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Finding Time to Study for the GRE

“I’m too busy to study!” Ever thought that before? In this post, Becca from MBA@UNC explains how she creatively found time to study … so that you can do it too!

If you are considering applying to graduate school, the GRE or the GMAT is most likely the root of your application anxiety. The good news is that, while these are challenging exams, they can be mastered with the right amount of preparation. I have prepared for—and taken—the GRE, so I understand how intimidating it can be. What I learned from my experience, however, is that the most challenging aspect of the exam is exercising the self-discipline to study for it in the first place.

When I first began considering MBA programs, I convinced myself that it would be impossible to carve out any time to study while working a full-time job and maintaining some type of work-life balance. As it turns out, I was wrong. According to a study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, working adults in the U.S. have approximately 4.5 hours of leisure time each day. The trick to exceling on the GRE is to leverage the free time you do have and use time-management techniques that work for you.

I’ve been there, and I understand how hard it is to study for the GRE. After coming to terms with the fact that there was no way around taking the exam, I found new, creative ways to incorporate more studying into my routine. I’m sharing these tips based on my own experience to help you find time to study for the GRE.

1. Take public transportation. If you have the option to use public transportation to commute to and from work, take it. Yes, it may make your commute longer and be a little inconvenient. However, it will provide you with a routine study time where there are little to no distractions. When you’re sitting on the metro (or subway or bus), there is nothing better to do than study, so take advantage of this alone time. An added bonus? By taking public transportation, you avoid the frustration of driving in traffic and also save gas and wear and tear on your car.

2. Study on the go—always. Keep a set of flashcards in your purse or backpack so you can study whenever you happen to have a spare minute. If you are an auditory learner, you can also listen to recordings of vocabulary words. Another option is to use a study app on your Smartphone. For example, the Magoosh app provides convenient access to video lessons that can help prepare you for the GRE. Whether you prefer to use an app, flashcards or audio recordings, the key is to take advantage of any opportunity to incorporate more studying into your day.

3. Spend an extra hour at work. Consider arriving at work an hour earlier or staying there an hour later so you can study for the GRE. Why should you do it at work? Some people are too distracted at home, and if that’s you, it may be better to either study at your desk or in a conference room—especially if the building is nice and quiet before and after hours.

4. Listen to your body. Some people study better in the morning, while others are able to focus better in the evening or during nighttime hours. You know yourself and your strengths and weaknesses better than anyone else. While I—and others—can offer advice, it should always be weighed against what you know will work best for your particular environment, preferences and habits.

5. Schedule the exam. Once you’ve decided to take the GRE, take a practice test to gauge how much you need to increase your score. Then, schedule the exam and give yourself approximately 12 weeks or so to prepare. If you need to increase your score dramatically, you may want to allow even more time than that—20 weeks might be a better target date. It may seem rash to schedule the exam before you’ve even started studying for it, but this is actually a great motivator. Once you’ve registered and paid for the exam, you’re more likely to take it seriously. By registering, you’ve moved from “one day,” or “some day,” to a definitive date. Now the clock is ticking, and you have a certain amount of time to prepare for the exam, so you’re more likely to feel a sense of urgency that will motivate you to study.

Preparing for the GRE is a time-consuming task. However, it is also one of the best ways to prepare for graduate school and kick-start your study habits. Whether you are considering a full-time, part-time or online MBA program, carving out a set study time for the GRE will also help you develop a study regimen that will benefit you in graduate school.



Author bio: Becca Sanchez Martin is the community manager for the University of North Carolina’s MBA online program. MBA@UNC empowers professionals to pursue an MBA in entrepreneurship from one of the top 10 schools in the world for leadership development. Becca graduated from Loyola University in Maryland with a B.A. in Business Administration and a concentration in marketing. An avid traveler and lover of all things tech, Becca spent a year abroad working for a technology company in the wine sector. Now, back in the USA, Becca spends her spare time visiting friends in other cities, volunteering, and playing tennis. Follow her on Twitter @bsmart10


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