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How to Improve Your Timing on the GMAT

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How to Improve Your Timing on the GMAT


3 Ways to Improve Your Timing on the GMAT

BY Dozie A., VERITAS PREP


The GMAT presents several challenges for test takers. For many people, the issues are focused around aptitude and the ability to simply get answers right. For others, timing is a big challenge. The GMAT is as much a test of mental endurance as it is an aptitude test.

With over 90 questions in 3+ hours the GMAT requires test takers to not only answer questions correctly, but to also do so quickly. In a vacuum many test takers could answer most GMAT questions correctly under normal conditions but the time constraints imposed by the GMAT make this one of the toughest standardized tests for graduate education.

All hope is not lost however; let’s discuss a few ways to prepare for the GMAT that will pay dividends on the timing front on test day.

Problem Sets

Every practice question you solve should be timed based on the average time you will have per question on the exam. Answering questions under unrealistic time scenarios does little to improve your performance especially if you are already struggling with pacing. Take the questions in sets (1, 5, 10, 20, etc.) and have your phone or stopwatch handy to make sure you are comfortable answering questions in realistic time constraints. If you are a Veritas Prep GMAT student, the Problems tab in your online account allows for the timed answering of homework questions!

Practice Exams

Too often test takers don’t start taking practice exams until too close to their test date. Practice exams are an integral part of your test prep game plan. I recommend taking your practice test at a similar time of day as your test date, if possible. If your test date is Saturday morning make sure you are taking practice tests on Saturday mornings. This is a good way to get your body synced up with the physical and mental side of taking such a long and difficult test. Once you take the test make sure you are including some time for review. Getting a problem wrong can be even more valuable than getting a problem right, focus on learning from your mistakes. You should spend a considerable amount of time figuring out why you got a problem wrong so you will never get a similar problem wrong again.

Problem Recognition

For most test takers who struggle with pacing, you will also want to work on problem recognition. Pacing is about quickly identifying the question type as well as how to approach it and then answering it quickly. Spend some time finding ways to quickly identify different question types and how to approach them. Finally, be able to move on if you realize that you don’t have a strong chance answering the question accurately in a reasonable amount of time. Spending an exorbitant amount of time on a question you will eventually get wrong is a death sentence on the GMAT; so don’t be afraid to move on after making an educated guess.

Incorporate these GMAT prep strategies into your studies and kiss pacing issues goodbye!

PART II
PART III
PART IV
PART V
PART VI
SIMILAR ARTICLES
_________________

New to the Math Forum?
Please read this: Ultimate GMAT Quantitative Megathread | All You Need for Quant | PLEASE READ AND FOLLOW: 12 Rules for Posting!!!

Resources:
GMAT Math Book | Triangles | Polygons | Coordinate Geometry | Factorials | Circles | Number Theory | Remainders; 8. Overlapping Sets | PDF of Math Book; 10. Remainders | GMAT Prep Software Analysis | SEVEN SAMURAI OF 2012 (BEST DISCUSSIONS) | Tricky questions from previous years.

Collection of Questions:
PS: 1. Tough and Tricky questions; 2. Hard questions; 3. Hard questions part 2; 4. Standard deviation; 5. Tough Problem Solving Questions With Solutions; 6. Probability and Combinations Questions With Solutions; 7 Tough and tricky exponents and roots questions; 8 12 Easy Pieces (or not?); 9 Bakers' Dozen; 10 Algebra set. ,11 Mixed Questions, 12 Fresh Meat

DS: 1. DS tough questions; 2. DS tough questions part 2; 3. DS tough questions part 3; 4. DS Standard deviation; 5. Inequalities; 6. 700+ GMAT Data Sufficiency Questions With Explanations; 7 Tough and tricky exponents and roots questions; 8 The Discreet Charm of the DS; 9 Devil's Dozen!!!; 10 Number Properties set., 11 New DS set.


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Your 3 Step Pacing Plan

BY Brian Galvin, VERITAS PREP


What makes the GMAT difficult? For most examinees, the time pressure is arguably the biggest factor; given unlimited time, most 700-level aspirants could get most problems right, but with that clock ticking and time of the essence we’re all vulnerable to silly mistakes, mental blocks, and the need to give up on hard questions.

