Lesson: Managing your Time on the GMAT

Comment on Managing your Time on the GMAT

Guys, just wanted to share

Guys, just wanted to share that this technique simply helped me to gain 120 points comparing to what I scored before, without extra studying. I have taken the exam 5 times and always had a problem with the timing - each time I had to skip last 10-15 questions to finish the section on time. I just finished my 5th exam, and so happy that applied this technique! Best of luck to everybody!﻿

That's great to hear!

That's great to hear!

will there be time to jot

will there be time to jot down this table before the actual questions appear on the screen

It shouldn't take more than

It shouldn't take more than 15 to 20 seconds to copy each chart.
Since proper time management is crucial to maximizing your score, I think it's a good investment of your time.

You are the best!

You are the best!

No, YOU'RE the best! :-)

No, YOU'RE the best! :-)

Two questions for you sir.

Two questions for you sir.
1) For the quant section, where would you write the milestone table? If you write it on the front page, you'll have to flip back and find it each time you check your time.
2) Does this strategy assume you spend equal amount of time on all questions? For me, I answer SC faster than RC. So I may need to spend more than 5 min on RC, and fewer than 5 min on SC. Would this conflict with your proposed strategy?

Thanks!

Good questions, Sean.

Good questions, Sean.

1) Yes, write the table on the front page. Then, every 5 questions, you need to consult the table. Although this may take 1 couple of seconds, it's worth it, if it helps maximize your score. Alternatively, you can memorize the table, which will save you time during the test.

2) The Verbal section is a little harder. When you check your time on the milestone chart, you'll need to consider the types of questions you recently completed. So, for example, let's say you complete question #10 and then find that you're 2 minutes behind. If you've just completed a long RC passage (with 4 questions) and 1 long CR question, then you may not be behind time-wise, especially if you're much faster at SC questions.

Does that help?

Cheers,
Brent

Hi Brent,

Hi Brent,

Appreciate your assistance regarding few queries.

1. Does time taken per question have any bearing on the score. What I mean by this is, lets suppose the avg time taken to answer a Q is 50secs and I take 90secs(or say 30secs) to answer that same question. Since the my timing differs from the avg timing will the GMAT algorithm punish me for that?

2. I am struggling with Pacing myself in Verbal. Verbal time management isn't as linear as in Quant(you might get 3RC in the beginning or 4RCs spread throughout the test). Since there isn't "one right way" to keep track of Verbal Timing I thought of spending maximum time trying to answer first 30 questions correctly and guess in last 6. Does this approach sound credible to you considering I am targeting somewhere around V30-35 (currently I am at V28)?

Thanks & Regards,
Abhirup

Hi Abhirup,

Hi Abhirup,

Here are my responses:

1) The amount of time spent on each question has no bearing on your score. So, there's no advantage to answering faster.

2) Yes, Verbal timing is a little tricky, and you have to make some adjustments as you go. So, for example, if the 5 questions you just answered consisted of 3 RC's and 2 long CR's, and you find you're now 1.5 minutes behind schedule, you should take into consideration that you just answered 5 long (and time-consuming) questions, in which case you might not be that much behind.

I would advise against your plan to guess the last 6 questions, since the GMAT scoring algorithm punishes you a lot for having several incorrect answers in a row. So, it's much better to spread out your guesses. To that end, you can decide (ahead of time) which kinds of questions you're going to guess on (if you find that you consistently cannot finish the Verbal section in the allotted time).

Cheers,
Brent

Hi Brent,

Hi Brent,

As per my analysis, I, on an average, take 32mins to complete all 4RCs. Since reading RC involves a lot of time investment I see no point in skipping any RC question. My average time per SC Q is 90sec and CR Q is 2mins. The time remaining on Verbal section minus RCs is 33mins which tells me that I need to skip questions in order to gain 6mins.

Now given the above scenario please suggest a strategy that I should look to deploy in order to maximize my score. Would really appreciate your insight.

