General Pacing Tips and Strategies:
First, if you have come here and you have yet to watch our Skipping Questions and Pacing Lesson Video, go there and watch it!
Now, that you have watched this lesson video, let's try to really dissect pacing and pacing strategies at a deeper level, with more specificity. The best way to improve your speed is to improve your accuracy. I'd recommend first practicing questions without a timer; this will allow you to focus on your accuracy without the ticking clock causing you any stress. Once you become more familiar with the concepts on the GRE, start to time your sessions.
The transition from accuracy to speed can cause problems at first. After taking as much time as possible to answer a question, now you have to think about speed. Increasing your speed while maintaining your accuracy will not come over night. It is a process. So, take your time with it. Imagine that you're training to be a world class swimmer: technique (or accuracy in this case) will equate to speed. Regardless of how quickly you are answering you questions, you should maintain the technique (the accuracy) that you developed before you began working on maximizing your pace. Keeping this in mind, you must set achievable goals as you attempt to improve your pacing! Try to answer questions at a pace of three minutes per question. The next day, set a faster pace, like two and half minutes per question. Do this day by day until you are answering questions at the target times:
- Math ≈ 1:45 per question
- Verbal ≈ 1:30 per question
Remember that lesson video that you watched before you started reading all of this? There is one incredibly important strategy that we discuss in that lesson that is important enough to talk about twice. I can't emphasize enough how important it is to skip the difficult questions and answer the easy questions first. You wouldn't climb to the top of a tree to grab an apple if there is a perfectly delicious-looking apple hanging within arms-reach would you? No, you wouldn't. You should be grabbing the "low hanging fruit" on the GRE as well! For any problem that seems like it's going to need some thought or that you don't know how to approach it, mark it and skip it. Finish all of the easy questions first, and come back to the marked problems afterward. Once you have completed the whole section once, go to the "Review" screen and return to each question you marked. Now you have more time to work on the harder problems since you already answered all of the easier ones.
The Verbal Section (Specifically Reading Comprehension) and Pacing:
A lot of students come to us and ask us specifically about reading comprehension pacing. They're understandable questions. The reading comprehension problems are pretty involved. They include a lot of reading, and reading can take a lot of time. Reading long passages is not conducive to a fast pace. However, it's difficult to know if you have appropriate pace if you don't know how long you should be spending on each questions type. That's why we have created a question-type pacing breakdown! Here is the breakdown:
One-Blank Text Completions: 20 – 45 seconds
Sentence Equivalence: 20 – 60 seconds
Two-Blank Text Completions: 30 – 75 seconds
Three-Blank Text Completions: 45 sec – 2 min
Short Reading Passage (including time to read passage): 45 sec – 1:45 min
Long Reading Passage: 1:00 – 3:00 min
If you find yourself spending longer than the maximum time that we suggest that you should work on a question, you should move on to the next question and come back to it.
For the reading comprehension questions, it is particularly important that you begin by reading slowly. Again, it is important that you read with accuracy before your start reading with speed. When you have to read a passage multiple times, this is when you start to lose time on the test.
To help you on your journey to GRE Reading Comprehension domination, I'd like to provide you with some resources that will help you on your path to success. Each one tackles a different aspect of reading comprehension, and if you want to improve your reading comprehension so that you don't have to read passages multiple times, dive into these resources:
- Pacing on GRE Reading Comprehension (RC)
- GRE Reading Comprehension Pacing
- GRE Student Post: Pace Yourself!
- How to Approach Questions
- Example of How a Passage is Outlined
- Identifying Patterns in Passages
- Pacing Strategies
- Active Reading Strategies for the GRE
Other Useful Blog Posts that will Help you Improve your Overall Pacing:
If you've made it this far into this blog post and your question still hasn't been answered, your ever-elusive answer may be waiting in one of these two blogs.