Good Afternoon All,
I am doing 20 minute timed sets in quant (first attempt will be in two weeks at the actual exam). I have noticed that I am avg about 7.5 questions per 20 minutes. Any suggestions to help increase my speed?
Great question. One fact that most first-time test takers don't realize is that this test is every bit as much about timing as it is about accuracy.
Here's one pattern that I notice for virtually all of my students: you're less accurate on problems that take you more than 2 minutes. It may seem counter-intuitive, but when you see a GMAT problem that's right up your alley, chances are you can do it in under 2 minutes. Here's the timing system I recommend:
• 1 minute in. Do you understand this problem? Have you at least started to form a plan for solving it? If not, take an educated guess and move on!
• 1.5 minutes in. Do you have a solid plan and have you at least started executing that plan? If not, take an educated guess and move on!
• 2 minutes in. Have you mostly executed your plan? Are you certain that you can finish solving in the next few seconds? If not, take an educated guess and move on!
• 2.5 minutes in. No excuses. Unless you are already 5 or more minutes ahead of pace it's time to move on!
Now, you don't want to have to look at the clock constantly. These times are estimates and the way to implement this strategy is to practice it to the point where you have a good "internal" GMAT clock.This method prevents you from wasting time on problems you're not likely to get, but still allows you to solve problems that take you just a little longer than the recommended 2 minutes / problem.
In summary, if you're struggling with timing, you're not doing enough guessing! It's my belief – and perhaps some other GMAT Experts can back me up on this – that most high-scorers do a fair amount of guessing. (I know that I guess on a handful of problems in each section when I took the GMAT.) The key is learning when it's advantageous to guess and learning how to make good guesses.
With several months to study, you could possibly improve your fundamentals enough to actually be faster at many problems. But with two weeks to go, the best thing you can do for your score is learn when and how to guess.
Mark Sullivan | Manhattan GMAT Instructor | Seattle, WA
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