Articles tagged "Time Management"

Everything You Need to Know about GMAT Time Management – Part 2 of 3

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Manhattan Prep GMAT Blog - Everything You Need to Know About Time Management - Part 2 of 3

Did you know that you can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person GMAT courses absolutely free? We’re not kidding! Check out our upcoming courses here.


Welcome back! In the first part of this series, we established some overall principles for GMAT time management:

  1. Why is GMAT time management so important?
  2. Know (generally) how the scoring works
  3. When solving problems, follow two principles

Today, we’re going to dive into per-question timing. Read more

Everything You Need to Know about GMAT Time Management – Part 1 of 3

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Manhattan Prep GMAT Blog - Everything You Need to Know About Time Management - Part 1 by Stacey Koprince

Did you know that you can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person GMAT courses absolutely free? We’re not kidding! Check out our upcoming courses here.


First, a note: this three-part series is long; there’s a lot going on. You aren’t going to be able to incorporate all of this from day one. Rather, expect to return to this article as you get further into your studies. Make a note right now that you want to review this before every practice test (and probably after, too!).

In this first part, we’re going to get oriented on some overall principles for GMAT time management. Let’s dive in! Read more

Two More Official Practice GMAT Exams Released!

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Manhattan Prep GMAT Blog - GMAC Releases Two More Official GMAT Practice Exams! by Stacey KoprinceGMAC® has released two new official practice CATs for your studying pleasure. In addition to the 2 free tests and the 2 previously-released paid tests, this brings to 6 the total number of official practice GMATs you can take as you get ready for the real test.

The GMATPrep® Exam Pack 2 contains 2 full-length practice tests for $49.99 and, as with the Exam Pack 1 product, you’ll receive an enhanced score report providing you with your overall scores and some detailed performance data by question-type.

GMATPrep Exam Tips

We do recommend that you time yourself per question while taking the GMATPrep® exams. Almost everyone has at least minor timing issues in at least one of the sections, so this is useful data to gather. Grab your smartphone and disable the screen saver (or make it so long that it won’t go dark on you between questions).

Pull up a timer or stopwatch app and play with it until you figure out how the lap timing function works. The lap timer allows you run a timer continuously as you hit the lap button periodically. Every time you hit the lap button, the timer will record how long it has been since you last hit the lap button, but the timer won’t stop. It’ll continue running.

Every time you finish a problem and click Next and Confirm, train yourself to hit a third button: Lap. Your sequence is always Next-Confirm-Lap and on to the new problem. When you’re done, you’ll have your per-question timing data.

Read more

Everything You Need To Know About Time Management (Part 2)

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Manhattan Prep GMAT Blog - Everything You Need to Know About Time Management (Part 2) by Stacey KoprinceDid you know that you can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person GMAT courses absolutely free? We’re not kidding! Check out our upcoming courses here.


This is the original version of a piece that has since been updated. See Stacey’s latest series on GMAT time management.


In the first part of this series, we discussed time positions (positive, negative, and neutral) and addressed our first three major considerations for timing:

(1) understanding the scoring (and what implications that has for timing)

(2) per-question timing and tracking your work

(3) reflecting on your results so that you can improve

If you haven’t already read the first part, do so now before you continue with this article. Today, we’re going to talk about our final three major timing strategies. Read more

Everything You Need To Know About Time Management (Part 1)

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Manhattan Prep GMAT Blog - Everything You Need to Know About Time Management - Part 1Did you know that you can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person GMAT courses absolutely free? We’re not kidding! Check out our upcoming courses here.


This is the original version of a piece that has since been updated. See Stacey’s latest tips on GMAT time management.


I haven’t picked too ambitious a title there, have I? Let’s see how we do!

First, just a note: these two articles are long and have a lot of detail. You aren’t going to be able to remember everything and start incorporating it right away; instead, you’re going to keep coming back to this article as you get further into your studies. Bookmark this right now so that you can find it again easily in the future.

Time management is obviously an essential GMAT skill, and one of the (many!) skills we need for this test is the ability to maintain an appropriate time position. Time position refers to the relationship between the test taker’s position on the test (the question number) and the time that has elapsed to get to that point in the section.

For example, if I’ve just finished Quant question #5 and 15 minutes have elapsed so far, am I ahead, behind, or on time? Use this chart to help you decide:

Positive ahead of time (3 minutes ahead)
Neutral on time (+/- 3 minutes)
Negative behind on time (>3 minutes behind)

I would be behind on time because, on Quant, we’re expected to average about 2 minutes per question. After 5 questions, only 10 minutes should have elapsed—so I am 5 minutes behind, putting me in a negative time position.

It’s more common to find ourselves in the negative position and that really hurts our scoring chances. If we run out of time before completing the section, we’re going to incur a huge penalty because either we’ll answer a bunch of questions incorrectly in a row (random guessing just to finish on time) or we’ll leave questions blank (and that incurs an even higher penalty than the first scenario).

