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Time management strategy for individual question

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Time management strategy for individual question  [#permalink]

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New post 25 Nov 2018, 22:13
Hello Everyone,
I had posted my concern on an existing post. Since I didn't get a reply, I am creating a new topic.

I am having trouble in managing time in difficult quant questions particularly in DS questions. I divide my entire test into 3 slots and check the clock accordingly. But in a few difficult questions, I spend more than 3 minutes unknowingly and sometimes don't even solve them correctly. This leaves very less time in the last questions leading to a bunch of guesses. How can I keep track of time for individual questions?
In Verbal RC is screwing up my time plan. I am not able to slot my test because of the RCs; we don't know when we will get them. Can someone please help me with the same?
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Re: Time management strategy for individual question  [#permalink]

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New post 26 Nov 2018, 14:07
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Good question! A few thoughts for you:

1) Since you still have some time to study, step one for you is to figure out how to get faster (without sacrificing accuracy) so that worrying about the clock is less of a factor. One great way to do that is to look at any question that took you more than the average amount of time and ask yourself "what should I have seen in order to have done this one faster?" This is something I'd say is missing from a lot of people's error logs (especially b/c they don't have to be errors - a correct answer in 3 minutes that you could have gotten in 1.5 is something you should definitely work on! Asking yourself that question - what didn't I see at first that ended up being a key to setting it up quickly, avoiding having to go back and re-read the answers, etc. - is a great way to see if you can find patterns in things you should start looking for.

(For example: words like "both," "neither," and "only" in word problems can signal that you should get started on a Venn Diagram; if you can't get started on a geometry problem, often you need to look to draw a diagonal to form a triangle, or try to determine that triangles are similar, etc. On Critical Reasoning, you can spend forever debating answer choices to a Strengthen or Weaken problem if you don't notice the adjective or modifier that makes the conclusion of the argument extra specific and that showcases the gap you need to fill in (S) or exploit (W))

2) Also as you're reviewing those problems, take note of which types of problems, content areas, etc. are the ones you tend to A) spend the most time on while B) having the least success on. And then just know those going into the test so that when your conscience tells you "you're taking too long" you can also add in consciously "shoot, and it's a permutations problem with a restriction I can't figure out how to account for...it's time to make a smart guess and move on b/c I tend to not do too well on these." So much of GMAT pacing is knowing where it's smart to invest that extra time - yeah it'll take another 45 seconds *but* you tend to get them right and the previous 2 minutes is a sunk cost so just finish the job - versus where that extra time won't pay off for you. A 2-minutes-per-question doesn't mean you can't spend more than 2 minutes on any question...but it does mean that if you spend 2:40 on a question you'd better get it right, and you have to account for that 40 seconds somewhere else either by being faster or by knowing when to cut your losses on a problem you're just not going to get right.

3) Make "timed drills" a part of your study regimen - do small sets of problems (5, 10, or 20) with a timer set for the pace you want to keep up (e.g. 10 minutes for 5 quant questions to keep the 2:00/question pace) and use that as an opportunity to get used to what your pace should feel like. You do not want to actively think about your pace per question on test day, or look at the timer after every question. If you're worried about pacing, the last thing you want to do is spend extra time checking a clock or calculating your pace! That just wastes more of the time that you're already worried is in short supply. You want to develop a sense for when a problem is taking too long so that you can have that conversation with yourself ("am I going to get this if I stick with it, or should I move on and bank the time?") without having to consult the clock and do extra math.
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Re: Time management strategy for individual question  [#permalink]

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New post 26 Nov 2018, 20:37
VeritasPrepBrian wrote:
Good question! A few thoughts for you:

1) Since you still have some time to study, step one for you is to figure out how to get faster (without sacrificing accuracy) so that worrying about the clock is less of a factor. One great way to do that is to look at any question that took you more than the average amount of time and ask yourself "what should I have seen in order to have done this one faster?" This is something I'd say is missing from a lot of people's error logs (especially b/c they don't have to be errors - a correct answer in 3 minutes that you could have gotten in 1.5 is something you should definitely work on! Asking yourself that question - what didn't I see at first that ended up being a key to setting it up quickly, avoiding having to go back and re-read the answers, etc. - is a great way to see if you can find patterns in things you should start looking for.

