Early Bar Prep: Should You Study Early for the Bar Exam?

Some bar takers wonder if they should study early for the bar exam (ahead of the traditional 10-week schedule), whether…

  • They want to get a head start on studying
  • They deferred the exam (e.g., February to July)
  • They’re waiting for bar results (or got their bar results months ahead of the next exam they want to retake)
  • They have a full-time job to juggle at the same time and won’t be able to take much time off
  • It’s been a minute (or years) since they’ve graduated from law school or have taken the exam

While there are benefits to studying early, there are many traps to doing so. There are also benefits to simply waiting (if your neurotic anxiety can handle it) until study season is in full swing before deciding whether or not to study for the bar exam.

But bar prep is personal. You’re the dean of your own studies.

To help you decide when to start studying, let’s discuss all of this—who early bar prep is right for and the best way to study early and effectively—so that you’re making the most of your time and energy.

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5 Reframes to Power Up Your Mind and Emotions for the Bar Exam Right Now

Preparing for the bar exam forces you to cycle through various emotions over weeks and months.

One moment calm, feeling like you’ve done all you could. Panic and anxiety the next moment. Frustration. Utter confusion. Overwhelm. Back to relief. Rinse and repeat.

Your heart is beating uncontrollably, your thoughts are becoming irrational, and your palms are sweaty! 🥵 You’re feeling HOT!

Go from hot ⤵

To cool

When you’re in trouble, breathe and go back to the fundamentals.

Reality can betray the most reasonable of your expectations and daydreams at whim, coloring the past with regrets and the future with despair.

But it can also present us with gifts if you look carefully. Some days you have to look much harder than other days. 

If life only gives you lemons, you weren’t looking out for the oranges.

Here are five philosophies you can apply right now to mentally reframe how you feel about the bar exam:

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Tired of Bar Prep? Guarantee Motivation to Beat the Bar Exam with These 5 Reminders

How often do you see motivationals like this?

  • KEEP going!!! Don’t stop!!!
  • You got this!!! You’re so smart!!!
  • You’re going to pass!!! BELIEVE IT!!!

I wanted to pass the bar exam, so I made an image of a bar license card with my name on it using Microsoft Paint.

I’m not even kidding. It has a “last modified” date of July 2, 2013. Look:

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Using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to Learn the Law for the Bar Exam

A bar taker asked me to explain supplemental jurisdiction with an example. At 1:27 in the morning.

I was able to send a response at 1:36 AM (9 minutes later)—without having a working knowledge of supplemental jurisdiction, and without flipping through outlines or Googling hypos.

How? I’ll show you below. (With examples using supplemental jurisdiction and rule against perpetuities.)

The problem: When someone asks me about some law, I have to research it and explain it.

Or if you’re confused about how a rule works, you have to make sense of it theoretically and look at examples and hypos. How are you going to memorize (and use) the rule without understanding it?

This takes time. And I didn’t have the energy this late at night. Plus, I’m not a tutor and it’s not my role to do this (but I have a soft spot for people struggling with this death ritual).

Here’s an idea you can try for yourself if you’re stuck and not understanding a bar exam rule:

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Enjoying Bar Prep: 6 Ways to Make Studying for the Bar Exam More Fun and Effective

Is it possible to enjoy bar prep?

It’s one of the dryest things a person can do on this planet. But we retain more and pay more attention when things are enjoyable.

I’ve talked about enjoying the process to maintain motivation when it comes to bar prep. How you do that is personal.

Ultimately, you can have fun with anything. It’s a mindset. If something isn’t fun, you can just enjoy not having fun!

You can have fun with bar prep too. Bar prep can be enjoyable if you go at your own pace and get better at it.

The default (typical, boring) approach of bar prep involves sitting still like a statue watching people in a suit drone on as you fantasize about throwing your computer or self out the window. If you’re especially masochistic, you’ll pause the video and make sure to fill in all the lecture notes.

This is surprisingly exhausting. As a bonus, you’ll also forget 99% of what you listened to. I’d rather watch water boil because at least I’d have something to show for it, like edible pasta. (Did you know the singular form of spaghetti is spaghetto?)

Something people forget to tell you is that you don’t actually have to follow the default.

“Just complete the course! Play it safe!”—The National Association of Barbri (probably)

No, instead of playing defense, it’s time to go on offense.

Follow this visual guide of 6 things that can help you make steady progress and enjoy bar prep—without the frustration and exhaustion that come with how bar takers typically approach studying for the bar exam.

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