How To Make A California Bar Study Schedule

Are you planning on taking the California Bar Exam and wondering how to create a bar exam study schedule?  In this post, we show you how to make a California Bar study schedule! Before diving into a study schedule, be sure that you’re familiar with the California Bar Exam format.

How To Make A California Bar Study Schedule

1. Determine how many weeks you have to dedicate to studying.

First, determine when you will start studying.  Generally, 2-3 months ahead of the bar exam is a good time to start studying.  However, if you have extenuating circumstances (you are working while studying, you are a repeat taker and need to try doing things differently this time, etc.), you may want to start even earlier than that.

Then, figure out when you want to be done learning new material.  You should leave at least two weeks at the end of your bar prep schedule to review all of the subjects one last time.

These two dates will determine how many weeks you have to spread the bar exam material across.  For instance, if you plan on starting to study for the July examination mid-May, and you want to leave three weeks for “review” after you are finished learning the material, you will have approximately 8 weeks to cover the material.

2. Plan on covering approximately one Multistate Bar Exam subject per week.

There are seven subjects that are tested on the Multistate Bar Exam that are also fair-game on the essay portion of the California Bar Exam.  Those seven subjects are:

  • Civil Procedure
  • Contracts
  • Constitutional Law
  • Criminal Law and Procedure
  • Evidence
  • Real Property
  • Torts

If you have approximately 7-8 weeks to study for the bar exam, you should try to select one subject each week.  We recommend that you start with the subjects that are more difficult for you and work your way through to the easier subjects.

It is important to note that the California bar exam essays can test California-specific laws for these MBE subjects, but often they do not.  You should be aware of the subjects for which it is important to pay attention to the California laws in addition to the “majority” law that you are learning for the MBE.  The California Bar Exam has tested California-specific laws in Evidence multiple times.  They have also tested California-specific laws in Civil Procedure once.  The California essays have only tested federal or majority law for the other five MBE subjects.

3. Add an essay subject each week.

There are six additional subjects that can also appear on the California Bar Exam essays but do not appear on the MBE portion of the exam.  Those subjects are:

  • Business Associations (this includes Agency, Partnership, and Corporations)
  • Community Property
  • Professional Responsibility
  • Remedies
  • Trusts
  • Wills & Succession

Of these subjects, Community Property, Professional Responsibility, Trusts, and Wills tend to test California-specific rules. In fact, Professional Responsibility often asks examinees to apply both the ABA rules and California law, so it is very important that you learn both!

Each week, pick one essay subject that you will cover in addition to the MBE subject you are covering that week.  Try to pair one difficult subject with an easier subject.  So, for instance, if Evidence is the most difficult MBE subject for you, pair it with an easier essay subject, such as Remedies. Be sure to check out our California Essay Frequency Chart for more information to help guide your studying!

4. Create a schedule and stick to it!

Here is a sample schedule:

Week One:

MBE subject: Real Property

Essay subject: Remedies

Week Two:
MBE subject: Contracts

Essay subject: Professional Responsibility

Week Three:

MBE subject: Evidence

Essay subject: Business associations

Week Four:

MBE subject: Civil Procedure

Essay subject: Wills

Week Five:

MBE subject: Constitutional law

Essay subject: Community property

Week Six:

MBE subject: Criminal Law & Procedure

Essay subject: Trusts

Week Seven:

MBE subject: Torts

Essay subject: review the more difficult subjects

Weeks Eight through Ten:

Spend 2-3 days reviewing each subject, again pairing an MBE subject with an essay subject each day (e.g., days one through three, you can review Real Property and Community Property).

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