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# When should I begin timing myself on questions?

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Manager
Joined: 26 Dec 2011
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When should I begin timing myself on questions? [#permalink]

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09 Jun 2012, 02:05
Should I always time myself? Or only once I have mastered the concept and am just practicing? Or somewhere in between?

Also, recommended time is 2 minutes per question, right? For verbal and quant?

Thanks!
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Re: When should I begin timing myself on questions? [#permalink]

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09 Jun 2012, 02:49
I think it really depends on your case. Personally, I find that having a clock running while I'm answering a question makes it more realistic, but I give myself time to completely understand the question before moving on to the next one.

By the way, here's my favorite article on timing for the GMAT: http://www.manhattangmat.com/articles/keeping-pace.cfm. Hope it helps!

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Manager
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Re: When should I begin timing myself on questions? [#permalink]

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09 Jun 2012, 02:58
okay wrote:
Should I always time myself? Or only once I have mastered the concept and am just practicing? Or somewhere in between?

Also, recommended time is 2 minutes per question, right? For verbal and quant?

Thanks!

Have a strong grasp of the fundamentals first before timing yourself. After all, if you time yourself and you don't know anything then timing becomes counterproductive. Here's my strategy for timing (I don't know if you're going to agree):

Quant:
Problem solving - 2 minutes
Data sufficiency - 2 minutes
However, during the exam I always make it a point that data sufficiency will be my time saver.

Verbal:
Sentence correction - less than 1 minute (1 minute tops)
Critical reasoning - 2 minutes (still having a hard time with my timing in critical reasoning)
Reading comprehension - 3 minutes to read the passage and take down notes, less than 1 minute per question

This is just me haha
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Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure... than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.
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Re: When should I begin timing myself on questions? [#permalink]

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09 Jun 2012, 08:10
For problem practice with the OG, I timed myself every time. I usually set a limit of two-minutes. But that doesn't mean that I would quit the problem once the time limit had been breached. I would finish the question but mark it as incorrect, citing "time" as the reason in my error log. I would revisit the question sometime later in the day or the next day. (If I had no idea how to answer a question one or two minutes, then I would usually stop.)

I think that it's very important to get a sense of the test's time constraints as early as possible, so time yourself from the beginning with practice problems. Finish the problem if you can, but time yourself. You want to mimic the test conditions as best as you can. Some people even prop the OG books up vertically and practice at a desk with a test booklet and marker to better simulate the actual test experience.

Let me frame my reply another way: let's say that you can answer a math question in three minutes. If you go easy on yourself, then you will mark it as correct and move on. In this case, it's possible that you will forget about the problem and not review it. It's correct, right? But this masks the difficulty that you had with the problem. View any struggle with a question as an opportunity to improve and learn. Marking a question as correct when it's not 100 percent correct deprives you of the extra value from reattempting the question later on.

Another issue about timing is that sometimes people fail to adjust during their studies. If a question takes 2.5 minutes to correctly answer, then no big deal. But what if this happens ten times? During problem practice it might not seem like a huge obstacle, but it will during the test. It could also be a problem toward the end of your studies, since this deficiency takes time to correct. So why risk the chance of this issue creeping into your studies or occurring during the test? And why go through the additional hassle and stress of adjusting later on in your studies? It might be better to condition yourself from the start. That way, there's one less thing to worry about.

Again, you don't have be hardcore about it. But be aware of your time and give yourself the opportunity to improve right from the start.
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Re: When should I begin timing myself on questions? [#permalink]

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09 Jun 2012, 13:22
What was really helpful for me was that whenever I would do practice questions, I would do practice questions based on a certain amount of time, not based on completing a certain number of questions. For example, if I did quant or verbal practice problems, I would decide to do 30 minutes worth of practice problems and then divide the 30 minutes by the amount of questions that I answered to give me my average time per question. To answer your question about how long on average should it take to do a problem: for the entire quant section it is 2 minutes per question and for the entire verbal section it is 1 minute 45 seconds per question.

I really think it's best to use average time per question instead of always setting a limit of ~2 minutes on each question individually because when you actually take the test there will be problems that you can answer in 30 seconds and some that take 3 minutes but overall this discrepancy balances out.

IMO, not a fan of trying to break down time per question on a more granular level than quantitative/verbal (i.e. 1 min per sentence correction versus 2 minutes for critical reasoning question, etc.) because if you can answer a batch of questions that includes all the different question types with an acceptable average time spent per question who cares how long it takes you to answer one kind of question versus another? The only exception to this would of course be if you are really weak in something, but otherwise I really do not condone this more granular focus level.

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Re: When should I begin timing myself on questions?   [#permalink] 09 Jun 2012, 13:22
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# When should I begin timing myself on questions?

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