(For example: words like "both," "neither," and "only" in word problems can signal that you should get started on a Venn Diagram; if you can't get started on a geometry problem, often you need to look to draw a diagonal to form a triangle, or try to determine that triangles are similar, etc. On Critical Reasoning, you can spend forever debating answer choices to a Strengthen or Weaken problem if you don't notice the adjective or modifier that makes the conclusion of the argument extra specific and that showcases the gap you need to fill in (S) or exploit (W))

2) Also as you're reviewing those problems, take note of which types of problems, content areas, etc. are the ones you tend to A) spend the most time on while B) having the least success on. And then just know those going into the test so that when your conscience tells you "you're taking too long" you can also add in consciously "shoot, and it's a permutations problem with a restriction I can't figure out how to account for...it's time to make a smart guess and move on b/c I tend to not do too well on these." So much of GMAT pacing is knowing where it's smart to invest that extra time - yeah it'll take another 45 seconds *but* you tend to get them right and the previous 2 minutes is a sunk cost so just finish the job - versus where that extra time won't pay off for you. A 2-minutes-per-question doesn't mean you can't spend more than 2 minutes on any question...but it does mean that if you spend 2:40 on a question you'd better get it right, and you have to account for that 40 seconds somewhere else either by being faster or by knowing when to cut your losses on a problem you're just not going to get right.

3) Make "timed drills" a part of your study regimen - do small sets of problems (5, 10, or 20) with a timer set for the pace you want to keep up (e.g. 10 minutes for 5 quant questions to keep the 2:00/question pace) and use that as an opportunity to get used to what your pace should feel like. You do not want to actively think about your pace per question on test day, or look at the timer after every question. If you're worried about pacing, the last thing you want to do is spend extra time checking a clock or calculating your pace! That just wastes more of the time that you're already worried is in short supply. You want to develop a sense for when a problem is taking too long so that you can have that conversation with yourself ("am I going to get this if I stick with it, or should I move on and bank the time?") without having to consult the clock and do extra math.


Thank you for the great wisdom. I will post the follow up in some days. Thanks again.
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Re: Time management strategy for individual question  [#permalink]

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New post 27 Nov 2018, 21:47
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Hi singh8891,

You may have to let go some of the hard questions, and I am referring to the ones that are taking you three minutes or longer. In total, perhaps let go two or three of the difficult questions and see if that helps you improve your overall timing. Now the difficult part is figuring out which one is a difficult question and that will require experience. In general, I recommend doing this in the middle of the test, and look for questions that are on topics that you are not your strength. Also, if the question statement looks too convoluted and on first read the question does not make any sense at all, then those would also be a good candidate to let go.

Of course, you want to improve your overall skill so you can tackle the harder questions and move your score higher. But for majority of the students, it is important to be able to side step the questions that can become time sinks.

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Re: Time management strategy for individual question  [#permalink]

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New post 28 Nov 2018, 19:18
Hi singh8891,

I’m glad you reached out, and I’m happy to help. So the first thing to understand about timing is that it’s OK to spend 3 minutes on particular questions ASSUMING you can correctly answer the questions. Certainly, if you have no shot, then there is no point in wasting time on the question, right? The reason why it’s OK to spend 3 minutes on some harder questions is because some of the easier questions may take you only 30 seconds. Let’s look at an example:

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

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

If you are able to quickly recognize that using the “5 x 2 pair rule” will allow you to efficiently attack the problem, you probably could answer this question in 30 seconds or less, right?

Regarding timing within individual questions, certainly you can’t spend time watching the clock while you are working through each question, so you need to develop a sixth sense for when you are spending too much time on any given question. To develop that skill, ensure that you are always practicing questions with a timer. Eventually, you will develop a sense of when you are “overspending” on a particular problem.

Finally, regarding Reading Comprehension, you can expect a total of four RC passages (although you do not know when you’ll see them). Reading Comprehension passages are either long (containing 4 questions) or short (containing 3 questions). You should spend roughly 2 to 3 minutes reading the short passages and 3 to 4 minutes on the long ones. Since you should have a rough idea of what you read after reading the passage, each question should take you roughly 30 seconds to one and a half minutes to answer. Thus, look to spend a total of about 6 to 8 minutes on each RC section, and plan to see four such sections. Yes, you won't know when they are going to appear, but knowing that they will appear, you can plan accordingly.

Lastly, you may find it helpful to read this article about GMAT quant timing strategies.

Feel free to reach out with further questions.

Good luck!
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Re: Time management strategy for individual question &nbs [#permalink] 28 Nov 2018, 19:18
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