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# Timing Strategies on the GMAT [Master Thread]

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Updated on: 20 Jul 2018, 18:01
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Timing Strategies on the GMAT

General Timing Strategies:

Few of the questions given on the GMAT are actually hard. What makes the test hard to solve, is that you have less than 2 minutes per question and you rush, making careless, attention, calculation, and other mistakes. Thus one of the keys to the high score is anticipating and eliminating these mistakes. You can give yourself an advantage by preparing and saving/spending time where appropriate. Here are the fundamental rules:

• Time yourself whenever you solve any questions. Whether you are solving 10 or just 1 question, make sure you are familiar with the ticking of the clock and pressure that it puts on you. You can use a variety of tools such as:

• If you are making many careless mistakes, try this this trick: Pause after reading a question. esp. on the quant section, after reading a question and before starting to solve it - stop for 5 seconds and instead of throwing yourself at it, take a casual look at it and think if an easier solution exists. Don't just rely on your reflexes, use your brain too. While it sounds counter-productive, this trick will help you save time and also avoid some silly mistakes you may make by rushing to read the question.

• If possible, avoid guessing 2 questions in a row. If pressed for time - solve every other question instead of guessing the last 3. You can see what happens if you get multiple questions in a row wrong here: pre-2018 GMAT prep analysis and 2018 GMAT Online GMAT Prep Analysis

• Most Important Tip: Never ever ever spend more than 3 minutes on a single question. After 3 minutes, if you still can't see a solution, figure out an alternative approach, or start a guessing strategy. Be done by 3:10 OR it will hurt for the rest of the test. Plan and know your limits and promise yourself you will do it. This again sounds counter-productive but it will help you. It is possible to miss 9 Quant questions and still get a Q49 for example. It will hardly make a difference if you guess one.

• You need to be prepared that the timing will not go as you wish or plan. Battle plan rarely survives contact with the test: you may get a hard start or a few questions in a row that will get you down, but you need to be flexible and adjust to the test, just as the test tries to adjust to you. Plan to be stuck. Plan to be freaked out. Plan to panic. I don't mean plan to have a mental breakdown and practice rolling on the floor - I mean plan for all of these situations/scenarios and how you will respond in each. Know when it is time to move on. Prepare to face the expected.

• If you have problems with timing - experiment during practice tests! For example, you can take a test on which if you don't answer a question within 2 minutes, you simply move on. I took one like that, and what I did was guess when I was overtime on hard questions. My results that day, perhaps, were the lowest of all, but it allowed me to finish early and measure the time I had left as an "extra" time for hard questions. Another test you can take is "untimed" (some software simulators allow it) and take the time I needed on every question - this showed how much time i comfortably needed.

• Don't spend your time looking at the clock or turning it on and off - instead check the clock 3 times only during each Quant and Verbal section - this will save you at least 30 seconds that you were going to use up and also a lot of worrying about not finishing on time. Divide the test into three sections (see image below for what I would have done - notice that i am optimizing and planning to spend a bit more time for questions 9-15 - these tend to be the hardest and you will likely need more time; I am also keeping numbers simple and round and easy to remember). You may have a different flow you are comfortable with - try it out. Hopefully this will give you an idea how you are doing without causing you to worry every time you look at the clock.
Attachment:

New Revised GMAT Timing v2.png [ 13.79 KiB | Viewed 5234 times ]
• Finally, an obvious one - do not leave questions unanswered. Each unanswered question drops your score by 3 percentile points as confirmed by GMAC. Note that GMAC has changed their rules a few years ago and now any question that has not been submitted (e.g. the last one) even if it had an answer chosen, will count as unanswered.

