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What is your elevation? High elevation will require longer cook times for pasta. Make sure your water comes to a vigorous boil. You're probably putting the pasta in the water when it's like 195 degrees. Use a lot of water. Like six quarts per pound of pasta. This is so the pasta doesn't cool off the the water so much when you add it to the water.
The time listed for pasta usually states 8 minutes after the water returns to a boil. So if you're timing it as soon as you add it, that might be your problem. Also, the times on pasta packages are for al dente, which is a little stiff. I prefer mine a little more cooked, so I don't really follow the package. I just test a noodle to see if their done.
The thing with pasta,rice, spaghetti, potatoes, couscous etc is that when you get experience you sort of develop your own techniques naturally. I dont time anything anymore, but I never burn, undercook or overcook. It just comes with practice.