Has the jubilation of graduating from law school started to fade into anxiety over preparing for the bar exam? Don’t worry, you are not alone! As you get ready to start your bar preparation, most students are feeling nervous about whether they’ll pass, confused about how to structure their studying, and intimidated by the amount of work that needs to get done. Creating a detailed daily schedule can help you feel more in control of your studying and show you that the workload is manageable if you plan your time carefully. To help organize your study days, let me share my daily bar prep study schedule with you and highlight some attributes that helped me have efficient but productive study days.
6:00 – 6:45 am Exercise
6:45 – 7:15 am Shower and eat breakfast
7:15 – 8:30 am Complete practice MBE questions and review answers
8:30 – 9:00 am Drive to location where BarBri lectures were held
9:00 – 12:00 pm Watch lectures and take notes
12:00 – 12:30 pm Drive home
12:30 – 1:00 pm Eat lunch while reviewing lecture notes
1:00 – 3:00 pm Complete practice MBE questions and review answers
3:00 – 4:00 pm Complete practice essay questions and review answers
4:00 – 6:00 pmish Review outlines from various subjects
That was my daily schedule during bar prep, and I followed it religiously Monday through Friday. I still reviewed and practiced on the weekends, but I limited my hours so that I would have a chance to rest and recharge. This simple schedule was very effective for me, and there are several aspects that you can incorporate into your own schedule to help you stay in control of your bar preparation.
I consistently started my day early. I’m a morning person, so this worked particularly well for me, but even if you’re not an early riser, you need to get used to focusing in the morning hours. The bar exam starts early, so you need to start early too.
I made time to exercise and eat regular meals. This is important for two reasons. First, you need to take care of yourself and stay healthy during bar prep so that you can perform your best on the big day. Second, exercising helped me manage the stress I was feeling about taking the bar. Whether it’s exercise, daily mindfulness practice, or some other healthy habit, find a way to manage your anxiety and be sure to incorporate it into your daily routine during bar prep.
I practiced (a lot) and mixed topics to more closely simulate the exam. I think it’s safe to say that we’re all big proponents of practice, practice, and more practice when it comes to preparing for the bar exam. When you’re working through your practice questions, don’t just focus on one subject at time. Instead, mix the topics within your practice sessions. Mixed practice is generally more challenging, but it’s also more effective. Forcing yourself to switch between topics can improve focus and retention, while more closely simulating what you’ll face on the actual exam.
I changed study locations throughout the day. Switching study locations periodically throughout the day, rather than languishing in the same spot for hours on end, is beneficial to most students. I made a point of getting showered, dressed, and out the door to the lecture site each day. Commuting to the lecture site gave me the opportunity to take a mental break and introduced some variety into my day. The change of scenery also made it easier to focus on my afternoon study session since I hadn’t already been sitting at my desk for hours and hours.
I personalized my study regimen to suit my own strengths and weaknesses. Most commercial bar prep companies will give you a fairly comprehensive study schedule to follow. The bar prep companies generally have some good insight into what needs to be accomplished each day and how to progress through the topics, so these schedules can be a helpful starting point, but don’t let them be your only guide. You have to tailor your study schedule to suit your own personal needs. So, for example, I made it a point to attend each lecture because I found that I actually retained the information quite well by hearing it spoken aloud. Other students may find that the time I allotted to listen to lectures is better spent reviewing outlines or writing out rules. Or you may need to prioritize practicing for the MBE over the essays (or vice versa) if you’re consistently struggling in one area. Use the general study schedules as a guide, but be sure to personalize your plan to suit your own strengths and weaknesses.
I made time to review my answers. Whenever I completed practice questions or exams, I made time to review all of the answers. Reviewing all of the answers not only helped me better tailor my future study sessions, but it also allowed me to see what I was doing right and wrong. It helped me learn the concepts I hadn’t mastered yet, improved my essay writing skills, and helped me spot patterns and tricks in the MBE questions. As you’re planning out your study days, make sure you include time to thoroughly review your answers, rather than just checking for the number you got right.
I was consistent. I followed my schedule diligently and rarely deviated. This type of consistency eliminated any uncertainty about what I was doing each day and ensured that I was always making progress. Sticking to a rigid schedule also helped me push through when my motivation was flagging. After the first couple of weeks, I had trained myself to get up and essentially study all day so it became more of a habit and less of a chore.
Lastly, I made it as enjoyable as I could. Studying for the bar – like completing any big project – is going to be boring at times, stressful, difficult, and sometimes all three at once, so you have to learn to enjoy the little things and reward yourself on occasion. See that spot in my schedule that says I was completing practice MBE questions by 7:15 am each morning? Well, most days I was also treating myself to a nice cold soda while I did them. I know, I know, soda first thing in the morning is a terrible vice, and it’s a bad habit that I’ve yet to break. But that jolt of caffeine and high fructose corn syrup was just the incentive I needed to sit down and start my day. Create a well-thought out and detailed daily schedule to help you accomplish your goals, and be sure to treat yourself occasionally too. If you’re studying for the bar, you’ve earned it!
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