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How To Study For The GMAT While Working | 7 Highly Effective and Practical Strategies

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How To Study For The GMAT While Working

So you're preparing for the GMAT - no easy task by itself - and you're also working a demanding job that has the uncanny ability to usurp your every waking moment? Do you worry about how to prepare for the GMAT efficiently without going bonkers? There are a few time-tested strategies that you can use to achieve a top GMAT score while balancing work demands.

In this article, I'll give you 7 practical and highly effective strategies for preparing for the GMAT while working. Let's begin with a discussion on the importance of committing yourself to the goal, and then continue with a focus on carving out sufficient time for GMAT prep.

Strategy #1: Commit to Your Prep and Be Proactive

Too many people get up each day, go to work, and come home, all without ever making an investment in themselves. Preparing for the GMAT will be one of the most significant professional investments you'll make in yourself. The knowledge and skills you develop via GMAT prep will serve you for years to come, not to mention the not-so-subtle fact that earning an MBA from a top school will advance your life personally and professionally (and monetarily).

But earning a competitive GMAT score will require time and effort, and it's all too easy to procrastinate, using the self-justification that "you're just too busy to study." How often have you heard someone say, "I don't have time for X" or "I don't have time for Y"? Here's the reality: there is time only for the things we make time for, GMAT prep included. With a demanding job, it's important to make time for your personal growth and development. Otherwise, you may find that your days become occupied with the demands of your job, with stagnation resulting.

Don't let this stagnation happen! Your first step on the path to business school is to commit yourself to preparing for the GMAT and making that preparation a priority. Often the most difficult part of any process is getting started, so once you're "in it to win it," you'll already be ahead of the competition.

Strategy #2: Make Time Each Weekday Morning to Study

One smart GMAT prep strategy is to go to bed early on weeknights and wake up early on weekday mornings. When you wake up, get some coffee, and then spend two uninterrupted hours studying before work.

One great benefit to studying early in the morning is that your brain and body will be well-rested and ready to absorb new information. In addition to being fresh for studying, there is something very satisfying about beginning the day by doing something for yourself, something that will help you grow and that will have a positive impact on your future.

If you study for the GMAT early in the morning, by the time you get to work, you'll have put in a solid amount of GMAT study time. That's a great feeling to have in the morning, and by having already gotten in some solid GMAT prep, you're actually setting yourself up to have a more productive day at work because you won't have the nagging worry that you haven't done enough GMAT prep yet. You'll be freer to perform at your best at work, and performing at your best at work will allow you to be more productive in your GMAT prep because you won't be worried that you're not giving your job your best efforts.

Strategy #3: Study Right After Work

If you can't study early in the morning because you start your workday early, plan out a GMAT study schedule that allows you to study after work. A good plan would be to get a quick snack and cup of coffee as soon as your workday concludes, and dive right into your GMAT studying.

Studying immediately after work, as opposed to later in the evening, is ideal because you will still be in the "zone" from your workday. So, you'll have the right mindset to effectively tackle your GMAT prep. If you push off your studying until later in the evening, you may get tired and lose the motivation to study. So, if possible, try to knock out your GMAT studying right when you conclude your workday.

Strategy #4: Get Some Exercise After Work

Exercise has proven health benefits. In addition to being essential for the body, exercise is just as necessary for the brain. Exercise balances and recalibrates neurotransmitters such as dopamine. Without this adjustment, it's easy to feel stressed and anxious. These emotions are never optimal for learning and growth. Furthermore, exercise substantially improves your ability to learn and process new information.

Since you know all this, get some exercise after work! Go for a run, take a long walk, hit the weights, or do some yoga. If you're a multitasker, hit the elliptical or the treadmill at the gym and review your notes or flashcards during your workout - just be careful! Or, while you're running, mentally review all the math formulas you have memorized. Evening exercise is a great way to destress, leave the day behind, and prepare for a productive evening of studying.

Strategy #5: Use the Evening to Reinforce Knowledge

Once you get home, study for another hour. Depending on your stamina, you may be a bit tired, so instead of starting a new topic, you can use this study session to reinforce what you've already learned. For example, if you studied ratio questions in the morning and reviewed them during lunch, the evening may be a good time to work through several high-value ratio practice questions. Once you get tired, stop studying and relax. It makes no sense to study when you're too tired to retain information.

Strategy #6: Hit the Books Hard on Weekends

Get up early on Saturday morning (5 a.m., anyone?) and head to your local coffee shop. Grab a light breakfast and whatever else you need, and then spend the morning studying. You can cover new content areas, review old material you've worked on that week, and run through a bunch of practice questions. Study until lunchtime.

If you've studied hard on Saturday morning, reward yourself by doing something enjoyable in the evening. Then follow the same schedule on Sunday. If you've followed the GMAT study schedule I've laid out so far in this article, by Sunday night, you'll have logged as many as 23 hours of quality GMAT study. Over a few months, that number can result in a substantial increase in your score. Always keep your eyes on the prize! These few months of commitment are an investment that will pay dividends throughout your career!

As your test date nears, you'll want to spend some weekend time taking full-length practice tests. Focus for the entire test and simulate the test environment as much as you can (no cell phone, no calculator, no interruptions). Regardless of whether you're using your free hours on the weekend to learn new material or sit for practice tests, you should take that time seriously, avoid distractions, and put in your full effort.

Strategy #7: Reward Yourself

Let's face it: GMAT studying will take up much of your time and energy each week. If you stick to a schedule, hopefully, you will be studying for at least 18 hours each week. On top of a full-time job, that much studying certainly can take a toll. So, every so often, reward yourself for a good, consistent stretch of studying.

Perhaps for two weeks in a row, you have stuck to your GMAT study schedule by the letter of the law, studying every day, Sunday to Monday. After those two weeks, perhaps you could use a day off from studying. Use that day off to do something fun or relaxing. Meet up with some friends, go to dinner, go to the movies. Do anything that will give your head a rest from GMAT studying, so you can come back refreshed and ready to go the next day.

Happy Studying!

Warmest regards,

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Studying for the GMAT while working can be challenging, but it is possible with the right strategies and mindset. Here are 7 highly effective and practical strategies to help you balance work and GMAT preparation:

Set realistic goals: Start by setting achievable goals that align with your work schedule. For example, plan to study for a specific number of hours each day or week, rather than trying to study for hours on end every day.

Create a study schedule: Create a study schedule that takes into account your work schedule and other commitments. Make sure you have enough time to study and review material regularly.

Make use of lunch breaks: Use your lunch breaks to study, review notes, or practice GMAT questions. This is a great way to make use of your time and maximize your study efforts.

Utilize online resources: There are many online resources available to help you prepare for the GMAT. These resources include practice tests, study guides, and video tutorials. Make use of these resources to supplement your studies.

Join a study group: Joining a study group can be helpful in many ways. You can discuss difficult concepts with other students, share study strategies, and motivate each other to stay on track.

Stay organized: Keep track of your progress by using a study planner or app. This will help you stay organized and ensure that you are making progress towards your goals.

Take care of yourself: Finally, don't forget to take care of yourself. Make sure you are getting enough sleep, eating well, and taking breaks when you need them. Taking care of your physical and mental health will help you stay focused and motivated.

Studying for the GMAT while working can be challenging, but by setting realistic goals, creating a study schedule, making use of lunch breaks, utilizing online resources, joining a study group, staying organized, and taking care of yourself, you can balance work and GMAT preparation and achieve your goals.