Whenever anyone offers you advice pertaining to the bar exam, creating some type of study schedule usually tops the list. Most likely your review course will map out for you how many hours a day to set aside time to read class material, complete assignments, write essays, and take practice exams, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to be following the same exact schedule as your classmates.
Here are several things to take into consideration as you jump into your bar preparation, so be sure to keep them in mind when you create your study schedule.
Each study session should have specific goals, such as reviewing your notes on jurisdiction, finishing a practice MEE essay or answering 20 Multistate Bar Exam questions within a certain amount of time. This way, you can keep track of what you’ve accomplished and what still requires your attention. Plus, every goal that you reach helps you prepare for the bar while you get one step closer to exam day.
2. Work Hours
Working and studying for the bar—whether part time or full time—is not recommended. For some people, though, two-and-a-half months off from work is not an option. If that’s you, try to gauge how many hours you work each week and how that will affect your daily study schedule. For example, if you typically work in the morning and don’t have your review course until later in the evening, set aside the time in between for studying and practice questions. When you have a clear-cut idea of what your every-day routine looks like, organizing your time to fit in your bar review is easier. You should take a similar approach if you’re also balancing time to take care of your family.
3. Morning Lark or Night Owl?
Some people are more perceptive in the morning, while others concentrate better at night. After years of being a student, you probably know what time works best for you. The hours you choose to study should reflect your preference, as long as there aren’t any other contributing factors, such as your work hours, that will force you to rearrange your schedule.
Even though you should devote most of your day to preparing for the bar—six to eight hours in the beginning and 10 to 12 hours or more as the exam approaches—it’s okay to take some breaks throughout the day. In fact, you’re hurting yourself if you don’t walk away from it once in a while. The key is to take short, effective breaks that will allow you to re-energize and re-focus. Going for a 20-minute walk, for instance, lets you fit in a little exercise and get some fresh air.
Don’t plan on spending 12 hours reviewing one day and then only two hours the next. Be consistent when mapping out your study routine, so it integrates smoothly into your daily schedule. And follow through. If you start falling behind on assignments, you can become so overwhelmed that you’ll feel like giving up. Completing all of your work on time allows you to avoid this problem altogether.
Your study schedule plays a critical role in your bar review, so don’t just figure it out as you go. Instead, be proactive, and carefully plan how you will spend your days leading up to the exam. The time you put in will be worth it.