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GMAT Timing Strategies: Master the Clock and Boost Your Score

You know the drill: you've been studying for the GMAT for weeks, if not months. The big day finally arrives and you begin the test feeling confident. Then you see the clock on the wall and your stomach sinks. Four hours is a long time to take a test!

Luckily, we're here to help. In this blog post, we'll share our top strategies for timing your answers on the GMAT. With a little practice, you can master the clock and boost your score in no time. So let's get started!

Understand the timing of the GMAT sections - there are 3 main sections, and each has a different time limit

Preparing for the GMAT can seem like a daunting task, so you’ll want to make sure you know the timing of each section. It’s helpful to remember that you’ll be tackling three main sections and each of them come with their own time restrictions. The first section is the Analytical Writing Assessment – here you are provided with one essay topic and given 30 minutes to write your response. Next is the Integrated Reasoning Section, which consists of 12 questions that need to be completed in 30 minutes. Finally there is the Quantitative and Verbal Sections, with the former consisting of 31 multiple choice questions that need to be completed in 62 minutes and the latter containing 36 multiple choice questions that need to be finished in 65 minutes – no pressure!

Learn how to budget your time for each question type - some questions will take longer than others

Planning ahead when it comes to test questions is a great way to get ahead and stay ahead. Knowing which questions are the quickies, and which ones require some real digging can save time and help you ace that exam. There's no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to budgeting your time on test questions - you've got to get in there, analyze what that question requires of you, and make sure you allocate enough time accordingly. Sure, some questions will take longer than others, but if you stick with the plan and trust your gut feeling, you'll be done with that test before you know it!

Practice, practice, practice! Time yourself while taking practice tests so that you can get used to working within the time limits

If you want to do well on the real thing, you'd better get good at working under pressure! After all, time is ticking whether you like it or not. When practicing for the test, make sure to set a timer and give yourself the same amount of time that will be allocated for the actual test. Even if you only have one hour to finish a two-hour long mock exam - don't let that stop you from tackling every question as best as you can. The more practice with time constraints, the easier it'll be to deal with those stresses on actual testing day!

Don't spend too much time on any one question - if you're stumped, move on and come back later

When it comes to test taking, time is of the essence. Sure, we all want to get the right answer, but if you spend too much time on any one question, you may end up running out of time altogether - not cool! So if you get stumped on a particular question, my advice is to move on. Try spending a couple minutes at most trying to figure it out - then go onto another question. If you stay focused and work fast and smart throughout the test, your strategy will pay off in the long run. Good luck!

Now that you know a little more about the timing of the GMAT, budget your time wisely and get practicing! And remember - if you can't answer a question right away, move on! Don't spend too much precious time on one question.

Take the next step in your career today.

Anish Merchant

Co-Founder & CEO

Preparing for the GMAT and applying for an MBA requires a tremendous commitment, and that doesn’t take into consideration the personal challenges our students must face when deciding if they want to leave their friends, families, and native cultures behind to advance their careers abroad. An MBA is not for everyone and that’s precisely what makes this advanced degree so valuable. 

For these reasons, we at Merchant only work with students we are confident have what it takes to succeed throughout the preparation and application processes.

Given an increased demand in our services, we do not have the ability to offer free consultation services to unserious applicants. If you are interested in learning more about Merchant, please fill out this form. After reviewing your LinkedIn profile, our team will be in touch with you if we feel you are a good fit for our services.