Balancing the Holidays and Your GMAT Studies

December 18, 2012
Jenny Lynch

GMAT BlogThe holidays are upon us, and with them come a flurry of seasonal activities: shopping trips, parties, and visits with family and friends.  If you’re planning on taking your GMAT in January, you’re probably struggling with the challenge of fitting your studies into your holiday schedule.  Here are a few tips to help you make the most of this busy time.

First, acknowledge your limitations.  Because of your holiday obligations, you’ll probably need to scale back your  GMAT study time.  The holidays provide you with a great opportunity to recharge mentally and emotionally, so there’s nothing wrong with cutting back a little on your studies to give yourself some more personal time.  You’ll be able to create a study schedule–and stick to it–if you’re realistic with yourself about how much time you’ll actually have for studying over the holidays.

Second, since you’ll have less time to study, plan out carefully what you’re going to study and when.  A specific agenda for each study session will help guarantee that you use your productively.  If you’re used to longer study sessions (two or three hours), but you’ll be studying for shorter periods during the holidays, limit your agenda to one key topic at a time.  For instance, you might spend an hour reviewing just proportions, rather than two hours reviewing proportions, averages, and ratios.  This is also a good time to give yourself short quizzes (5 to 10 questions at time); in an hour, you can complete a short quiz in 15 to 30 minutes, giving you an equal amount of time to use for review of the quiz.  As always, though, be sure to balance your studying between Quant and Verbal.  A good plan is alternating between the two every day, or depending on your individual strengths and weaknesses, spending two days on one, followed by one day on the other.

Finally, recognize that there are benefits to a mini-vacation from your studies.  Taking time away from intense studying gives you time to digest the material.  There’s a lot to learn for the GMAT, and all that material takes time to “settle in” to your brain.  Slowing down for a little while allows you to master concepts and helps prevent burn out.  So take advantage of the pleasures of the holidays: enjoy your time spent not studying, maximize the time you do spend studying, and rest assured that your brain will benefit from the holiday as well.


Jenny Lynch This Southern California native has been teaching for nearly 20 years, including seven as a college English instructor. A true lifelong learner, Jenny has several advanced degrees, including an MPIA (Master's of Pacific and International Affairs) with a focus in nonprofit management and international development from UC San Diego's School of International Relations and Pacific Studies. In her six years at Kaplan, Jenny has taught hundreds of GMAT students, and she counts her students' GMAT and MBA admissions successes as some of her greatest moments as a teacher. Currently residing in sunny San Diego, Jenny stays active outside the classroom swimming, cycling, and walking with her trusty canine sidekick, Dagny. You can reach out to her by email ( or through the comments thread after her blog posts.

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