Bar Preparation Is Hard… but You’ll Get Used to It

Let me guess. You don’t want to take this exam ever again. You want nothing more than to pass this stupid exam and move on with your life.

If your preparation for the bar is going smoothly, excellent. Today’s email is not for you.

If you’re feeling massive resistance, feeling unmotivated, and feeling just plain tired of it … maybe this will help.

I get it. It’s cold. It’s dark. It’s December. You have to think about gifts. Also, bar prep can be (is) boring.

I know you are working hard when you can. It’s good to see many of my readers proactively working and preparing and practicing. I can feel my size 0 heart putting on some weight this Christmas.



But I’ll get worried if you end up spending all day cycling through the same social media apps or catching up on your shows. Thinking about unimportant FICTION. The bar is the realest thing in your life, in more ways than one.

I’ll get worried if you’re letting go of the tension and pushing it off to next year. I’ve worked on something for you every day this year. You can do the same with the bar. Every time you relax, you have to overcome gravity. Keep going! You’ll get used to it.

I’ll get worried if all you’re doing is seeking all the answers before getting started. Perpetual academia and theory because you “have a lot to learn” first. Stockpiling knowledge. Hunting down resources. Reading. Saving for later.

There’s a difference between easy work and work that matters.


Now, I’m not saying don’t study your outlines and memorize. It’s good to build a foundation. Don’t get stuck getting your ducks in a row first. You can figure it out as you go.

Babies don’t read a manual or go to a seminar on how to walk (although it might help if they could understand human language). You don’t teach them to walk. They will try it on their own. They will keep trying while someone encourages them in the background. They don’t care about falling down because they want to walk.

Am I even qualified to talk about this? Sure, it’s only been a few decades since I’ve been a baby.

Mistakes are not just for rookies. In fact, rookies stay that way because they’re not willing to make mistakes. The answers will come as you tinker around, fall, get up, bump into things, cry annoyingly, and shit the floor like a two-and-a-half-foot person learning to take baby steps.

So what is work that matters? What moves the needle? What actually stretches the noodles in your head?

One way to tell: Ask yourself what you’re going to be doing on the exam.

For example, a question isn’t going to say, “Please memorize this rule.” It will say, “What are the issues? How are these facts resolved given what you know?”


It’s HARDER to test yourself with a question, realize it’s taking you way longer than it should, and realize you don’t know it. It’s HARDER to rummage through your memory to write out that rule statement, uncertain whether it’s correct or even relevant to the question at hand. It’s HARDER to figure out what you need to work on. It’s HARDER to see your errors yet continue to believe in your future.

But no one ever said the bar exam was supposed to be easy. If you’re not feeling dumb, you’re not learning. Wouldn’t you learn more from doing it? Don’t let the bar be the learning experience.

The question isn’t always about how you’re going to do it. There are many ways how. It’s what you’re going to do.

The immediate assumption is that we need to wait to prepare first. On the contrary, the more you attempt to recall and apply and do, the more you remember and understand. You only need to get some of your ducks in a row. Just do it!

The gap between thinking about it and doing it is wide, but doing becomes natural once you cross it.

Which LASIK surgeon would you rather trust to cut open and vaporize your cornea: someone who’s read all the books on it and “knows” all about it, or someone who’s read the latest journal articles on it and has actually done it on real people for years?

What about a Spanish teacher who learned everything from books vs. a teacher who lived in Spain and was forced to apply the language with real Spanish speakers?

It’s important to work your originality muscle, that is, to remember and create words on a page, to come up with (not just recognize) the correct rule. The easy stuff only prepares you to do to the work that matters; it’s not the main thing to focus on.


Look at this comment:

“I don’t want to waste more time trying to learn the material when I should be practicing it instead.”—Dana, Maryland bar taker

You probably already know WHAT to memorize and WHAT to study and even HOW to study. Are you doing what you know? What are you waiting for? (Really, are you waiting for something first?)

“99% of information we read, we forget anyway. The best way to remember is to ‘DO.’”

The consequences of your success can be scary. The thing is, you have no choice in the matter anymore.

Just do it. Before this article self-destructs in your head.


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