You Need a Study Plan: Why You Should Make Your Own Bar Prep Study Schedule

The only thing I remember from law school is my negotiations professor saying this in class randomly:

“Anything worth doing is worth overdoing.”

It’s so true. Is bar preparation worth doing? Then it’s worth doing right.

After all, you’re the “dean of your own studies.” And we know that we must enjoy the process (not merely fixate on the goal of passing the bar) for sustainable momentum.

Just as what’s enjoyable is personal, bar prep is also personal. Your study plan and schedule are personal.

Here’s an example of what that could look like, based on the sample 4-week study schedule from Passer’s Playbook (taken from sample study schedules that span 1-10 weeks, also has example student schedules that go up to 17 weeks).

Sample 4-week study schedule for bar prep

Samples and examples can be used as a template, but YOUR schedule should fit you like a handmade glove and be flexible to YOUR needs and without strict hour-by-hour timing. You can’t predict what will happen, but you can account for it.

A personalized schedule helps you plan what you need to address each day. You’re ultimately responsible for knowing what YOU need to learn the material and learn the skills to apply the material.

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How to Pass the California Bar Exam with a Focused Approach of Discipline and Consistency

Got yet another success story, by a reader who shared with me a very detailed and specific recap of her journey to pass the 2020 February California Bar Exam (26.8% pass rate) on her second try.

It was too good not to share.

Jinnyi Pak headshot

Before:

  • Big bar course made her “dumber,” wasted her time, DRAINED her energy and time. She was too wiped out to memorize or practice
  • Did not even know how to START any essay
  • Panic, doubts, insecurities, mind games, pressure

After:

  • Practical and effective approach
  • Used the right tools for her
  • Enjoyed herself because she could see herself getting better

Key takeaways and full story below…

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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’re waiting for results,
  • They got their bar results and want to retake the exam,
  • They have a full-time job to juggle at the same time, or
  • It’s been a minute (years to be exact) since they’ve graduated law school or have taken the exam.

While there are benefits to studying early, there are many traps to doing so. There are benefits to simply waiting until study season is in full swing before deciding whether or not to study for the bar exam. But as always, bar prep is personal.

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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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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Planning a Bar Prep Study Schedule (Quick Overview)

Wondering how to plan and begin your studies for the bar exam? The order in which to arrange the subjects? What a study schedule could look like?

I like to recommend this general approach. You’ll go through at least 3 cycles:

  1. MBE subjects, and then optionally essay-only subjects
  2. All subjects (you can repeat this more than once)
  3. Final crunch (1-2 weeks max)

More details below.

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