Sure-Fire Time Tips for a Better GMAT Score
If you think of the GMAT as a game, you’ll know that the best way to score well at any game is to familiarize yourself with exactly how its played. As a GMAT test taker, here’s what you need to understand:
Learn the rules – know the difference between a normal test and this kind of computer-adaptive test (CAT)
Work on your time management skills
The questions on the GMAT are challenging. And most test-takers report that the clock counting down 75 minutes per section (for the quantitative and verbal sections) causes a great deal of stress that ends up making test day more challenging than they ever expected. There are many ways the clock can work against you, but there are also ways to use the element of time to your advantage. Let’s look at the challenges.
First, recognize that the clock is part of the game. After all, doesn’t everyone take the test under the same circumstances? Even if you don’t beat the clock, if you can manage time better than your competitors, you’ve done a good job.
With this type of test (CAT), you can’t relay on memory and recall powers as they play an unimportant role. Instead, you have to focus on how well you can pace yourself during the exam. The GMAT tests not “how much you know,” but “how you think.”
At Manhattan Review in our post-exam discussions, we help students analyze why their performance was poor on test day. We’ve heard that many applicants could not complete the test on time, and secondly, that they rushed through the questions causing weird errors. Both issues are directly related to time management skills so we’d like to offer these essential timing tips guaranteed to improve your GMAT score.
- Know when to move ahead.
If you know your answer is correct, move on. Begin the test with the thought that you are going to need all the time you can get at the end of the test. Do not waste time double-checking what you feel is already correct. This could make the difference between completing and not completing the last few questions.
- For math, employ short cuts.
Try to use your common sense about numbers, and learn to estimate without using math. You can prepare for this with simple tests before the exam. If you want to leave time at the end of the exam, short cuts are critical so being familiar with numbers needs to be learned over time. Practice before the test!
- For reading, concept is more important than details.
Test passages are usually between 400-450 words each. You may encounter difficult vocabulary, incorrect grammar, poor syntax, or unfamiliar topics. Any one of these elements can set you back. It’s important not to trust your memory while reading, instead take short notes on scrap paper. The best advice here is to zero in on understanding the concept and how the ideas logically relate to that concept.
- A strategic eye is key for critical reasoning.
Instinct won’t help you here. This section is called ‘critical’ for a reason – you must use a strategic and critical eye along with some memorization. Regarding sentence structure, often times we can’t trust what we hear because some of the spoken words may sound correct due to hearing them said a certain way repeatedly. With grammar, you may want to get reacquainted with the rules so you won’t be inaccurate when you see something your ear doesn’t recognize. It’s certainly better to grasp why something is incorrect instead of just knowing it is.
Expect the unexpected. While it’s a good idea to aim for perfection, realize that you will have to, at some point, stop and think on the spot. Just try not to waste valuable time thinking negatively when you can’t figure out the answer. Just know when to move on. Also know that to score an 800, it’s not required that you answer every question correctly. It’s important to remember that with this type of exam, the text increases in difficulty based on your performance.
Above all, finish the exam. There’s a huge scoring penalty for failing to finish any of the GMAT sections. The best tip is to prepare you to finish the test at all costs. Yes, answering a question incorrectly will cost you, however, not nearly as much as leaving the question unanswered.
Train yourself to work within the time frame of the exam. In addition, be on guard to watch the clock and notice when only a minute or so remains. At that point, just answer the question instead of leaving it blank. Remember random guessing could hurt you. But leaving answers blank could hurt you more.
In conclusion, anything that occurs during test time will, of course, limit the amount of time you have to complete the test. Before you sit down to take the test, be sure you have enough scrap paper and remember to refrain from revisiting the help screen during the test. Whatever your actions once the test has begun should be limited so that you can get the best score possible.
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