It can also be very problematic to be too far in the positive position, though. If you’re answering many or most questions way too quickly, then you’re also likely making a lot of careless mistakes, and that will kill your score by the end of the test.

Ideally, we’d like to remain neutral throughout the test, which means that we stay within two to three minutes of the expected time. Sometimes, though, we’re going to get off track. So how do we remain neutral as much as possible? And when we do get into a positive or negative position, how do we get back on track? That’s what we’re going to discuss in this series.

(1) Understand How the Scoring Works

If you don’t understand how the scoring works, you’re probably going to mess up your timing.

(A) Everyone gets a lot of questions wrong, no matter the scoring level; that’s just how the test works. Pretend you’re playing tennis. You don’t expect to win every point, right? That’d be silly. You just want to win more points than your opponent (the computer)!

(B) Getting an easier question wrong hurts your score more than getting a harder question wrong. In fact, the easier the question, relative to your overall score at that point, the more damage to your score if you get the question wrong. (Note: it is still very possible to get the score you want even if you make mistakes on a few of the easier questions.)

(C) Missing three or four questions in a row hurts your score more, on a per-question basis, than getting the same number of questions wrong but having them interspersed with correct answers. In other words, the effective per-question penalty actually increases as you have more questions wrong in a row. This, of course, is exactly what happens to someone who maintains a negative time position on the test; even if you notice and try to catch up toward the end, you’re likely to end up with a string of wrong answers in a row.

(D) The largest penalty of all is reserved for not finishing the test—another possible consequence of maintaining a negative time position.

(2) Know Your Per-Question Time Constraints and Track Your Work

When practicing GMAT-format problems, ALWAYS keep track of the time for each question, whether you are doing one problem at a time or a set of problems at once. (Note: GMAT-format means questions that are in the same format as one of the official GMAT question types. If you are doing other type of problems—say, math drills—you do not need to time yourself.)

Save this chart somewhere (don’t worry, you don’t need to memorize it now!).

Question Type Average timing Min and Max
Quant 2 minutes 1 minute; 2.5 minutes
Sentence Correction 1 minute 15 seconds 30 seconds; 2 minutes
Critical Reasoning 2 minutes 1 minute; 2.5 minutes
Reading Comp: Reading 2 to 3 minutes 1.5 minutes; 3.5 minutes
Reading Comp General Questions 1 minute 30 seconds; 1 minute 30 seconds
Reading Comp Specific Questions 1.5 minutes 45 seconds; 2 minutes
Integrated Reasoning 2.5 minutes 1 minute; 3 minutes

So what does that all mean? If we want to finish the section on time, then we have to hit the average expected timing. At the same time, averages are only averages—you’re going to have some faster questions and some slower ones. The Min and Max numbers reflect a different consideration. First, I want to make sure that I’m generally spending enough time on questions that I don’t make a bunch of careless mistakes simply due to speed. On the flip side, if I’m spending more than about 30 seconds above the expected average, the chances are very good that the question is just too hard for me (and, if that’s the case, I’ve already spent too much time!).

Keep a time log that reflects the time spent on EVERY problem. (Note: if you have access to Manhattan Prep’s GMAT Navigator tracking program, use it to time yourself and keep track of all of your data.) If you make your own log, it might look like a rough version of this:

Q Type Source Benchmark Time Spent Time Position
DS OG12 #43 2 min 2 min 10 sec -10
SC OG12 #62 1 min 15 sec 1 min +15
RC reading OG 12 passage #3 3 min 3 min 43 sec -43

On the Data Sufficiency question, the test taker had a negative 10 second position; on the Sentence Correction question, the test taker had a positive 15 second position, and so on. Group the question types together (so, instead of mixing types as the above chart does, keep one log for Data Sufficiency questions, a separate log for Sentence Correction questions, and so on). Highlight questions on which you fell outside of the Min / Max time range.

If you use GMAT Navigator, note that the timing data will be saved for you automatically, but you’ll still have to keep track of which questions fall outside of the Min / Max time range. Click on the Review Your Answers link to view a list of the problems, and record the too fast and too slow problems in a log of your own (or simply count them up to get a sense of where you are too fast or too slow).

(3) Reflect on Your Results

The log will make you aware of your pacing on a single-problem level, and will force you to consider the time as you work through a practice problem. Aggregate the data to determine those question types that are generally costing you time (a significantly negative time position overall) and those that are buying you time (a significantly positive time position overall). If you’re using GMAT Navigator, you can see this aggregate data on the Statistics tab (in Table or Graph format).

Next, note whether you’re getting the negative position questions right or wrong (across the various categories—for example, Rate problems or Modifier SCs). For those that you’re answering correctly, ask yourself: how can I become more efficient when answering questions of this type? For those that you’re answering incorrectly, the initial question is simply: how can I get this wrong faster? (I’m getting it wrong anyway—so if I can get it wrong faster, then at least I won’t be hurting myself on other questions in the same section.)