Quant Timing Strategies

• Know by heart the common percent values, square roots, powers, and fractions. This will allow you to save time on calculations - see this post for details: http://gmatclub.com/forum/what-arithmet ... 80128.html
• If you encounter a hard question that you are not sure how to solve - be happy - you must be doing really well and on the right track. Celebrate and don't freak out. Take a pause and think of an un-usual/backsolving/etc solution to it.
• After reading the question, it may help to review the answer choices with the following thoughts in mind: how far apart is the distribution (how precise the calculations need to be), potential tricks with answers such as $$\frac{1}{2}$$ or $$\frac{-1}{2}$$.
• In quant it is fairly easy to remember/get familiar with Question Patterns. Some people are better at this than others, but you will notice that most questions have a pretty set pattern; knowing these will help you save time when solving them and thus most likely will increase your score. This is unfortunately only true about medium and easy questions. The hard GMAT questions tend to be fairly unique. My suggestion is that you know how to solve every question in the OG (not just remember the answer but actually know how to solve a similar question). If you have trouble with this, memorize a typical question and a solution. You can later recreate it and plug your new question into that format without wrecking your mind (true for probability and group questions for me at least).
• Write intermediary calculations. I am slightly dyslexic and many other folks are it seems as well - if you have that issue, spend extra 3 secs writing your calculations down; see if that helps improve your accuracy at the cost of a few seconds. Don't do it in the head (that eliminated half of my careless errors)
• Math Revolution claims to have a very effective and non-orthodox approach to quant questions and timing, follow their experts on the forum to learn it or checkout their videos/course offering

Quant Question Approach in Short:

1. Read through the question (take 5 seconds to look at it and the answer choices)
2. See if you can apply any of the time saving techniques or quicker solutions or a trap!
3. Optional: Read the setup again and write out all the info you will need to answer the question (this helped me)
4. Do not miss an important detail in the beginning of the question - this is a common catch in both Math and CR's
6. If you are too stressed about time, and the test’s got you on the run, take away your eyes from the screen and try focusing them on your hands or the seam of your pants to regain your confidence
7. Know how to solve every math question type (arithmetic, probability, word problems, etc)
8. Before you go to the test center - take several full length tests with IR and AWA. Know your limits - be realistic. Know how much you can spend on each question

Verbal Timing Strategies on the GMAT

You will need to define your own timing strategy on the verbal section since your timing on each of the questions types will depend on your proficiency, reading speed, grammar skills, etc.

• Draw a grid on the scratch paper (A | B | C | D | E) for 5-10 questions and use it with hard verbal questions. (Make sure you do this during your break time or when the clock is not ticking). Then on the test, as soon as you eliminated an answer choice (for whatever reason, mark it on the piece of paper - esp helpful by the end of the verbal section when the brain can no longer function).

• For SC, create a check-list of grammar topics that you most often fall for. For instance, if you have trouble with modifiers, run-on sentences, and plurals, make sure those are on top of your check-list to run through when you cannot identify a problem with SC (i.e. when A is the correct answer). Here is more details about options to create such list: http://gmatclub.com/forum/distribution- ... 85636.html or here: https://gmatclub.com/forum/sc-strategie ... 07121.html. What i recommend is that you create an acronym or some other method that you can run each SC question through your checklist for errors. Write this acronym down on scratch paper pad so you do not have to rely on memory (do it during the break)

• RC makes the table above with suggested timings a bit tricky since question #15 may be the first of a 4-question RC. With Verbal, you really have to watch your timing and know how much you can afford to spend on each question type. I have spent about 1 min on SC, 1.5 mins on CR, and the rest of the time I spent on RC - that was my approach. I could not speed up my RC's but I could speed up SC's and many CR's and that has given an opportunity for some extra time on RC. Unfortunately with the April 2018 change in the GMAT, there are still as many passages and RC questions as before but fewer CR and SC's, which makes getting a high verbal score harder and leaves even less time for RC. My recommendation for you is to approach Verbal portion of the test holistically.

• Get a handle on Scope, Assumptions, Inference, Conclusions. If you can master these, you will be able to save at least 5 minutes on the GMAT, and probably pick up as many as 5 points in your verbal score. Many answer choices are based on within/outside of scope - that's true for CR's and RC's. The same applies to assumptions, inference, and conclusions - many of the CR and RC questions are using these basic step stops to build questions and traps. If you can be flawless with these, you will be much better off. You the OG/Official questions to train your SCOPE ear.