So how can you overcome the pressures of pacing? Try this three-step method:

1) Take Your Time

This may seem a bit counter-intuitive if you’re pressed for time, but the GMAT scoring algorithm so heavily punishes you for missing “easy” questions that you can’t afford to fall victim to silly or careless mistakes. Most test-takers could finish between 32-34 quant questions and 36-38 verbal questions in the 75 allotted minutes, but it’s that 37 quant / 41 verbal question allocation that forces examinees to budget time. If, for example, on quant you’d be great if you could average 2:20 per question instead of the allotted 2:05, that extra 15 seconds you’d like per question may well be your Achilles’ heel if, in your haste to get down closer to 2 minutes per question, you fall victim to:

-Silly calculation mistakes

-Setting up an equation incorrectly

-Leaving a problem one step short and picking the trap answer

-Answering “the wrong question” (e.g. they asked for y, you solved for x)

These mistakes, as you’ve likely seen in your practice tests and homework sets, are quite common, so make sure that you’re aware of them and know to slow down to avoid them. Double check your work, which can largely go wrong in the first 20-30 seconds of a problem (setting up a problem incorrectly) or the last 20-30 seconds (answering the wrong question, skipping a calculation step because it looks like you’ll get right to one answer choice). Know your common mistakes and spend that extra 10-15 seconds double-checking for them. Too many examinees, knowing that they’d need 10% more time than they have, do a “90% job on 100% of questions” (a lot of wrong answers) instead of a “100% job on 90% of questions” (making sure that when they can get a question right, they do. As we say often on the GMAT, your floor is more important than your ceiling – missing easy questions hurts you much more significantly than correctly answering hard question helps you. So step 1 on pacing – make sure that you take the time you need to successfully finish problems on which you’ve done most of the work right.

2) Plan to Guess

Here’s where you get the time back. If you still know that the above strategy – take the time that you need – will leave you 5-6 minutes short of where you’d need to be to finish the section, then save that time by knowing that up to 3-4 times per section you’ll just guess early on a problem to bank that time for when you really need it. Why does this work? If you’re doing well on a section by successfully answering most of those questions within your ability level, you’re going to see some extremely difficult questions as your “reward” based on the adaptive algorithm. You WILL get questions wrong, and the key is to not invest too much time in questions that you were probably going to get wrong anyway. The problem with guessing is much more psychological than real – when you get stuck on a problem and “have to” guess, you get that panic feeling in your mind and it shakes your confidence for future questions. Plus you’ve probably spent up to your average pace-per-question (if not more) by that point, so you’re doubly worried…time is ticking away *and* you just had to blow a guess.

The remedy? Give yourself up to 4 “free passes,” questions on which you’ll just guess in the first 20-25 seconds if you realize that it’s probably beyond you and/or it will probably sap a lot of time. (For example, plenty of 750+ scorers have admitted that “hard to start” geometry problems fall into this category for them…geometry with detailed figures can be very time-consuming, so if they don’t see the path early on they know to just save that time for something more concrete) By consciously using a “free pass” instead of nervously venturing a guess, you own the guess as a strategy and not a cop-out, and you’ll save that time for when you need it and can best use it for correct answers.

3) Have a Pacing Plan

How do you know when you need to guess? Segment each section into approximate quarters and have benchmarks for where you’ll want to be. Since the clock ticks down from 75 minutes, have those benchmarks in mind the way you’ll see them:

Quant

After 10 questions —- 53 minutes remaining*

After 20 questions —- 33 minutes remaining

After 30 questions —- 14 minutes remaining

(which leaves about 2 minutes per question)

Verbal

After 10 questions —- 55 minutes remaining*

After 20 questions —- 36 minutes remaining

After 30 questions —- 18 minutes remaining

(which leaves about 1:40 per question)

(*You can adjust these benchmarks to your liking; here we’re using a little more time in the initial 10 questions, not because “they’re more important” as the myth goes, but more because you can’t use any additional time at the end of the section, so if you’re going to err on pacing it’s better to get the early questions right and hustle a little later than it is to make silly mistakes early, banking time that won’t help you later.)

