How to attempt GMAT questions in 1 minute

For anyone who clicked on this blog thinking it would list how to solve every question on the GMAT in one-minute, please click away.

I am not the GMAT whisperer. The aim of this blog is not to convert students into machines that can solve every question on the GMAT within a minute. It’s simply not possible!

There are many questions on the GMAT that you would find the answer to within a minute but there are also questions that will take you a minute just to understand. This is why playing with the average time on GMAT sections is risky business.

If you consider the popular belief of using the average time per question in any of the sections to “try” to solve them, you will always be left with too many questions and not enough time. This is why we are first going to abolish this belief and then move forward with our one-minute GMAT rule.

You get around two minutes on average to solve a GMAT Quant question. Let’s imagine a scenario where you spend two minutes trying to solve a question in the Quant section and had to end up skipping it because you reached no conclusive answer. This isn’t uncommon. What if a question, that you know for sure you can solve, comes towards the end of the Quant section with just one minutes and thirty seconds left on the clock?

You might still be able to solve it if it’s an easy question. But what if it’s an overlapping sets question? We all know how tricky those can be. Had you used the one-minute GMAT rule to solve that previous question, you would have had one more minute to solve this one.

If you have read other GMAT blogs here you must have come across the idea of skipping or guessing on a couple questions in the GMAT.

Most test-taker who score over 700 on the GMAT skip or guess at least a couple questions on the test. This is because GMAT requires and really benefits from the strategies used on it.

The one-minute GMAT rule that I have been preaching in this blog is a way to help a student decide whether to skip, guess, or attempt a question.

WHAT IS THIS ONE-MINUTE GMAT RULE?

one minute alarm gmat rule

Let me repeat myself and be very clear, we’re not trying to solve every question in one-minute.

The one-minute GMAT rule simply means that you allocate yourself not more than one minute to figure out if you can conclusively solve a question or if you should skip it.

The average time to solve a question on any section on the GMAT is around two minutes. If you have an idea of your plan of attack on a question within the first minute, you will most probably end up solving it within the next minute. This keeps your average time for solving a question two minutes.

If you haven’t figured out how to approach a certain question within a minute, or don’t even understand what exactly the question requires you to do, chances are you will not be reaching an answer within the next minute or so.

This is also a way to save your resource, time, to allocate them to any other questions that might need them and also help you score.

Here is a blueprint of what your approach during this one-minute should be like:

  1. Read the question and the answer choices properly.
  2. Note down what the question needs you to answer.
  3. Note any additional information given in the question to reach the said answer.
  4. Formulate a plan of attack, i.e. know which concept to use.

If you end up on point 3 at the end of the minute, taking a few extra seconds for the 4th step, i.e., formulating a plan of attack isn’t a problem. In fact, you will anyway be taking a couple seconds to make the decision of either taking a guess or skipping the question.

I would like to add though, you don’t have to be precise to the second when applying the one-minute GMAT rule. That would just end up taking more of your time. You should get a hang of what a minute feels like and use that knowledge to implement this strategy on your GMAT.

KNOW WHAT A MINUTE DURING THE GMAT FEELS LIKE

Knowing the feel of a minute on the GMAT might sound like an odd thing to do. But it is a very possible and key strategy.

Now obviously you cannot be expected to solve each and every question on the GMAT at the beginning of your prep. Take yourtime. GMAT time management strategies should be practiced during the GMAT prep but only towards the end when you have all the concepts and skills required to implement them.

If you start with practicing GMAT time management strategies from the beginning of your prep, you will end up not learning a huge chunk of the concepts and skipping over almost every question.

This is why GMAT time management strategies should be a focus only during mock tests and revisions.

To get the feel of a minute on the test, you will have to start by timing yourself on practice sets. You don’t have to solve every question on these sets yet. We just want to practice our plan of attack for these questions.

Start the stopwatch on your phone. Follow the blue-print for the one-minute GMAT rule and hit lap every time you complete step four. You might start by completing step four at the two minute or one minute thirty seconds mark but you end goal should be to bring that time down to one minute.

Once you hit lap for a question, pause the stopwatch and attempt it properly.

timer test exam practice

Remember that our end game is not to solve questions within a minute, but if you are able to do so for a few questions it’s only going to help further your goal of a 700+ GMAT score. However, you must be careful to not get carried away and drop every question that doesn’t fit this one-minute GMAT rule. There are always exceptions and you will know when you reach such a question.

Practicing this rule will also expose the concepts that you need to work more on. While practicing, don’t just forget about the questions that you decided to skip or guess on. Analyze the reasons as to why you weren’t able to figure the concepts required in those questions and work on strengthening them by practicing more.