“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

Alike other competitive exams, speed gives you an advantage in the GMAT exam. Yet, this advantage is not possible without a potential risk or a drop in accuracy. Even the best of people have their own respective 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 the GMAT test-taking strategy!

How to understand the timing of the GMAT exam?

In the GMAT quantitative section, you have 62 minutes for attempting 31 questions. That’s around 2 minutes for each question. Although, some questions might take you longer to answer; others might consume less time. Therefore, your aim should be to solve the questions you’re expert at in under a minute, setting aside some extra time for yourself to solve the ones which are relatively trickier.

In the GMAT verbal section, you have 65 minutes for 36 questions. On the face of it, this gives you 1.81 minutes approximately per question. But one key point to remember here is that 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 contemplate 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 have a good understanding of tricky grammatical situations.

Tips to improve your GMAT exam speed:

(1) Have a strategy for every type of question

As Louis Pasteur once said, “Chance favors only the prepared mind”. Likewise, 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 precious time in wondering how to go about it. When each 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 easier it becomes for you 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, break down each component that is likely to confuse you and then analyze 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) Don’t waste time checking and re-checking your answer during the test

With 2 minutes per question in the quantitative section and 1.81 minutes per question in the verbal section, you do not have that luxury to waste a single minute. Remember, each minute counts! Practice tests will give you an instinctive feel for when you’ve got 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 saved time on another question which 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 us at gmat@byjus.com for any MBA related queries.