We are excited to welcome Dustin Saiidi to the Bar Exam Toolbox blog. Dustin specializes in helping students take the bar exam with success and less stress. He is also the author of The 7 Steps to Bar Exam Success. This is Dustin’s first in a series of three posts about the advantages and disadvantages of studying early for the bar exam. Welcome, Dustin!
The big question thousands of bar exam students face every single year is “Should I start studying early for the bar exam?”
My answer to the question is a resounding NO. Here are 5 reasons why.
1. You don’t need to. Even an exam as intense as the 3-day California bar exam really only requires six or seven weeks to prepare for. If you only need that much time to study, why are you going to spend more?
2. You can burn out. The bar exam is definitely a marathon. The risk students face in failing is more about not managing their energy, as opposed to not learning all the law. Success is all about the ability to retain and apply what you learn from prep during the two or three days of your actual bar exam.
If you are not in a state of mind to comprehend or have burnt yourself out too early with too much studying, you won’t retain what you are learning and can’t apply it when it comes to bar week.
3. Smarter studying, not more studying, will help you pass. Success on the bar exam is about working hard and smart. That means you are best served by focusing on the materials and activities that will actually help you be ready to take the exam. In my new book The 7 Steps to Bar Exam Success, I define the difference between what I like to call the a) time-wasting activities vs. b) needle-moving activities.
If you focus on the time-wasting activities, you’ll spend 4 to 6 months and won’t be very prepared. Instead, by concentrating on the needle-movers, like taking lots of practice tests under timed conditions, then seven weeks will be plenty to prepare you.
Unfortunately, as I learned during my prep, many bar prep programs don’t do a good job of making the distinction between these activities. They actually encourage you to complete time wasting tasks, like reading outlines over and over, which simply causes overwhelm and doesn’t help you pass.
4. You might forget what you first learned. During bar week, if you are tested on material you learned four months prior, you’re probably not going to remember it anyway. That means if you really want to remember, what you study early on, you’re going to have to re-study it again anyway.
5. Bar Prep programs don’t even advise early bar prep. Bar prep programs get paid based on their success in helping you pass. If a program like Bar/Bri doesn’t even start courses until seven weeks out, why are you?
Many people start early because they don’t think they’ll have enough time to learn everything and be 100% prepared. The truth is you will never learn everything you need to know or feel 100% ready, even if you start an entire year in advance!
It’s best to learn certain skills and focus on the needle-movers, which I discuss in depth in The 7 Steps to Bar Exam Success.
And as you prepare, always remember “Your name appears on the pass list.”
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Did you find this post helpful? Check out some other great articles:
- Getting an Early Start on Bar Preparation
- When Should You Start Studying for the Bar Exam?
- Does it Take 10 Weeks to Study for the Bar Exam?
- Are You Next to Take the Bar Exam? 5 Tips for You!