Everything You Need to Know about GMAT Time Management

Everything You Need to Know about GMAT Time Management

Time management on the GMAT is a serious challenge. The GMAT is ultimately a test of your executive reasoning: your ability to evaluate an overall situation, recognize what is and isn’t worth your time, prioritize accordingly—and stick to your decisions. In other words, the GMAT is testing you on your ability to make good business decisions.

The GMAT is deliberately going to give you problems that are way too hard—or that you might be able to answer if you take a lot of extra time. In other words, it’s going to tempt you to mess up your timing…with disastrous consequences for your score.

To maximize your GMAT score, you’ve got to switch from an “old school” mindset (try to get every problem right) to a “b-school” mindset (make the best decision based on current information, including walking away from a bad investment opportunity).

This post will teach you everything you need to know and do with respect to time management and executive reasoning to maximize your score on the GMAT. Ready? Let’s go!

(Study plan note: Bookmark this article. Take about 2 to 4 weeks to work through Step 4. Then come back to add Steps 5 through 9 to your repertoire.)


  1. GMAT Scores
  2. Practicing Tips
  3. Time Management Per Problem
  4. Practice Timing in Short Sets
  5. Using Benchmarks In A Test Section
  6. Exam Breaks
  7. Quant Section Time Management
  8. Verbal Section Time Management
  9. Integrated Reasoning Time Management
  10. GMAT Online

1. How GMAT Scoring Works

You don’t have to learn exactly how GMAT scoring works, but you need to know enough to know how to maximize your score. If you approach the GMAT in the way you approached school tests (i.e., try to get everything right), you’re almost certainly going to mess up your timing and that’s going to lower your score.

The GMAT is an adaptive test, not an “old school” linear test. Your score isn’t based on the number of problems you answer correctly. In fact, most people answer approximately the same number of problems correctly, regardless of final score. Your score is instead based on the difficulty of the problems that you can answer correctly.

Also, your GMAT score is not an average of your performance across the section. Rather, think of the GMAT as a “where you end is what you get” test.

For example, let’s say that you’re halfway through the Quant section and you’re currently scoring in the 90th percentile. But then you start to run out of time. You start rushing and guessing—and making a lot more mistakes. By the last question in the section, your scoring level has dropped to 60th percentile—and that ending score is the score you’re going to get. It doesn’t matter that you were up at 90th earlier in the section. Where you end is what you get.

GMAT scoring chart
In this graphic, the red circles represent incorrect answers and the blue ones represent correct answers. The placement of the circles represents difficulty level—higher is harder. The purple represents your scoring level at the end of the section.

That may sound really unfair at first glance. But it’s a great test of your executive reasoning skills. Imagine: You’re running a division of your company and have an annual budget, but you’ve already spent the entire budget by September…and your fiscal year doesn’t end until December. It doesn’t matter that things were going really well in June if you crash and burn in November.

So how does GMAT scoring work?

The GMAT algorithm will start you at a mid-level problem. As you answer problems correctly, the test will give you a harder mix of problems; as you miss problems, the test will give you an easier mix of problems. People often take this to mean that they should spend a lot more time on the harder problems—but that’s not the case, since it’s a “where you end is what you get” test. Rather, aim for a relatively steady performance across the whole section to avoid the crash-and-burn scenario.

Next, if you miss an easier problem, that will hurt your score more than when you miss a harder one—so if you rush on easier ones to give yourself extra time for harder ones, you risk making more careless mistakes and dropping your score.

Your score will also drop more when you miss a lot of questions in a row. For example, if you miss 4 questions in a row, your score will drop more than if you miss 4 out of 6 questions. Why? 

The test is literally calculating your current scoring level after every problem you answer in order to decide what problem to give you next. For example, if you miss #6 through #9 straight, your score will drop each time you answer one incorrectly. The fourth-wrong-in-a-row will be significantly easier than the first one, since the test is adjusting after each wrong answer—so your score keeps dropping further every time.

