Working full time and preparing for the GMAT? You may wonder how much time your studies will take. This depends a lot on how many weeks you have to study, and your current GMAT abilities. Magoosh GMAT’s article “How Long Should I Study for the GMAT?” helps you look at possible daily time commitments.
As you can see in that article, GMAT study typically requires a couple of hours of study each weekday, and longer study hours on the weekends. If you’ve already got a demanding fulltime job, it can be a challenge to take on this extra study time. But there are ways to balance GMAT studies with your work. Here are several quick GMAT study tips for those of you who work 40 hours (or more!) per week.
Tip #1: Find Your Natural Daily Rhythm
Usually, fulltime workers get in their daily GMAT prep in the morning or evening. But these outside-of-work time slots shouldn’t be selected at random.
Schedule your workday studies at times when you’re most alert. If you’re the freshest when you first wake up, do GMAT prep with your morning coffee. If you’re more of a night owl, study in the evening after work. Not sure what will work best for you? Experiment a little. But make sure you settle into a regular schedule, one that’s good for you, as soon as possible.
Tip #2: Let Some of Your Spare Time Activities Double as GMAT Prep
“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” as the saying goes. And whether or not your name is actually Jack, doing nothing but work and GMAT study isn’t healthy. You’ll need mental breaks to keep your mind rested and sharp. But spare time can still lend itself to GMAT skills-building.
Do you post to sites like Facebook? Start writing your posts more seriously, carefully constructing arguments and analyzing the arguments of others. Write more earnestly in your spare time, and you’ll improve your writing skills for GMAT AWA.
And do you ever get stuck in slow traffic, or get bored as you walk or ride to work? Use that time to practice GMAT skills in your head. Build your reading and vocabulary skills by reading, or by listening to audio books and speeches. (If you drive your own car, do listening only, of course.) Build GMAT Quant skills by mentally calculating your budget, your average travel speed, and other relevant numbers.
Tip # 3: Study With a Partner if You Can
When you work full time, it’s easier to lose your motivation to study for the GMAT. You’ll be tired, and you’ll face a lot of distractions. Working with a GMAT study buddy can help you keep your eyes on the prize. Do you have any other co-workers who are also prepping for the GMAT? If so, study with them. If not, you can network with other GMAT hopefuls on web-based GMAT forums. (See Magoosh’s guide to using GMAT forums.)
Tip #4: Be Flexible!
When you work full time, you face a lot of unexpected schedule constraints. You may be asked to work overtime at the last minute. You may get stuck in an unusually long traffic jam. You may have an unusually tough day that leaves you too tired for the day’s studies. You may need to rearrange your schedule or even postpone your test date. And that’s OK!
Your work and your GMAT prep are both important. Balance them well, and you’ll succeed at both, even if you have a setback here or there.
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.