GMAT RC – Is timing your real problem?

Recently, I started RC sessions with a guy who is around V30 and had already done an online verbal course before. As I always do, I shared with him three passages and asked him to solve the passages before the next session.

When I told him that the passages were to be solved without any time restrictions, he had a lot of reservations. He argued that he could get all questions right if he had all the time.

“The main problem is that GMAT is timed.”

“How will solving the passages in an untimed way help in tackling a test that is timed?”, he asked directly.

I shared with him that in my experience, the problems are almost always with the approach or the thought process, not with the timing. The timing is completely dependent on fluency, and fluency can be gained by practice, as long as the approach or the thought process is correct.

I think he wasn’t convinced much with my reasoning, and but he agreed to follow.

The next session, in the passages he had solved without any time restrictions, he could manage only 60% to 75% accuracy. Given that the passages were medium to difficult (and not overly difficult) and that he was already at V30, the accuracy wasn’t drastically different from what he would get in a timed scenario. I told him so, and when he saw it himself, what I had said made sense to him.

It’s extremely common to blame timing as the problem. However, before we do so, we have to show to ourselves, and not assume, that we can get 90% to 95% questions right (in medium to hard passages) without time restrictions. If we are stuck at 70% to 80% accuracy even in untimed scenarios, then there are gaps in our understanding or problems with our approach. In timed scenarios, these gaps get accentuated by the lack of enough time. The problem is not time but those gaps.

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