Whenever you’re more than a minute or so behind your desired pace, that’s when you’ll want to look at using a “free pass” within the next 4-5 questions to get back on track. By having a plan to check every 10 questions, you’ll avoid that pressure (and wasted time) that comes from calculating your pace-per-question frequently throughout the test (seriously, people do this – they’re so worried about not having enough time that they waste valuable time doing extra, irrelevant math problems!!) and you’ll have a contingency plan in place so that you’re not panicked if you are a little behind. If you’re behind, you have a “free pass” in your back pocket to help get back to where you want to be.

Pacing on the GMAT is tricky for everyone – that’s a major factor of what makes it “the GMAT.” But if you follow this process, you can make the best out of that limited time and maximize your chance of success. Remember, 75 minutes per section is hard for just about everyone, so even if you’re not comfortable with the pacing but you have a better plan for how to use that scarce resource, pacing can be your competitive advantage.
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New to the Math Forum?
Please read this: Ultimate GMAT Quantitative Megathread | All You Need for Quant | PLEASE READ AND FOLLOW: 12 Rules for Posting!!!

Resources:
GMAT Math Book | Triangles | Polygons | Coordinate Geometry | Factorials | Circles | Number Theory | Remainders; 8. Overlapping Sets | PDF of Math Book; 10. Remainders | GMAT Prep Software Analysis | SEVEN SAMURAI OF 2012 (BEST DISCUSSIONS) | Tricky questions from previous years.

Collection of Questions:
PS: 1. Tough and Tricky questions; 2. Hard questions; 3. Hard questions part 2; 4. Standard deviation; 5. Tough Problem Solving Questions With Solutions; 6. Probability and Combinations Questions With Solutions; 7 Tough and tricky exponents and roots questions; 8 12 Easy Pieces (or not?); 9 Bakers' Dozen; 10 Algebra set. ,11 Mixed Questions, 12 Fresh Meat

DS: 1. DS tough questions; 2. DS tough questions part 2; 3. DS tough questions part 3; 4. DS Standard deviation; 5. Inequalities; 6. 700+ GMAT Data Sufficiency Questions With Explanations; 7 Tough and tricky exponents and roots questions; 8 The Discreet Charm of the DS; 9 Devil's Dozen!!!; 10 Number Properties set., 11 New DS set.


What are GMAT Club Tests?
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1 Strategy That Will Lead You to Better Pacing on the GMAT

BY Brandon Pierpont, VERITAS PREP


Let’s look at a vastly important testing issue that is largely misunderstood and its seriousness under-appreciated.  Throughout multiple years of tutoring, this has been one of the most common and detrimental problems that I have had to work to correct in my students.  It pertains to the entire GMAT exam, but is typically more relevant to the quant section as students often struggle more with pacing during quant.

No single question matters unless you let it.

Reflect on that for a second, because it’s super important, weird, true, and again…important.  The GMAT exam is not testing your ability to get as many questions right as you can.  You can get the exact same percentage of questions right on two different exams and end up getting very different scores as a result of the complicated scoring algorithm.  Mistakes that will crush your score are a large string of consecutive incorrect answers, unanswered questions remaining at the end of the section (these hurt your score even more than answering them incorrectly would), and a very low hit rate for the last 5 or 10 questions.  These are all problems that are likely to arise if you spend way too much time on one/several questions.

Each individual question is actually pretty insignificant.  The GMAT has 37 quantitative questions to gauge your ability level (currently ignoring the issue of experimental questions), so whether you get a certain question right or wrong doesn’t matter much.  Let’s look at a hypothetical example and pick on question #17 for a second (just because it looked at me wrong!).  If you start question 17, realize that it is not going your way, and ultimately make an educated guess after about 2 minutes and get it wrong…that doesn’t hurt you a lot.  You missed the question, but you didn’t let it burn a bunch of your time and you live to fight another day (or in this case question).

Now let’s look at question 17 again, but from the perspective of being stubborn.  If you start the question and are struggling with it but refuse to quit, thinking something like “this is geometry, I am so good at geometry, I have to get this right!”, then it will become very significant.  In a bad way.  In this example you spend 6 minutes on the question and you get it right.  Congratulations!  Except…you are now statistically not even going to get to attempt to answer two other questions because of the time that you just committed to it (with an average of 2 minutes per question on the quant section, you just allocated 3 questions’ worth of time to one question).

