Pick the right study option for you
Everyone is a different type of learner. Whether preparing for a language test such as IELTS or TOEFL, or trying to ace the GMAT or the GRE, choosing the most appropriate study method is even more important for professionals who have a stressful schedule.
Perhaps you enjoy other people’s company and studying in a group helps to motivate you. Be sure to tap into this advantage and sign up for a group course where you will be able to practice and benchmark your level of preparation with other test takers. As Tom Blake, a recent university graduate from Toronto, remembers about his experience:
Peer study groups are a great environment for sharing ideas and seeking clarification before an exam.
On the other hand, individual tutoring is great for test takers who need to improve a particular aspect of their preparation such as quantitative knowledge for GMAT. Depending on your arrangement, private tutors are also more flexible than “classroom” group sessions organized by big test prep centers. You will be able to work around your busy schedule and even organize video call sessions.
Adapt your work routine
If you decide to keep your job while preparing for your tests, having a realistic action plan is key. First, if you are not self-employed, you might want to let your direct manager or employer know about your objectives. Even if you don’t have to cut back on your work, there’s no reason to keep it a secret. Your boss or colleagues might be able to help you out by sharing their own experiences with test-taking, giving you feedback, or simply providing moral support. In addition, if your exam date happens to be on a working day or if you need to sit the test in a different city, you will definitely need to manage your work routine for that week accordingly.
Since everyone’s capacity for learning is different, you might need to adjust your schedule even further. Don’t be afraid to consider switching to part-time work if your job and personal life allow it. According to Kaplan Test Prep, who are experts in preparation for the GMAT exam,
Studying most days of the week will improve your score more than studying one or two days a week.
This means relying only on the weekend for your study sessions is not the best option. If you find yourself too exhausted in the mornings and evenings before and after work, you might benefit from an alternative study schedule.
Make the most of your travels
Business travel is a major part of the job for some executives while others have to commute daily to get to and from their workplace. Thanks to the increasing popularity of online study resources, this time could be easily utilized for your test preparation. Spending those 30 minutes on the train practicing the exam queries you struggle with the most will add up to a few extra hours of preparation every week. As you target your weaknesses consistently, you will begin to notice significant improvement over time.
Learning to study on the go also requires a flexible mindset. The ability to use your commute and business travels for test prep is valuable but it doesn’t have to turn into a “must”. To guarantee a healthy and productive learning curve, test takers need to be ready to face change. The team behind Ready4, an intuitive test prep app, agrees about the importance of utilizing the optimal time for studying without overcrowding your schedule:
You can’t always control how work will interfere with studying; sometimes life just gets in the way. Therefore, you need to be flexible in how you manage your schedule. Sometimes this means saying no to other activities that fall below the priority of studying for the [test], or it may mean being creative in how you find time to study.
It seems the key to test preparation for busy professionals is in finding the perfect balance. Be consistent and focused but embrace flexibility when you have to.