I worked hard in school. I recognized that class time, evening hours, early mornings, and most of my weekends were for learning. I was willing to accept that if I wanted to succeed, it was necessary for me to put in the effort.

Now that I’ve graduated and am working full time, studying for graduate school exams feels like an impossible task. The LSAT is coming up, and I still have to catch up on all the required readings. But after a whole day of work, scrolling through social media and watching TV sound so much more appealing.

I find it difficult to study for tests like the LSAT, MCAT, and GRE without having a looming deadline or assignment hanging over my head. I’m not sure how much time I had, but it’s been a while. Add in the fact that I work full time, and all I could do was glance through a few pages of my recently purchased test preparation book before calling it a night. I began studying for the LSAT, but I didn’t know what I was doing. Before long, though, I realized what I had to accomplish and successfully prepared for and took the test. I’ve compiled a list of tips below that helped me study for exams while employed. Maybe they can help you too.

1. Keep Track of Your Appointments Using a Calendar

Even though it may appear to be so straightforward, you’ve undoubtedly heard it a million times before—you simply have to do it. For me, it was all about changing my routine. I’d read numerous suggestions on how to spend 10+ hours each day studying every weekend. That was not going to happen to me. I’ve always found that studying in short bursts is more effective for me, so I was able to arrange these sessions throughout the day. In order to have more time for studying, I woke up an hour earlier and used my lunch break to work on logic games. Third, I would spend at least one hour after work studying. If I had convinced myself that I needed to dedicate hours upon hours to studying, then the constant dread would have prevented me from ever picking up a book. If it’s only an hour, I have no issue starting to study and more often than not, continue for a bit once I’m in the zone.

2. The Environment You’re in Will Affect How Well You Work.

Since I live in the basement of my parent’s home, I don’t have a desk. And studying upstairs with household distractions wasn’t an option for me. If finding a quiet place to study is an option for you, I’d recommend coffee shops or the library. If those places aren’t accessible or practical for you, though, don’t worry! You can still have success studying at work as I did. I was fortunate enough to have space in the office to study so that I would not have to do work and school at the same time. So that I could come in early and study before clocking in, this was ideal for me. It was the same after work as well when I clock out. I feel more studious and productive at work and therefore study better in that setting.

3. Make Yourself Accountable

While I do feel I’m self-motivating to some extent, I’ve learned that I perform better when someone or something is keeping me accountable. I knew that if I just told myself that I’d “start studying” for the LSAT, I would most likely keep “studying” for another three years and never actually sit down and take the test. Registering early, telling those close to me, and finding a tutor were all things I did to make sure I would excel on the test. Having regular weekly (or multiple times per week) appointments with my tutor pushed me to study throughout the entire week so I could be prepared. Having someone else measure my progress held me accountable and allowed me to make more strides. If you’re not sure how this could work for you, consider your own study habits and daily schedule to discover what will help you succeed.

Share with us in the comments any techniques you use to make time for studying!

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