Huh?A frequent question from students is should they guess on the exam.

The answer is absolutely, positively YES. The GMAT is not like the SAT where students get penalized for guessing an incorrect answer. The penalty is much more severe for questions that are left completely unanswered.

Many times students will get stumped on a problem, and instead of cutting their losses and moving on, they will doggedly try to solve the question. This is absolutely the worst mistake you can make under the given circumstances. Test studies have shown that after the 3 minute mark, the probability of getting an answer wrong actually increases the longer a students spends on the problem. Probable causes for this are heightened anxiety caused by the loss of time and increased chances for careless errors.

In addition, many students also fail to realize that taking extra time to solve a problem not only takes up time on the current problem, but also affects every problem downstream. Taking 1 extra minute for a problem effectively subtracts about 15 seconds from every other remaining problem. For example, if you are scoring in the high 40’s in quant, chances are good that you will need all of the remaining time to solve high level difficulty math questions near the end of the section. But if you unwisely spend an extra 5 minutes on a problem early on, this effectively halves the time remaining for problems at the end. Spending extra time to get one question correct at the expense of potentially getting 5 questions wrong later is simply a poor gamble.

Lastly, every problem on the GMAT is equally important. Even if you get the majority of questions in a section correct, getting the last few questions wrong due to a lack of time can cause a significant decrease in score. It’s a terrible shame to give the test a good effort but produce a poor result because of lackluster performance in the end game.

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