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The Race Against The GMAT Clock

The GMAT is all about time limits and deadlines. The exam itself has a time limit for completing each section. And the countdown until test day is an equally important consideration. When it comes to GMAT success, you’ll want to make the best of both your exam prep time and your timed tasks on test day.

The race to test day

You may have a few weeks until you sit for the GMAT, or a few months. Either way, you’re in a race to complete the most effective regimen of test prep that you can in the weeks and days you have before you take the test. The GMAT’s official website gives some general tips and software tools to help you plan your studies and manage your time. Third-party GMAT prep websites such as Magoosh can give you even more materials and tips that can help you beat the clock, with GMAT study schedules tailored to different time limits for prep.

Pacing on test day: Reading skills

Being able to read quickly is vital to success as you race against the timer during the exam session. Learning to read at a good pace while still understanding everything is a matter of practice, practice, practice. Do a lot of reading during your prep time. Read academic and business-oriented articles that are comparable to the passages in GMAT Integrated Reasoning and GMAT Verbal.

The more you read, the more smoothly and quickly you’ll be able to read. But there are some reading shortcuts you can teach yourself as well. Learn how to skim a text for its basic gist, and learn how to quickly scan for important keywords and details that are relevant to the test questions.

Pacing on the test day: Mental math skills

Mental math is important in both the Integrated Reasoning Section and the Quantitative Section. The more steps you can do in your head, the faster you will be able to arrive at the right answer to a math problem. Many test takers don’t realize just how important these shortcut skills are for math calculations on the GMAT.

Arguably, knowing how to do math faster is as important as knowledge of math formulas and operations; it’s perfectly possible to know all of the math on the GMAT but get a bad score simply because you ran out of time.

Gaining speed in math through mental shortcuts takes more than just memorizing efficient, time-saving operations. It’s really about thinking in the right way — being mentally ready to recognize the fastest, simplest way of getting the answer to any given problem. So how do you learn to think differently and see the shortcuts? To get you started, here’s an excellent web tutorial on mental math in the race against the GMAT clock.

David Recine is a GMAT and TOEFL expert at Magoosh. He has a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and an MA TESOL from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. He has been tutoring and teaching ESL since 2007.