It provokes a natural urge to speed up. GMAT Tutor’s academic director reveals how you can improve your time management and overall performance simply by resisting the impulse to accelerate.

Recently, while analyzing simulation tests results with my students, I noticed a pattern of behavior in which the student knows he or she has taken too long on a question.

The scenario: You spend nearly five minutes on a question and you answer the next few in under one minute each. You get them all wrong. You’ve probably hurt yourself psychologically at two points: when you realized that you took too long AND THEN when you answered the next questions too quickly. These realizations can be detrimental to your confidence and thought process going forward (anxiety anyone?).

After you realize that you may have spent too long to answer a question, take a breath.

Resist the urge to suddenly accelerate because that is exactly when you can make careless errors. Those are the questions you should not miss because you can control them. Only sacrifice questions if you know you are behind on time overall and only on questions you know you should let go. Pick your battles and get your points from the questions you are confident you can answer correctly, even if you have to slow down.

If you did take too long on a particular question, remember:

  • Don’t worry, you can bounce back!
  • Resist the impulse to accelerate. This can lead to multiple errors in a row.
  • Know when to let go. Only sacrifice a question when truly needed, according to a more orderly time management strategy of using benchmark of time vs question number.
  • Don’t buy into the myth that every question needs to be answered under a certain time.

Read the original article on the blog of The Economist’s GMAT Tutor.

GMAT Prep from The Economist: 5,000 Practice Questions, Simulation Exams and Live Tutor Sessions. Sign up today.