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Elimination Strategies

Strategy-1: On hard problems, if you are asked to find the least (or greatest) number, then eliminate the least (or greatest) answer-choice.

This rule also applies to easy and medium problems. When people guess on these types of problems, they most often choose either the least or the greatest number. But if the least or the greatest number were the answer, most people would answer the problem correctly, and it therefore would not be a hard problem.


Note: 45% of the time the second smallest (or second largest) number is the answer. For easy and medium problems, this is true 40% of the time.


What is the maximum number of points common to the intersection of a square and a triangle if no two sides coincide?
  1. 4
  2. 5
  3. 6
  4. 8
  5. 9

By the above rule, we eliminate answer-choice (E).


Strategy-2 : On hard problems, eliminate the answer-choice “not enough information.”

When people cannot solve a problem, they most often choose the answer-choice “not enough information.” But if this were the answer, then it would not be a “hard” problem.
Strategy-3: On hard problems, eliminate answer-choices that merely repeat numbers from the problem.

If the sum of x and 20 is 8 more than the difference of 10 and y, what is the value of x + y?

  1. –2
  2. 8
  3. 9
  4. 28
  5. not enough information
By the above rule, we eliminate choice (B) since it merely repeats the number 8 from the problem. By Strategy 2, we would also eliminate choice (E).
Caution: If choice (B) contained more than the number 8, say, , then it would not be eliminated by the above rule.
Strategy-4: On hard problems, eliminate answer-choices that can be derived from elementary operations.
In the figure, what is the perimeter of parallelogram ABCD?
  1. 12
  2. 15
  3. 24
  4. not enough information

Using the above rule, we eliminate choice (D) since 24 = 8 — 3. Further, using Strategy 2, eliminate choice (E).


Note: 12 was offered as an answer-choice because some people will interpret the drawing as a rectangle tilted halfway on its side and therefore expect it to have one-half its original area.

Strategy-5 : After you have eliminated as many answer-choices as you can, choose from the more complicated or more unusual answer-choices remaining.

Suppose you were offered the following answer-choices:

  1. 8
  2. 10
  3. 12

Then you would choose either (A) or (B).

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