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 for sustainable momentum we know that we must enjoy the process (not just fixate on the goal of passing the bar).

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

There are many reasons your schedule will look different from everyone else’s: 

  • You might be working while studying for the bar exam.
  • Maybe you have every day free for bar prep and don’t want to blow this opportunity.
  • Or maybe you only have the first 6 hours of your day free while the kids are at school.

Here’s just one example of what that could look like:

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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 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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The 3 Things You Need When Starting Bar Prep (Live Stream Replay)

“What should I know when I’m starting bar prep?”

I did a live stream with Jennifer Duclair to talk about how to take the guesswork out of bar preparation and get a better sense of direction as you start studying for your next bar exam.

It was fun! Japes and nuggets of insights were dropped, and I’m pleased with how this turned out. (Maybe I’ll do another one next year…)

Here’s me throwing Kaplan under the bus:

What to do with your schedule when starting bar prep

Here’s the recording (go to 8:12 where I talk about the study schedule shown above), along with timestamps so you can jump to the parts you’re most interested in:

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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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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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