I’ve written a lot – and you’ve read a lot – about timing already, but I want to address something that I’ve been hearing lately from students… particularly those who have been studying for a while and are really struggling to make progress on practice tests.
My best timing was on my very first practice test
I’ve spoken with a few students lately who’ve told me that they felt more comfortable with the timing before they started studying all of this stuff. How is that possible?
Actually, it’s fairly common. Here’s what happens: on your first practice test (before or shortly after you started studying), you know what you don’t know and so it’s much easier to let go of the too-hard questions. Once you start studying, you’ll see something and think, “Oh, I studied that! I can get this one!” But it turns out that one is still too hard… only, this time, you won’t let go when you should. Do that a few times and the whole situation snowballs: you realize you’re behind on time, you start to panic and rush, that causes careless mistakes. Then you get stuck on another because you feel like you’re getting a bunch wrong so you don’t want to get this one wrong too… now you’re wasting even more time, and then the section ends with a bunch of guesses or even blank questions.
I’m fine with OG / untimed / with shorter problem sets
I’m sure it’s no surprise to you that you’re better when the timer isn’t ticking. We all are. Unfortunately, the real test is timed, so our untimed performance doesn’t matter. Lots of people also discover that everything’s fine when doing sets out of the Official Guide, especially shorter problem sets. This, again, is to be expected – it’s easier to keep track of your “global” time for 5 or 10 questions rather than 37 or 41.