How to do the Time Management for GMAT Success


Simply knowing the content and merely applying the strategies is not what GMAC is testing the test takers on. The important factor here is how you utilize your basic reasoning skills along with a set timer. You should be thorough with your pacing goals developed during the GMAT exam preparation.

How your scores improve is how you better manage your time! Building time-management strategies isn’t a one-night game, rather you should start building it from the Day 1 of your GMAT exam preparation.

At Manya-The Princeton Review, we have successfully aided our test takers to excel on the GMAT exam. Based on the ordeals the test takers have faced so far when it comes to managing time and balancing pace, let’s discuss some insights into being good at time management:

Willing to take you to a situation. You have a flight at 8 in the night to spend vacations with your better half. Also, you realize you are still waiting for the office’s clock to tick 6 and leave.

Rushing isn’t going to help as you have to get a haircut, some clothes, and food for your newborn baby and eventually some flowers as a present you promised. Stressed up at the salon, it is already 7 making you slip onto the floor of the garments store, and you got clothes too. It ticked that late that you decided to get baby food later. It’s almost done, and you reached your home with just some work done and all those flowers wilted even in the dreams.

This is how the GMAT focus sections will take a toll on us where you might feel relaxed about having performed really well on the initial questions but later realize that the further questions near the end of the GMAT exam, just flashed up, you slipped, and had no time to even read them.

We can jot down some real-quick facts that help us understand that if we focus on them, we may save ourselves from the clock of the GMAT exam:

Knowing that you have to perform well in the initial part of the section and also as you near the end of the exam you have to complete your answers and submit. In the umbrella of doing so-and-so, you unintentionally rush or make silly errors leading to wrong answers eventually or disturbing your pacing strategies that you must have thought of.
Understanding the sections of the GMAT exam and knowing the pacing guidelines is important. Let us understand the GMAT Exam Structure section by section.


Quantitative Reasoning Section

There are 21 questions with 45 minutes to complete. All the questions in the Quantitative Reasoning section are multiple-choice questions having 5 answer choices. The entire section is adaptive by questions and the score ranges from 60 to 90 with 1 point increment. The score from the Quantitative Reasoning section adds to the overall score that ranges from 205-805. Around 50-55% of the questions come from the Algebra whereas the remaining is from the Arithmetic topics. As we already know that the initial questions contribute more towards a good score, you should first divide the questions into two parts and similarly allot the time for the same. Let us look into the table below to understand better. If you are eyeing the improvement in your scores anywhere from 80 to 90, follow The Princeton Review’s pacing chart:

Quantitative Reasoning Section Number of Questions Time one should spend
Part 1 First 10 Questions 25 minutes
Part 2 Next 11 Questions 20 minutes


Verbal Reasoning Section

This section contains 23 questions with 45 minutes and is adaptive by question. All the questions here too are multiple choice having 5 answer choices. The score ranges from 60 to 90 with 1 point increment and adds to the overall score of 205-805. Roughly 55 to 60% of the questions (13-14) are seen to be from Reading Comprehension and the remaining questions (9 or 10) come tests the Critical Reasoning skills. Analogous to the Quantitative Reasoning section, you should again divide the questions of the Verbal Reasoning Section into two parts and allot a specific time for the entire part. For example, if you are eyeing the improvement in your scores anywhere from 82 to 90, follow The Princeton Review pacing chart:

Verbal Reasoning Section Number of Questions Time one should spend
Part 1 First 11 Questions 25 minutes
Part 2 Next 12 Questions 20 minutes


Data Insights Section

There are 20 questions to be completed in 45 minutes. Roughly 5-8 questions will test the Data Sufficiency question type and the remaining 12-15 questions will test other question types such as Table Analysis, Multi-source reasoning, Graphics Interpretation, or Two-Part Analysis. The score ranges from 60 to 90 and it also adds to the overall score of 205-805. And, here too, we will do the same parting and time allotment if you are eyeing the improvement in your scores anywhere from 78 to 90, follow The Princeton Review pacing chart:

Data Insight Section Number of Questions Time one should spend
Part 1 First 10 Questions 25 minutes
Part 2 Next 10 Questions 20 minutes


Despite knowing the problem isn’t in your favor, you still try as if that’s the only question. Later realize that you are nowhere closer to a concluding answer. You then try to stop answering that particular question anymore. Skipping early where it should have been the choice almost ate a minute or two.

We remain ignorant to the fact that we can even score more with a few errors, as much as 80 or more on each of these sections of the GMAT exam, making sure that we haven’t successively made mistakes.

We try exploiting our might more on the clock running and just caring how much is the time left which ultimately challenges us to deviate from giving the best performance. As a result, you even fail to reinforce your question-solving strategies into the questions and start panicking by just losing your vigor and positivity to doing a problem correctly at the verge of a moving clock.

