Improve Your Timing

Written by Kelly Granson. Posted in GMAT Study Tips

GMAT Timing Advice

GMAT is a timed test, and answering all questions on time is crucial. You will have approximately 2 minutes per math question and even less per verbal question. Of course, you can answer some questions almost instantly while others may take a bit more than the average time. Here are some things you need to consider when dealing with GMAT sample questions.

Get Used to Timed GMAT practice tests

Try to make your practice timed. If you can answer a certain GMAT math question correctly, but it takes you 3 minutes to do so, you cannot answer this question. You just don't have those 3 minutes. That is why you should try to time as much of your practice as possible. This will give you a natural feel for time and will teach you that on the GMAT it's sometimes better to give up something little but save the rest than to get obsessed with one question and leave no time for all the others. If you are using GOGMAT's Test Generator, simply select Timed mode for your GMAT tests. Even if you are doing Official Guide practice tests, time yourself to make your practice as realistic as possible.

Know the Theory

Of course there are some useful strategic approaches and advice that can help you reduce the time you spend on each question, but no matter how creative or strategic you get, you will not do well on the GMAT if you do not know all key formulas, rules, and logic principles.

GMAT Quantitative section—look for shortcuts

Every single GMAT math question can be solved in 2 minutes. If you are working on a math question and find yourself involved in calculations that are not likely to be completed any time soon, you are going the wrong way. GMAT math questions can often be solved by picking numbers or back solving. Familiarize yourself with these methods and know when they can be applied, and a great number of math questions will become much easier. If you have answered the practice question correctly but spent a bit more time than you should have, read the explanation to see whether there was a faster way to answer that question.

GMAT Data Sufficiency – the best time saver

GMAT Data Sufficiency questions are the least time consuming question type on the GMAT, but only if you approach them the right way. First, make sure what each answer choice says and means; answer choices are the same for all GMAT Data Sufficiency questions and this means you can save quite a bit of time if you know them and don't have to read them again every time you see a Data Sufficiency question. If you do enough practice, you will remember those answer choices and learn how to eliminate some of them instantly as soon as you can prove sufficiency or insufficiency of at least one of the statements.

What is even more important about GMAT Data Sufficiency questions is that you do not have to solve them. This may seem strange when talking about math questions, but that's how it is. Unlike Problem Solving questions, a GMAT Data Sufficiency question does not ask you to answer it; it only asks you to determine whether the information provided is sufficient to answer the given question. Both Problem Solving and Data Sufficiency questions can be compared to a jigsaw puzzle: in Problem Solving questions you have all the pieces and you are asked to put them together; in Data Sufficiency you only have to determine whether you have all the pieces, you don't actually have to put them together.

GMAT Verbal Section – select the right approach

Unlike the Quantitative section, GMAT Verbal section offers fewer time saving opportunities. On the Verbal section of the GMAT, your timing depends mostly on how well you are prepared and how you approach the questions. In fact, taking shortcuts, especially in Critical Reasoning and Sentence Correction questions, can often lead you to the wrong answer, since these questions are designed in such a way that the difference between the correct and the wrong answer can be in a single word or form of a word. Nevertheless, you can save some time on these questions by approaching them correctly.

In GMAT Critical Reasoning questions, always read the question stem (the question) first and only then read the argument. This way you already know what you have to look for: if you are dealing with a conclusion question, pay attention to the evidence provided; if it is a flaw question, see whether the reasoning is grounded, etc. GMAT Critical Reasoning questions are structured so that the question is placed below the argument and many test takers start by reading the argument and only then get to the question itself. However, once they see the question they usually realize that they have to get back to the argument and read it again to identify specific details needed to answer the question. There would be no problem with rereading the argument, but remember, GMAT is timed, and those extra ten seconds you spend on rereading each argument, can turn into several minutes you will lack to complete the test properly. For GMAT Critical Reasoning questions, make sure you develop the habit of reading the question stem first and only then proceeding with the argument; this approach is guaranteed to save you several seconds on each Critical Reasoning question.

In GMAT Sentence Correction questions there are two things you need to consider in order to reduce your time. First, choice A always repeats the underlined portion of the sentence, so if you read the sentence carefully, don't bother to read choice A again, you will not see anything new there. Second, look for the splits in answer choices, for example, if two answer choices use present tense and three use past tense, determine what tense should be used and eliminate all answer choices that use the wrong one. Generally, almost all GMAT Sentence Correction questions have the two to three split. If you see that split you can always eliminate instantly two or three answer choices that use the wrong construction.


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