Time Management on the GMAT

Time management is one of the most important keys to success on the GMAT. You have probably heard that time management is very important in all exams, but it is particularly vital on the GMAT. This is because of the computer adaptive nature of the test. As soon as you get a question right, the next one gets harder and so on. The goal of the test makers is to slow you down at every opportunity.

The clichés

You may well have heard that the early questions in each section – verbal and quant – are more important. It’s true that getting the early questions right allows you to get quickly to the difficult questions, which provide you with more points. However, it’s important not to exaggerate the importance of the early questions. If you spend too much time on them, you will not have enough time to have a good go at later questions. You will end up feeling under too much time pressure and surrendering control over your test to the test makers.

A simpler way

The simplest time strategy is two minutes per question. There are 75 minutes to do 37 quant questions. This is almost exactly two minutes per question. There are also 75 minutes for the verbal section, but this time there are 41 questions – or about one minute 50 seconds per question. So in the verbal section you have to work just a little faster than two minutes per question. If you work steadily throughout the test, you will feel that the test is more under your control.

How often should I look at the clock?

I looked at the clock after each question. That was because I didn’t want to get a nasty surprise and find I was too far behind. Doing this gave me a feeling of control over my test. I’d be happy to explain this in more detail if you get in touch with me through our contact page

What if I take extra time on some questions?

You’d be silly if you didn’t. Let’s say you have answered 10 questions in 20 minutes. So far, so good. You’re clever, so you’ve got many questions right. The questions have become quite difficult. Question 11 is one of those. You work through it and see you have taken two and a half minutes. No problem. However, don’t take two and a half minutes for the next one. My goal was to get back on track of two minutes per question as soon as I could. That means you have one and half minutes for Question 12.

Are there questions I should spend less time on to save time?

Most definitely. And the decision as to which questions to work quickly on and which to take your time over is one of the most important decisions you need to make on the GMAT. And you must make this decision in relation to every question. What is the type of question that you are most likely to get wrong? By definition, it must be the hardest of the questions. Most people spend more time on the harder questions. I believe the reverse strategy in the best one. Speed up on the harder questions. Slow down on the simpler questions and make sure you get those right.

Not one of my students has had the goal of getting 800. Nobody needs such a score to get into any university That means you can get some questions right and some wrong. Being strategic about which you get wrong is a big element in your success. Get the easier ones right!

For more detailed tips on the tricky area of time management schedule a GMAT trial lesson with Steve Keating.