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Making Time for the Last Ten Questions of the GMAT

A much better approach than lavishing time on the first ten questions of the GMAT is to allow ample time to answer the last ten questions in both the verbal and quantitative sections. Because the best way to score well is to give adequate time to each question, guess when necessary, and complete the entire test, you shouldn't spend a disproportionate amount of time answering the early questions.

Here are the steps to follow for this approach:

1. Work through the first 55 minutes of the quantitative and verbal sections at a good pace (two minutes per question for quantitative and a little over a minute and a half per question for verbal).

2. Don't spend more than three minutes on any question during the first 75 percent of the quantitative and verbal sections.

3. When you have ten questions remaining in the section (when you're on question 27 of the quantitative section or question 31 of the verbal section), check the time remaining and adjust your pace accordingly.

For example, if you've answered the first 27 quantitative questions in only 50 minutes, you have a total of 25 minutes to work on the last ten questions. That means you can spend about two and half minutes on each of the last ten questions. That extra 30 seconds per question may be what you need to answer a high percentage of those final ten questions correctly. Avoid random guesses on the last unanswered questions of either section.

It's not that you should rush through the first 55 minutes of each section so you can spend lots of time on the last ten questions. Instead, you should stick to a pace that allows you to give equal time to all the questions in a section. You can't spend five or six minutes on a single question without sacrificing your performance on the rest of the test, so stick to your pace.

If you happen to have additional time when you get to the last ten questions, by all means use it. There's a severe penalty for not finishing a section but no prize for getting done early.

When you work steadily and carefully through the first 75 percent of each section, you're rewarded with a score that stabilizes toward the higher end of the percentile and that may rise to an even higher level at the end of the section as you spend any extra time you have getting the last questions right. The last question of the section may be the most difficult you encounter, because you've done well throughout and paid special attention to the last ten questions. Talk about ending on a high note!

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