Friday, August 3, 2012

Aug 3, 2012 – What is the best strategy for working people preparing for the GMAT?

I have been pondering over this aspect of preparation for a long time now. While I totally agree that many people prepare for the GMAT simultaneously while working it needs some neat planning to do this successfully. This entire planning is highly subjective and will need to be customized by every individual simply because even though we all might be working the nature of our jobs and work on the job might rarely be the exact same as each other.

I come from a more operations and support kind of job background which simply means that my work load and work hours are highly unpredictable and not steady/constant. Mind you that when I say unpredictable and not steady it is on the worse side i.e. at least 40 hours of per week will be devoted to work. In fact 45-50 hour weeks are usual. Above this if there are some issues with any of the customer deployments then the hours worked easily reach around 70 hours per week. Believe me that this is not an exaggeration.

All this led to all my plans to study regularly go haywire. The very basic of any plan is that there will be a steady number of hours spent studying every day. I am pretty sure that a large number of individuals might be facing a similar dilemma as I have been. It is not only the number of hours worked that affects the preparation but also the mental fatigue and impact that such heavy work load tends to have. There have been days when I have had the chance to spend 1-2 hours on a Thursday or Friday but my mind was simply so stretched and tired that either I could not focus or grasp the content I was studying or I was taking long time to solve problems or making lots of silly mistakes.

Personally, I have tried my level best to study every day and I have been able to put in a good effort in this aspect. However, like stated above I feel tired and this entire effort actually has a very bad effect on my performance. Effectively, I feel like I have not done anything productive in such sessions where I am fatigued. This has led me to identify a plan that suits my daily routine and study habits. I feel it is necessary to take a break for either a day or two mid-week. This break preferably is Thursday or Friday so that it helps to get back on the weekend plan with more vigor. Also, personally, I feel it is important to relax and enjoy. Go out with friends for dinner, see a movie that is being played in the cinemas and most importantly play the game that you like or work-out for 30-45 minutes every day. There is no point is getting exhausted and forcing oneself to study if the productive output is just not up to the mark.

Study when you really feel like irrespective of what time of day it is. In your office time, instead of avoiding the extra talk during lunch-time take a walk out in the fresh air. It will help getting in some activity in your schedule. Solve 1-2 questions which should not take more than 10 minutes of your time. The daily digests from the GMAT sites is a good option to subscribe to. The quality of questions might not be authentic GMAT level but there is something to be learned from every question.

A word of caution with attempting to follow this approach is that do not miss many days at a stretch without having any study. Do a bare minimum every day so that the mind is in the GMAT and study mode. I have been feeling fatigue and have observed that for the past 2 weeks my productive output has really dropped. I am planning on taking a break for the next 2-3 days and have a quick vacation to recharge my sagging energy and concentration levels. This is a much needed break.

I hope this post was a good investment of time and maybe I have touched a string in your schedule and study plan. Do let me know if there are any comments or if there are better suggestions.


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