When it comes to passing the bar exam, almost everyone can benefit from a little bit of early review and practice. Whether it’s writing up a quick hypo every other night before dinner or making some attack plans each Saturday afternoon, a little bit of front-loading now can really pay off later.
How Do You Know If You Should Study Early?
If you’re someone who is taking the bar exam in a new state or country, or who struggled in law school or bypassed some of the bar prep. courses, you might find it particularly helpful to start studying early. Who else should consider studying early? Well, if you have a learning disability, issues with procrastination, or anxiety concerns, forcing yourself to start early can help give you the time you need to work through the material and develop shortcuts and coping mechanisms. Also, if you have other constraints on your time, such as a job, or a family, starting early might help you get the exposure to the material you need to feel confident going into your exam.
What Difference Does Starting Early Make, Anyway?
Depending on the bar exam you take, you might be responsible for up to 13 different substantive subjects, which is a lot! For each subject, you will need to learn what the topics actually mean (or re-learn them as the case may be). You’ll also have to come up with study materials that work for you to memorize all those rules. Turning these rules into attack plans can also make your job much easier! Finally, you should be setting aside at least a few hours each day over the two months before the exam to write out practice essays and do practice multiple choice questions. Practice is key. The more practice you do, the better shot at passing you have.
From a purely mathematical standpoint, breaking all of these tasks in these 13 subjects down into a four-month time span instead of cramming them all into two months, is going to give you less to do on any one day. This means you’ll have time to dedicate to each subject, as well as more time to take breaks to make sure you’re not stressing yourself out so much. Depending on how much time you tack onto the front-end of your study period, you could potentially give yourself double (or even triple) the time you get to spend on each subject.
How Do You Start Studying Early?
The good news is, you have plenty of options! You could take a class, find an online program, get a tutor, or study on your own. If you study on your own, there are lots of resources available, so see which ones work for you. The most important thing is that you’re actively engaging with the material and practicing essays and multiple choice questions as much as you can!
Spending an hour doing an “active” study activity, like writing and reviewing a short hypo, is always going to be more advantageous to you than spending that same hour passively reading through an outline or looking at flash cards.
Watch Out for Burnout!
Studying for the bar exam can be a tiring and mentally exhausting process. If you’ve taken and failed this exam before, that usually adds a whole new level of complexity to the study process because there will probably be days when you really doubt yourself and feel like you might fail again. All re-testers deal with this, and it’s not easy.
Whether you’re a repeat taker or taking this exam for the first time, it’s important to realize that burnout is real and it can really rob you of good, quality study time if you’re not careful. Your mental state is also a big factor in your day-to-day abilities, so try your best to stay positive. Prioritize your studying, but don’t forget to take care of yourself!
Some good ways to avoid burning out and feeling blue are to take short breaks throughout the day, plan days off if you need them, and do little things here and there to keep your mindset and stress levels in check. When it comes to burnout, an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure. It’s so much easier to stave off a full-blown burnout collapse a little bit each day than to try to push your way through once you really hit a wall.
At the end of the day, studying for the bar should feel like marathon and not a sprint. Don’t be afraid to struggle through the substantive law, but don’t hesitate to reach out for help if you yourself are struggling to stay sane or keep up. Break down the law in a way that makes sense to you personally, but also break up your day and take some time off once in a while. Go slowly and build your knowledge and understanding brick by brick a little bit at a time. When in doubt, practice more, and know that you can get through this and pass the bar exam! It’s hard work, but you can do it!
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Did you find this post helpful? Check out some other great articles:
- When and Where I Studied for the Bar Exam
- Tackling Bar Exam Materials Like a Pro
- What You Can Do Now to Prepare for the Bar Exam
- How to Get Twice The Amount of Time on Your Bar Prep
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