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Study for the GMAT or Polish Off an Essay?

By now I’ve seen all of the essay topics that I must write for this application season. I began writing my five Tuck essays a couple weeks ago.  Just recently I started putting more and more time into them, but not at the expense of studying for the GMAT.

Every time I open one of my essay topics (I have each one as a separate word document in my Tuck folder), the voice in the back of my head says, “You Should Be Studying!”  I’ve come to terms with this voice, though we don’t always get along. Sometimes, I want to tell it to shut up, but I know the voice is simply looking out for me. In any case, that voice and I now have an understanding and it seems to be working.

I know that for me, my best ideas do not come when I’m sitting in front of my computer typing.  When I work on my essays, writing is the easy part. Coming up with the perfect anecdotes and ideas are tough. I keep a note pad with me wherever I go.  If I think of something I want to add to one of my essays, I simply jot it down.  Believe it or not, some of my best ideas have come to mind while at work, and I’ll simply shoot the idea to my personal email account.  When I get home after work, I’ll add it to the rest of my thoughts.

There are only 24 hours in a day.  I sleep about five hours a day.  Don’t ask: I’ve been sleeping just five hours an night since high school, and I function just fine.  So 24-5 equals 19 hours to do the things I need to do.  I’m at work nine hours a day. It takes an hour a day for commuting, including my daily shower and a walk down three avenues.  So that leaves me nine additional hours. I usually arrive home at 6:30 p.m. and go to sleep around 2:30 a.m. So even if I had seven hours a day to myself, I dedicate about two-to-three hours to studying for the GMAT.  The rest of the time is for myself and to gather my thoughts for my application essays.

I told my GMAT tutor today that my September was going to be pretty hectic.  I told him that with traveling to visit business schools, writing essays, and continuing to prepare for the test, it was just going to be one hell of a month.  He reminded me that it’s great to visit schools and write essays, but to just make sure that I reserve enough time to study.  If I didn’t have to worry about the GMAT, life would naturally be much easier at this juncture, but no….things rarely go as planned.

My advice to others in a similar situation?  Find time to think about your essays whenever you can.  You don’t need to be in front of your computer to work on them.

You can read more of Richard Battle-Baxter’s blog posts at “Ellipsing My Way…To Business School.”

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