There are countless study plans out there, sharing tips, tricks, and study techniques for how to master material in ten weeks leading up the bar exam. But what I really needed when I was studying was a list of things NOT to do.
Week 1: Do NOT change up study techniques, initially
Instead, study how you have always studied. How did you prepare for exams in law school? Before you start doing practice MBE questions and essays, take time to reflect on your learning style and make time to approach the material accordingly. This makes all the difference. I used to make visual maps that forced me to process the material slowly, then map it in a way that made sense to my brain. It took a lot of extra time outside of lectures and bar course assignments, but during the actual exam, I could close my eyes and visualize exactly where my answer could be found on one of my mental maps.
Week 2: Do NOT make hundreds of flashcards, unless the process will help you
I was never a flashcard person in law school, and yet during bar preparation, I chose to make flashcards for all of my material. They took a long time to make, BUT they did help me to initially process the information. Physically writing out flashcards forced me to dissect and regurgitate notes I had just learned in lecture. It helped cement the material in my mind when I was first learning. So, only make hundreds of flashcards if: (1) it helps you learn the material, or (2) you intend to review them daily leading up to the exam.
Week 3: Do NOT try to learn everything about every subject in the first few weeks
This is a marathon, not a race. Be kind to your brain and give yourself the first 3-5 weeks to learn the material at your own pace. Take as much time as you need – doing so will help you in the long-run and hold you over to the finish line. Remember, the goal is to get an understanding of the material that is comprehensive and can sustain you to be able to get a question on that topic correct on the exam.
Week 4: Do NOT forget to review material you have already covered
If you are making flashcards or outlines, review them at the end of each day. Information, once in your brain, does not stay there. It seeps out if you do not see the information repeatedly. Set time aside in your study schedule to review old material, in addition to learning new material.
Week 5: Do NOT panic. You shouldn’t know everything at this point
Focus on staying on course. Stay calm and continue working through the material one topic at a time. Do not panic if, at the halfway mark of your bar preparation, you still do not understand Real Property at all. It is not possible for you to know all the material by now. You still have over a month left to see everything you need to, process the information, and learn it. Just focus on keeping up with your study schedule and learning something new every time you sit down to study. If you found that you were easily unfocused in the first five weeks, figure out what distracts you and FIX IT.
Week 6: Do NOT forget to do MPT each week
Plan to do 1-2 MPT practice starting this week. The MPT is a huge component of your bar exam, and it is easy to neglect preparing for it adequately. Make sure to pencil in time on your schedule to practice and master the MPT portion leading up to the exam. Have a strategy in mind for how you plan to tackle each type of MPT question. Focus on getting faster on your MPT each time you do one.
Week 7: Do NOT get frustrated if you are not doing well on MBE questions
Three weeks out from the exam is when the panic really starts to set in. It might feel like you are not doing well enough on your MBE practice. This does not say anything about your performance on test day. You have 28 days to devote your time to MBE practice and review material you have already seen in the last six weeks. You have TIME. Do as many MBE questions as you can each day, take time to review the answers. Begin recognizing patterns for how to answer each kind of question or subtopic. Learn from your mistakes.
Week 8: Do NOT try to learn new MBE material unless you came across it in passing
You are now only two weeks out from the exam. Only review new material if you see it during your MBE practice. Or try to relearn material that you have already included in your outlines or flashcards. Do NOT try to learn something brand new, that you have never come across before. Chances are, if you have not seen it by now, it is likely not a frequently tested topic. The odds of you seeing this topic on exam day are slim. Instead, use that time to make a checklist for exam day. Start planning for how you plan to treat yourself after the exam.
Week 9: Do NOT do practice questions or essays without timing yourself
The week before the exam is your last chance to really tune your mind to exam conditions. Finalize where you will be taking the exam, designate your space, begin to do your practice questions in the same location. If you are taking the online examination during the COVID-19 pandemic, keep to your contingency plan. Time yourself on everything you do. Make sure you do not spend time reviewing a question for too long. It is crunch time and your mind should already be conditioned to function like it plans to on game day.
Week 10: Do NOT panic
Stay calm, breathe, and do everything just the way you have been practicing for the last ten weeks. You got this!