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Slow Down to Speed Up on GMAT Data Sufficiency

GMAT Tip of the Week for the Week of March 25, 2013

This week’s GMAT tip* concerns GMAT Data Sufficiency, and specifically how to manage your time effectively on these question types. It’s important that you take your time and not make snap decisions on data sufficiency problems, even though you may be tempted to. To see what this means and how it applies to a sample GMAT data sufficiency question, check out this video:

GMAT Tip of the Week: Effective time management is an important part of scoring well on the GMAT, and many students spend an inappropriately disproportionate amount of time on problem solving vs. data sufficiency questions. On the GMAT quantitative section, you have 75 minutes to complete 37 multiple-choice questions. That works out to about 2 minutes per question. Yet, the tendency is to spend considerably more time on GMAT problem solving questions (because they’re often longer) and short-change the data sufficiency questions. Often students assume that they don’t need to spend as much time on data sufficiency questions since technically they don’t actually have to “solve” anything; yet, this can lead to snap decisions about the sufficiency or insufficiency of the statements, and therefore result in wrong answers. Especially on medium difficulty and hard data sufficiency questions, this is a mistake because there’s usually more than meets the eye.

Therefore, it’s important that you take your time on GMAT data sufficiency questions, evaluate all possible angles of each statement to make sure that you’re not missing something, and don’t feel like you need to rush just because there’s nothing to “solve.” You don’t necessarily need to spend the full two minutes on each GMAT data sufficiency question, but there’s no reason to make determinations about the statements in 5-10 seconds, either. Seek to find a healthy balance between taking enough time to make sure you’re not missing something, and not over-thinking the problems since all you’re really needing to do is determine sufficiency or insufficiency. Slowing down just a little bit on data sufficiency questions may end up saving you time in the long-run, and more importantly, it’ll ensure that you don’t make careless errors — thus enabling you to dominate the GMAT!     

* Each week, one of the GMAT experts at Dominate the GMAT shares a valuable GMAT test-taking tip, strategy, trick, or content item. These tips are designed to augment your GMAT study program and provide you with additional information that will help you improve your GMAT score.