Do you want to get into b-school, but feel like you just don’t have the time? Well, I have some good news: there are ways to fit GMAT prep into your busy schedule.
Practice general reading, math, and writing skills in your spare time
Not every GMAT prep session has to be a lengthy at-home, sit-down round of test prep. The general skills for the GMAT—math skills, reading skills, and writing skills—can be practiced in small amounts throughout the day. Your daily life is full of opportunities to improve your GMAT IR, Quant, Verbal, and AWA skills.
Look for little opportunities to do math. Calculate your shopping totals, with sales tax, in your head. If you work any overtime, mentally calculate how much you’ve just earned. Then, as a bonus math activity estimate the percentage increase in your earnings, based on the overtime. You can also estimate how long it will take you to travel somewhere, based on distance and your average travel speed. These kinds of mental math calculations help you get ready for the Quant section of the GMAT. GMAT Quant is full of similar kinds of calculations that are complicated, yet can be done without a calculator. (As you probably already know, you can’t use a calculator on GMAT Quant.)
Additional Integrated Reasoning, Verbal and AWA prep can be done online without disrupting your busy schedule. Do you ever have any down time where you surf the web to relax? Of course you do, and you probably get several of these brief mental breaks throughout your day. This down time can double as GMAT reading practice quite easily.
If you aspire to business school, you no doubt have an interest in business, and enjoy reading business news online. You can use this interest to prepare your reading comprehension for GMAT IR, the part of the GMAT that contains highly detailed business reports and figures The next time you browse the web for news, make a point of reading some business articles that include a lot of numbers. Seek out articles on company profitability, economic statistics, and so on. As you read, take a moment to stop and think about what the numbers in the article really mean.
You may even want to use a calculator to play with some of the more complicated business figures you see. This too can help you prepare for the Integrated Reasoning Section of the GMAT, since IR is the one part of the exam where calculator use is allowed.
A much wider variety of reading materials can prepare you for GMAT Verbal. Here, all kinds of formal, educational reading can do. Crawl through websites full of news reports and informative articles that stick with material that has an academic tone. Opinion pieces on major news websites like CNN or Time are good for this. So are movie reviews and television recaps on websites. Plenty of other reading materials can help you prepare for the test too. Look at GMAT Verbal passages (such as this example GMAT RC passage from the Magoosh GMAT Blog), and you’ll get a feel for the similar passages you can read the next time you go online.
There are even chances to build GMAT AWA writing skills in your spare time. You have chances to write throughout your day, either by sending emails or posting to social media. You can turn this “incidental writing” in your life into GMAT AWA prep. How, you ask? Well, first, you should carefully read this list of GMAT AWA strategies. Then, apply as many of those strategies as possible to any writing you do from day-to-day.
Carefully organize your schedule so that you make time for GMAT prep
Turning your spare time activities into GMAT prep is huge, and can really help you get ready for the exam. But to succeed on the test, you also do need some of those longer, sit-down GMAT study sessions I mentioned before.
It’s important to remember that no matter how busy you feel, there are almost always ways to organize your time better, so that you have blocks of time just for test prep. This where a good GMAT study schedule comes in.
The web is full of guidance on how to plan and structure your GMAT prep. This GMAT study guide from Magoosh is particularly useful, since it specifies how to manage your time as you get ready for test day.
David Recine is a test prep expert at Magoosh. He has a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and a Masters in Teaching English to Speakers of other Languages from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. He has been teaching K-12, University, and adult education classes since 2007 and has worked with students from every continent.