But if you miss #6, #8, #9, and #11, your score will still drop on those four, but your score will increase on #7 and #10—the ones you get right. Since you have some correct answers interspersed with the wrong ones, you won’t be offered as easy questions as in the first scenario, so your net drop won’t be as great. Your fourth wrong answer in this scenario will have a higher difficulty level than the fourth wrong answer in the first scenario. 

Your score is literally higher in the second scenario:

GMAT estimated ability chart
In this graphic, the red circles represent incorrect answers and the blue ones represent correct answers. The placement of the circles represents difficulty level—higher is harder. The purple represents your estimated score at the end of that sequence.

You can get away with making a couple of careless mistakes on easier problems—the algorithm will adjust—but if you make too many, it will pull your score down. And it’s crucial to avoid putting yourself in the position of having to rush on many problems in a row. That scenario will put you in a deep hole—and, once you run out of problems, where you end is what you get.

One more thing: If you run out of time and don’t submit an answer at all for the last 4+ problems, your score will drop more than if you put in an incorrect guess for every remaining problem. In other words, don’t leave anything blank. Even if you have to guess randomly, answer every single problem. (If you run out of time before getting to just the last problem or two, it’s ok. Your score may drop a little, but it won’t crash.)

[ RELATED: Put Your Quant and Verbal Skills To The Test With A Free 11-Question GMAT Quiz ]

2. Tips For Solving Official Guide or other GMAT-format practice problems

Early in your GMAT prep, you’re going to start solving individual Official Guide or other GMAT-format problems. Follow these two principles at this stage of your studies.

GMAT Timing Tip 1: Start Practicing Your Timing Now (Exam Mode)

The first time you do an official-format GMAT practice problem, do so in Exam Mode: Pretend you’re taking the test. Do not take 6 minutes because “I really want to see whether I can figure it out.” Whatever habits you build during practice, you’re going to do the same thing on the real test—and you definitely don’t want to spend 6 minutes on a problem during the real test. Instead, make the call you’d want to make if you really were taking the real exam right now.

Note: When you are doing non-GMAT-format practice, such as skill drill sets, don’t time yourself. Learn at a pace that works for you. Only time yourself when you’re working on Official Guide or other official-GMAT-format problems.

GMAT Timing Tip 2: Take As Much Time As Needed To Learn New Material (Study Mode)

After you’ve tried the problem timed—and chosen an answer—now switch to “Can I figure it out?” mode (aka Study Mode). Don’t look at the answer or explanation (yet). Try other possible solution paths or look at similar problems and compare to this one. Look up anything you want in your books. (Study mode is always open-book mode!) 

When you do go to the explanation, use it as a series of hints. Read just far enough until you get an idea. Then, stop reading the explanation. Push that idea as far as you can (still open-book / with your other resources) to see how much you can figure out on your own. When you get stuck, go back to the explanation for another hint.

Why study this way? So that you’ll actually remember what you’re studying. How many times have you read straight through an explanation, thought “That makes sense,” and then realized a week later that you have no idea how to do that problem? Make a vow: Never read straight through an explanation again.

Here’s your mantra: 

  1. Exam Mode. Time yourself. Choose an answer before you go to the next problem. Train yourself to make the same decisions you want to make on test day. 
  2. Study Mode. Review and figure out as much as you can yourself—take as long as you need.

3. How Much Time To Dedicate For Each GMAT Problem 

In order to manage your time well across the entire section, you have to make good executive decisions about what to do on individual problems. When should you keep solving? When should you move on? Answering those questions requires having an approximate idea of how long you’re spending on those individual problems.

On most GMAT problems, you’re going to make an important decision within about 1 minute of starting the problem. That’s enough time for you to know whether you have a good enough handle on the problem to continue solving. (And, if not, you’ll be able to guess and move on now, saving some time to use on another, better problem later in the same section.) 

GMAT Expert Tip: You only need to get about 50% to 70% of the problems right. You can afford to let the annoying ones go.