So your victory over infamous question 17 just got you 2 questions wrong!  That’s a net negative.  Loop in the concept of experimental questions, the fact that approximately one-fourth of quant questions don’t count, and therefore it is entirely possible that #17 isn’t even a real question, and the situation is pretty depressing.

Pacing is critical, and your pacing on quant questions should very rarely ever go above 3 minutes.  Spending an excess amount of time on a question but getting it right is not a success; it is a bad strategic move.  I challenge you to look at any practice tests that you have taken and decide whether you let this happen.  Were there a few questions that you spent way over 2 minutes on and got right, but then later in the test a bunch of questions that you had to rush on and ended up missing, even though they may not have been that difficult?  If that’s the case, then your timing is doing some serious damage.  Work to correct this fatal error ASAP!
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New to the Math Forum?
Please read this: Ultimate GMAT Quantitative Megathread | All You Need for Quant | PLEASE READ AND FOLLOW: 12 Rules for Posting!!!

Resources:
GMAT Math Book | Triangles | Polygons | Coordinate Geometry | Factorials | Circles | Number Theory | Remainders; 8. Overlapping Sets | PDF of Math Book; 10. Remainders | GMAT Prep Software Analysis | SEVEN SAMURAI OF 2012 (BEST DISCUSSIONS) | Tricky questions from previous years.

Collection of Questions:
PS: 1. Tough and Tricky questions; 2. Hard questions; 3. Hard questions part 2; 4. Standard deviation; 5. Tough Problem Solving Questions With Solutions; 6. Probability and Combinations Questions With Solutions; 7 Tough and tricky exponents and roots questions; 8 12 Easy Pieces (or not?); 9 Bakers' Dozen; 10 Algebra set. ,11 Mixed Questions, 12 Fresh Meat

DS: 1. DS tough questions; 2. DS tough questions part 2; 3. DS tough questions part 3; 4. DS Standard deviation; 5. Inequalities; 6. 700+ GMAT Data Sufficiency Questions With Explanations; 7 Tough and tricky exponents and roots questions; 8 The Discreet Charm of the DS; 9 Devil's Dozen!!!; 10 Number Properties set., 11 New DS set.


What are GMAT Club Tests?
Extra-hard Quant Tests with Brilliant Analytics

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Timing is Everything on the GMAT: One Strategy to Help You Succeed

BY Ron Awad, VERITAS PREP


One common complaint I hear from GMAT students is: “I can get the right answer but it takes me too much time.” Many people preparing for the GMAT feel this way at one point or another during their preparation. While this complaint has some merit, it can usually be paraphrased as “I’m approaching the problem with little to no strategy.” Relying on brute force to get the right answer is rarely the best approach. The old adage states that a million monkeys writing on a million typewriters will eventually produce the greatest novel of all time (It was the best of times, it was the blurst of times…).

This problem speaks to the inherent time management skill required to succeed on the GMAT. Almost any question you will face on test day can be solved with a brute force approach. However, you won’t have a calculator and you will be under constant time pressure to complete each question fairly quickly, so simply running through every possible numerical combination seems like a fool’s errand. There may be a time when the brute force approach works, but it is like trying to break into someone’s e-mail by trying 00000001, 00000002, 00000003, etc until you find the correct password. You’d probably have more success with a logical approach (such as guessing birthdays or other important dates) than with trying every possible permutation until the lock opens.

Approaching the problem in a logical and methodical way should be your goal for both quant and verbal questions. The approach as such may vary a little, but pattern recognition and extrapolation are two skills that will come up over and over again. If you’ve ever asked a 5-year-old what 2 + 2 was, they generally answer 4. If you ask them what 1,002 + 1,002 was, you’d usually get a lot of blank stares and puzzled looks. (My attempts to explain that they are essentially the same question have led to more crying fits than I’d care to admit). The GMAT uses the same elements of misdirection to bait you into thinking this particular problem is one that you can’t solve.

Let’s look at a quant problem to get an idea of what we’re looking to do on these questions:

How many positive integers less than 250 are multiple of 4 but NOT multiples of 6?

