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   Test Pacer: Pacing for the GMAT


Imagine a test where you can't skip questions, all answers are final, there's a penalty for not finishing on time, and you have to accelerate as the test progresses....

.... That's the GMAT CAT

Pacing strategies are more critical and difficult on the GMAT CAT (computer-adaptive test) than for any test you have ever taken. To quote the makers of the GMAT, "Time management is key." Your timing skills could add or subtract 100 points from your score. This is because the test has highly unusual pacing constraints.

  • Double Penalty - for any unfinished questions at the end of each section when time expires. The penalty for unfinished questions is severe (worse than getting a question wrong). You should pace yourself to make sure that you finish all the questions in the allotted time.

  • No Double Checking - All answers are final. If you finish a section early, you cannot go back to double-check your earlier answers. For example, if you hurry and finish your section with 20 minutes left, you are stuck at the end of the test with 20 extra minutes.

  • No Skipping - When you hit a tough question or get a mental block, you cannot skip the question. Instead, you have to trudge through it, guess, and hope you don't waste too much time.
800score.com tests have the Test Pacer
built in.

How the Test Pacer Works
The Test Pacer tells you what question you should be on, depending on your skill level, so that you pace yourself properly. For example, if the Pacer displays "5.2," it means that, given your skill level, you should be approximately on question five in order to finish the test on time. This teaches you the right pacing interactively. It is like using a training wheel -- the more you use the Test Pacer, the more you will develop your internal sense of timing and the less you will need it. We built the Test Pacer into our 5 GMAT practice tests, and it is also available as a watch.


Finishing the Test on Time
The Test Pacer will guide you so that you can do every question before time expires. There is a severe penalty for any unfinished questions when time runs out. Following the Pacer also helps you avoid having too much time left over at the end. You don't want to be too far ahead of pace or else you will waste 10 or 20 minutes sitting on the last question. You cannot go back to earlier questions on the new GMAT.


Knowing When to Call It Quits
Suppose that, as you begin a question, the Test Pacer shows question 10.0. If you look again later at the Test Pacer and it shows 11.5, you will know that you have already spent 1.5 times the suggested time for that question. You can immediately tell if you have spent too much time on that question. This is incredibly useful on the CAT, where you must constantly decide if you should stick to a question or move on (knowing that you can never go back to it).

Since the clock built into the GMAT doesn't show seconds (except during the last five minutes), it is very difficult to measure how much time you have invested in a question (the Pacer does show seconds). You can use the Pacer to measure if you are spending too much time on a given question. If you start a question and the pacer says 5.0 and you look at it again and the pacer says 7.0, you know you have spent double the amount of time normally required for a question. Also, adjust your speed to spend slightly less time on the Sentence Correction and Quantitative Comparison questions and more time on the Reading Comprehension questions.

  • If you have pacing problems or are concerned about it becoming a problem, you should consider using the Test Pacer. The best way to see how the pacing system works is to try it out on our sample tests.