# GMAT Timing Tip: Is It Time to Guess?

If you even scratch the surface of a GMAT prep book, a GMAT forum, or just a random GMAT conversation on the street (those do happen, I swear), you’ll hear something about the scoring algorithm — that you MUST get the first 10 questions right, that you’re doing poorly if you get an easy question in the middle of the test, and so on (both of those “facts” are actually myths, by the way). People tend to react to uncertainty in counterproductive ways, and a seemingly inscrutable algorithm spitting out Quant questions from a pool of thousands of questions certainly welcomes uncertainty. Over the years, I’ve seen students react to this uncertainty in different ways. Some start panicking from the first question and never give themselves a chance to really work through a problem. Some guess on a question at the first sign of trouble. And most end up attempting every question until they look up at the clock and realize that they have to guess on the last 5 or 6 questions.

All of these are problematic and sub-optimal approaches, and, to a large extent, they derive from confusion about the scoring algorithm. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: The algorithm is designed for you to miss questions! I know it’s counterintuitive, especially when our educational system defines success on a test as getting 80%+ of the questions correct. But, for the purposes of the GMAT, an 80% accuracy rate on the Quant is exceedingly rare. As I’ve discussed elsewhere, the truth is that you can get a very high Quant score and still miss almost half the questions. This fact should, in of itself, be good news, but, more importantly, it should dictate the approach you take toward budgeting your time on the exam.

Of course, all of this is easier said than done. It takes some adjustment to understand the scoring algorithm and to tweak your approach appropriately. This is why it’s important to take sufficient practice tests before your exam, and this is why, even when you’ve addressed all the content on the exam, you still need to develop the appropriate approach to optimize your GMAT score.