It’s a retaker struggle feeling like your life is defined by bar exam administration cycles, which are few and far between! When does the preparation end? If you feel like your life must be on hold every time you prepare for the test, these tips may help you through it.
Break Things up Into Chunks of Time
Thinking of your day in blocks of time can help to make things more manageable. That way, when things need to be prioritized, it is just a matter of moving the study time chunk around.
For example, one block of time may be exercise, another could be family or loved ones, work, hobbies and, of course, the bar. The bar will have sub chunks like multiple choice practice and review time, MEE writing and review and MPT practice and review.
The idea is to assign blocks of time to your commitments so that you can have structure daily and achieve a sense of balance. It reminds me of the saying that everyone has the same 24 hours in one day. Keep in mind that some days you will put more into one block than others and that’s ok. In fact, that’s life. Emergencies happen. Weddings, baby showers and holidays don’t stop for the bar. Remember that you don’t have to give your life up. You may just need to move things around or assign some time limits to it.
Study Smarter not Harder
The number of hours you put into studying doesn’t matter as much as the quality given during that time. For example, reviewing previous weeks work so that you are brushing up often helps you to maintain your strengths so that your strong subjects don’t become weak ones.
The problems that can get in the way of studying usually lies in distractions and having the motivation once you finally carve out the time.
Maximize the Block of Time you Have
If you have kids, pets, a busy household, busy workday then you are no stranger to interruptions. The science behind being interrupted and how long it takes to refocus is pretty clear. Use tools to help you focus like timers such as pomodoro method. If you need company and accountability, then try using YouTube channels that study with you for a set amount of time. You can even arrange virtual study time with a friend.
Progress Over Perfection
Not every day is going to be a strong day. It could be your best day, but it’s slower and harder to get through. This is the learning process. It involves struggling through concepts and problems. We often learn best by trial and error. Remember that you would rather get questions wrong now instead of on the big day.
Assessment of Your Progress
Get feedback on writing components—both the MEE and MPT. I found having feedback to be instrumental, and this may be a one-on-one tutor, a service through your bar prep or swapping essays with a peer. Regarding the MBE, see which subjects you need to strengthen. If you are going with a prep program, research the statistics and tracking features they offer. This way, you can get quick feedback on where to focus your efforts. It is just too difficult to self-assess based on how you feel. Having real numbers to support your strengths and weaknesses is accurate and important immediate feedback that you need when making daily decisions on where to devote your time.
Reward Yourself with Things you Love
A special treat for a week’s job well-done deserves an extra dose of something you love. For example, getting outdoors and trying a new trail, or pampering yourself with some retail therapy, enjoying your favorite meal, getting a massage, or simply listening to music, and tuning into your favorite series. Other ideas are to schedule a relaxing vacation, concert, or other treat in the future so you can have something to look forward to after the exam.
Focus on Success
You may be aware that retaker statistics tend to be low, when compared to first-time test takers. This can be attributed to many things. The figures can be enough to discourage you from attempting again but remember how close you are to claiming your victory. You can’t stop now!
The best advice I heard is that the numbers and statistics don’t need to dictate your experience and story. In other words, you don’t need to internalize the numbers but, instead, let the numbers drive you. This involve adapting an attitude that focuses on achieving success and getting rid of any voices and sources that cast doubt on your abilities. Commit to having a can-do attitude no matter what. We have all heard of the superwoman mom who gave birth and took the bar exam in the hospital. I am sure she wondered whether the odds were in her favor, and she decided to keep going.
Channel some of that inspiration into your studies!