GMAT Pacing & Strategies

Woman using notebook and laptop to practice her strategy for taking the GMAT

GMAT Timing Strategies

Answering Difficult Questions Quickly

The GMAT exam is notorious for its difficulty. Not only are the prompts exceptionally complex, but the unique computer-adaptive format prevents you from skipping hard questions and returning to them later. Having to answer each question correctly within a specific time limit adds to the difficulty of this test as well.

Time Limits & Section Length

Question quantities and time limits for each of the four GMAT sections are as follows:

Developing a GMAT Strategy

Tips for Using Your Time Wisely

While studying GMAT sample questions can prepare aspiring business school applicants for the difficult test prompts, using clever test-taking strategies can help you complete each exam section quickly and efficiently. Here are a few GMAT tips and tricks to make taking this difficult test a little easier.

GMAT Pacing

How Much Time Should I Spend on Each Question?

Spending too much time on a single question makes it difficult to catch up, leading to a loss of points for your unanswered GMAT questions. However, if you rush through the exam, you risk making mistakes and losing points for incorrect responses. Proper pacing is the key to completing each GMAT section within its allotted timeframes.

Set a Limit for Each Question

One of the most popular GMAT test-taking strategies is to spend a maximum of three minutes on each question. Within that time limit, you should be able to read, understand, and answer the prompt. If you have time left over, you can quickly review your response for accuracy before moving on to the next question.

Practice Your Pacing Technique

Apply this strategy during your next GMAT practice test by timing yourself as you work through each question. You'll know you've achieved an efficient and steady pace when you can complete eight Quantitative Reasoning questions in 15 minutes and nine Verbal Reasoning questions in 16 minutes.

Jumping Ahead

Skipping GMAT Questions to Maximize Time

Skipping hard questions is an unusual but effective tip for taking the GMAT. Taking too long on a single question will hurt your score, regardless of whether your answer is right or wrong. So, it's better to skip or incorrectly answer tough questions quickly so you can get to the easier questions faster.

Determining Which Prompts to Skip

Since difficult GMAT questions have a higher point value, you'll want to avoid skipping them all. So how do you know which ones to answer and which ones to avoid?

Most successful test-takers stick to one simple piece of GMAT advice: Take 30 seconds to read through the prompt and determine whether or not you can answer it in the remaining 2.5 minutes. If not, skip it.

GMAT Test Day Tips

Time Management Reminders for Success

Using this GMAT pacing strategy is an excellent way to ensure that you correctly answer as many questions as possible within the given time limits. When test day rolls around, keep the following time management tips in mind:

  1. It's okay to get questions wrong as long as you do so quickly (i.e., in less than 3 minutes).
  2. Speeding up and slowing down during the test can result in a lot of careless mistakes. Focus on maintaining a single, steady pace throughout the exam to ensure a higher level of accuracy.
  3. You can achieve a top score while skipping up to two questions out of every eight (as long as you use the extra time to ensure your other answers are correct). To take the pressure off, plan to skip at least one question per quarter. You can always add another if you start to fall behind.

Study Resources

Online GMAT Test Prep

Sections of the GMAT

GMAT Test Day Checklist

Registering for the GMAT

GMAT Scoring Tips