Originally published November 29, 2016. Updated December 3, 2019.
The holidays are hectic enough, but trying to study for the February bar exam during the holidays is a recipe for chaos.
Between holiday baking, shopping, and gathering with friends and family, you will be beyond busy. We know the last thing you want to do is study, but remember it's crunch time. Staying on top of your studying is more important than ever.
It will be easy to get distracted, so here are some tips to help you stay focused this holiday season.
Let your family know you need to study
The holidays are a great time to catch up with friends and family. If you're heading home, they may expect you to be available for every family dinner and party. Tell them in advance that you are taking the bar exam in February. Ask for their understanding while you try to juggle your social life and your crazy study schedule.
Make a schedule, and stick to it
Create a schedule that accommodates all your holiday plans. Set up a weekly plan so you know what information you must review to stay on track. This will help you stick to a routine and hold yourself accountable for the studying you need to get done. You may have something to attend during one of your study times, and that's okay! Having a schedule will allow you to be flexible so you can fit that studying in at a different time during the day.
Remember, you won’t be able to make it to everything, so pick your spots.
Find a quiet spot to study
Families can be especially loud around the holidays. Find a study space where there are no distractions so that you can focus on your work. Whether it's a local library or your bedroom, make sure you have everything you need to get your studying done. Is there enough space for your supplies? Are there outlets? Most importantly, is there coffee nearby?
Bring all your materials with you
Studying on a train, a plane, or a bus is not comfortable or convenient, but travel time is a great opportunity for getting some studying in. If you're traveling back home, be sure to bring all the materials you will need to study. We suggest having travel-friendly study aids for long trips.
Wake up early
Although waking up early during the holiday season sounds (and probably is) horrible, it may be worth it. It means you won't fall behind. You will get more studying done while everyone is sleeping, making it easier to buckle down, focus, and stay motivated. Getting to it early can free up the rest of your day and leave your night open so you can attend more ugly sweater parties and gift exchanges.
Be sure to get enough sleep
Considering all the traveling and added festivities, it will be easy to skip some much-needed sleep. But don't be so quick to sacrifice your extra z's, because sleep has a huge impact on your studying. The quantity and the quality of your sleep affects your ability to focus and memorize. Be sure to get around 8 hours of sleep each night to make the time you actually spend studying as productive as possible.
Remember your long-term goals
During the holidays, you may be more willing to head to a party rather than stay in. It is easy to lose your motivation and forget why you’re even studying for the bar exam in the first place. Make sure this doesn’t happen! You have come this far, so keep your eyes on the prize.
Remember, the holiday season is for you to enjoy as well. So have an extra cookie or take a break and watch a holiday movie.
It’s all about finding the balance between work and fun. As long as you're working hard at your studies, you deserve a chance to relax.