GMAT Tip of the Week

(This is one of a series of GMAT tips that we offer on our blog.)

Happy Thanksgiving! Today marks, hopefully, at least for the economy’s sake, the busiest shopping day of the year in the United States, complete with hectic parking lots, long lines, and potentially-significant savings. In fact, it’s a lot like your GMAT test date will be – stressful and frantic with the hope of a big payoff…but also with the potential to waste a lot of time and energy for naught.

On test day you’ll have multiple opportunities to waste your time where there is a decreasing potential return on certain questions, just as you may find this morning that you can wait in line for hours for a “Doorbuster Special” only to find that the fine print “while supplies last” caveat was met long before you reached the front.

Timing on the GMAT can be crucial, so let your internal clock conscience help you realize when to cut a failing investment of time. Perhaps the easiest clock management error one can make is to sink 5-6 minutes in to an incorrect answer, only to realize by the next question that the ticking clock is now a major factor for the rest of the exam. To combat this, once your conscience kicks in to tell you that “you’ve spent a long time on this question”, mentally fast-forward approximately 30 seconds. In that time, do you see yourself solving the problem or arriving at a correct answer? Or do you think that you could give yourself twice that time and still be unsure of where you stand?

If it’s the former, even if you’ve already invested too much time, finish the question and know that you’re at least investing that time in a correct answer to a probably-difficult problem. If you’re that close to a correct answer, don’t cut your losses…you can still win! If it’s the latter, know that an educated guess at that point is still a 33 or 50% chance of a correct answer, and that the next question should be well within your reach if you’ve saved enough time to work through it.

Overall, to achieve a proper personal pacing strategy, you should plan to take several practice tests. At the very least, know that you can afford to sink some time in to questions you’ll ultimately answer correctly, but that you can’t lose time on questions that you just won’t get.

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