How to Study for the GMAT if You’re a Working Professional

Commuter at train station waiting

Working professionals considering a business school education often have competing priorities: managing their current responsibilities, performance, and schedules, while also planning for their future. Between long hours, a commute, and all the other odds and ends competing for your attention, studying for the GMAT is like trying to wedge a watermelon through a keyhole. Often, just finding the time to study for the GMAT can be a barrier to applying to business school. But it doesn’t have to be. We’ve compiled the best tips on fitting GMAT prep into your hectic schedule so you can ace the test and keep your sanity (and sleep schedule!).


1. Pick a test date, and schedule your exam

Just like a project at work, an assignment without a deadline is just a wish your heart makes. By picking a test date and scheduling and paying for your exam, your journey now has a concrete timeline and deadline. The most challenging part of starting is setting everything in motion, and committing to a test date is that very first step. It will make your test and ensuing path to your MBA real. When you build out your study calendar, work backward from your test day and consider your work and personal obligations to set a realistic study schedule you’ll stick to. And no, “study 12 hours a day on weekends” is not a realistic, desirable, nor effective study plan. You can set your test date and score goal right in the Ready4 GMAT app, so you can track your progress toward your goal and get some encouragement along the way.


2. Get real about your weaknesses and strengths

Even if you’re an absolute GMAT novice, you likely have several applicable skills that make you stronger on several GMAT topics and skills. If you’re a whiz at statistics, rates, and ratios, you’ll need to spend little to no time honing those skills and similarly, if you’re a strong critical reader, the verbal section may require less practice. Identify your deficiencies early on and include a plan to remediate them well before jumping into the “meat” of your GMAT prep. Preparing for a full-length test won’t do you any good if you’re lacking in fundamental skills. Then, as you practice, you’ll develop efficiencies for every GMAT skill, including on your strengths. Use your Ready4 GMAT Assessment Test and Analytics section to evaluate your current skills and focus on areas that are below your target performance.


3. Yes, you do have time

We know, you don’t have time, but you do have time. Take a look at your daily schedule, keep a log if you must, and find your time-wasters or could-have-spent-my-time-better opportunities. It might be 30 minutes of the Instagram-Facebook-Snapchat-Twitter Bermuda Triangle of lost productivity, those three back-to-back episodes on Netflix, or the cell signal dead zone of your daily commute on public transportation. If you manage to reappropriate 30-45 minutes per day, you will have studied five or six hours a week without too much schedule shuffling. Finding 20 minutes in the morning during breakfast or lunch, and then in the evening while you wait in line at the grocery store (eight minutes!) or wait for pasta water to boil (10 minutes for al dente!) can help you fit GMAT prep into your schedule consistently.

Because the lessons in Ready4 GMAT are especially designed in bite-size increments, with short practice sets and flashcards, you can use the Ready4 GMAT app anywhere and everywhere you find a few minutes. And, because you don’t need an Internet connection, you can still study while your train goes through that signal black hole. Your Spotify playlist may go silent, but you can prep on.


4. Do one thing

Future MBAs are a competitive and ambitious bunch, and often get discouraged if they can’t throw all their efforts and energy into every single task. But just because you can’t devote hours daily to your GMAT prep, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do anything. Even on your busiest days, you can squeeze out five minutes. Use that five-minute block to tackle a couple of questions, or one concept you’ve been working on. Just keeping that GMAT prep train chugging can help boost your confidence and keep your eye on the prize. If you want to easily incorporate a little bit of GMAT prep daily, set your GMAT Question of the Day in Ready4 GMAT to arrive during an hour where you typically have just enough downtime, like lunchtime, or right when you get home. With Question of the Day, you’re guaranteed to do at least one thing.

Are you committed to snagging a great GMAT score and getting your MBA? Ready4 GMAT’s got your back. Born at MIT’s Sloan School of Management and topping the GMAT prep app charts on both iOS and Android, Ready4 GMAT makes fitting GMAT prep into your schedule simple and intuitive. Download Ready4 GMAT For Free and start your journey.

2 thoughts on “How to Study for the GMAT if You’re a Working Professional”

  1. Great tips overall. It makes sense to get into the habit of partitioning one’s day into mini projects such as getting on the Ready4GMAT App on specific times created for it. I have struggled with time and not preparing enough to ace the GMAT on three ocassions. I feel I can work with these tips and get on it again with success this time.

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