Why 1 Minute When Most Problems Take Longer?

You’ll need to average about 2 minutes on all Quant and Critical Reasoning (CR) problems, as well as most Reading Comprehension (RC) problems, so the 1-minute mark represents the halfway point.

At the 1-minute mark, you’ve gathered enough information on these problem types to know whether you (1) understand and (2) have an idea about how to solve. If you don’t understand or don’t have an idea for how to solve, guess and move on (and you’ve just saved yourself another minute to use elsewhere on the test!).

Question TypeAverage Time1-minute Goal
Quant (Problem Solving or Data Sufficiency)2 minutes– Understand
– Have a plan to solve
Critical Reasoning2 minutes– Understand argument
– Understand what question is asking
Reading Comprehension (All except Main Idea)1 minute 40 seconds– Understand question
– Reread/understand relevant sentences in passage

By the way, plan to spend about 2 to 3 minutes reading a Reading Comprehension passage for the first time, before you try to answer any of the problems.

Sentence Correction (SC) problems and main-idea RC problems, by contrast, are faster problems: You need to be done or close to done by the 1-minute mark. On these types, aim to have eliminated at least 2 answers by the 1-minute mark. If you haven’t yet eliminated any answers, guess and move on.

Question TypeAverage Time1-minute Goal
Sentence Correction1 minute 20 secondsEliminate at least 2 answers
Reading Comprehension (Main Idea)1 minuteEliminate at least 3 answers

One important note: The expected average times are truly averages. It’s perfectly fine to spend some extra time on certain problems, because you will finish other problems in less than the average time. 

But avoid going more than 1 minute beyond any question-type average. If you need that much time, something’s wrong on this problem and your odds of getting it right have already gone way down.

Question TypeAverage TimeAvoid going beyond
– Quant, CR
– RC (except main idea)
– 2 minutes
-1 minute 40 seconds
~3 minutes
– RC (main idea)
– SC
– 1 minute
– 1 minute 20 seconds
~2 minutes

On Integrated Reasoning, the average is about 2.5 minutes per problem. But if you bail (guess immediately) on 3 out of the 12 IR problems, you’ll have an average of nearly 3.5 minutes on each IR problem—an enormous difference. Definitely plan to guess immediately on 3 IR problems; it’s a game-changer for your IR time management.

Developing your “1-minute time sense”

To be able to make that 1-minute call about whether to keep going on a problem, you’re going to develop your 1-minute time sense.

Pull up the stopwatch function on your phone or tablet. Look for the Start and Lap buttons (on some devices, the start button turns into the lap button after you start the stopwatch). And put your brain in Exam Mode.

When you tap the lap button, the timer will mark the time at which you tapped Lap—but the timer doesn’t stop. It keeps running. If you tap the Lap button repeatedly, you’ll get a list of time intervals, each measuring from the last time you tapped the button. (Try it out right now to see how it works.)

Find a non-GMAT-related task that takes concentration, for instance:

  • Write an email
  • Research a product
  • Read an article 

On your stopwatch, cover up the timer display so that you can’t see what it says, but leave all of the other buttons visible. Start concentrating on your task. Every time you think about 1 minute has passed, tap the Lap button. Ignore the list of data that starts popping up; keep working and tapping Lap when you think another minute has gone by. A little while later, pause and look at the list of numbers.

If most of your lap times are within 20 seconds of 1 minute (that is, between 40 seconds and 1 minute 20 seconds), great! Try this a few more times over the next few days; if your results continue to be consistent, you’re good to go.

If you’re like most people, though, you’ll need more training. Do this exercise a few times a day for 5 to 10 minutes at a time, and after a couple of weeks, you’ll get yourself more consistently into a “close enough” time range (00:40 to 01:20).

You may find that you have a consistent sense of how long you think one minute is, but that sense is inaccurate. For example, if your times are all around 30 to 50 seconds, you’re consistent but too fast. Try tapping the button when your brain thinks it’s been 1 minute 15 seconds. 