• Remember that the most time efficient strategy to approach questions is outlined in the guidebooks (Kaplan Verbal Workbook, MGMAT CR, MGMAT SC, MGMAT RC, Veritas Prep Guides and PowerScore CR) - the basic strategies are all pretty similar in these guidebooks - FOLLOW them by the book, and by ever line. If the strategy says you need to re-read the question, that's what you do, and if it says you must read the question first - that's what you do as well. I see people making this mistake all the time - they try to cut corners and beat the system only to get mediocre inconsistent results

• The best strategies for me were:
• CR - read the question first and mark on a piece of paper the type of question (W for weaken, S for strengthen, A for assumption, etc)
• CR - after reading the passage - read the question again and answer it WITHOUT reading answer choices - BEST TIP EVER (if I had to pick one). After that, you only have to find it in the list - very quick and efficient. Learn how to do this.
• SC - the fastest strategy is to pick an error just from reading (without having to go through answer choices) then again, you are just picking from a list - faster than analyzing each answer choice (though possible only on easy and mid-level questions)
• RC - paraphrase each paragraph, take notes as you go - helps to remember the text and not go back
• RC - spend more time reading the first and last sentence of each paragraph and ask yourself - why was this sentence/paragraph placed here? What is author driving with it? Are you seeing any logical issues/flaws with it?
• RC - don't go back to the text (if you have read it carefully - you will not have to) - fastest and most reliable way through RC
• I find reading a few thousand pages a good way to prepare to and save time on the verbal section:
• You read faster - helps with every section
• Better digest large volume of text - helps with RC
• Your ear is trained better - helps with finding errors in SC's
• You're a less boring person to talk to :wink:
• Don't waste too much time on Idioms as they are not emphasized in the GMAT any more, but know the common ones that will help you understand text better
• If you are an international student, it is a good idea to know every word that you meet in the question text. Write them in a notebook - word, and definition with an example of how you encountered it. It takes time, but by the time you're done with one word, you will remember it

Verbal Question Approach in Short:

Sentence Correction (SC)
My personal strategy was to spend 45 seconds on SC's (read question once, identify the problem, phrase it in my mind, and find the correct answer that matched the one I made up). Usually I could hit these in 30-45 seconds and in 20% of cases needed as much as a minute and a half to identify the correct one (this was esp true when A was the correct choice and I could not spot an error).

Critical Reasoning (CR)
I spent 1:30 on each CR question. I could crack half of them in 30-45 seconds but the other half took closer to 2 minutes, so it was averaging about 1:30.

All of this was building up towards the section I had the most problems with - reading comprehension. I knew that I needed 0:45 x 15 for SC's, 1:30 x 14 for CR's and that left 40 minutes for RC, which meant I could spend 10 minutes per passage. I would read the passage very carefully and spend probably 5-6 minutes doing and not feeling rushed as I knew I could read any passage in that period of time. After finishing the text, I knew I had 1 minute for each question so I did not need to rush either. On the Verbal, I did not really keep track of the clock when moving from question to question, but I would note the time when I start the RC passage and made sure I did not go over the 10 min interval by the end.

Good Luck to you on the GMAT!
This thread is a revision of a previous thread that I have earlier posted on timing strategies.
Another good resource is a series of posts by Veritas Prep on the GMAT Timing

Attachment:

timing-per-mgmat.png [ 16.99 KiB | Viewed 298450 times ]

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Originally posted by bb on 23 Sep 2015, 22:14.
Last edited by bb on 20 Jul 2018, 18:01, edited 5 times in total.
Updated for the new 2018 GMAT Format and fixed the timing table
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04 Oct 2015, 12:01
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Hi bb,

In verbal sometimes I am left with 5-6 questions at the end. I know this question looks absurd but even after a lot of effort I am unable to improve any further.

