During this unprecedented time, when people around the globe are finding themselves home bound
for weeks at a time, things have to be done differently.
You may be home by yourself, or quarantined along with your partner or entire family—either way, study preparations for an exam like the GMAT will need an adjustment to allow you to fully focus. Before the pandemic, it was easy to escape to study at a coffee shop or library (or at least somewhere silent), but we’re now readjusting to a new normal in which home studying is the only option.
Here are some tips on how to study effectively while stuck at home, whatever your situation might be.
1. Carve out (and clean out) your study space
If you already have a desk in your bedroom, that’s a great start. Do a little Marie Kondo-ing to de-clutter the space and make room for your books, computer and any other study tools. Remove, during your chosen study time, anything unrelated to your test prep.
If you don’t have a desk in your room (maybe you’re sharing counter or table space with others in your home), choose a dedicated area where you can study. Make sure it’s clean, clutter-free and generally quiet during your study time. Also, be sure to remove all of your study materials once you’re finished, so that the space may go back to its original purpose. Using a portable container—like a crate, backpack or small box—that you can dedicate to housing your GMAT study materials is helpful; you can keep everything together and move between spaces easily when necessary.
2. Communicate to others in your home that you will be studying
It’s crucial to let anyone else in your home know when you’ll be studying, whether it is a set time each day or a block of hours on certain days. This will give you quiet time to focus and hopefully ensure that you are not disturbed.
3. Tune out distractions
If you find that you need to tune out the noise being made by others around your home, prepare yourself with some headphones and your favorite studying music. Instrumental music—classical, jazz, lo-phi hip hop or synth wave, for example—is helpful as background music, cancelling out unwanted noise as well as providing a motivating soundtrack for studying. Experiment with different genres to see what works for you.
During your chosen study times, focus. The more focused and dedicated you are, the more effective your study time will be. If you go over your allotted time, great! Your hyper-focus helped you to study hard and prepare even more than you’d planned. If you’re finding it difficult to focus, take a short break to stretch, breathe or enjoy some refreshments.
5. Reward yourself
Focusing on studying during a pandemic, especially under quarantine or shelter-in-place orders, comes with particular difficulties. If you’ve managed to study and focus for the duration of your goal time, be sure to reward yourself! The reward could be an extra hour of binge-watching your favorite show, eating an indulgent dessert, taking a nap or anything else that you enjoy. This will reinforce good study habits and, of course, it will be a well-deserved treat.
6. Keep reading
Whether you’re reading for pleasure or for reference, keep at it. Reading has been proven to help with vocabulary, grammar and comprehension on standardized tests. It will also help to stimulate your mind in your downtime.
7. Set realistic goals
When coming up with your study plan, be sure to set goals that you can actually achieve. If you plan to study for three hours a day while perhaps also juggling a full-time job that you’re now trying to do from home, you may fall short and lose motivation. Read some of our study and time management tips to help determine a manageable study schedule.