Developing A Proper Test/Life Balance

Many students are guilty of ignoring the law of diminishing utility when it comes to test prep. Stated more plainly, I mean that students often operate under the assumption that “studying more is always better”. This is simply not the case.

The final week before the test is a time that students commonly misuse or, in some egregious cases, actually regress. This is because, instead of treating the GRE as a performance, which it is, students treat it simply as a test of knowledge, which it most certainly is not. The top priority of any student during the last week before taking the test should be resting well and staying healthy. Resist the urge to take a full-length practice test, as it will most likely contribute to fatigue on the actual test day, and by all means, don’t study anything on the day before the test.  Just take care of yourself, relax, and mentally prepare yourself for game day.

Students also ignore the law of diminishing utility during normal study hours. The number of hours that you can be actively engaged in absorbing and executing new information is limited; just because you put in the extra hours does not mean that your score will continue to improve. In order to perform optimally on the test, you should view taking care of yourself as an equally important part of your study as pouring vocabulary words into your brain.

How long can you productively study in each day? The answer is not infinite; during your studies try to take note of how productive your study is. If you are wasting time, or not making effective progress, or not feeling well, then STOP! Watching Dumb and Dumber, believe it or not, may be a more valuable use of your time. And it won’t make you as dumb as you think.

Developing a proper study/life balance is a vital part of your prep and should not be ignored. In addition to the number of hours that you can spend during each session, there is a limited amount of study time that you can put your body through each week. Ensuring that you are taking adequate time to exercise, eat well, and sleep sufficiently is an often undervalued but highly sensitive aspect of your test prep so take your mother’s advice and take care of yourself, darnit!

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