Seven Bar Exam Time Management Tips
Are you preparing to take the bar exam? If you’ve already signed up for a bar prep course and looked at the proposed study schedule, you’re probably wondering how you’ll be able to fit all the material into just a few months’ time (and if you’re taking the bar soon and have not yet signed up for a course, we recommend you do so ASAP!). Bar prep may seem daunting because it requires a great deal of time and focus, but it’s completely manageable with these bar exam time management tips!
Seven Bar Exam Time Management Tips
1. Create a personalized study plan early on.
Whatever bar prep course you choose to enroll in will likely provide you with a proposed study schedule, but remember that there is no “one size fits all” approach to studying for the bar exam. Everyone has different study habits, and you know your learning style best! Before you begin studying, come up with a plan that works for you. Are you a visual learner? Plan to watch the lecture videos! Do you learn better when reading outlines? Focus more on the outlines! Did you struggle with evidence during law school? Allocate some extra study time to that subject! You should personalize your study plan to meet your individual needs. In doing so, just be sure to allocate enough time to each part of the bar exam (for the UBE, that’s the MEE, MBE, and MPT) and each subject area tested (property, contracts, etc.).
2. Do not procrastinate.
Bar prep begins months before the exam date. You may think that there is plenty of time to study, so postponing your studies a week or two won’t hurt… but don’t forget that there is a ton of material to learn and memorize in that time! It is very manageable to study for the bar and learn everything that you need to know so long as you exercise proper bar exam time management. Start studying right away (or even a few weeks before your bar prep course officially begins if you are able) to keep your stress levels down!
It is easy to procrastinate when the exam date seems so far off, but you’re setting yourself up to burn out early on because you’ll be forced to cram the material into fewer days. The same is true with starting your studying each day during bar prep. If your plan is to start at 8am Monday through Friday, stick to it! Do not let procrastination derail you.
3. Be flexible.
Your study plan is an important guide for bar exam time management, but don’t be afraid to adjust it as needed. This does not mean skipping days of studying (remember, don’t procrastinate!), but it is important to be flexible with what your schedule looks like. Take a few minutes each week to evaluate your progress, identify areas of strength and weakness, and plan for the following week accordingly. You can do this daily as well. For example, your study plan may have four days allocated to contracts, but it turns out you’re doing really well with contracts and could use the extra time to review family law instead. For this reason, it helps to create both weekly and daily schedules, which allows for more flexibility so that you can focus on what you really need to work on.
4. Take breaks.
Breaks are essential to success when it comes to bar exam time management. It is impossible to study every waking minute of every day, and if you try, we can guarantee you will burn out quickly! Taking occasional breaks—5 or 10 minutes every hour or two of studying—actually helps you to study more effectively. Forcing yourself to study without breaks can cause you to lose focus and momentum, and you’ll just end up feeling frustrated. So take short breaks when you need them, and always make time for meals to keep your energy up!
The same is true for the occasional longer breaks. Don’t be afraid to carve out a half-day (or even a full day) each week to do something enjoyable. Maybe you have a wedding to attend that falls right in the middle of bar prep. Or maybe there’s a birthday party for a family member or friend. Or maybe you really just want to spend a few hours binge-watching Netflix. As long as you’re on track with your study plan, you should not feel guilty if you need to take a day away from studying. Just make sure that you get right back to studying the following day and don’t let yourself fall behind!
5. Delete social media
Don’t worry—it’s just temporary! With your social media accounts temporarily suspended (or at the very least deleted off of your phone), you will find that it is so much easier to concentrate on bar prep. A quick study break to look at Instagram can turn into a long break that has disrupted your progress for the day because, let’s face it, scrolling through Instagram is much more appealing than watching lecture videos or answering practice questions. And trust us when we say that it really won’t help your motivation to study if you see your friends posting about the fun they’re having while you’re stuck in the library (or wherever you choose to study). Eliminating social media distractions will help improve your concentration and stick to your bar exam time management plan!
6. Study smarter, not harder.
At some point during your many years of education, you probably heard the adage “study smarter, not harder.” Well, it applies to bar prep! If you took evidence as a 3L, you did well in the course, and the subject is still fresh in your mind, it’s okay to deviate from the study plan (remember, flexibility is important!) and not spend as much time on that subject.
At the same time, be sure not to rush through bar prep! If you get a practice question wrong, it can be tempting to go on to the next question and tell yourself you’ll review what you missed later. After all, your study plan says you should be doing 200 practice questions today, so do you really have the time to pause and review? The answer is yes! You should always take the time to review a question you missed and understand why so that you don’t repeat the same mistakes. Reviewing is an important part of the study process, and doing so will save you more time in the long run!
7. Seek help if you need it!
If you struggle with a particular subject or portion of the test, this can affect your study plan and set you behind. Seek help early on if you need it. Most bar prep courses, including JD Advising, offer private tutoring services, so be sure to take advantage of this and keep your bar exam time management on track!
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