If, on the other hand, you find that your timing is consistently too slow, tap the button when you feel like it’s been only 45 seconds. You’re retraining your brain to get used to how long 1 minute actually is, not what your brain currently thinks it is.

What To Do When You Don’t Understand After 1 Minute

If you are 1 minute into a question and you don’t understand or don’t have a good idea of how to solve, switch gears: Is there a legitimate way to eliminate wrong answers and make a guess among the remaining answers? If you don’t see a path for that either, then just guess randomly and move to the next problem.

And congratulations—you’ve just earned a double benefit. First, you’ve prevented yourself from getting sucked into an annoying problem and losing a bunch of time. And you’ve likely actually saved some time that you can use somewhere else in this section.

4. How To Practice GMAT Question Timing in Short Sets

When you’ve developed your 1-minute sense, your next step is to learn to balance a block of time among a small set of questions. Start practicing this with Quant or Critical Reasoning, as these question types are a little more straightforward for time management purposes.

Pick a Set of 4 Quant or Critical Reasoning Problems

You’ll need two timers—one with a lap button and one that simply counts down from 8 minutes and dings when the time is up (you can use the Google timer for that second one). And again put yourself in Exam Mode mindset.

Choose the 4 problems, cover up the time on your lap timer, start both timers, and go! When you think it’s been roughly a minute since you began the first problem, tap the lap button. And ask yourself: Do you understand what’s going on with the problem? Do you know what the question is really asking and do you have an idea of how to continue to get to the answer? If not, pick an answer (any answer!), tap the lap button again, and move on to the next problem.

Alternatively, if you do keep trying to solve this problem, tap the lap button a second time when you’ve finished it and chosen your answer.

Note: Each time you choose an answer on the real test, you’ll click Next and Confirm to advance to the next problem. Pretend that’s what’s happening now: You have to push the lap button in order to advance to the next problem.

Repeat this process until you’ve finished all four problems, hitting the lap button one minute into the problem (and making a call about whether to keep going) and again when you’ve chosen your answer. Then, analyze your data. You’ll hopefully have 8 lap times (if you forgot to hit the lap button a few times, that’s okay—you’ll get better with practice).

  • The odd-numbered data points (1, 3, 5, and 7) represent your first approximately 1 minute for each problem. You’re training these times to be roughly within the 00:40 to 01:20 timeframe. 
  • The even-numbered data points (2, 4, 6, and 8) represent the remaining time you spent on the second half of each problem. These might range from a few seconds to 2 or more minutes:
    • If you found the problem easy or decided to guess quickly and move on, you might have only 10 to 30 seconds for the “second half” time. 
    • On a harder one, you might have decided to invest some extra time, so this data point might be more like 1:30 or 1:45. That’s fine.
    • If you spent 2+ minutes in the second half, though, then analyze how to improve next time. Is there a way to do the problem more efficiently? Alternatively, at what point should you have cut yourself off, guessed, and moved on?

What if you’re done with the problem and you don’t think it’s even been 1 minute yet? Check your work for careless mistakes. You might be fine! But if it was really that easy, it won’t take long to check your work.

Analyze Your Time for the Set

How much time did you take collectively for the entire set? 

  • If you had four answers by the time your countdown timer dinged, excellent. Gold star!
  • If not, then on the real test, you just ran out of time with problems left unanswered. Start analyzing.

Where did you make good timing decisions? Where did you spend too much time? What decisions would you want to make differently next time to avoid running out of time? What specific clues will prompt you to know to make that decision? (One of mine: If I find myself thinking, “But I should know how to do this…” then I know I need to guess and move on. I should know is just a clue that I’m stuck.)

Next time you do a timed set, reinforce the Exam Mode mindset. You will need to choose to cut yourself off sometimes. Remind yourself that other problems are still coming—ones that might be easier than your current problem. Don’t leave those future problems on the table because you’re stubbornly hanging onto the annoying problem in front of you right now.