How do you get things wrong faster? Well, I’m exaggerating a little bit here, but what I really mean is: do NOT spend extra time on these questions (wrong and slow) no matter what. You may be able to learn how to make a decent educated guess—and you should certainly try! Longer term, you may then decide to study that particular area/topic more closely in order to try to get better.

Also notice those questions that are buying you time (a significantly positive time position overall). First, make sure that you are not making many careless mistakes with these; working quickly is never a positive thing if you sacrifice a question that you were capable of answering correctly. You may actually need to slow down on some of these in order to minimize your careless mistakes.

If you do find areas that are both highly accurate and very efficient, excellent; these are your strengths and you should be very aware of those while taking the test. For instance, if you discover that you’re in a negative time position, you should still take your normal amount of time to answer any strength questions; don’t sacrifice the ones you can answer correctly! Instead, make a random guess on the next weakness question that you see in order to get yourself back to a neutral position.

Okay, that’s all for today, but you aren’t done yet! Click here for part 2, where we’ll discuss developing your 1 minute sense, using benchmarks to track your time throughout a test section, and what to do if you find yourself too far ahead or behind during the test. 📝


Can’t get enough of Stacey’s GMAT mastery? Attend the first session of one of her upcoming GMAT courses absolutely free, no strings attached. Seriously. 


stacey-koprinceStacey Koprince is a Manhattan Prep instructor based in Montreal, Canada and Los Angeles, California. Stacey has been teaching the GMAT, GRE, and LSAT  for more than 15 years and is one of the most well-known instructors in the industry. Stacey loves to teach and is absolutely fascinated by standardized tests. Check out Stacey’s upcoming GMAT courses here.

Breaking Down Two Minutes: Time Management Within a GMAT Problem

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This article, written by Abby Pelcyger and Stacey Koprince, was adapted from our upcoming book, The GMAT Roadmap: Expert Advice Through Test Day. The full book will be available mid-November.

You won’t correctly answer every Quant problem on the GMAT in the allotted time. Even 99th per-centile performers typically don’t do this. Through a 700, GMAT-takers are getting about 60% of the problems correct: that’s only three out of five! Even individuals who score a 750 are only getting about four out of five questions correct. That’s why time management is essential on the GMAT. Why spend time on a problem that you won’t get correct anyway, when you could invest that time on a problem where the time will make a difference?

As you are working through a GMAT problem, you also need to evaluate whether you are using your time efficiently. For instance, if you are attempting to solve a problem that you know you wouldn’t get right in ten minutes, let alone two, you are not using your time effectively. Likewise, if you are working on a problem and you know that you can get right, but that it will take five minutes, you are also not using your time effectively. Any time that you spend on a problem over two minutes is time that you are tak¬ing away from a problem that you have not even seen yet.

So how should you use your time? While no two problems will take you exactly the same amount of time to work through each step, using this timeline to structure your time working on GMAT practice problems will help you to make wise (but difficult) decisions on test day.

breaking down two minutes

Note: While having a plan for a problem may mean an algebraic method to solve, it doesn’t have to. Back-up strategies such as plugging in numbers and picking smart numbers are just as valid approaches” and sometimes quicker!

Once you have used this strategy to work through a practice GMAT question, write down (or better yet, input into the GMAT Navigator) your best guess. Then, draw a line under your scrap paper notes and continue to work on the problem until you have exhausted every potential line of your thinking. Providing your brain with the opportunity to think through new material most often takes more than two minutes. The trick is to do the heavy thinking now, during practice, so that on test day there’s very little new: all you will have to do is recognize, remember, adapt, and solve!

Everything You Need To Know About Time Management

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Manhattan Prep GMAT Blog - Everything You Need to Know About Time Management by Stacey KoprinceI haven’t picked too ambitious a title there, have I? Let’s see how we do!

Time management is obviously an essential GMAT skill, and one of the (many!) skills we need for this test is the ability to maintain an appropriate time position. Time position refers to the relationship between the test taker’s position on the test (the question number) and the time that has elapsed to get to that point in the section. For example, if I’ve just finished Quant question #5 and 15 minutes have elapsed so far, am I ahead, behind, or on time?

Check out the table below to help answer that question: Read more

Mental Discipline for the GMAT

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Almost all students undertaking a prep program for the GMAT, or for any other standardized test, understand the importance of the test itself. Far fewer, however, understand the importance, or the magnitude, of the mental adjustments required for success on the test.

The following “attitude adjustments” are discussed in detail by our instructors over the course of our nine-session program, but they bear repeating here as well.

1. PRACTICE ISN’T GAME DAY
In other words, studying for a test is not the same thing as taking that test.

On test day, your sole goal is to answer as many questions as possible correctly, within the desired time frame; this much is quite obvious. However, many GMAT students make the mistake of extending this same mentality to studying for the test, practicing primarily by solving problem after problem after problem and rarely, if ever, returning for a formal review.

Read more