  1. It is much more acceptable that you get a wrong answer on a hard question quickly than to spend more than 3 minutes on any of the questions irrespective of whether you answered correctly or not.
  2. You can still get a good score provided you make the best use of your time in lieu of the guessing on a couple of questions by avoiding the heedless blunders. Simultaneously, the accuracy in solving the questions that you decided to answer should be prominently high.
  3. Try to balance your speed of solving the questions with great accuracy. Avoid sitting on the see-saw of high and low speeds to answer the questions rather maintain a good pace of solving every other question that appears. POE & guessing is a good idea for some questions when you assess the problem will take more than 3 minutes to answer correctly.
  4. All the time, just noticing how the clock is changing its digits as time passes will not help you focus on the problem that may have turned up. Instead, at suitable intervals of time try assessing the clock keeping you adequately alarmed without letting you get stressed. With this, you will be able to balance the pace if at all you have lost.
  5. Solving questions correctly within a good time frame comes from rigorous practice. Keep setting up yourself initially so that you go well aligned with a comfortable pace on the GMAT exam. With that, you get the momentum to solve more questions. Messing up requires no plan and practice. However, balancing requires prior testing and planning. Starting the exam with a lot of mistakes and continuing to be even more inefficient is easier. However, a well-devised pacing plan for solving questions correctly will help you sail smoothly till the last question of your GMAT exam.

In order to get better with time management, you need to assess your mindset on how you see the clock that guides you around the GMAT exam. For the initial few seconds of each of the question in your GMAT exam rather than jumping to calculate using conventional time consuming methods, stay alert to follow the plan and strategies you have learned during your GMAT exam preparation.

If you do not get an idea within 30 to 60 seconds on the first question, it is high time that you guess, bookmark and move to the next question.

Many students have reported that they could not answer a question where they had already spent a minute or two and later felt they were either stuck or the answer they got wasn’t listed. It gives them the idea, then, to guess. A serious blunder is what a test taker does by spending good minutes and realizing to guess late. Guessing works well when you have assessed the question on the screen to be a more time-intensive question, difficult one, etc. as compared to medium difficulty level where you are instantly sure of saying a Bye to the problem rather than doing a Hi and spending some time with it.

A comprehensive Manya-The Princeton Review GMAT ultimate classroom course will help you understand the important time frames which can help in lessening the time of solving questions and simultaneously making you able to solve more questions than before.
During the actual GMAT exam, your objective should be to reinforce the question-solving strategies and time-management strategies, rather than developing new strategies during the exam itself.

Do not forget that you can review as many answers as you want, and you can change a maximum of 3 answers per section. In the first go, you might have bookmarked a problem to solve later as you could not get an idea at the beginning, or you felt it to be time-consuming or else you answered it in a rush leading to poor accuracy, such questions are always there. Since you know the maximum of 3 answers can be changed, stay calm as upon revisiting the bookmarked questions there is still a good chance of getting an idea to solve the bookmarked questions when you revisit them for the second time.

The above discussion will help you to develop a proper pace. Speeding over questions can turn out to be dangerous and will result in taking up wrong steps to solving the questions. The adaptive algorithm of the GMAT exam is guarding us around the test. If that is the case and I had sped fast, I guess I deserve grave punishment based on the adaptive algorithm. Exploring first the less-time intensive questions and the ones you are good at, you largely realize GUESSING is a resource on the GMAT exam which if you utilize it better helps you solve other questions with a free mind to have more time for them. The exam is made to test your managing skills under great pressure.

Altogether, the goal of time management can be achieved by practicing actual-timed mock tests from The Princeton Review portal. The review/analysis will help you learn how to adjust even if you don’t start well or if you start well how you complete the exam well. Stay confident about the benefits of having solved questions successfully.

  • Stay alert to do smart scratch-paper work with smartly planned solutions.
  • Stay controlled with your course strategies so that you don’t speed up to commit fast and silly errors.

GMAT Time Management

If you feel you can learn to be confident, smart, and controlled, you can achieve a good GMAT exam score.

Tips to keep in mind:

  • Acquaint yourself well with the format and the content of the test, including section count, question numbers, and time limits.
  • Always practice with timed tests to measure how much time you should spend on each question and section.
  • Distribute your time prudently based on section importance and your strong points, e.g., assign more time to  Quantitative Reasoning if it is your gray area.
  • Quickly skim passages and questions to clench their crux before digging into details.
  • Use the process of elimination with the common traps for each question type.
  • Prioritize attempting easier questions first by flagging questions that seem difficult to try towards the end while reviewing.
  • Utilize breaks strategically to refresh your memory.
  • Maintain your calm and remain focused during the exam, moving on from challenging questions if needed.
  • Review your attempted answers if time allows.
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