Which one is better? Shall I skip alternate question after 30th question or shall I answer in normal pace till Question 35 and then guess?

As I read at http://gmatclub.com/forum/gmat-prep-software-analysis-and-what-if-scenarios-146146.html, weightage of last questions is not that high in comparison to questions before them, but so many questions wrong in a row also doesn't look fine to me. (Scenario 4:What if you get all the LAST 6 questions incorrect? Result: v44).

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10 Oct 2015, 16:40
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hello everybody!!!

I have this question that i have never seen adressed before.

How possible is it that RC questions will appear near the end of the verbal section.For example,around questions 35-41???

I am thinking that a better strategy that takes into account the aforementioned concern would be one that allocates at least 2 minutes for the last 3-4 questions..

Has anyone witnessed RC qs appearing near the end?
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Updated on: 16 Nov 2015, 14:32
Hi Panavee,

Since the Randomizer delivers questions randomly (relatively speaking), you won't know exact when to expect an RC passage/questions to show up. However, it's quite common for an RC 'block' to show up once every 10 questions or so, so it's likely that you'll get your last RC passage at some point in the last 11 questions (or so).

And as an aside, if you're practicing the proper Tactics, then you should have far MORE than 2 minutes for the final 3-4 questions.

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Special Offer: Save $75 + GMAT Club Tests Free Official GMAT Exam Packs + 70 Pt. Improvement Guarantee www.empowergmat.com/ ***********************Select EMPOWERgmat Courses now include ALL 6 Official GMAC CATs!*********************** Originally posted by EMPOWERgmatRichC on 10 Oct 2015, 17:39. Last edited by EMPOWERgmatRichC on 16 Nov 2015, 14:32, edited 1 time in total. Intern Joined: 08 Feb 2015 Posts: 37 GMAT 1: 690 Q44 V40 Re: Timing Strategies on the GMAT [Master Thread] [#permalink] ### Show Tags 11 Oct 2015, 16:05 1 thank you very much Mr. Cohen.I just need to clarify that I meant about 2 minutes for EACH question. I reread what i wrote last night and it seems like i meant 2 minutes altogether :D lol wouldn't that be a tragedy!! SVP Joined: 15 Jul 2015 Posts: 1565 Location: India GMAT 1: 780 Q50 V51 GRE 1: Q170 V169 Re: Timing Strategies on the GMAT [Master Thread] [#permalink] ### Show Tags 11 Oct 2015, 22:29 1 1 rohitmanglik wrote: Which one is better? Shall I skip alternate question after 30th question or shall I answer in normal pace till Question 35 and then guess? I don't think that either strategy is particularly good. You could spread those guesses out over the entire test. That'll give you enough time to attempt most of the last 10 questions without resorting to such excessive guessing. _________________ Current Student Joined: 12 Aug 2015 Posts: 291 Concentration: General Management, Operations GMAT 1: 640 Q40 V37 GMAT 2: 650 Q43 V36 GMAT 3: 600 Q47 V27 GPA: 3.3 WE: Management Consulting (Consulting) Re: Timing Strategies on the GMAT [Master Thread] [#permalink] ### Show Tags 19 Oct 2015, 12:52 3 On the real thing I got rc passage at the end. After q 35. This was stressful. I rushed through the passage of 2 tech paras once and answered 3 questions by eliminating 2 at most wrong answers and then guessing. Lol _________________ KUDO me plenty Intern Joined: 08 Feb 2015 Posts: 37 GMAT 1: 690 Q44 V40 Re: Timing Strategies on the GMAT [Master Thread] [#permalink] ### Show Tags 19 Oct 2015, 15:50 1 shasadou wrote: On the real thing I got rc passage at the end. After q 35. This was stressful. I rushed through the passage of 2 tech paras once and answered 3 questions by eliminating 2 at most wrong answers and then guessing. Lol