GMAT Quant Section Strategy Tips

I have been reading several debriefs where slighltly improper time management costs a lot of the eventual score on GMAT. So, I thought of sharing my strategy on quant section on how I tried to manage my time. I hope some of fellow test takers may find it useful. [Also check out my Verbal Section Strategy tips]

Test taking strategy:

§ DO NOT TAKE IT EASY. Yes, although it’s relatively very easy to score high in this section, your little complacency can greatly kill your chances to get close to 50’s in Math section and your dream to see 7xx figure.

§ Try to get in to rhythm. Focus on first 15 questions a lot to answer all of them correctly. You can take up to 30-35 minutes to answer them.

§ You can be a little quick for next 12 questions. Try to answer them in around 20 minutes as it’s more likely to have experimental questions.

§ Save approximately 20 minutes for last 10 questions to ensure that you don’t have any incorrect answer. Please click here why I recommend doing well on last few questions.

§ Although it’s very important to have first 10-15 questions correct but if you encounter a new type of question which literally stumps you then don’t get bogged down and spend too much time. Guess and move ahead. Don’t let the disappointment of not getting it right bother you. You can get a score of 48 even at 10-12 mistakes. Try to get less than 5 mistakes, I believe it ensures that you have around 50 in quant.

§ Double check: Quant is not about knowing all the formula. It’s about answering what is asked. GMAT maths is tricky in its verbiage. Make sure you’re not doing the following.

o Selecting answer for percentage and not for number (specially in DS)

o Selecting answer for number where it asked for ratio (esp. DS).

o Selecting answer for x whereas the question asked for 4x or y

o Selecting answer for a reverse order (ascending or descending) than originally asked.

General Quant Tips:

§ Probability: If you are not master at it than don’t worry. It should not bother so that you make mistakes in your strong area. If you’re not comfortable than follow 800score techniques for PnC. Their way is really simple for many non engineering students!

§ Practice: Please commit yourself to do at least 50 maths questions every day in last month prior to your test. This will ensure that your calculation speed is well and you’re continuously in rhythm.

§ Do a timed practice: Doing 50 questions in 4 hours will not help. Get into a practice of doing 25 questions in 20 minutes so your speed is near to what is required.

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Why you need to do well on last few questions on GMAT?

Following are my thoughts on why it’s equally important to do well on last few questions on the test. I am not sure how many of you may agree but this strategy has worked for me. If you follow this strategy it prepares you on how to do well on GMAT and how to find experimental questions on GMAT.

§ 33% questions of each section on GMAT are experimental questions. Your score is not affected if you get them wrong. SO, it’s really important that you do well on all non experimental questions.

§ Where are these experimental questions?: GMAT places these questions to gauge their relative difficulty level so test makers will place these questions around the areas where it’s more likely to receive average attention on the test – neither too much so not at the beginning nor at the end – so not at the end.

§ Here’s where most of the students may get it wrong. We try to take care of first 10 questions of each section because 95% chances are there that they will not contain experimental questions. However, because of improper time management students rush through last 5-10 questions. BUT, there are 95% chances that the last 5-8 questions are NOT experimental questions and if you get anyone of this wrong you will be penalized.

o Your score will be affected due to your bad show in last few questions.

o It will also ensure that you push yourself to quickly pass through some of the experimental questions that may waste your time OR pass some of the difficult questions that unnecessarily waste your time. These difficult questions, at times, bring your morale down or more importantly break your rhythm. Remember: 1 wrong answer will not affect your score that much if you didn’t spend more than 2 minutes on it because it will give you an easier question to make up lost ground.

o Psychologically you will feel that you never rushed through the section and hence it may not affect your spirit. (at least it worked for me!).

§ How did I come to this conclusion?: I know after doing many CR’s, most of you will want to deny this argument by finding some assumption J But do the following:

o Take old PowerPrep as a part of your practice.
o While taking test, make sure you number each question of both sections on your scratch pad.
o PowerPrep tells you that it omits all the experimental questions from review section. So, after the test, when you review the answers, please observe which questions are omitted. You will find that first 5-8 questions and last 5-8 questions of each section will stay there whereas the questions from middle will disappear. This observation strengthened my theory that last 5-8 questions hold high importance too.

§ GMAT notifies you that if you don’t answer all the questions then it penalizes you. Now if it wants to penalize you then it would not include experimental question in last few questions of each section, will it? I hope this make sense J

§ Maths: Avoid mistakes on first 7 questions and last 7 questions (31st to 37th)

§ Verbal: Avoid mistakes on first 8 questions and last 8 questions (34th to 41st)

GMAT Time Management Strategy: Tricks to Save Time on GMAT and How to maximize GMAT Score

GMAT Time Management Strategy: Tricks to Save Time on GMAT and How to maximize GMAT Score:

How to I have been getting several emails on how to use school selection screen time to save time or find extra time on GMAT. I used the time to select schools to send scores to verify I had good quality marker / scratch pad and to prepare numbered choices for VERBAL section. In addition to the typical GMAT Verbal and Quant strategies, this really helped in overall GMAT Time Management Strategy. Here’s my take on it: [Also check my blog post on how to do well on last few questions on GMAT]

  • All the sections on real GMAT are timed EXCEPT one. It’s the school selection section. You have technically infinite time to select schools. If GMAT is smart to put a time limit on everything it includes on test, you will need to be that little extra smart to utilize any extra time you get out of it. That’s what I called “smart” GMAT Time Management Tricks.

  • How do you find this “extra” time? Check your gmat scratch pad and the erasable marker. The pen is almost like a thick edged sketch pen. What you need to check is that when you write on gmat scratch pad, the ink is not spreading or at least you’re able to write at one go. Sometimes the pen doesn’t work on first time so you have to write the same thing again. This eats up your time. If the pen is not proper, raise your hand and ask for a replacement.
  • Important tip: To avoid a replacement during the exam, don’t keep the pen cap open for too long if you’re not using it. Keeping it open for too long will dry the ink and you may face difficulty in writing on gmat scratch pad.
  • GMAT gives you a 10 pager scratch pad. Gmat scratch pad pages are like graph papers but tied from top instead by side (so not like general foolscap books).

  • Take page 1 of your scratch pad and reserve it for VERBAL section. During the school selection screens write down question 01 to 41 with 5 answer choices (A,B,C,D,E) against each one. This will ensure you don’t waste time in even writing ABCDE for each question in verbal section yet take advantage of beautiful POE method.

  • Like page 1, page 10 should be reserved for taking notes on RC passages. If you open a scratch pad (tied from top) you will notice that page 10 and page 1 can be kept open simultaneously. So, when you are reading passage take notes on page 10 and use those notes (plus your memory!!) to remove irrelevant choices using POE on page 1. If you run out of space on page 10 (that also means that you’re taking way too many notes on RC!!) then use the reserved page 9.

  • Use Page # 2 to 8 for your quant section.

As descrived above using GMAT scratch pad creatively allows your manage your time on GMAT as well as thoughts while solving problems. Like they say – small things make big differences! I say – small adjustment on how you use GMAT scratch pad can earn you additional 10-30 points! (isn’t it a big difference?!)