Thanks & Regards,
Abhirup

If you want to free up 6

If you want to free up 6 minutes on the Verbal section (without skipping RC questions), then you'll probably need to guess on 3 questions. The types of questions that YOU guess on will depend on the types of questions you typically have difficulty answering (after all, if you're going to guess, you should guess on questions that you typically get wrong.

Alternatively, you might just look out for questions that typically take a lot of time to answer. For example, SC questions in which the entire sentence is underlined typically take a long time to answer. Also, there are some CR questions that have A LOT of text. These are also good candidates for guessing.

Hi Brent,

Hi Brent,

What's your advice on utilising the notepad given on test day. What's the best way of dividing up the pages for the Quant sections?

Beyond using the notepad to

Beyond using the notepad to record the two milestone charts, I don't have any extra advice.

That said, from my own personal experiences at the test center, I recommend that students try to be somewhat neat when using the notepads. My messy handwriting has been responsible for many careless errors (e.g., I write "7" then later read it as "1". Five calculations later, I can't figure out why none of the answer choices match mine!)

Also, as a left-hander, my hand inevitably smudges everything I just wrote with the dry erase marker.

Cheers,
Brent

Hi Brendt,

Hi Brent,

I had a plateau in my scores, its been a while I have been struck on that. Now that I started following this technique I immediately improved my score by 50 points.

Then I realized, I was wasting a lot of time after every question to see if I was on the right pace.

Thanks a tons Sir.

That's great news!

That's great news!

Dear sir,

Dear sir,
Sorry this may be silly question,

Can I ask or request at test centre to give two notepad instead of one for quant section only.

Do they can give 2 together,

The reason I ask is that I will write time monitoring one notepad and incase I filled obe notepad then no need to raise hand ✋for other.

Thanks

That certainly sounds like a

That certainly sounds like a reasonable request. Unfortunately, I think it's unlikely that you'll get two notepads at one time.
That said, it doesn't hurt to ask!

Cheers,
Brent

Hello,

Hello,

I am going to be writing the GMAT for the 1st time in 10 days. I am very concerned about the notepad. How does it look like? Is it erasable?
Any videos you can direct me too?
Thank you.

Here's a video on what you

Here's a video on what you need to know about the noteboard: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3-n1Zzh0NnM

Cheers,
Brent

Hi Brent,

Hi Brent,
I have one very important question: Let's say I get 4 RC in a row during the exam(maybe with a few of SC or CR between them)

I had such bad luck on my prep session and I want to be prepared for the same situation on my official test.
In brackets [] I put time remained after completing the question groups you suggested in your video about time management.

1 RC passage with 3 questions + 2 SC [0:56:23]+23 sec
1 RC passage with 4 questions + 1 SC [0:44:23]- 2,5 min
1 RC passage with 3 questions + 2 CR [0:38:00](here I guessed 1 CR)-3,5 min
1 RC passage with 3 questions + 2 CR [0:23:29](here I guessed 1 CR)-5,5 min

And after completing this unfortunate set of 4 RC passages with two skips I was left with 5,5 minutes of delay. Could you tell me how I could have prevented such thing from happening?

I would be happy to guess on RC questions but I think it is too harmful to my score since in order to save time on skipping RC questions I have to skip reading the entire passage which would lead to skipping all 3 or 4 questions

I treat RC as an investment of time 2,5 minutes on reading without any return on investment and only when I answer the maximum amount of questions from that passage I get the return since the answering process for each question takes 1 min, which is 40 sec less than the average time I can spend on a question.

The last passage, which was a short one, took me 8 minutes and as I wrote before there were 3 questions. When I started reading the passage I already knew that I didn't understand it well, yet I couldn't skip reading it because it could result in 3 questions being answered incorrectly.

Do you have any suggestions for me in terms of time management and decision making during the exam? I know that RC is one of the aspects to improve, but must be aware of my weaknesses and be prepared for the worst-case scenario as it occurred in the prep test session?

