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YOU Are the Cause of Your Pacing Problem

By max On May 22, 2015 In  Quant Verbal General GMAT 


While taking a CAT for GMAT test preparation, or on test day itself, almost all GMAT test takers experience the terrible realization that there are WAY too many questions left to answer and not enough time to answer them. Learning proper pacing is an issue that most test takers have to deal with – the first step in fixing that problem is to realize that YOU are the cause of your pacing problem. 


Finding Wasted Time

When reviewing a CAT performance, most test takers focus on the questions that they answered incorrectly or just stared at for too long. However, there is a potential huge pacing advantage to be gained from the questions that you answered CORRECTLY. How long did you take to answer each of those questions? Could you have approached the question in a different way? Would it have been faster to take more notes? (Hint: the answer is almost always YES)


Open up your most recent CAT, and find the Quant question that you answered correctly AND that took you the longest amount of time to answer. How long did that one question take? I’ll bet that it took more than 3 minutes. Now, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Did the work required to answer those questions really take 3+ minutes, or did you have to keep re-reading the prompt (and did you spend some time staring at the prompt and/or your pad)?
  2. Did you make any little mistakes on that you then had to go back and fix?
  3. Could you have approached the question using a different tactic? Is it possible that “your way” of solving the problem is actually the long way to solve it?


For the Verbal section, pacing problems can really compound if you’re not reading RC and CR prompts correctly, not taking notes, and not using grammar rules to help you deal with SCs. While RC is an "easy target," you might be surprised how much of your clock is getting eaten up by how you handle SCs and CRs.

Start with the average amount of time that you spend solving SCs and CRs (some CATs include this information; if it’s not available, then you’ll have to calculate it). A typical SC should take no more than 60-75 seconds to solve. On really wordy SCs, you could go up to 90 seconds, but you should not be going past that. A typical CR should take no more than 2 minutes to solve. On wordy CRs, you might go up to 2.5 minutes but no longer. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Is the SC average greater than 75 seconds? If so, how much greater? Are you using grammar rules to actively eliminate answer choices? How often are you rereading answer choices and choosing an answer that “sounds like how I would say this"? The second option is what’s eating up your clock.
  2. Is the CR average greater than 2 minutes? If so, then how much greater? Do you understand the differences in the various CR types and how to logically approach each? Do you know the common wrong answer types for CR and how to spot them? How often do you end up narrowing it down to two choices and then going back-and-forth before guessing? That last option is what’s eating up your clock.

Work on Your Pacing with EMPOWERgmat

Pacing problems are real and most test takers will face them during their GMAT test preparation. To fix your pacing problem and improve your score, YOU have to take responsibility for these errors, fix them, and make sure they don't keep happening. If you're looking for a comprehensive course that will help fix pace yourself and give you a 70 point improvement guarantee, check out EMPOWERgmat today!

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