternate presentation of one of the variables. Here’s an example: There are formulas that require the calculation of a daily rate and include something along the lines of (annual rate divided by 365) to get to the daily rate. What you want to watch out for is a question that gives you the daily rate as part of the given information, thus simplifying the formula by eliminating one step. If you follow the formula and divide the rate again, your answer is going to be off. That’s where the logical comparison should take place. When there is a significant difference between your calculated answer and the answer choices, re-read the question first, looking specifically at how the variables provided are labeled. You may find that something like the example has been done.
Now, there are some of you that may feel you have been tricked by this. My response is “Just wait, because in the business world you almost never get the information you need, in the form you need it in, to do the analysis you’re asked to provide.” This means that you’ll need to recognize what you’ve been given, and how you may need to change it, to make your analysis correct. There are any number of reasons why you get what you get; “This is what the bank (customer) provides” , ”This comes from XXX system and we can’t change it” , “The XXX Department provides this” and so on.
- Fred Butterfield, CTP