Managing your time during the GMAT is essential for getting a good score on each section of the exam. On the Quant section you need to answer 37 questions in 75 minutes. That is just over 2 minutes per question. On the verbal it’s 41 questions in 75 minutes. That is just under 1 minute and 50 seconds per question. Still, different questions will require a different allocation of time.
Be careful with Reading Comprehension
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In Verbal you need to prioritise questions with passages, because they take much longer to read. Sentence Correction questions are where you should save the most time, since they don’t have passages. Aim for about one or one and a half minutes per question. On Critical Reasoning, passages are short but there is just one question per passage, which means each question involves reading time. Aim for one and a half minutes per passage and its associated question. Reading Comprehension is the most complicated at time, because each passage has three to four questions. Spend two to three minutes reading the passage up front, focusing on introductory and conclusion sentences and paragraphs, as well as skimming for keywords to target other important ideas. Then spend one to two minutes per question. Rely on your initial skim to answer general questions quickly and then spend more time on specific questions that require going back to the passage to hunt for details. In general, hunt for six to eight minutes in total for a passage and all of its questions.
For Quant, the amount of time spent on different kinds of questions will depend on you. Some students find data sufficiency much more time consuming than problem solving, while others go faster, because they don’t need to fully solve the problem. Know yourself and time your questions accordingly.
Check the clock
So how can you keep on track? The trick is to check the clock every few questions by establishing checkpoints. Since you’re spending about two minutes per question on Quant, you can check after five questions to see if you’re 10 minutes in. For Verbal, you can check every 6 questions to see if you’re another 11 minutes in. If that’s too complicated, approximate checkpoints work too.
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If you’re taking too long, start using the timer for individual questions. When you get a particularly hard question, give yourself one minute for the process of elimination, guess from the remaining answer choices and then move on. This ensures you finish the section and it saves time for the questions you’re more likely to get correct. Once you’re back on track, you can go back for occasional check-ins with the timer.