Occasionally, you’ll realize (after you finish) that there was a valid way to narrow down the answer choices—that is, to cross off wrong answers even though you didn’t know how to get to the correct answer. 

Take some time to think that through now, as well as how you’ll recognize when you can use that same analysis on future problems. You do have to guess a lot on the GMAT; educated guessing is a fantastic way to improve your odds.

Repeat the Process

Take about 2 to 4 weeks total to practice your 1-minute time sense on single problems and then on short sets of 4 problems. Then, expand your time management skills to cover an entire section of the GMAT.

5. Using Benchmarks To Improve GMAT Section Times

For each section of the GMAT, you’ll have a block of time to answer all of the problems. You can choose how to allocate that time, but you’ll still need to hit the per-question average in order to finish on time.

GMAT SectionTimeNumber of ProblemsAverage Time Per Problem
Quantitative62 minutes312 minutes
Verbal65 minutes361.8 minutes
Integrated Reasoning30 minutes122.5 minutes

The per-question averages are not time limits. In practice, you’re going to spend somewhere between 1 minute and 3 minutes on most problems. (Maybe up to 4 minutes on some IR problems.)

Sometimes, you’ll only spend like 30 seconds. When you see a problem that’s a significant weakness of yours or just looks awful, guess fast—basically, as soon as you recognize that this problem is a bad investment opportunity for you. Aim to do this on 2 to 4 problems in each section (Quant, Verbal, and IR). 

GMAT Expert Tip: Prepare a list of what you tend to answer incorrectly or take too much time to do so that you can make a quick executive-reasoning call to bail early and move on. Use that saved time elsewhere!

To use benchmarks to track your timing, split each section of the test into “blocks” of questions:

  • Quant: 4 questions per block
  • Verbal: 9 questions per block
  • IR: 4 questions per block

Use your scratch paper to keep track of these timing blocks (the rest of this article will show you how). In the testing center, you’ll get a bound booklet of 5 sheets of laminated, legal-sized paper (that extra-long paper typically used for legal documents). For practice at home, consider using a GMAT test simulation booklet.

If you take the GMAT Online, you’ll buy your own erasable whiteboard and you’ll also have access to an online whiteboard during the test. The rest of this post illustrates how to set up your time tracking strategy on the test-center laminated booklet—but do still keep reading even if you plan to take the GMAT Online. Once you know how the timing strategy works, our online whiteboard post will show you how to adapt the same strategy for the GMAT Online.

6. GMAT Exam Breaks

One note: During your GMAT exam, you will not be able to set up anything on your scratch pad during the break. You are not allowed to write anything or sit in the testing room (if you’re in a testing center) during your break.

But you will have a 30-second introduction screen (also known as a “breather” screen) right before each section starts. Use this time to take a deep breath and set up your time management strategy on your scratch pad for the next section.

7. Time Management For The Quantitative Section

The time management tracking plan for Quant will take the longest to set up on your scratch paper—but, with practice, you can learn how to do this in 30-60 seconds. You’re going to mark each page to allow you to complete 4 problems on that page and to indicate approximately how much time you should have left on the clock once you’re done with that block of problems.

Start by flipping the booklet over so that you’re on the back face of the very last sheet. 

This will be your last sheet, which can be used as an extra sheet if you ever need more room. Write “Extra” or just “X” at the top.

Next, flip over to the front face of that very last page.

  • Draw two lines, as shown below, to split the page into four sections.
  • Write 0 (or draw a smiley face!) in the lower-right corner, as shown in the image. On this page, you’ll finish your final four Quant problems and have 0 minutes left—ie, you’ll be done with the Quant section.

How To Set Up The Exam Booklet For The Quant Section

GMAT Quant Exam Booklet Setup

Next, continue marking your sheets with four quadrants, working from the back of the booklet to the front, as shown in the image above:

  • Draw two lines to split the page into four sections.
  • Count up by multiples of 8: 8, 16, 24, 32, 40, and 56.
  • On the page marked 56, draw two horizontal lines to make 3 problem sections, not 4.