Than you very much in advance Brent,

I really appreciate your help,

I'm happy to help!

I'm happy to help!

Yikes! It was quite unlucky for the first 20 questions to consist of 13 RC questions.

Judging from your notes, it looks like the 4th RC passage killed your timing.

After the 15th question, you were right on track. You had 38 minutes remaining, which is exactly what the milestone chart suggests.
However, you then spent almost 15 minutes on the next 5 questions. This is what caused you to be 5.5 minutes behind.
Of course, it would be easy for me to suggest that you don't spend so long on an RC passage, but that doesn't really help.

At this point, we know that the remaining 16 will consist of A LOT of Sentence Correction questions. So, even though you're 5.5 minutes behind, you may only need to guess on 2 questions, since most people are a little faster at answering SC questions.

So, in this situation (while answering the next 5 questions), I'd be looking for a super long CR question to guess on and see where you stand after 25 questions.

I hope that helps.

Cheers,
Brent

Hi Brent,

Hi Brent,

I made a mistake when I wrote information from my notebook about the time I spent on questions from 10-15. I should have been on the 38-minute timeline but I was actually on
0:34:29

So if you see below my corrected timing:

1 RC passage with 3 questions + 2 SC [0:56:23]+23 sec
1 RC passage with 4 questions + 1 SC [0:44:23]- 2,5 min
1 RC passage with 3 questions + 2 CR [0:34:29](here I guessed 1 CR)-3,5 min
1 RC passage with 3 questions + 2 CR [0:23:29](here I guessed 1 CR)-5,5 min

Thank you for your help,

It is very important for me to get such a feedback,

Approximately how many

Approximately how many guesses - random or with the use of POE - per section (Math, Verbal) can I make that will not significantly hurt my score? This assumes all my guesses are incorrect. 3-4?

Thanks.

That's a difficult question

That's a difficult question to answer.
The scoring algorithm isn't as straightforward as you may think. For example, we can't say that 1 incorrect answer = -X points.
The score decrease for one incorrect answer depends largely on the difficulty level of the question. For example, getting "What is 1+1?" wrong will hurt your score more than getting "What is the sum of the interior angles in a 15-sided polygon?" wrong.

Cheers,
Brent

"What is the sum of the

"What is the sum of the interior angles in a 15-sided polygon?" ==> (13)(180 degrees) = 2,340 degrees?

Good stuff!

Hi Brent,

Hi Brent,

I am taking my GMAT in 5 days. I know that I am usually 4 mins behind on verbal and I do have to guess 2 questions.

Will it be a fair strategy to keep my guesses for the 2nd half of the section (q20 to q36). Since the questions keep getting harder(means more time used to answer) and penalty for getting both of ques wrong will be lesser?

Thanks for all the help so far. Will update you once I get my score!

You can wait until the second

You can wait until the second half to do that, but doing so will make it harder to follow the milestone chart.

Keep in mind that you don't need to wait until the second half of the test for the questions to get difficult. If you correctly answer the first 5 questions, the difficulty level of question #6 will be 700+. So, even during the first half of the test, you might start looking for questions that are historically difficult (e.g., boldface CR questions, SC questions in which the entire sentence is underlined and the five answer choices are all wildly different, etc) to guess on.

Cheers, Brent

Hi Brent,

Hi Brent,

I just got my GMAT online result. Got a 730. This success is definitely attributed to you and your course. It's just amazing.

Thank you so much...

Signing off,
Prajwal aka GmatNinjaThree

That's fantastic news,

That's fantastic news, Prajwal!!
I wish you all the best!

I heard a claim at some day

I heard the claim day that the timing doesn't matter. If you can get it right then the algo will count it anyways regardless of your time...
So this is a false claim?

I'm not entirely sure what

I'm not entirely sure what you're asking.
The amount of time it takes you to answer a question (or to complete the test early) will have no bearing on your score.
Is that what you are wondering about?

By the way, for the above video, Time Management refers to managing your time so that you complete each section within the given time limits.