thank you very much for your input.I guess i will have to count in the back of my head how many passages have appeared already until I get to four. Intern Joined: 21 Jan 2013 Posts: 45 Concentration: General Management, Leadership Schools: LBS GPA: 3.82 WE: Engineering (Computer Software) Re: Timing Strategies on the GMAT [Master Thread] [#permalink] ### Show Tags 16 Nov 2015, 02:25 Panavee wrote: shasadou wrote: On the real thing I got rc passage at the end. After q 35. This was stressful. I rushed through the passage of 2 tech paras once and answered 3 questions by eliminating 2 at most wrong answers and then guessing. Lol thank you very much for your input.I guess i will have to count in the back of my head how many passages have appeared already until I get to four. I keep 4 ticks on my scribbling pad and strike them off as I see a new RC. perhaps that might help you? _________________ -- Consider +1 Kudos if you find my post useful Board of Directors Joined: 17 Jul 2014 Posts: 2717 Location: United States (IL) Concentration: Finance, Economics GMAT 1: 650 Q49 V30 GPA: 3.92 WE: General Management (Transportation) Re: Timing Strategies on the GMAT [Master Thread] [#permalink] ### Show Tags 16 Nov 2015, 08:56 the problem with guessing is that on real GMAT, there are experimental questions..and from what I understood, on verbal that's ~9-10 questions. If you make a random guess on those questions - you will likely get a good score, but if not..you will get disappointed with your score.. Current Student Joined: 18 Apr 2016 Posts: 4 Location: India GMAT 1: 680 Q42 V42 WE: Analyst (Consulting) Re: Timing Strategies on the GMAT [Master Thread] [#permalink] ### Show Tags 18 Apr 2016, 11:23 Hi! I have been giving some test now and the thing that happens with me is I finish the Quant Section around 5-6 mins before time and the Verbal Section around 10-12 mins before the time finishes....so my question is kind of different, how do I slow my speed down? Board of Directors Joined: 17 Jul 2014 Posts: 2717 Location: United States (IL) Concentration: Finance, Economics GMAT 1: 650 Q49 V30 GPA: 3.92 WE: General Management (Transportation) Re: Timing Strategies on the GMAT [Master Thread] [#permalink] ### Show Tags 18 Apr 2016, 11:46 1 1 DrumKing wrote: Hi! I have been giving some test now and the thing that happens with me is I finish the Quant Section around 5-6 mins before time and the Verbal Section around 10-12 mins before the time finishes....so my question is kind of different, how do I slow my speed down? I had similar "problem" on the real GMAT. I was done with the question 8 on quant at the minute 72. I was on question 32 with 35 minutes left. I saw some pretty tough DS and PS questions on geometry and VIC's...I spent ~4 minutes on each 35 and 36 question. It was amazing how i could answer the tough questions while completely blacked out on simple questions..I saw 2 of them..and I really couldn't believe I could not get the correct answer...(given 2 sides of a triangle, what might be the third side) I finished Quant 25 minutes earlier, and Verbal 12 minutes earlier. I should have taken more time to review my answers on Verbal...but on the other side..I did not see any tough enough questions to make me think more than a minute and a half...exception - 1 CR question...result Q49/V30 my opinion - finishing early is not a good sign..use the time to maximize your result. p.s. Draw a grid on the scratch paper (A | B | C | D | E) this technique saved me ton of time on verbal. drew during the break on the first page for 20 questions then again on the 3rd page Intern Joined: 14 Dec 2015 Posts: 5 Location: China Schools: Broad '19 (S) GMAT 1: 650 Q47 V34 GPA: 3.13 Re: Timing Strategies on the GMAT [Master Thread] [#permalink] ### Show Tags 18 Jul 2016, 00:59 helped me figure out the mistakes i made on timing, thank you for sharing this, very useful Intern