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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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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Ultimate Guide to Preparing for the California “Baby Bar” Exam (FYLSX)

Worried about passing the California Baby Bar Exam and moving on with your law school career? Feeling overwhelmed by all the information needed to pass this test?

Also known as the First-Year Law Students’ Exam (FYLSX or FYLSE) to stuffy law students, the baby bar can feel like a huge roadblock on your way to graduating from law school.

You might even be wondering, “How am I facing this much resistance this early into my law career?!”

Worry no more. Breathe a sigh of relief. There’s a way out to put this behind you.

The baby bar (and indeed the full bar exam) is also about knowing the exam, not just the covered material.

You can strategize for the exam once you discover how the baby bar works, how to properly answer essays, and how to prepare for multiple-choice questions.

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101 Rules for Bar Exam Preparation

Here’s a list of 101 quick bullets on how to prepare for the bar exam.

Your answer is probably in here if you ever feel like asking vague questions like:

  • “Do you have any advice?” without any context
  • “Can you help?”
  • “Thoughts?”
  • “HELP!” “Let’s connect” (?)
  • Anything with more than three question marks or exclamation marks in a row unironically

If you have the Magicsheets & Approsheets bundle, you already have access to the exclusive pocket guide “17 Strategies to Get Un-stuck and Un-frustrated by the Bar Exam.”

I tried something even more straight to the point.

Why 101? I wanted to do something contrived like 100 and ended up with 1 more (say hi to your OCD for me). I’ll probably update this in the future. This is an amorphous and evolving draft. Nothing is set in stone. Things change. Things get better. Same with your bar prep.

Feel free to disagree with any point. Advice is autobiography. Advice is never one-size-fits-all. Take what you like and leave the rest.

If some rules seem contradictory, that’s where interesting things happen.

Let me know which parts you agree with, parts you disagree with, or contradictions you thought about on your own and resolved.

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Stop “Studying” and Start Learning: The Underrated Practice of Practice in Bar Prep

You sit still during lectures and try to stay awake. You take notes. You read outlines.

Then nothing works. Has this happened to you?

Back in college, I gave a copy of my cheat sheet for our engineering midterm to a girl. How do you say no to a girl? Answer: You can’t.

And then she got the lowest score in the class.

It had all the equations needed, but she didn’t know how and when those equations applied. She hadn’t seen those rules applied to similar problems. She assumed that just having the rules there would be enough. (Same reason open-book bar exams would change very little.)

It’s like when someone says, “b urself” or “learn to love yourself.” Okay… what’s that mean? Could you explain that a bit more, bro? Any specifics?

Same with your “black letter law”… What does “related” mean in your rule statement? You get a better sense of what that means by looking at examples of how that rule is used until you gain an intuition.

You’d think these rules would be plug and play, but they’re not always. Context matters. Knowing when and how to use them matters.

She was my gf at the time btw. Awkward! Oh well, live and learn.

And that’s what I want to talk about—learning.

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