The Art of Time Management for Standardized Tests

Standardized tests play a significant role in education and career advancement. Whether you're preparing for the SAT, ACT, GRE, GMAT, or any other standardized test, effective time management is crucial for success. Properly managing your time during the test can help you complete all sections, maintain accuracy, and reduce stress. In this guide, we'll explore the art of time management for standardized tests, providing strategies and tips to help you perform at your best.

1. Know the Test Format

Before diving into time management strategies, thoroughly understand the format of the standardized test you're taking. Familiarize yourself with the number of sections, question types, and time limits for each section. Knowing what to expect is the first step toward effective time management.

2. Develop a Pacing Strategy

Pacing is a key element of time management. To establish an effective pacing strategy:

- Divide Your Time: Allocate specific amounts of time to each section or question type based on the total time available for the test.

- Identify Benchmark Points: For longer sections, identify benchmark points at which you should have completed a certain number of questions. This helps you stay on track.

- Prioritize Questions: Understand which questions are worth more points or have greater difficulty. Prioritize your time accordingly.

3. Practice Under Timed Conditions

Regularly practice with official practice tests or timed sections to simulate the test day experience. This helps you get comfortable with time constraints and refine your pacing strategy.

4. Skip and Return

Don't get stuck on a single challenging question. If you encounter a question that's taking up too much time, skip it and come back to it later if time allows. Prioritize questions that you're more likely to answer correctly.

5. Use Your Test Booklet

Many standardized tests allow you to mark up your test booklet. Use this to your advantage by:

- Annotating: Underline key information in reading passages, math problems, or critical reasoning questions.

- Doing Math Work: If you're solving math problems, use the test booklet to show your work and calculations.

6. Keep an Eye on the Clock

Frequently check the time during the test to ensure you're staying on track. Avoid spending too much time on any single section or question.

7. Budget Time for Review

Allocate a few minutes at the end of each section to review your answers, especially if you've skipped questions. It's an opportunity to catch errors and make corrections.

8. Practice Time Management Techniques

Certain time management techniques can improve your overall performance:

- Process of Elimination: Use this technique to eliminate obviously incorrect answer choices, reducing the time needed to choose the correct one.

- Flagging Questions: If you're unsure about an answer, flag it and return to it later if time allows. Don't dwell on challenging questions.

- Guessing Strategies: If you're running out of time, make educated guesses rather than leaving questions blank. Some tests don't penalize for incorrect answers.

9. Maintain a Calm Mindset

Stress and anxiety can hinder your time management and performance. Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing to stay calm during the test.

10. Simulate Test Day Conditions

Before the actual test day, simulate test day conditions as closely as possible. Take practice tests at the same time of day and under the same conditions (e.g., in a quiet room) to mimic the test environment.


Effective time management is a skill that can significantly impact your performance on standardized tests. By developing a pacing strategy, practicing under timed conditions, and staying calm under pressure, you can maximize your chances of success. Remember that time management is not just about speed but also about making informed decisions about where to allocate your time during the test. With consistent practice and a well-thought-out approach, you can master the art of time management for standardized tests and achieve your desired scores.