Joined: 06 May 2014 Posts: 45 Re: Timing Strategies on the GMAT [Master Thread] [#permalink] ### Show Tags 12 Jun 2017, 00:31 great post needed this big time! due to work its very difficult for most of us here to manage time. _________________ Utilize your 'today' to build up your tomorrow'! .... Looking for some kudos here... SVP Joined: 12 Dec 2016 Posts: 1854 Location: United States GMAT 1: 700 Q49 V33 GPA: 3.64 Re: Timing Strategies on the GMAT [Master Thread] [#permalink] ### Show Tags 11 Jul 2017, 23:40 I have a question, in verbal, there are RC questions, and the time is still same after 5 or 10 questions? SVP Joined: 15 Jul 2015 Posts: 1565 Location: India GMAT 1: 780 Q50 V51 GRE 1: Q170 V169 Re: Timing Strategies on the GMAT [Master Thread] [#permalink] ### Show Tags 12 Jul 2017, 22:43 chesstitans wrote: I have a question, in verbal, there are RC questions, and the time is still same after 5 or 10 questions? If you're asking whether timing strategies should take into account the extra time needed for RC, that's partly why most people track themselves after 10, 20... questions. Checking the clock after every 5 questions is probably not going to work out as (as you said) there could be an RC in that set. Over 10 questions we expect a reasonable mix though. Not to mention that checking the clock too often can be stressful. Please ignore this post if you were asking something completely different _________________ Intern Joined: 25 Mar 2017 Posts: 13 Re: Timing Strategies on the GMAT [Master Thread] [#permalink] ### Show Tags 11 Oct 2017, 03:27 Hi! Can anyone please explain how drawing a grid on the scratch paper (A | B | C | D | E) helps save time on the Verbal section? Thanks, Arjun Study Buddy Forum Moderator Joined: 04 Sep 2016 Posts: 1166 Location: India WE: Engineering (Other) Re: Timing Strategies on the GMAT [Master Thread] [#permalink] ### Show Tags 29 Dec 2017, 18:27 arjun51 Here is the post for above query _________________ It's the journey that brings us happiness not the destination. SVP Joined: 15 Jul 2015 Posts: 1565 Location: India GMAT 1: 780 Q50 V51 GRE 1: Q170 V169 Re: Timing Strategies on the GMAT [Master Thread] [#permalink] ### Show Tags 30 Dec 2017, 04:13 arjun51 wrote: Hi! Can anyone please explain how drawing a grid on the scratch paper (A | B | C | D | E) helps save time on the Verbal section? Thanks, Arjun A grid can help keep you focused on the options that you haven't eliminated. Not everyone uses it though. For example, someone who is used to working very fast through a section might feel that using a grid actually slows him or her down. _________________ Study Buddy Forum Moderator Joined: 04 Sep 2016 Posts: 1166 Location: India WE: Engineering (Other) Re: Timing Strategies on the GMAT [Master Thread] [#permalink] ### Show Tags 02 Jan 2018, 04:55 AjiteshArun Can you advise on what timing strategies do you suggest to students for efficiently practicing in mocks? _________________ It's the journey that brings us happiness not the destination. Re: Timing Strategies on the GMAT [Master Thread] &nbs [#permalink] 02 Jan 2018, 04:55 Go to page 1 2 Next [ 25 posts ] Display posts from previous: Sort by # Timing Strategies on the GMAT [Master Thread]  new topic post reply Question banks Downloads My Bookmarks Reviews Important topics Moderator: HKD1710 # Events & Promotions  HOT DEALS FOR AUGUST Economist GMAT - Free Free 1-week trial + Free Test Math Revolution -$99/3 mo Free 1-month trial + Diagnostic Test Target Test Prep - Save $800$50 Discount + $750 Bonus [GMAT ClubTests and Premium MBA Bundle] examPAL Full GMAT video course - Save 10% EMPOWERgmat -$85/mo GMAT Club tests included 2nd month GMAT Prep Exams 3, 4, 5 & 6 Kaplan Courses - Save $475$225 Discount + $250 Bonus GMAT Club Tests - Free Included with every course purchaseof$149 or more - Full List is here

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