Studying for the bar exam is tough no matter how you spin it, but it’s even worse if you can’t make yourself focus. Here are some tips to stay accountable while you’re studying so you keep on track.
So you’ve finished law school – congratulations! But now the next big test for you looms. The bar exam. Now that you’re done with law school, you’re finding it difficult to focus on studying anymore, and your exam is like a dark cloud hovering over you. Don’t lose heart! You’ve got this! All you need is to stay accountable and keep on track, and here are some tips to help:
Make a Schedule and Stick to It
Making a schedule for your bar exam studies is the first step toward making sure you stay accountable while you prepare. Start with the date of the exam and work backwards. How many weeks have you allowed for study? Are you taking any regimented study courses, or tackling it on your own? The answers to these questions will help you complete the schedule for your bar exam study sessions, allowing you to break down everything that you have to hit each day.
Take your Life into Consideration
Are you a night owl or a morning person? Are you also working full-time while you study? Do you have a family that you have to also take care of? These are some of the other questions that you’ll need to answer in order to make the most out of your study time. Everyone has a life outside of the law (as surprising as that may sound!), and that needs to be taken into consideration when you create your study schedule. Between the schedule you created in the last point, and these additional questions, you should have a solid study itinerary of sorts. At this point, you need a way to track your progress.
Utilize Some Form of Calendar
This is where the progress tracking comes into play. There are many ways to do this, and no one way is correct – do what works for you! Whether you want to use a bullet journal, a desktop monthly calendar, an Excel spreadsheet, or some type of bound agenda that you found at Target, make sure you use something! Tracking your progress is the only way to know for sure that you are staying on task – this is accountability. If you find you aren’t keeping up with the schedule that you created for yourself, adjust so that your calendar matches your schedule. For some people, the rigidity of these two ideas together is enough to keep them on task; for others, it will take outside motivation. And adaptability is also key because remember, you do have a life outside of the bar exam (even if it doesn’t feel like it right now).
Set Goals for Yourself, and Rewards if You Meet Them
Remember how I saw that some people may require outside motivation to keep them on target? This is where that magic happens. In your schedule (and subsequently, in your calendar), set some goals for yourself. Do you want to be done studying a certain topic by a certain date? Write that down. Do you want to take practice tests every other week? Put that in the schedule. That’s the first part of this point. The second part is the sweeter of the two, however – set up a reward system for yourself for when you reach your goals. This could be something as simple as a bowl of ice cream, or a night at the movies – anything that you find fun that would be a motivating factor to you. And then stick with it – don’t reward yourself unless you hit your goals!
Give Yourself a Break
There comes a point every so often where your brain maybe can’t absorb anything else for the day. This happens more frequently in some people than others, but this is the time when you have to give yourself a break. You don’t want to burn out because that will derail your entire schedule. Ideally, you’ll start to learn how often you’re prone to temporary burn-out, and you’ll add a rest day or a break to your schedule and calendar. This will allow you some time to breathe without derailing what you have planned for yourself. Just remember self-care while you’re studying – recharging your batteries every so often is an important part of that.
Do you have other ways you keep on track while you’re studying? Share them! No idea is right or wrong, and every person operates differently in situations like this. Your ways of staying accountable might help someone else in the future, and that is always the overall goal. Good luck on the exam!