How to pace the GMAT exam?

Pace up GMAT Test

The GMAT is the test intended to assess certain analytical, writing, quantitative, verbal, and reading skills in written English for use as a measure to grant admissions to a graduate management program, such as an MBA. It requires knowledge of certain grammar and knowledge of certain algebra, geometry, and arithmetic. The GMAT does not measure business knowledge or skill, nor does it measure intelligence.

Generally, you will be given a time limit of only 75 minutes to answer 37 arithmetic questions and 41 verbal questions, for this it is necessary for you to master pacing your questions and employ using tricks or shortcut methods to solve questions in the exam. Below we discuss a few ways through which you not only increase your speed but you will also answer correctly in one go.

Drill your Brain:

The most easiest way to improve your thinking capabilities is to indulge your brain in high order thinking activities like solving sudoku, puzzles etc. This will keep your mind active and you will become familiar with numbers and it acts as a stimulant to your brain as well. You could also engage yourself in learning new activities like – developing a new hobby, learning a new language etc are all bound to improve the activity of your brain significantly. You can also spend time to enhance your skills on activities which you are already familiar with. Another way to keep your mind functioning well is to interact with intelligent and like minded individuals.

Stop Guessing, Save Time:

Another way to save time during exams is to stop guessing. Often it is observed that test-takers after marking their answer spend a few seconds in a dilemma whether they have selected the right option or not. It may not seem that 10 seconds matters much, but you have to think of the cumulative effect of doing this time after time across the whole test. Spending 10 unnecessary seconds on 31 questions adds up to 5 minutes of wasted time. This can certainly be avoided unless you are certain of what techniques to use to eliminate incorrect answers. While guessing may seem like the easier option it always doesn’t work out in your favour if you don’t use the appropriate strategies. Once you have finished answering the question it is not wise to dwell on the same since as mentioned earlier you may end up losing precious time during the exam. One way to ensure that you have chosen the correct answer in the event that you aren’t aware of the question in the exam is to use the process of elimination. Next you could also use the option to choose the longest answers since most creators of the exam try to mention answers which are correct in every aspect they tend to give all details in the correct option. So if you see a relatively longer answer than the others, then chances are that it is the correct one.

Let Go of Questions that Are Too Hard:

You may begin working on a question and in certain scenarios it could take you a considerable amount of time to solve the question, however you may find that it’s hard to let go off the same and the longer you take to solve the question that harder it becomes to let go off. Psychologically you rebel against giving up, and the result can be that you throw even more time away when the smart thing to do is cut your losses, guess, and move on. This is the sunk cost fallacy in action and you can read more about it in the article “Overcoming the Sunk Cost Fallacy in Pacing.” Here I’ll simply say that there will be some questions you attempt on the GMAT that, in retrospect, you’ll wish you hadn’t. Don’t compound the problem by spending even more time on them. The time you’ve already spent is gone and can never be recovered, so don’t let that affect your choice to move on. When you realize you’re in over your head, take your best guess and don’t look back. Although it is a difficult choice to make it is definitely wise to do so since you have very limited time to attempt all the questions in the exam.

Focus on Mastery:

What about actually solving questions faster? Once you’ve eliminated wasted time, and disciplined yourself to guess and move on when you’re in over your head, what then? How can you actually become speedier at attacking the questions themselves? The only way to actually become faster at solving GMAT problems is to master GMAT technique and content. You need to practice your techniques until they become automatic and second-nature. You need to work on question identification so that you can more quickly recognize what a question is testing and how to approach it. You need to work on efficiently extracting the key ideas from Reading Comprehension passages. You need to work on recognizing common argument patterns in Critical Reasoning questions such as causal, sampling, and analogy flaws. You need to work on identifying common errors in Sentence Correction questions such as subject-verb agreement, misplaced modifiers, and pronoun errors.

Speed is a natural byproduct of mastery. The more you master the content of the GMAT and the techniques needed to excel on the exam, the faster you will be at solving the questions in the exam.

Learn to Divide your Time:

This forms a crucial aspect towards pacing your exam. If you have already decided on how much time to allocate for each section of the exam then you will find it an easier task to maneuver through the entire exam. Dividing your time to each section and module of the exam will make you more prepared and therefore you tend to answer the questions in a better manner since you are confident about the time element which you will have for the exam. A major factor which causes stress to candidates attempting the GMAT exam is that they fear that they may end up losing time to attempt or answer all the questions in the exam. This will not happen if you have already rehearsed how to attempt each section and within how much time to do so as well.

Set a Target Score or Score Range:

Setting yourself a target score will once again influence your pace of attempting the exam. You will be aware of what score to attain so that you are able to apply to your desired B-schools for admissions. Additionally when you are attempting the exam you can make judgements on your performance as well this will give you a rough estimate of what score range you are likely to land up with in the end. There is no negative marking involved in the exam so you needn’t spend time worrying about this factor either.

Practicing Beforehand with a Timer will Help Reduce Stress:

As already mentioned earlier one of the key elements which cause anxiety to many candidates with the GMAT exam is that you will be attempting the questions in a timed environment. Therefore there is a huge concern with the candidates attempting the exam that they may not be able to complete the exam and attempt all the questions in all the sections within the time limit. A simple way to avoid this problem is to start practicing mock exams or practice tests with a timer which will help create an environment similar to the actual exam. You will now become aware of how to allocate time to each section and how quickly you can solve questions in every category. You will be able to time yourself and learn from any mistakes which you do so that the same is not repeated in the final exam.

While it is important to complete the exam on time it is necessary that you attempt all the questions since missing to answer any questions may lead to losing out precious marks in your final score. Also since the GMAT uses adaptive testing techniques the difficulty level of your next question depends on your answer to the previous one. Hence it will not be possible for you to either skip questions or to leave out questions in the exam.

BYJU’S will be glad to help you in your GMAT preparation journey. You can ask for any assistance related to GMAT and MBA from us by calling at 088845 44444, or you can write to us at

Must Read GMAT Articles 2019: