“Need for Speed” While Taking GMAT – Get Ahead of the Race!


“It is a mistake to think that moving fast is the same as actually going somewhere.”

― Steve Goodier

As with any other competitive exam, speed gives you an advantage in GMAT. Yet, this advantage is not without a possible risk: a drop in accuracy. Even the best among us have our limitations when it comes to solving complicated questions under pressure, and one of the first casualties of a push for faster answers is the accuracy of that answer. A candidate who understands this trade-off has understood a basic tenet of GMAT test-taking strategy!

Understanding timing on the GMAT

In the quantitative section, you have 75 mins for attempting 37 questions. That’s approximately 2 minutes per question. Obviously, some questions will take you longer; others will take you much less. Your aim, therefore, should be to solve the questions you’re great at in under a minute, leaving yourself excess time for those which are trickier.

In the verbal section, you have 75 mins for 41 questions. On the face of it, this gives you 1.83 minutes per question… but remember! Some of these questions involve Reading Comprehension passages that will take you a few minutes to read and assimilate. Sentence correction and critical reasoning, on the other hand, will require much less time to think about and to answer. For someone who typically struggles with verbal questions, the timeline might prove to be insufficient. The only solution for such candidates is to prepare for this section to the very best of their abilities, shoring up on their speed-reading skills and understanding of tricky grammatical situations.


Tips to improve your speed

(1) Have a strategy for every type of question.

Chance favors the prepared mind, and so does GMAT. If you are already well-versed with different types of questions, you will instinctively switch to the right rubric for each question and not lose time wondering how to go about it. When every second counts, a running start is the best you can hope for.


(2) If it takes you a long time to solve a question the first time, do not panic!

Take a moment – and a deep breath – to figure out what it is that you are actually struggling with. Is it the question that’s confused you? Or is it the alternatives available to you, or perhaps the fact that the answer you’ve arrived at does not seem right? This is where your GMAT preparation regimen becomes important. The more practice you have on questions, the more easily you will be able to identify what is slowing you down. Even if you carry that problem into the actual exam, you would have honed your understanding to at least such an extent that you will be able to decide faster how much time, at the most, you should devote to that question.


(3) Work on your specific problem area systematically, breaking it down into each component that can confuse you and then analyzing it in depth. When you have mastered an aspect of a problem, challenge yourself to solve a similar one faster. But remember! The key is to get it right within the maximum time you will allow for each question! Time or accuracy – you will have to choose what’s more important in your strategy.


(4) During the test, don’t waste time checking and re-checking your answer. With 2 minutes per question in the quantitative section and 1.83 minutes per question in the verbal section, you do not have that luxury. Practice tests will give you an instinctive feel for when you’ve gotten the right answers, and that will have to suffice in most cases!


(5) Don’t get ‘wedded’ to a question. As mentioned already, this is one of GMAT’s deadly traps for the stubborn candidates who do not know when to give up on a question. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of thinking “Oh, I know this! I can solve this!” and get so caught up in the challenge of finding the answer that valuable time is lost. Learn to let go the moment you realize you’re struggling blindly. Use the time so saved on another question you can crack easily.


In case you want a few more tips on test prep or test-taking strategies, feel free to talk to BYJU’S Classes GMAT counselors! We’ll be happy to help. You can reach us on +918884544444 or email byjusforgmat@gmail.com