How to Pace Yourself with Practice Questions

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Pacing on the GMAT is not something we should only think about the week before our exam. 🙂 It’s important we have a plan of action for how we can adopt proper GMAT pacing strategy and then translate that into a 700+ GMAT score on Test Day! Here’s some important tips you need to keep in mind:

Focus on learning the Content and the basic Strategies first. Practice strategies untimed until they are second-nature. (This may take anywhere from 20-30 questions per question-type). Develop a consistent way of using scratch paper. That means you do the same steps for each question-type EVERY time.

Once you have internalized the Strategy, do all practice questions timed. It’s important to do this sooner rather than later. You don’t want to only do practice questions timed when you’re taking a CAT!

Beginning Timing Benchmarks:

CR – 3 minutes/question

SC – 2 minutes/question

RC – 1 minute per paragraph to do the Passage Map; 2 minutes/question

(ex: 3 min for a 3 paragraph passage)

PS and DS – 3 minutes/question

If this is challenging at first, then you may need to spend a couple weeks working with these benchmarks to get used to performing under pacing pressure. Eventually, we will need to get our Pacing down to these limits:

Advanced Timing Benchmarks:

CR – 2.5 minutes/question (some CR may only take you 2 minutes)

SC – 1.5 minutes/question (some SC may only take you 45 seconds-1 minute)

RC – 1 minute per paragraph to do the Passage Map; – 1.5 minutes/question

PS and DS – 2 minutes/question

So, do it in three stages:

Stage 1 – learning strategy (how you break down each Q-type, step 1, step 2, etc.)

Stage 2 – beginning benchmarks (getting comfortable within a time constraint)

Stage 3 – tightening up the time constraints o the “advanced” timing benchmarks

Perfect pacing is NEVER worth it if Strategy is sacrificed. You cannot get questions correct without Strategy, so it’s always better to add 15 seconds back on to your benchmarks and get back to doing the full, proper strategy if you find yourself beginning to panic. It’s always a negotiation between the clock and accuracy.Be kind to yourself!

You can ALWAYS guess on questions and get back on track, but if you stop doing strategy, then you seriously risk missing questions you know how to do!

FINALLY, keep in mind you may do official questions 2 or even 3 times. Once to work through with strategy untimed, and again later on as part of a pacing drill. Just because you’ve done an official question, doesn’t mean it has no more value.