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Strategic Time Management for GRE: Some Pointers

Strategic Time Management for GRE: Some Pointers

Strategic Time Management for GRE: Some Pointers

Hello readers, how “hectic” was your weak, I hope it was not as hectic as mine.

GRE is a game of timing. The smartly you can handle or manage your time on the test day, the higher your score is going to be. So, unless a candidate practices how to manage time properly, he will never be able to reach his expected score. We all know that managing time is tough and human being is a emotional being. This emotion works in so many different ways. Sometimes it also hinders us from thinking smartly. For instance, in the exam hall, some of us who are strong in mathematics automatically assume that “I have to solve them all no matter what the cost is” and thus, when a super complicated problem is faced, that person hangs on to it up until he can solve it; as a result a lot of time gets wasted and it hampers the other questions. On the other hand, there are some who are so easily vulnerable to difficult math problems that the moment the see some difficult problem they simply give up. BOTH of these are non-recommend for GRE, as they both are driven from emotion and no smart thought is working here.

One of the many vitally technical ways that GRE question is set is to judge how exactly a candidate manages his time in the test center. Because that way his smartness comes out. Time management is one of the many certain way to identify how smart someone really is. Therefore, GRE being the way it is, must have those ways of questions which will properly judge the time management capability of a candidate.

There are several pointers that I have separated for Verbal, Quantitative and Overall section. I am not going to discuss the writing part here as I am going to discuss writing altogether afterwords.

Pointers on Quantitative Section:

  • There are two (or three; depends on the test that which one is for research purpose) sets of “Quantitative” questions with 20 MCQ questions in it, each of which consists of 35 minutes. Mathematically speaking, that gives each and every question exactly 1 minutes and 45 seconds. But that is only a Mathematical calculation. In reality, the solving time will differ.
  • Avoiding “hang ups” for a particular problem is not recommended, so is not giving up a problem too soon. The timing for each problem has to be set accordingly and “you must answer or guess-and-answer every question”. No stone should be left un-turned!!
  • Let me set a time-table (optimum) for you for each quantitative questions:
  • Quantitative Comparison: 1 Min. 10 Sec;
  • Discrete Quantitative Problems: 1 Min. 50 Sec.;
  • Data Comparison: 1 Min. 50 Sec;
  • Revise the whole Quantitative part: 5 – 7 Min.
  • Data Interpretation or Comparison in Quantitative section, though not much question will be faced, may be compared with the “sentence correction” part of Verbal section. Because it will take most of your time solving. You will need to synthesize and analyze the data thoroughly in order to make any sense out of it, and answer the questions afterwords. So, a little bit more time may have to be allocated here for those who are a slow-goose.
  • All the questions in the Quantitative section are known to all of us. Because these questions topics are directly picked from the Junior High School level. Some normal calculation has to be conducted here, nothing more. However, completing them in time is a totally different set of ball-game. It takes developing proper strategy to finish them in time.
  • This is a general strategy. Now you will have to work on yourself to know what strategy works for you. So, my suggestion, unless you develop your own time management strategy through rigorous practice, please don’t sit for the exam.

Pointers on Verbal Section:

  • There are two (or three; depends on the test that which one is for research purpose) sets of “Verbal” questions with 20 MCQ questions in it, each of which consists of 30 minutes. Mathematically speaking, that gives each and every question exactly 1 minutes and 30 seconds. However, just like Quant, the solving time will differ.
  • Even though there are only 20 questions to solve in 30 minutes, the test takes target this part of questions to be almost impenetrable. So time management here may be a bit difficult.
  • Let us take a look on a timing break-down of the verbal part:
  • Reading Comprehension: 1 Min. 15 Sec; 
  • Sentence Equivalence: 50 Sec.
  • Text Completion: 30-  60 Sec.
  • Revision time: 3-5 Min.
  • The main time consuming part in verbal section is Reading Comprehension; as we need to read thoroughly the whole passage and make something out of it to answer the questions properly. However, not more than 3-4 minutes should be allocated here.
  • The allocation of time should be subjective. For someone who is a slow reader, should allocate more time in Reading Comprehension and complete the other sections as soon as possible.
  • As I mentioned earlier, this is only a general strategy. Please find a suitable strategy of your own for better success.

Overall GRE test related timing Pointers:

  • GRE is a section-level adaptive testing system. The previous section of any particular part (quant or verbal) will determine how hard or easy the next section is going to be.
  • To ensure a higher score, it is good to have a harder next section.
  • While practicing at home or anywhere else, setting a timer works great.
  • Condition at residence and the test center are quite different, managing time at home is much easier. So, the practice ground has to be set as if it were the real test center or close to it.
  • In the test, the timer will be set on “count-down” mode. So, the same thing should be done in the practice as well.


In conclusion, I would like to say one thing that, after reading the above article, you may thing that to face GRE, you will have to live by the clock; it is partially true. Because apart from living by the clock, you will also have to find your own strategy of time management. It has to be developed by yourself by practice. And another thing is, if you are an expert, for instance, you are a lexicon savant or a quant genius (though practice) and you already know what to expect in the test center, time management will not be an issue for you. Therefore, strategically practice is the only way to manage time.

See Also
The Entrance Exam for MBA in the USA

That’s it for today. In my next article, I will discuss about a very much demanded question regarding “how GRE is truly evaluated” in the Universities of USA.

Till then, happy reading!!!

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