Mastery of the bar exam material within a tight timeframe is a challenge. Sitting for hours on end, doing the work, and staying focused through it all can be especially challenging if you have difficulty with:
- focusing on a task
- giving your attention for a long block of time
- keeping organized
- tuning out
- remembering important instructions or facts
If you think you may be struggling with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) but haven’t been assessed or diagnosed—then be sure to speak to a professional so that you can receive a proper assessment. Please note that the above is not an exhaustive list of the ways that attention deficit disorders may manifest. If you have been diagnosed with ADHD then you may be searching for ways to make bar studying most efficient for you.
Consider some of these tips to help you move forward. Keep in mind that different things work for different people. Instead of trying to implement everything all at once, try testing out a method at a time and see if it can help you.
Establish a Routine
Add structure to your day with a schedule and routine. This will really help if you struggle with organization and prioritizing tasks for the day.
Check out planners that have a habit tracker which provides a visual of daily progress on routine items you want to accomplish such as working out three times a week and completing 25-40 multiple choice questions and reviewing the answers.
Carve out time in your schedule to make a good use of the morning. Start your day with a high protein breakfast that will sustain you throughout the day, so you aren’t as tempted to doze off or overeat at some point. Drink the caffeine you need without getting the jitters or consider reducing intake or quitting it altogether to experience some of the benefits.
Get to work on bar prep early in the morning. You will work better with a fresh mind before the clutter and chaos of the day begins. It is effective to first begin with memory exercises on rules and then move on to real practice where you can see the application of those rules. Be sure not to neglect MEE and MPT practice, which you can add to your calendar.
Work in Blocks of Time
The popular pomodoro technique helps you to break up your day and tasks into manageable increments such as 25-60 minutes, with breaks in between for as many cycles as you need to repeat. You can do more harm than good when you work through hours of studying without stopping. You need to implement time to look away from the screen, papers, books and let the information sink in. Sometimes a multiple-choice question can leave you so perplexed that the explanation is not enough. When you get such an MBE-induced headache, your brain may need to take a pause so that you can process information and return refreshed. Don’t hesitate to get yourself a glass of water, a nourishing snack, stretch, wash your face—anything you need to recharge.
Sometimes the work becomes boring. When you are starting to feel bored, consider alternating the method. Move away from reading and reviewing the answer choices and switch over to diagramming the explanation in a more engaging and comprehensive manner. If you are a better auditory learner, then record yourself read the answer out loud and then replay it back to process it again.
Other ways you can make work more interesting and engage your brain and the rules is to write them out from memory on a white board, poster or blank paper. Repeat until it is second nature. Other ideas include making a fill-in-the-blank version of your outline. Lastly, you will really understand the rule when you practice explaining it out loud.
Limit Screen Time
As much you may need your phone, it is a major source of distraction. Luckily, there are apps that can help you to limit the phone calls, texts, and notifications. We have grown so used to checking our phones so often that being away from it for half an hour can feel like an eternity. You can use a timer on your phone and keep it on airplane mode so that you can see how productive you can be without the distractions. Don’t worry— you will have your phone back after some self-discipline so you can put all of your focus onto what is front of you!
You are developing new habits so that they benefit you in the long run. Be proud of yourself for taking the steps to overcome your obstacles. Making meaningful change takes time, and it is worth the effort. The best thing you can do is to be your own best friend during this process, so be sure to take care of yourself by encouraging yourself.