5 Ways to Balance GMAT Prep and a Full-Time Job


5 Ways to Balance GMAT Prep and a Full-Time Job

by: David Recine

Ironically, sometimes the biggest obstacle to advancing your career is your job. Work full-time and pursue more education and training? Who has the time to go back to school when they work full time? How can you balance GMAT prep and a full-time job? As you’re about to learn, you do!

Now, by far, the most time consuming aspect of starting school again is GMAT prep. But have no fear; it is possible to prep for the GMAT while working full-time. Here are 5 proven ways to balance your GMAT prep with your full-time job.

1. Use a Good GMAT Study Guide

A GMAT study guide can be your best friend when it comes to time management. You see, a good study guide doesn’t just help you organize your GMAT prep activities. It also helps you organize your time.

For a good example of a GMAT study plan for working professionals, take a look at Magoosh’s one month GMAT study guide. In addition to offering a daily planner and weekly planner version, this guide includes commentary on how you can study for just a few hours a day before or after work, saving longer study sessions for the weekend.

2. Time Your Vacation to Coincide with GMAT Prep

Your GMAT prep needs to be aligned with the deadlines for your B-schools. (See this article on how to synchronize GMAT prep with B-school applications.) Once you’ve gotten the hang of synchronizing your GMAT studies with university application timelines, you should also look into synchronizing your vacation with appropriately timed GMAT prep.

You’ll likely find that there is a particular month when you should be prepping for the GMAT, before you register on the official website. Take as many vacation days as you can during your big GMAT month. This dedicated extra prep time will give you an edge on the exam. In addition, the more days you can devote entirely to GMAT prep, the more you’ll be able to just focus on your job on days when you do work. Syncing your vacation with well-timed GMAT prep is a win-win.

3. Use Your Mornings and Evenings Strategically

Just because you have some empty time in your work week doesn’t mean you should immediately cram that time full of exam prep.

Know yourself and your daily rhythms. Are you more of a morning person or an evening person? If you’re someone who finishes the day strong, do most of your GMAT prep after work. Conversely, if you’re an energetic early riser, it’ll be best for you to get in some power sessions of GMAT study with your morning coffee.

But what if you are equally “good to go” both before and after work? Well, for one thing, the rest of us envy you. But on a more practical note, your mornings and evenings should still have distinctly separate purposes. Generally, it’s good to reserve one time of day for taking on new material, and the other time of day for reviewing the GMAT content you’ve studied.

4. Let Your Internet Browsing Double As GMAT Reading Practice

GMAT Verbal focuses on texts that are “light nonfiction.” Readings on the exam are informative without being heavily academic, covering business, science, sociopolitics and other newsworthy subject areas.

Because of this, it’s easy to find GMAT-like readings as you browse the Internet in your down-time at work and at home. So realign your web-surfing habits with GMAT prep; it’s a great way to get ready for Verbal without having to spend a lot of extra time reading. To get started with this aspect to balance GMAT prep and a full-time job, here’s a good guide for what to read for GMAT reading practice.

5. Play With Math in Your Spare Time and in Your Daily Life

There’s a general consensus that GMAT math is at least a little harder than the math on the GRE. This makes the math in GMAT Quant possibly the hardest math on any commonly-taken standardized test.

If you’re both a full-time worker and “not a math person,” the prospect of preparing for GMAT Quant may seem prohibitively time-consuming. Not so! Math is all around you, and you are constantly faced with chances to practice GMAT-like math.

It’s important to remember that GMAT Quant doesn’t allow you to use a calculator. This means that the math on the GMAT is designed to be done mentally. So use mental math at every opportunity. Calculate the cost of your groceries in your head when you shop. During down time at work, use mental math to estimate the number of tiles on the ceiling, or the number of combined hours of work you and your co-workers do in a day.

Learning to “play” with math this way helps you greatly sharpen your GMAT Quant skills, and it takes little extra time out of your busy day. The playful math intelligence you’ll develop is called “number sense.” To learn more about how you can develop “number sense” in your spare time, check out this brief tutorial on GMAT number sense.

David 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.


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