How to Study for the GAT While Working in a Demanding Job

So you're preparing for the GAT — no easy task by itself — and you're also working a demanding job that has the uncanny ability to usurp your every waking moment? Do you worry about how to prepare for the GAT efficiently without going bonkers? There are a few time-tested strategies that you can use to achieve a top score while balancing work demands.

Prepare with Material that is Accurate, Applicable, Efficient, and Effective

More than ever, students preparing for the GAT have a number of test prep resources available. However, not all of these GAT resources are created equally. The materials you use while you study can be either assets or liabilities. Content matters! Do your due diligence on the courses and prep material you’re considering. See what other students have had to say. Look at course reviews on sites such as Beat the GAT. Most courses offer a free or low-cost trial — pick several resources and give them a test drive. Your goal is to find a course that presents clear, practical, and actionable content, in a way that makes sense to you, along with skills, strategies, and techniques for acing the exam.

Be Proactive in Making Time for Yourself

How many times have you heard someone say, "I don't have time for X,” or “I don't have time for Y?" We hear such statements constantly. Here's the reality — there is only time for the things we make time for. With a demanding job, it's important to make time for yourself and for your personal growth and development. Otherwise, you may find that your days become occupied with the demands of your job again and again, which leaves no time for growth and results in self-stagnation. Don’t let this stagnation happen! Your first step on the path toward career development is to create time for studying. Here are some effective methods for finding time, even when your days are tough.

Make Time Each Weekday Morning to Study

Go to bed early on weeknights and wake up early on weekday mornings. Get some tea and spend two hours studying. One great benefit of studying before work is that your brain and body will be well-rested and ready to absorb new information. There’s also something satisfying about beginning the day by doing something for yourself, something that will help you grow and that will have a positive impact on your future. By the time you get to work, you'll have put in a good amount of study time — that’s a great feeling to have in the morning.

Study During Lunch

Your lunch hour is another optimal time to study. Learning is best accomplished in strategic and well-spaced chunks. If you studied in the morning before work, by lunchtime your brain has had a few hours to assimilate and store what you studied. During your break, take some time and go to a quiet place. Maybe you could bring a healthy meal replacement shake so you don't spend time procuring or preparing lunch; instead, use this time to prepare for the GAT. Continue studying the topics you worked on in the morning. Your lunch break is the perfect time to tackle practice problems and reinforce the morning’s topics.

Get Some Exercise After Work

Exercise has proven health benefits — in addition to being essential for the body, exercise is just as necessary for the brain. Exercise balances and recalibrates neurotransmitters such as dopamine. Without this recalibration, it's easy to feel stressed and anxious. These emotions are never optimal for learning and growth. In addition, exercise substantially improves your ability to learn and process new information. Since you know all this, get some exercise after work! Go for a run, take a long walk, hit the weights, or do some yoga. If you're a multi-tasker, hit the elliptical or the treadmill at the gym and review your notes or flashcards during your workout — just be careful! Evening exercise is a great way to de-stress, leave the day behind, and prepare for a productive evening of studying.

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