(A) 20
(B) 31
(C) 42
(D) 53
(E) 64

This is the type of question that most people can get with unlimited time. You can simply go through every possible number from 1 to 249 and see if each number meets the criteria. Apart from going cross-eyed halfway through, you will also spend an atrocious amount of time on a question clearly designed to reward you for using logic. Let’s look at this question logically and see what we can determine.

Firstly, it only cares about positive integers, so we can disregard zero. This is helpful because a lot of questions hinge on whether or not zero is included, but that won’t matter in this instance. Furthermore, only integers matter, and we’re looking for multiples of 4 but not 6. Your initial pass on a question like this might look might concentrate on the multiples of 4 and you might write (part of) the following sequence down:

4, 8, 12, 16, 20, 24, 28, 32, 36, 40, 44, 48, 52, 56, 60, 64, 68, 72, 76, 80, 84, 88, 92, 96, 100…

After writing a couple of dozen numbers, you may try to figure out the pattern and extrapolate from there. Numbers divisible by 6 are to be eliminated, so you could rewrite this sequence:

4, 8, 16, 20, 28, 32, 40, 44, 52, 56, 64, 68, 76, 80, 88, 92, 100…

Even with this, we have a long sequence of numbers, some of which are crossed off, and less than halfway through the entire sequence. Perhaps approaching the question from a more strategic approach would yield dividends:

The number must be divisible by 4 but not by 6. Calculating the LCM gives us 12, which means that every 12th number will be divisible by both of these numbers. We want the integers to be divisible by four, but not by six, so 12 is out. Along the way, we stop by 4 and 8, both of which are divisible by four but not by six. So every 12 numbers, our count goes up by two, and we start the pattern again. 1-12 will give two numbers that work. 13-24 will give two more numbers that work. 25-36 gives two more, 37-48 gives two more and 49-60 gives two more as well. Thus, through 60 numbers, we have 10 elements that are divisible by 4 and not 6.

From here, it might be easier to go up in bounds of 60, so we know that 61-120 gives 10 more numbers. 121-180 and 181-240 as well. This brings us up to 240 with 40 numbers. A cursory glance at the answer choices should confirm that it must be 42, as all the other choices are very far away. The numbers 244 and 248 will come and complete the list that’s (naughty or nice) under 250. Answer choice C is correct here.

This question is discussed HERE.

There are other ways to get the right answer, but the fastest ones all hinge on pattern recognition. Figuring out that every 12 numbers gives two more answers can take us from 1 to 240 in one shot (20 sequences x 2). Alternatively, once finding 4 elements at 24, you can probably easily envision multiplying the total by 10 and getting to 240 straight away (like warping over worlds in Super Mario Bros).

Timing is one of the key elements being tested on the GMAT, and one of the goals of the exam is to reward those who have good time management skills. Given 10 minutes, almost everyone would get the correct answer to this question, but the exam wants to determine who can get it right in a fraction of that time. On the GMAT, as in business, timing is everything.
_________________

New to the Math Forum?
Please read this: Ultimate GMAT Quantitative Megathread | All You Need for Quant | PLEASE READ AND FOLLOW: 12 Rules for Posting!!!

Resources:
GMAT Math Book | Triangles | Polygons | Coordinate Geometry | Factorials | Circles | Number Theory | Remainders; 8. Overlapping Sets | PDF of Math Book; 10. Remainders | GMAT Prep Software Analysis | SEVEN SAMURAI OF 2012 (BEST DISCUSSIONS) | Tricky questions from previous years.

Collection of Questions:
PS: 1. Tough and Tricky questions; 2. Hard questions; 3. Hard questions part 2; 4. Standard deviation; 5. Tough Problem Solving Questions With Solutions; 6. Probability and Combinations Questions With Solutions; 7 Tough and tricky exponents and roots questions; 8 12 Easy Pieces (or not?); 9 Bakers' Dozen; 10 Algebra set. ,11 Mixed Questions, 12 Fresh Meat

DS: 1. DS tough questions; 2. DS tough questions part 2; 3. DS tough questions part 3; 4. DS Standard deviation; 5. Inequalities; 6. 700+ GMAT Data Sufficiency Questions With Explanations; 7 Tough and tricky exponents and roots questions; 8 The Discreet Charm of the DS; 9 Devil's Dozen!!!; 10 Number Properties set., 11 New DS set.