There are 31 problems on the Quant section, so your first block will consist of just 3 problems. When you’re done with the first block, the goal is to have approximately 56 minutes left on the clock, give or take a couple of minutes. When you’re done with the next block of 4 problems, the goal is to have approximately 48 minutes left, give or take. And so on.

If You Find Yourself More Than 3 Minutes Behind

Let’s say you’ve answered 11 questions (3 blocks) and the bottom of the current page says 40 but your timer says you actually have only 36 minutes left. So you’re 4 minutes behind.

During the next set of 4 practice problems, as soon as you see a problem that makes you think “Ugh,” bail—guess and move on immediately. The problem could be testing something you don’t like, or the first sentence is really hard to follow, or it has an ugly equation, or whatever—just choose your favorite letter and move on.

This will get your timing back on track. As long as you’re diligent about making yourself do this as soon as you realize that you’re more than 3 minutes behind, the time deficit won’t build up to the end of the section and cause you to run out of time when you still have a lot of problems to answer.

If You Find Yourself More Than 3 Minutes Ahead

Let’s say that the bottom of your current page says 40 but the timer says 45 minutes left, so you’re 5 minutes ahead.

Start by taking a deep breath. Rushing can cause careless mistakes. What can you do to work more methodically? Write all of your work down (especially if it’s math). Make yourself check for the proof in the RC passage—don’t just rely on memory. Basically, don’t cut corners while solving.

The first time you take a practice test using the Yellow Pad Technique, you’re probably going to screw up your timing at least a little. You might screw it up a lot. That’s okay—that’s what practice is for. By the time you get to the real thing, you’ll be able to set up your grids in 30 seconds and you’ll know how to react appropriately (and immediately!) when you realize that you’re too far behind or ahead on your time.

8. Time Management For The Verbal Section

(Note: Read the Quant Time Management section first before reading this section.)

There are three verbal problem types, all with different average time expectations, so Verbal time management is a bit messier than quant time management. That’s why Verbal is done in blocks of 9 problems rather than 4, like the other two sections.

The Verbal section has 36 problems, and you’ll do them in blocks of 9, so you’ll need 4 sheets of the Yellow Pad. Each sheet will be allocated one-quarter of the total time for Verbal—that is, 16 minutes per page.

Use any four consecutive pages. Place your time markers in the lower right corner again. The final page will still be marked with a 0. The remaining three pages will count up from multiples of 16: 16, 32, and 48.

Draw a horizontal line about ⅓ down each page. Above the line, keep track of your answer choice decisions for each of the 9 problems. Use the area below the line for scratch work as needed.

You’re also going to add the letter R next to each timing number, as shown in the graphic:

How To Set Up The Exam Booklet For The Verbal Section

GMAT Verbal Exam Booklet Setup

That R is to help keep track of your Reading Comprehension passages. You’ll spend 2-3 minutes reading the passage before you can begin to answer the problems. Usually, you’ll get 4 RC passages on the GMAT and the odds are good that you will start one new passage in each “quarter” of the exam. 

That is, you will most likely start your first RC passage somewhere during the first 9-problem block. You’ll probably start your second RC passage somewhere in the next block of 9. And so on. (It is possible that the passages could be more clumped together. This time management plan accounts for that possibility.)

The most common scenario is shown in the top right of the graphic below: You’re expecting exactly one RC passage in this first block of problems and that’s what happens. When the passage first pops up, cross off the R. When you get to the end of this block of 9 problems, you should have approximately 48 minutes left on the clock (give or take a few minutes). If you’re more than a few minutes ahead or behind, take action.

GMAT Verbal Exam Booklet Setup 2

What if you’re still in your first block of 9, you’ve already crossed off your R, and they give you a second RC passage in that block? Use the method displayed in the second box on the right side of the graphic above: Jot down another R but don’t cross it off. That’s your signal that you got an extra RC passage in this block, so you’re going to be a bit short on time compared to the 48 minutes written on the page. 

