To do well on the GMAT, you need both Time management AND Speed management.

And yes, these are different.

Let me explain …

Speed management is about getting faster in solving questions.

Time management is about maximizing your score with your current speed.

For example, say you need to travel from Noida to Gurgaon in a dilapidated old Fiat car which can at most only run at 40 km/h. How do you minimize the time you’d take to reach your destination?

𝗦𝗽𝗲𝗲𝗱 𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗮𝗴𝗲𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁:
We could take the car to a mechanic, fix/ replace parts, and get the car to move faster.

Correspondingly, we could work on getting better at solving questions, and as a consequence, we would get faster at solving questions.

This is speed management. It needs time.

𝗧𝗶𝗺𝗲 𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗮𝗴𝗲𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁:

Say we need to travel soon, and we don’t have enough time to get the car fixed.
And, if we try to go faster than what the car allows, the car will break down.

Can we do anything about how long it would take us to drive to Gurgaon given the current level of the car?

The answer is yes.

Factors such as
* what time of the day we leave,
* what route we take, and
* how we drive
are in our control.

This is time management – trying to get to the destination in the least time, working 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 our speed constraints, and not discarding them.

What does time management mean in the context of GMAT then?

When students are used to solving questions at slower speeds, but suddenly try to speed up on the test their accuracy dips.

Unless your target score is 800, your objective on the GMAT is not to get EVERY question right.
Your objective is to maximize your overall score.

Isn’t it?

Here are three things we could do to try to maximize our overall score given our current speed:

1. 𝗕𝗲 𝗶𝗻 𝗰𝗼𝗻𝘁𝗿𝗼𝗹
Take calls about which questions to quickly guess on – starting from the very first question.

“I have spent 45 seconds on this question. Even after taking ~3 minutes on the question, I’ll probably still be 50-50 about my answer. I am anyway running behind on time. Let me make a smart guess and move on to save some time.

You decide which questions you should answer, and which ones you should guess and skip.

2. 𝗟𝗲𝗮𝗿𝗻 𝘁𝗼 𝗹𝗲𝘁 𝗴𝗼
Set hard deadlines for questions. e.g. If you have already spent 2.5 minutes on a Verbal question, take 10 seconds to decide which answer choice 𝘭𝘰𝘰𝘬𝘴 the best, guess smartly and move on – no matter how close we “think” we are to answering the question.

“How can I get a question from XYZ topic wrong! I have to get this one. I am anyway so close. Just a little more time.”
– This is a very dangerous thought process. If you take too long on a particular question, you will need to compromise on the later ones.

Remember your objective: Maximize your overall score. Not answer every question correctly.

3. 𝗦𝗲𝘁 𝗠𝗶𝗹𝗲𝘀𝘁𝗼𝗻𝗲𝘀
Set milestones – e.g. 31 questions in 62 minutes in the Quant section. We could set milestones for every 8th question. Once we are done with the 8th question, we should have used around 16-18 minutes. Not more. If we have used up significantly more, we should start catching up within the next quarter by taking calls about which questions to guess on.

Speed management is about becoming faster in solving questions 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵𝗼𝘂𝘁 𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗽𝗿𝗼𝗺𝗶𝘀𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗼𝗻 𝗮𝗰𝗰𝘂𝗿𝗮𝗰𝘆. We can develop this over a period of time through deliberate practice.

Time management is about trying to maximize your score 𝘄𝗵𝗶𝗹𝗲 𝗮𝗰𝗸𝗻𝗼𝘄𝗹𝗲𝗱𝗴𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝘄𝗼𝗿𝗸𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝘆𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝘀𝗽𝗲𝗲𝗱 𝗰𝗼𝗻𝘀𝘁𝗿𝗮𝗶𝗻𝘁𝘀, and not against them.

To do well on the GMAT, you’d need to be clear about the distinction between these two things, and you’d need to be good at both.

Anish Passi

GMAT Coach

With over a decade of GMAT training experience, top 1 percentile scores on the CAT and GMAT, and a passion for teaching, I’d like to believe I am quite qualified to be a GMAT coach. GMAT is learnable, and I help students master the GMAT through a process-oriented approach based on logic and common sense. I offer private tutoring and live-online classroom courses. My sessions are often sprinkled with real-world examples, references to movies, and jokes that only I find funny. You’ve been warned 🙂

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