Time Management Tips to Improve Your GMAT Score
The correct strategy can pay huge dividends when it comes to your GMAT preparation, and developing proper time management skills is essential to achieving the highest possible GMAT score. The GMAT is a computer adaptive test (CAT) and time management techniques that may have worked on the SAT and other standardized tests will not work on the GMAT. You are only shown one question at a time, and you cannot skip over time-consuming questions and return to them at the end of the test.
Remember, the GMAT is more a test of analytical ability than knowledge recall, and a proper pacing strategy will give you the time you need to properly analyze the concepts being tested. When we meet with students to discuss why their previous performance on the GMAT was less than satisfactory, what we hear most often is that they were rushed for time, had trouble finishing certain sections, and made careless mistakes they should not have made. All of these issues are directly related to time management. Here are a few tips to help you pace yourself properly and raise your score.
- Work quickly but carefully early in each section.
You don’t want to miss the early questions because correctly answering them gives you access to the higher-scoring questions later on, but you also don’t want to be double-checking answers you know are correct. Don’t lose time trying out every answer choice when you’re confident you’ve gotten the right answer.
- Look for elegant answers to math problems.
Many math problems that look difficult at first glance often have very simple, elegant solutions. Familiarize yourself with special numbers such as perfect squares, cubes, and common factors, so that you can discern the elegant solution rather than the one that involves many painstaking steps.
- Don’t get bogged down by details in Reading Comprehension passages.
The reading comprehension passages often deal with esoteric subjects that may feature concepts that are difficult to grasp. Don’t waste time re-reading sentences trying to memorize every last detail. Instead, read quickly through the passage to get the general idea of the passage. The questions themselves will force you to zero in on particular passages, so don’t fall into the trap of trying to analyze every sentence the first time through.
- A strategic eye is key for critical reasoning.
Critical reasoning questions will force you to analyze arguments in a way that may be unfamiliar at first. Practice recognizing the different parts of an argument – especially the conclusion, evidence, and any underlying assumptions that are clearly stated. Once you learn the components of an argument, you’ll be able to quickly rule out answer choices that are clearly erroneous.
- Don’t waste time being stumped.
No matter how well you prepare for the exam, chances are that at some point during the GMAT, you will be stumped by a question. This is especially true if you are doing well and the GMAT decides to give you high difficulty questions. Don’t waste any time panicking – instead, immediately start trying different things to unpack the question and give yourself the best possible chance to get the correct answer. If a question is taking too long, rule out the wrong choices and give it your best guess so you can move on and finish the section.
- Get to the finish line no matter what!
Because the penalty for unanswered questions is so high, it is absolutely essential that you finish each section, even if that means guessing on the last six questions in a given section. At worst, you have a 20% chance of getting each question right, so keep an eye on the remaining time and don’t let the clock run out.
Even with the best preparation, things can happen during the test that can throw you off. Remember that the only thing you can control is your own performance, so do your best to pace yourself, finish the exam at all costs, and don’t waste a second on any negative thoughts that could be better spent solving problems. Good luck!
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