Expect to be about 2 minutes slow—so if, for example, the time marker says 48, subtract 2. You’re now aiming to have around 48 – 2 = 46 minutes left at the end of this block. If you find yourself more than a few minutes ahead or behind 46 minutes, take action.

The final possibility is shown in the third box of the graphic: You get to the end of a block but haven’t crossed off the first R (that is, you didn’t get an RC passage in this block).

When this happens, expect to be a couple of minutes ahead of your expected time at the end of that block—you’ll use that time later, whenever they do give you the RC passage that didn’t come during that block. In the example above, expect to be at about 48 + 2 = 50 minutes by the end of that block; if you’re more than a few minutes ahead or behind the 50-minute time, take action.

Saving Time When Filling Out Your Exam Booklet

In our example images, we’ve written out ABCDE for each problem. But that’s a lot of work to do for all 36 Verbal problems. Ideally, practice writing out the letters just once for each block, then track your work for each problem in the blank space to the right of the ABCDE. 

Put enough vertical space between each letter that you won’t mix them up. And use your usual symbols to eliminate letters or circle the answer you want to choose—just do so in the blank space rather than directly over the letters ABCDE. 

GMAT Expert Tip: Once you know what answer you want to pick, jot down that specific letter—just to reinforce what you’re about to pick on screen.

You will absolutely need to practice this process many times to get good at it. You can also practice this when doing problem sets. Do all your quant problem sets in multiples of 4 from now on (4, 8, 12, or 16) and make your verbal problem sets in batches of 9.

When you’re done with an exam or a problem set, analyze your timing on both a global and a per-problem basis. 

  • Where are you happy with your decisions? 
  • Where do you wish you’d made different decisions? 
  • What clues would you have needed to spot to know to make that different decision? 

This level of analysis will retrain your brain for next time so that you can make your executive reasoning skills really work for you on this exam.

9. Time Management For The Integrated Reasoning

(Note: Read the Quant Time Management section first before reading this section.)

Time management is more straightforward for the Integrated Reasoning section than for the Quant and Verbal sections. You’ll have 30 minutes to solve 12 problems, but you’ll be looking to bail (guess immediately) on about 3 of those problems, so you actually have 30 minutes to do 9 problems, or about 3 minutes 20 seconds per problem.

How To Set Up The Exam Booklet For The IR Section

Set up your exam booklet in the same way you did for Quant, in groups of 4, but you’ll only need 3 pages since there are only 12 problems. In the bottom right corner of the 3 pages, write 20, 10, and 0, counting down. On each page, draw two lines to split the page into four sections, as you did for the Quant section.

Since there are 3 groups of 4 problems each, assume that, on average, you’re going to bail on one problem in each block. That gives you 10 minutes to spread across the remaining 3 problems in that block. 

When you decide to bail fast on a problem, draw a big X at the top of that problem’s scratch-paper quadrant—but don’t cross off the whole quadrant. If you need more room for one of the other problems, use the remaining space in that bail problem’s quadrant (or flip to a blank page).

If you do all 4 in a block (ie, you don’t bail on any), then your time should be a little lower than what you’ve written in the corner of that page. For example, if the page says 20 but you did all 4 problems, your time remaining should be more like 17. 

In this case, aim to bail on two problems, not just one, in the next block in order to catch back up. When you flip to the next page, jot a reminder at the top, something like “BAIL 2X.”

10. Time Management on the GMAT Online

The exam itself is identical whether you take the GMAT Online or go to a testing center. You’ll see the same section types with the same number of problems and the same time limit per section.

The only major difference has to do with how you’re going to use your scratch paper to manage your time. For the GMAT Online, you won’t use the multi-page booklet. Instead, you’ll have a physical whiteboard (that doesn’t have as much space as the booklet) and you’ll also have access to an online whiteboard that has endless capacity. Review our online whiteboard article to learn how to use this same time management tracking strategy with your online whiteboard on the GMAT Online.