July 25, 2019

How to complete GMAT questions in 1 minute

GMAT is a time-sensitive test. It tests you on regular concepts that you must have learnt in school. If I give you a GMAT set and then let you take your time hacking at it, I bet you’ll be able to score a 700+ score without breaking a sweat.

But that’s the thing, you don’t have time on the test. Over that, you will also have to choose your battles while giving the GMAT. Skipping and guessing on the test isn’t unheard of and is done by most students. That is students that now the right strategies for it.

You would be a little shocked and mildly glad to know that most people who score over 700 skip questions and guess on the test too.

This is because when you spend too much time on a question you aren’t able to solve you are giving up on some other questions that might have helped you score.

This is why we believe in the one-minute rule for the GMAT

What is the one-minute rule?

The average time on the GMAT to solve a question is around two minutes.

However, not all GMAT questions are made alike. Some might take you 30 seconds to solve while others will drone on for three minutes. This doesn’t mean that a question is particularly difficult or easy depending on the time you took to solve it.

The longer questions can sometimes be plain laborious with too much information to process before attempting an answer. This is why skipping a few questions isn’t considered a sin on this test.

The one-minute rule is what will help you determine whether you should attempt a question or not. For questions solvable within the one-minute, just select the answer. For the questions that aren’t solvable within the one minute, here’s how you should approach them.

  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.
  5. Take a quick stab at the question.

After following these five steps, you would get a rough idea of whether you will be able to solve the question within the next minute. If the answer is no, simply move on. If you feel you can at least make a guess, do that.

No matter what you do, do not keep attempting this question just for the sake of it. The time you would save by skipping or guessing on the GMAT here can be put towards other questions that you probably can solve quickly.

Know what a minute on the GMAT feels like

Since we have established that the one-minute mark is an important milestone for each and every question on the GMAT, we must also figure out how to get a sense for it rather than timing every question on the watch during the paper.

The only way you can develop this habit is by timing yourself in practice questions. In fact, make practice sets and try to attempt the whole set by following this philosophy. This will help you figure out the exact position you are at regarding time management while also continuing your prep.

Although I would suggest starting a little leniently. Starting with one-minute per question might get you a little flustered and might hinder the prep as you try to run through the sets. Instead, start with two minutes on the timer. Even three is fine as long as you remember to decrease the time and finally reach the one-minute mark after a few practice sets.


It might not be possible to cover all the bases of a question in one minute, but it will surely give you an idea of whether you will be able to do it or not. If you take the average two minutes per question as a marker for when to stop on a question chances are you won’t be able to attempt the laborious questions since your speed will be set according to the quicker ones.

Here are some other ways to keep your time on the GMAT in check.

GMAT Time Management strategies

Section-wise GMAT Time Management Tips

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