What are GMAT Club Tests?
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Follow This Strategy to Save Time on the GMAT

BY Ron Awad, VERITAS PREP


There are certain numbers that will show up on every GMAT. Some of these numbers you need to be able to manipulate, and some others will just lie there like the rocks of Stonehenge: static and immovable. Numbers like π and √2, which can be converted into decimals but generally simply encumber the equation.

However, other numbers will show up and need to be inserted into an equation. Some of these numbers will show up on essentially every GMAT exam: numbers like 2, 10 and 100. Each of these numbers will show up in various questions and need to be multiplied, divided or factored out. Nevertheless, a number that will show up frequently is one that is oft overlooked: 60.

The number 60 is inescapable in everyday life. After all, there are 60 seconds in a minute and 60 minutes in an hour. Have you ever wondered why there aren’t 100 seconds in a minute? The answer is that 60 is divisible by almost every important small number you can think of: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 12, 15, 20 and 30 (hey, you forgot 60!). 100 is divisible by most of these numbers, but not by 3 or any of its  multiples. This is the primary reason we restart the count after 59 instead of 99.  Even the most die-hard imperial system user could see the value of adopting metric time (Remember this moment: 80 after 2:00 on April 43rd).

However, since we’re unlikely to change timing conventions (no matter how many signatures we get on Facebook), we’ll have to make do with calculating things using the number 60. Specifically, the GMAT likes using conversion problems to demonstrate mathematical proficiency. If you’re going at a certain speed per hour, how far will you go in 80 minutes? These questions can get increasingly difficult when translating times from minutes to hours, and the key is often multiplying or dividing by 60.

Let’s look at an example to underscore the importance of this number:

A space shuttle orbits the earth at about 8 kilometers per second. This speed is equal to how many kilometers per hour?

(A)   480
(B)   2,880
(C)   4,800
(D)   28,800
(E)    48,000

This is the type of question that can bait you into time-consuming calculations, whereas a shrewd test taker can gain valuable time by recognizing that this question is simply asking you to calculate a certain number by 60, and then multiplying it by 60 again (let’s do the time warp!). Even if a question asks you to change one unit into another, you can always do it step by step or all in one shot. There are many ways to solve this, but let’s begin with the detailed process so we make sure we don’t make any mistakes.

If the space shuttle orbits the earth at 8 kilometers per second  (you can replace this word by miles if you’re more comfortable), then how many kilometers will it cover in one minute? We can simply multiply 8 by 60 to get 480 kilometers/minute. This is the number in answer choice A, but it is not the correct answer as we’ve only covered a single minute, or about 1.67% of the hour. (There’s still a lot of spinning to go!). If we take the 480 km/minute and multiply it by 60 minutes, we will get to the number of kilometers /hour. 480 x 60 is not obvious, but you ignore the 0’s so it boils down to 48 x 6. Doing this longhand, we can get to 288, and then add back in the two zeros for a total of 28,800. This is answer choice D and the correct answer to this question.

If you followed that strategy, you would get the right answer, but you would miss many opportunities for shortcuts. One of the most glaring shortcuts is to forgo the two-step process and simply multiply the initial speed of 8 km/second by 3,600. This is 60 x 60, and represents the number of seconds in an hour. Since 60 is a number that shows up so frequently on the GMAT, it’s worth knowing that the square of 60 is 3,600 as you may be asked to convert from hour to second and vice versa. Multiplying 8 by 3,600 will also get you to 28,800 in one operation instead of two.

Furthermore, it is possible to solve this question using zero calculations, using the power of order of magnitude. Very simply, if you recognize that there are 3,600 seconds in an hour, and you’re going a little less than 10 kilometers per second, then your answer should be a little under 36,000 kilometers/hour. Since answer choice E is bigger than this, and answer choice C is about five times too small, the answer must be answer choice D. This strategy may be difficult to use if the answer choices are close together, however it is undoubtedly the fastest way to get the correct answer when the answer choices are spread out as they are in this question.

