Well that’s an easy question to answer. It’s never too early to begin bar prep. The end.
But in all seriousness, I think the important question is, how exactly do you go about early preparation? If you’re currently a 3L, only a few months or weeks out from your actual bar prep classes, you’re probably currently experiencing a state of joy, guilt, and panic. You’re joyful because you’ve finally come to the end of one of the most difficult chapters of your life by graduating from law school, but you feel somewhat guilty partaking in all the pre-graduation festivities. This guilt is then most likely followed by panic. Should you be running through MBE practice questions or should you start listening to the course lectures from previous years since they haven’t yet posted the lectures for the current year?
This state of confusion is all too fresh in my mind. Towards the end of my 3L year, I allowed this state of panic to frantically push me into pre-preparation. So, although I did unapologetically partake in some of the pre-graduation festivities, I spent many of my final days of freedom doing MBE practice quizzes and reviewing course material. Although I’d love to say that I found this to be extremely helpful, by the time I got into the middle of actual bar prep, I found that my pre-preparation didn’t make much of a difference. I instead found myself regretting not making the most of those final 3L days.
Now with that said, I am by no means saying that early preparation is a bad idea. However, I do think it’s important to remember that bar prep is a marathon and you need to secure all your energy to be successful. Therefore, as you consider early preparation, keep in mind that you need to pace yourself because you don’t want to burn out too early.
So, if you’re considering early preparation how about:
1. Trying Passive Preparation
I know, I know, what in the world is passive preparation? This simply means taking the free time you now have to put in place all the logistical things that will allow your actual bar prep to run a lot smoother. It’s important to remember that when bar prep begins the world around you will not come to a halt. Bills will still need to be paid, your current lease may come to an end and you may need to move apartments or possibly couch surf during the midst of bar prep (true story, this happened to me) and you will also need a ton of stationery and bar prep materials to get through this process.
Passive preparation, therefore, allows you to determine how you will financially survive this period of three or more months if you are unemployed. For me, this meant applying for bar loans to cover the financial hurdle was about to face. Passive preparations also mean that if your current lease is coming to an end, using this time to apartment hunt and sign a new lease that coordinates with the end of your current lease. Trust me, it’s very stressful to undergo an entire apartment hunt process during actual bar preparation and it’s even more stressful when you realize that there’s a period of five days in which you’re essentially homeless until moving into a new apartment. Finally, passive preparation means ordering all your bar prep materials, if you haven’t already done so, organizing these materials and also stacking up on all the supplemental items (i.e. flashcards, stationery) that you’ll use during bar study.
2. Beginning A Light Review Of Courses You Didn’t Take In law School
During bar prep, I found that once I began reviewing courses that I already took in law school, all the material that I thought had once escaped my brain, slowly but surely came back to remembrance. However, I primarily struggled with the courses I hadn’t taken beforehand. Therefore, I found myself unable to jump into the practice questions as quickly as required for these courses because I had to spend more time understanding the basics of the material.
So, if you find yourself wondering what to do during early preparation, I recommend beginning a light review of bar prep courses you did not previously take in law school. Take this time to read through the substantive outlines for these courses. Also, take this time to begin learning the definitions of terms and issues that you may need to recite verbatim on the exam.
However, I suggest doing this light prep in a comfortable setting. Begin this review in your favorite coffee shop or maybe even casually on the beach or in a park. I wouldn’t dare set foot in a library at this point. Because there will be enough time for that once actual bar prep begins.
3. Enjoying The Moment
As you consider early preparation, also keep in mind that you should pause and enjoy this moment. As a 3L I found myself wanting to preemptively jump into the next big thing, as opposed to really taking in the fact that I just successfully completed the major hurdle of law school. I never exactly reveled in that moment of accomplishment. Therefore, in these few weeks of freedom ahead, I recommend patting yourself on the back and using this time to enjoy family and friends. Use this time to let them know how you’ve appreciated their help in your law school journey and also to prepare them for the new journey you have ahead of you. Most importantly use these last few weeks to have fun! Bar prep is no joke, and to be honest, the opportunity for fun may not come forth until after the exam.
So, take this freedom in and enjoy every moment of it!