Hi Ifc,

I’m glad that you reached out, and I’m happy to help. First off, the GMAT algorithm does not recognize or adjust on the basis of how long you are spending on a particular question. The only thing that matters is whether you get a question correct.

Further, the truth is that, as long as you are finishing the quant section on time, varying the amount of time you spend on questions can be a path to success. As you have seen, you can take longer than two minutes to answer some questions, because there will be others that you will answer in under two minutes. An effective test-taker can recognize the cases when it makes sense to go over two minutes and, thus, optimize his or her use of time and maximize his or her score.

At the same time, as I like to tell my students, you really should focus on the things that you can control, and the number one thing that you can control is getting better at answering GMAT quant questions, by increasing your knowledge of GMAT quant material and developing stronger skills. If you get to a point such that you can dominate GMAT quant, you won’t have to worry as much about spending consistent amounts of time on questions.

Furthermore, as your GMAT skills improve, your timing will likely become more consistent naturally, as it is likely that you will spend a little more time to carefully answer questions that you are answering too quickly now and that you will spend a little less time answering questions that you find particularly challenging now. In fact, a great way to know how well you have a mastered a particular topic is to be cognizant of your reaction time when seeing a particular question.

For example, consider the following simple question with which many students who are beginning their prep struggle:

20^2 + 21^2 + 22^2 + 23^2 + 24^2 + 25^2 = ?

A) 3,055

B) 2,060

C) 3,066

D) 3,704

E) 3,077

Upon seeing this question, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Performing all of the calculations by hand? Grabbing a calculator to add up the values in the expression? Are you spending 60 seconds or more just thinking about what the question is really asking or how it could be efficiently solved? Or do you quickly recognize that there is a simple solution that utilizes the concept of units digits?

If you are able to quickly recognize that using the units digits will allow you to attack the problem quickly and efficiently (see the solution below), the question becomes very basic.

Solution:

Because each answer choice has a different units digit, instead of finding the actual sum, we can just find the units digit of the sum. Let’s use the units digit of each square to determine the units digit of the sum.

- The units digit of 20^2 must be 0, since 0^2 = 0.

- The units digit of 21^2 must be 1, since 1^2 = 1.

- The units digit of 22^2 must be 4, since 2^2 = 4.

- The units digit of 23^2 must be 9, since 3^2 = 9.

- The units digit of 24^2 must be 6, since 4^2 = 16.

- The units digit of 25^2 must be 5, since 5^2 = 25.

Once we have this information, we can sum the units digits: 0 + 1 + 4 + 9 + 6 + 5 = 25. Thus, the units digit of the sum is 5. Answer choice A is the only choice with a units digit of 5.

Although this is just one example of many, you can see that you must have many tools in your toolbox to be prepared to efficiently attack each GMAT quant question that comes your way. As you gain these skills, you will tend to answer quant questions faster.

Finally, you may find my article about

how to score a 700+ on the GMAT helpful.

Feel free to reach out with any further questions.

Good luck!

_________________

Scott Woodbury-Stewart

Founder and CEO

GMAT Quant Self-Study Course

500+ lessons 3000+ practice problems 800+ HD solutions