There are also multiple other ways to get the right answer here. One hybrid solution that is pretty intuitive is to multiply 8 kilometers/second by 60 to get 480 kilometers/minute, as we did in the very first step. From there you know you need to multiply 480 by 60 to get the speed per hour, but your trap options are 480 x 10 and 480 x 100, both of which are clearly incorrect at a cursory glance. By order of magnitude, you can again determine that the correct choice must be D.

This question is discussed HERE.

As will all questions on the GMAT, there are multiple ways to get the right answer, but some question types show up over and over again on the test. If you’re prepared for the common types of problems and can solve them using a variety of solutions such as unit digit, order of magnitude and shortcut math, you’ll see your test score go from 0 to 60 (or 760) on test day.
_________________

New to the Math Forum?
Please read this: Ultimate GMAT Quantitative Megathread | All You Need for Quant | PLEASE READ AND FOLLOW: 12 Rules for Posting!!!

Resources:
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Collection of Questions:
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Re: How to Improve Your Timing on the GMAT [#permalink]

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The Importance of Timing on the GMAT

BY Ron Awad, VERITAS PREP


One of the main goals of the GMAT is to determine whether or not you can analyze a situation in front of you and determine the information needed to solve the question. In this way, the GMAT is testing the same skills required to solve a business case. The numbers in front of you are not important, but your method of solving the question is. Crunching numbers and measuring hypotenuses are not useful skills in business; you’ll have a calculator (or an abacus) to do that. Understanding how to approach and solve problems is the true skill being tested.

To that point, many students are far too eager to rely on shortcuts, gimmicks and memorization. Understanding what is being asked is the key to getting the right answer much more frequently than hastily getting to some solution. Of course, getting to work quickly and mindlessly crunching all the numbers as quickly as possible will sometimes work, but it also misses the entire point of the exam. If getting the right answer to a rote multiplication was the only criterion, then you’d be allowed to pull out your smart phone and plug in the numbers. The GMAT is attempting to delve deeper into your brain process than that.

That being said (or written), the GMAT is also interested in speed, which is why there is a time limit to each section. Solving the answer correctly in 15 minutes is no more useful than spending one minute to get the wrong answer because you went too fast. There must be a balance between direction and speed (like a vector) Thus, our best tactic is to quickly identify what is being asked and get to work on a strategy to solve the right answer fairly quickly (hopefully in less than two minutes!)

As an apt example, let’s look at a question that a lot of people miss because they don’t analyze the situation before turning into (extremely slow) human calculators:

Shawn is planning a bus trip across town that involves three buses. Bus 1 travels between Shawn’s house and downtown, and it leaves every half-hour starting at 7:20 AM. Shawn will need to be on bus 1 for 1.2 hours. Bus 2 travels between downtown and uptown every half-hour starting at 7:10 AM. Shawn will need to be on bus 2 for 2/3 hour. Lastly, bus 3 travels between uptown and Shawn’s destination every hour starting at 9 AM. Assuming all buses stay on schedule, what is the least amount of time Shawn must spend waiting for buses?

(A)   12 minutes
(B)   18 minutes
(C)   48 minutes
(D)   1 hour, 12 minutes
(E)    1 hour, 20 minutes

The first thing that comes to mind is that we can just plug in the numbers and find the time it takes to wait for the buses (or that Shawn should just get a car). We can figure out the timing from 7:20 AM and take it down the line from there. Let’s do that for completion’s sake, but it doesn’t mean that this is the best course of action by any means.

If Shawn gets on the first bus at 7:20, then he’ll spend 1.2 hours (or 1 hour and 12 minutes) on the bus before getting off at 8:32. It’s important to note that fractions of hours are converted into decimal by dividing by 60, not 100. The second bus comes every half hour starting at 7:10, so Shawn will assuredly miss the first three and only get on the bus that comes at 8:40. He’s waited for 8 minutes up until this point. Bus 2 will take 40 minutes to reach its destination, dropping Shawn off at 9:20 AM. From there, bus 3 will be around every hour, so he’ll have to wait until 10 AM, an additional wait of 40 minutes. Thus, if Shawn gets on the first bus and all buses stick to their schedules, he’ll wait 48 minutes.

