Hi BradenK,
I’m sorry to hear how things have been going with the GMAT. I’d like to address your issues with timing, as I believe they are very fixable. Honestly, the best way to improve your timing is to improve your GMAT quant skills. As you develop mastery of each individual quant topic, better timing WILL follow. In fact, a great way to know how well you have 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:
14! is equal to which of the following?
(A) 87,178,291,200
(B) 88,180,293,207
(C) 89,181,294,209
(D) 90,000,000,003
(E) 91,114,114,114
Upon seeing this question, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Trying to add up the values in the expression? Or are you able to quickly recognize that using the “5 x 2 pair rule” will allow you to efficiently attack the problem? (See the solution below.)
Solution:
14! = 14 × 13 × 12 × 11 × 10 × 9 × 8 × 7 × 6 × 5 × 4 × 3 × 2 × 1.
Notice that there is at least one (5 × 2) pair contained in the product of these numbers. It follows that the units digit must be a zero. The only number with zero as the units digit is 87,178,291,200.
Answer: A
Although this is just one example of many, you see that you must have many tools in your toolbox to efficiently attack each GMAT quant question that comes your way. As you gain these skills, you will get faster.
Regarding some practical timing strategies for the quant section, first off, you need to be really careful about blindly guessing on quant questions in order to pick up time during the exam. If you have too quick a “trigger finger,” before you even realize it, you’ll have guessed on 5+ quant questions, and then what will happen to your score, right? Thus, you may consider taking a more organic approach to solving GMAT quant questions. In other words, your goal should be to correctly answer as many quant questions as you can (all the while keeping an eye on the clock).
To know when to give up on a question, you need to trust your instincts and follow your internal clock. For instance, let’s say you are 2 minutes into a question, but you know that you are on the right path; in that case, you’d want to keep going even if you needed 3 minutes to answer, right? After all, if you have fully mastered GMAT quant, then you should be in a position to answer some questions in 30 seconds, and thus it’s OK to spend more than 2 minutes on certain problems. On the other hand, say you are 60 or 90 seconds into a problem, and you know that you are going down a rabbit hole and likely will not be able to correctly answer the question. In that case, take an educated guess and keep things moving.
My overall point is, yes, it’s OK to guess, but ensure that you take a strategic approach to how and when you guess, OK?
If you have any further questions, feel free to reach out. Also, you may find it helpful to read the following articles:
Timing Strategies for a Higher GMAT Quant ScoreHow to Get Faster at Solving GMAT Questions _________________
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