GRE Study Tips: How to Stay on Task

See how happy they are? This is exactly what it will be like.

Even the most studious of us need some help keeping ourselves accountable.  So here are some tips on how to stay on task:

1. Make a schedule
Block out specific times around your school/work schedule.  Dedicate these times to GRE preparation and graduate school applications.  Stick to it! What’s the point of a schedule if you just push things aside willy-nilly?  I study best at night, so my studying times are mostly in the evening.  If you don’t like studying in the evening but work during the day, maybe you can take long lunches and practice/study during that time, then stay a little later at work to make up for lost time.  The key is to make sure that you create a schedule that works for you and maximizes productivity.

2. Come up with a study plan
Use practice tests to guide your plan of attack.  Keep taking practice tests at regular intervals to track your progress and adjust your plan accordingly.  Is math your strong point?  Spend some more time on verbal.  Is verbal a piece of cake?  Practice more math!

3. Find study buddies
I prefer to study on my own most of the time, but having a study buddy is by far the best way to keep myself accountable (that I know of).  Study buddies inherently pull each other out of the pit of procrastination — when you bring someone else into the mix, it’s no longer just about you and your schedule.  Plus, meeting at an agreed location (quiet libraries are better than noisy Starbucks, btw), is a great way to remove yourself from distractions at home and really focus on the task at hand.  Finally, it’s always great to be able to go over problems with someone else, who might see them from a different perspective.
Remember to schedule time for the actual applications themselves!  Researching programs, looking up requirements, contacting professors, writing essays, filling out forms, requesting transcripts — these things all take time too!  The GRE is only one part of the whole process.

Got a suggestion?  Know of another way to keep yourself motivated, to stave off the mental gangrene of procrastination?  Leave a comment!