When your bar prep course starts that means that the actual bar exam is only 10-12 short weeks away. That may seem like a lot of time right now, but as it sets in that you really do have to learn and retain a massive amount of material, that 10 weeks won’t seem nearly long enough. Moreover, the closer and closer the exam gets, the busier and more stressed out you’ll feel. To help simplify your life in those final days before the exam and to ensure that you’re able to get the most out of the bar prep period, make sure you’ve completed the following five tasks before bar prep starts.
Organize and Understand Your Materials.
If you’ve signed up for a commercial bar prep course you probably received a very large and intimidating set of books and access to their web content. First, double check that you received all the materials you were supposed to. You don’t want to be walking out the door a few weeks from now to take the mock MBE then realize you never received the mock MBE test booklet. Second, take a few minutes to figure out what the materials are for and appreciate the different ways you will use them as you study. For example, many students use the lecture handouts as their primary study aid and only refer to the big, detailed outline book if they need clarification on a subject. Glance through all of your materials and think about what each is designed for and how you plan on using it. Third, check your bar prep company’s website. Make sure you can login and familiarize yourself with all of its tools. Lastly, create a place to keep all of your bar prep materials stored and organized so that you have quick, easy access when you need them.
Check Your Computer.
Most students take the essay portion of the bar exam on a laptop, and almost all will use their computer to access materials and results on their bar prep company’s website. As a result, it’s extremely important that your computer functions well. Make sure you’ve got all the necessary updates that you need and honestly evaluate whether your laptop is in good enough shape to use during the bar exam. It seems like every year I have student who has “computer problems” during the exam. Don’t let this be you – test everything out now to make sure your computer will run smoothly from day 1 of bar prep all the way through the end of the exam.
You’ll have enough to do in the final week before the bar exam without having to worry about logistical details. Save yourself from stressing about these things later on by planning and confirming everything before you start bar prep. A few of the things you’ll want to make sure you have in order include your bar prep course registration, the actual dates of the bar exam, the location where you will take the exam, transportation to the exam site and how traffic will impact the commute, and hotel reservations during the exam if needed. It may seem obvious, but you should also confirm that you have properly registered for the exam and completed all of the prerequisites, such as paying any fees. And while you’re at it, make sure you’ve purchased/registered the computer software you’ll need to install in order to take the exam on your laptop.
Make Arrangements for Non-Bar Related Activities.
Although studying for the bar should be your primary focus over the next several weeks, there are bound to be some other events and occurrences that will demand your time and attention. If you know about any of these events in advance, plan ahead. If you have to work during the next few weeks, limit your hours as much as possible to allow for maximum studying time. If you have family obligations like child care, get a plan in place to ensure that you can balance those responsibilities with your bar prep. If you have an out of town trip or a big event like a wedding in the weeks before the bar exam, adjust your study schedule accordingly so you won’t get behind.
Plan Your Study Day.
To encourage good study habits and avoid procrastination, it’s a good idea to plan your basic study day in advance. Think about what needs to get done each day during bar prep – usually listen to the assigned lecture, complete a certain number of practice MBE questions, review outlines, etc. Whatever your specific tasks may be, commit to getting them done each day, but don’t stop there. You should also schedule when you will complete each of these daily tasks and make an effort to start studying each day at the same time. Having concrete plans will make it more likely that you’ll stick to the schedule and routinizing the activities will encourage good habits to form. So don’t just assume you’ll watch a lecture each day and complete 50 practice MBE questions. Instead, make a firm plan as to how you’ll accomplish this – maybe you’ll plan to start studying each day at 8:30 a.m., you’ll do practice questions for 1 hour, then watch the lecture at 9:30 a.m., then complete the remaining practice questions, and so on. Create a schedule and a routine that accomplishes your goals and you’re much more likely to stay on track.
Preparing for the bar exam can be intense, so you should do everything you can to simplify your life over the next few weeks. Make sure you’ve crossed all of the above tasks off your to-do list before bar prep starts, and you’ll have a few less things to worry about as the exam approaches.
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Did you find this post helpful? Check out some other great articles:
- Surviving Bar Exam Prep: Keeping it Together When You Want to Freak Out
- The Ins and Outs of Studying for the Bar Exam
- How to Draft a Study Plan and Stick to It
- Best Bar Exam Tip: Think Like a Grader
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