GMAT Time Management Strategies

Should I Budget more Time at the beginning?

Despite what you may have heard, do not spend a majority of time at the beginning of the test. Many people subscribe to this belief in hopes that they can game the system. The misconception is that the first few questions weighted more heavily then the subsequent question, with the last few questions having almost no impact on score. The algorithm, however, doesn’t fall asleep once it’s got you “figured” out. You can “bomb” the first part of the test, but as long as you do well on the rest of the test, your score should be no different from a student who misses the same amount, but misses most of them at the end.

Skipping a Question

First off, you must answer each question on GMAT before you are able to move on. By skipping a question, you are essentially randomly guessing because you have absolutely no idea.

As to how many questions you should skip, and how long you should spend on a question before skipping, there is no perfect answer. But if you have spent more than a minute on a question without being able to devise a solution path, then you may want to skip this question. However, if your first attempt did not yield you one of the answer choices, do not simply give up. Check your work. Figure out if there is another way to approach the problem. If at this point you are stuck and the clock is ticking inexorably to zero, then you may want to make an intelligent guess and move on.

How many questions should you skip?

Again, there is no perfect answer to this question. Factors to consider include your target score and your score on practice tests. For the latter point, know how many questions you’ve skipped on practice tests and how that affected your score. For instance, if you skipped two questions on a practice test and still scored close to 700, then you should be able to do the same on the real test (of course the practice test you use should not be a Manhattan GMAT or GMAC test ”“ the algorithms on other tests are less trustworthy.

Use Practice Tests to Work on Time Management

Beyond determining how many questions to skip, you can use practice tests to get a feel for how you should manage your time. Reading about time management and theorizing on the best approach is moot if you do not actually take practice tests to determine what works for you. For instance, you may find that you are making careless mistakes at the beginning of the test, and finishing with time to spare. You clearly need to slow down. Missing many questions toward the end because you are short on time will require you to speed up at the beginning.


Time management can play an important factor in your score. While there is no one magic mantra, keep the points above in mind as you fashion your own approach using practice tests.



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