This is the answer a calculator would get, and as long as no analysis is done, it is a reasonable answer. However, we’ve all experienced situations like this in our daily lives. If the bus is coming for a specific time, your goal is usually to minimize the wait time and arrive at the bus stop slightly before the bus is due. This will minimize your wait time. If the bus will be at the stop at 10 AM, there isn’t much point in being there at 9:01 waiting (although you may break your record at Angry Birds) when you can be there at 9:55 instead.

Doing some analysis of this situation, the first bus comes every 30 minutes, meaning the bus always shows up twenty minutes past the hour or ten minutes to the hour. Within each hour, there are two choices you can make: the first bus or the second bus. After that, the choice returns with only the hour hand increasing by one. We thus need to figure out what will happen if we hop on the 7:50 bus instead of the 7:20 bus.

Recalculating, we’re on the first bus for 1.2 hours, meaning we get on at 7:50 AM and get off at 9:02. The second bus still comes every half hour starting at 7:40, so we can jump on the 9:10 bus after waiting 8 minutes, just like in the first example. This bus takes us 40 minutes, and therefore drops us off at 9:50. We’re 10 minutes early for the last bus, which is still scheduled at 10 AM, bringing the total amount of time waiting to 18 minutes.  Taking bus 1 at 7:50 instead of 7:20 gets us to the destination at the same time but reduces the wait time by 30 minutes, and is therefore preferable.

Image

The table above highlights the repetitive nature of problems like these. Every bus that comes at twenty past the hour will lead to a 48 minute total wait time, while every bus that comes at ten to the hour will lead to an 18 minute total wait time, regardless of the hour. (again assuming that the buses always run on time)

This question is discussed HERE.

On GMAT problems, it’s important to take a few seconds to understand what is being asked in the problem. Rushing headlong into a solution will work on many questions, but on tricky questions, a strong analysis of the situation is required to make the most effective decision. Despite the many tricks and gimmicks touted to solve GMAT problems more efficiently, the underlying goal of this test is to gauge your ability to analyze situations and apply logic. Being able to optimize a given scenario is important not only when in business, but also when in line for a bus.

[Reveal] Spoiler:
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Collection of Questions:
PS: 1. Tough and Tricky questions; 2. Hard questions; 3. Hard questions part 2; 4. Standard deviation; 5. Tough Problem Solving Questions With Solutions; 6. Probability and Combinations Questions With Solutions; 7 Tough and tricky exponents and roots questions; 8 12 Easy Pieces (or not?); 9 Bakers' Dozen; 10 Algebra set. ,11 Mixed Questions, 12 Fresh Meat

DS: 1. DS tough questions; 2. DS tough questions part 2; 3. DS tough questions part 3; 4. DS Standard deviation; 5. Inequalities; 6. 700+ GMAT Data Sufficiency Questions With Explanations; 7 Tough and tricky exponents and roots questions; 8 The Discreet Charm of the DS; 9 Devil's Dozen!!!; 10 Number Properties set., 11 New DS set.


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How to Improve Your Timing on the GMAT [#permalink]

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HOW TO SPEED UP

Want to speed up? Check this: Timing Strategies on the GMAT

Other discussions dedicated to this issue:
for-non-quant-beasts-128188.html
how-to-speed-up-answering-math-questions-19365.html
having-trouble-finishing-quant-section-any-ideas-110613.html
ds-and-timing-help-108310.html
final-weeks-calculation-silly-errors-and-speed-129408.html
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Collection of Questions:
PS: 1. Tough and Tricky questions; 2. Hard questions; 3. Hard questions part 2; 4. Standard deviation; 5. Tough Problem Solving Questions With Solutions; 6. Probability and Combinations Questions With Solutions; 7 Tough and tricky exponents and roots questions; 8 12 Easy Pieces (or not?); 9 Bakers' Dozen; 10 Algebra set. ,11 Mixed Questions, 12 Fresh Meat

DS: 1. DS tough questions; 2. DS tough questions part 2; 3. DS tough questions part 3; 4. DS Standard deviation; 5. Inequalities; 6. 700+ GMAT Data Sufficiency Questions With Explanations; 7 Tough and tricky exponents and roots questions; 8 The Discreet Charm of the DS; 9 Devil's Dozen!!!; 10 Number Properties set., 11 New DS set.


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