Know when to hold ‘em: Pacing on Data Sufficiency

- Sep 1, 04:00 AM Comments [0]

Over these past few months of posting blogs on BTG, you’ve probably noticed that I like to associate important GMAT concepts with common situations. Well, with regards to pacing on data sufficiency questions, the best way to approach them is to know the material and content through and through. However, while on the actual GMAT and as you practice with CAT tests, keep in mind the words of Kenny Rogers, The Gambler:

You Got to Know When to Hold Them…

As you are working through some of the most difficult Data Sufficiency problems, we always stress not to do any more calculations then you need to. However, some questions require a hefty amount of manual calculations. If you know you will be able to get the right answer but it might take you a bit longer than you like – that is ok! But, realize you’ll have to go faster on another question. While some questions require more work than others, with enough practice, you will know which questions you should spend your time.

…You Got to Know When to Walk Away…

We’ll all been there. We work through a question and we get stuck at some point. If you find that you’re stuck on a data sufficiency question, realize that you can stare at the question for another 30 seconds or quickly evaluate the parts of the question you do know – i.e. if you know for sure Statement 1 or 2 is sufficient or insufficient. From what you know, a quick guess is far superior to spending another couple minutes hoping an epiphany will come.

…And Know When to Run…

On the extremely rare occasion (hopefully!), there may be a question that you’re just not sure how to approach. If you don’t understand the question (or if you understand the question but are not sure where to go with it), you should guess and move on, quickly. It is better to guess at 1 minute instead of 2 minutes - and, even better to guess at 30 seconds instead of 1 minute.

...You Never Count Your Money Sitting At The Table…

This may be the most important statement – don’t look behind you as you are working through the test. Perhaps you guessed on a question or two. Perhaps you just remembered how to answer a previous question. Perhaps you thought the last question was entirely too easy and that might mean you aren’t doing as well as you typically do. Perhaps you won’t do well enough on this test and be relegated to complete and utter obscurity?!?! Stop! You must always focus on the hand (or question) in front of you. Nothing good happens when you think about previous questions. Stay focused on the task at hand.

…There’ll Be Time Enough for Counting, When the Dealing (or the test) is Done.

Once the test is over, then you can count the questions that could have been. However, surprisingly, you won’t actually care anymore. You’ll get your fantastic score and start dreaming about the acceptance letters that you’re going to be getting… Best of luck as you continue studying!

Brian Fruchey
Kaplan GMAT