What to Do in the Final Month of Bar Prep (“I’ve fallen into the trap of relying on what Barbri tells me to do”)

A question about what to do in the final month of bar prep after sitting through Barbri:

“I have fallen in the trap of relying on what Barbri tells me to do. I am 200 hours in and have watched all the videos for the 7 main MBE sections. I know basics, but I feel vastly unprepared to tackle this exam and kind of hopeless. Now that I have your materials, do you have any advice on what I can do to master all this material will four weeks left? Sitting through hours of lectures did nothing for me. Thank you so much for preparing all these materials.”

Sound familiar?

The Plan isn’t working. Panic sets in, and cold sweat oozes down your unkempt hair.

First off, this understandable and common. Still, in years past, many people have made it out in the final month and even in the final two weeks.

So right off the bat, know that you can do this (as cliché as it sounds). You are capable. And you will make it out, even if you don’t believe so right now. You have to make it out, to be exact.

No pressure, right? The thing to do right now to regain your sanity is to take stock of what you need to do and have at least a rough idea of what to do from here. Create a plan of attack if you don’t have one yet.

Here are some areas to prioritize and some pointers on how to spend the remaining few weeks (and when to stop relying on notes for closed-book practice):

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What to Do in the Weeks Leading up to the Bar Exam

Not really sure what’s working in the weeks leading up to the bar exam? Or what you should be doing?

If you’re taking a bar review course like Barbri, Themis, or Kaplan, then first make sure that you’ve been using it correctly (and that it hasn’t been using you to fill up its completion meter). Sometimes they don’t make clear what you should be doing to be prepared by the end of it all, other than the endless lectures and review sessions they make you sit through.

It’s like you aren’t feeling as confident or ready as you feel you should be after all that time spent. Studying for the bar exam can be a grueling process, so it’s important to have strategies in place to help you stay focused and motivated — and most important — make progress.

What should you be doing to make sure you’re really preparing enough for the big day? Here’s a framework to help you in the weeks leading up to the test:

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Admire the Buttcrack (and 9 Other Last Minute Tips for the Bar Exam)

Ahh shit… You utter the first word of the day as a dying declaration.

Because it’s time. Is it really that real? Let’s do this!

Implementing, practicing, and doing. I hope, by doing those things consistently, you’ve made solid progress!

Maybe you don’t feel ready. The good news is that the more prepared you actually are, the less you feel prepared. The bad news is that the other way isn’t necessarily true.

Not all hope is lost, ye weary traveler. It’s time to put your training to the test.

For now, go in with a “might as well, even if I don’t feel ready” or a “you never know until you try” attitude.

You'll never know unless you try

You’ll be able to say, “I’m glad I tried.”

You’ve worked hard these past weeks and months. You’ve come all this way. Let’s finish it without any hiccups at the very end.

We don’t want a “failure of the last mile” to undo all we’ve done up until now.

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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.

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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What to Do in the Last Two Weeks of Bar Prep

You might be panicking or experiencing setbacks as you prepare for the bar exam. Whatever calmness you may have had 1-2 months ago is now fair game for anxiety to go after.

But the last two weeks are when things often click.

The final couple weeks are typically best spent consolidating your knowledge and intuition by using what you know — attempting to solve past exam questions and self-critiquing against model answers.

This impending pressure is an opportunity to do what you need to do: ditching the easy work of passively consuming, and doing the not-so-easy work of putting fingers to paper/screen, agonizing over identifying the issues, bearing the stress of grading your MBE question set, and enduring the embarrassment and promising to yourself not to make the same mistake again.

Keep pushing and you’ll break through that plateau.