How to Manage Your Time on the GRE

By Ron Woldoff, Joseph Kraynak

Taking the GRE is a little like playing Beat the Clock. The computer provides you with a stopwatch — an on-screen clock — to time each section. Your goal is to answer as many questions correctly as quickly as possible before the clock ticks down to 0:00. You have the option of hiding the on-screen clock, but this isn’t recommended.

Instead, make the on-screen timer familiar and comfortable (or rather, less uncomfortable) by using a stopwatch while doing homework and practice tests. Practicing with a stopwatch is part of preparing for the test-taking experience.

The clock changes from hours:minutes to minutes:seconds during the last five minutes; this, of course, means hustle time.

Don’t obsess over giving each question a specific number of seconds, but do know when to give up and come back to a question later. As long as you haven’t exited a section, you can return to questions in that section. Simply click Review, click the question you want to return to, and then click Go to Question. You can also mark a question for review so it’s flagged on the Review Screen. Just keep in mind that while you’re on the Review Screen, the clock still ticks.

Within each section, each question carries the same weight; easier ones are worth just as much as harder ones. A good strategy is to note on your scratch paper a question that you can’t answer quickly so you can answer as many of the easy questions as possible and go back to the harder ones at the end.

Answer every question, even if you have to make a wild guess. You’re not penalized for incorrect answers, so you may as well try.