studying for the ARE on the train commute: experiences?


Another somewhat specific question: I'm currently considering moving somewhere that requires a 1.5 hour commute to work via commuter rail, with one transfer. Wasn't the most attractive option, until I figured it might be a good use of time to get some GRE studying done.

Now, I'm not actually registered yet to take the GRE, but should be eligible, so have no idea as to the amount of study material. So, is it generally feasible to transform a train commute into a study environment (i.e. at most audio and a book or two), or is it something that requires a desk and lots of space (I know the AIA handbook is a beast)?

Apr 23, 19 2:46 am

you may be overthinking this. most of the studying is reading books (ballast ones were by far the best). i'm sure you can get digital versions of everything if you're concerned about weight. i did 2/3 of my studying sitting on a deck chair on my roof drinking beer, book on my lap. since you'll be confined to the train you probably don't need the beer to trick yourself into staying focused.

Apr 23, 19 6:23 am

Whenever asked, I always recommend a morning pre-work beer, even on the train if required. Showing up 'relaxed' to work really helps build confidence with teammates and superiors. Shows that you are an adult that can make decisions for yourself, damnit.


In your title you say you're studying for the ARE, but in the body of your message you say GRE twice.  Which is it?  Assuming you mean the ARE, I did a lot of my studying on the train - mostly flashcards (both physical and an app - and just reading normal-sized books like Why Buildings Stand Up and Why Buildings Fall Down.  I never studied the AIA handbook - I did study the most commonly used contracts, but those are just a small packet of pages.  I agree that you're overthinking.  If you can typically read a book or your phone or some papers on the train then... do that.

Apr 23, 19 9:51 am

I did a lot of studying on the subway, commuting to site visits and to work each day.  It really depends what study materials you decide to use.  Mostly its a lot of reading.  

I had the flashcards which are good for shorter commutes.  Sometimes I brought along a chapter or two of whatever I was reading at the time with a pencil/highlighter.  I have an app that produces white noise good for blocking out sounds of people on the train without being distracted by words.  I couldn't find any audiobook-type material so (embarrassingly) I recorded myself reading concepts I knew I needed to review to listen to and saved the tracks on my phone.  Additionally, I used the Black Spectacles service (google it if you're not sure) so I printed their slides and would review those after I watched the accompanying videos.  If you have wifi or cell service on your train (I did not) you could potentially watch the Black Spectacles videos if you decide to go that route.

Apr 23, 19 10:04 am

I studied for the ARE a lot on my 30 min commute via bus. Scanned books to put on my Kindle that I couldn't find electronically to read without carrying the weight. Used apps for flashcards.

The only thing I couldn't do well on the bus, and this is now moot with v5.0, was practice the vignettes. Those I would fit in at night or on the weekends. 

You may want to consider what that commute will be like when you aren't studying. I'd be asking myself if I can get work done in that time or if I would simply be adding 3 hours each day away from my family that I couldn't get back. Might not be so bad if you can take some work with you and use those 3 hours each day as billable time.

Good luck

Apr 23, 19 11:53 am

Adding to EA's comment, if you have a tablet, you can take photos of the pages in lieu of scanning them. You can't highlight anything but it's quicker than scanning. Just have to make sure the pages lie flat enough so all words are legible.

I wanted to be able to highlight. The copier/scanner I used was able to run OCR on the pages and create a PDF so it was pretty straightforward (little post-processing on my part). The OCR wasn't good enough to rely on it for searching specific terms, but it was all I needed to be able to highlight text.


Personally, I can't read anything on the bus so I switch to an audio format. It has worked for me so far. 

Apr 24, 19 11:55 am

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