Time management for GRE – 7 Ways to Manage Your Time on the GRE Exam

02 April, 2024
parthiva mewawala

The GRE, or the Graduate Record Examination, is the most popular graduate entrance exam in the world and is accepted by schools globally. The test has been designed to assess candidates on their verbal reasoning, analytical reasoning, logical reasoning, and communication skills. Students who do well on the GRE, typically defined by a score of 320 or more, are generally projected to possess the skills necessary to succeed in the rigorous environment of graduate school. But scoring well on the GRE isn’t just about studying the topics and underlying concepts – it is also about using those concepts to solve questions quickly. You’ll have less than 90 seconds to get to the correct answer to each question being presented to you. However, few students practice proper time management for the GRE beforehand, leading to an improper strategy on exam day and lesser-than-expected marks. 


In this blog, we’ll discuss the most crucial time management strategies for the GRE to equip you with the right approach to scoring 320+. Time management for GRE has become even more important with the advent of the new GRE format. The shorter GRE pattern might have fewer questions, but with the condensed timeframe (Instead of the usual 3 hours and 45 minutes, you only have 1 hour and 58 minutes), each second counts.


Read More – The New GRE Pattern

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Time management for GRE – Verbal section

The verbal section is divided into two parts; both combine for 27 questions to be answered in 41 minutes. That leaves just about 90 seconds per question. While 90 seconds is enough for some of the easier questions, what happens when you come across the notoriously long and arduous reading comprehension questions? Reading the passages alone takes up a couple of minutes. Instead of rushing through the questions at the last second to avoid skipping any of them, it’s much better to have a proper strategy – time management for the GRE strategy that lays out the different periods required for different questions.


Types of QuestionTime Required
One blank text completion40 seconds
Sentence equivalence60 seconds
Two blank text completions70 seconds
Three blank text completions120 seconds
Short reading passages105 seconds
Long reading passages180 seconds


By following this simple time distribution, you’ll be able to spare enough time for all the questions, along with a quick review of the ones you’ve flagged. 


Another approach is to first finish all the fill-in-the-blanks and sentence equivalence questions within the first 10 minutes of the exam and then spend the remaining 31 minutes working with the passages. While reading the passages, first read the questions (not the choices), then the passages, and then go back to the options presented to you. This approach lets you whittle the passage to its bare essentials without losing its primary argument. Plus, it also saves time. 


Don’t forget to use smart guesswork for questions you cannot answer. The GRE doesn’t penalise you for wrong answers; use this fact to your advantage. Learn how to use the limits set by the question to eliminate wrong choices. For instance, the most extreme choices will often be incorrect. Try to guess smartly from the remaining choices, and you’ll have a decent chance of falling for the correct alternative.

Time management for GRE – Quant section


Much like the verbal section, the quant section of the GRE, too, has two sections totalling about 27 questions. The only difference is that you get 47 minutes, i.e., 6 minutes more. However, since the quant section requires computing and rough work, even the 104 seconds per question might not be enough for many. 


As a general rule of thumb, never spend more than 2 minutes per question. However, for more exact numbers, check out the table below:


Type of QuestionTime Required
Data comparison90 seconds
Numerical entry120 seconds
Multiple-choice, multiple selection120 seconds
Multiple-choice, single selection90 seconds

The skill of time management might just be more crucial for the quant section than the verbal one. You need to make each second count. One of the best ways to do that is to number and arrange your rough work according to questions. Since there is a chance that you’ll be revisiting some of the questions at the end, having your rough work in order will make it that much simpler to pick up right where you left off. 


Another point you should keep in mind is that each question has a different difficulty level. Once you start discerning differences in difficulty, a skill that comes with practice, you can estimate the time required just by looking at it. This ability comes in handy when encountering particularly challenging questions; you can immediately flag them and move on instead of fumbling around with them before moving on. This doesn’t mean you leave them blank. Once you’re finished with all the questions, come back to the flagged questions and try them. If you’re unable to, use smart guesswork to eliminate the impossible choices before choosing the most probable one.


Many students often forget to utilise the on-screen calculator to its full potential. The calculator offers many advantages by allowing you to do basic calculations, including simple roots. While you shouldn’t be entirely dependent on it ( the basics such as tables, roots, squares, and cubes should be at your fingertips), it is a great asset when used right.


Read More – 7 steps to creating your own GRE study plan

Time management for the GRE is an essential skill that can be finessed with regular practice. Start timing your practice sessions and give several timed mock tests to become better acquainted with the paper itself. However, if you need help honing your strategy and wish to augment it further, you can always fill out the form here to schedule a free mentoring session with our counsellors.