Setting Up Clear Goals You Can Follow for the Bar Exam

When preparing for the bar exam, set up clear goals you can follow.

Say someone asks you what you want. You say that you want to pass the bar. Great, a north star that you can reach toward!

But the end goal itself doesn’t tell you what to do at any given moment. It often makes you feel good about the future end result, but it doesn’t mean you will do the needed things in between now and the desired result.

For example, a new year’s resolution like “I want to lose weight” gives you a nice self-affirmation and a burst of motivation.

However, 80% of such resolutions fail by February. There are many actions required, such as watching your calories and macros, exercising, and doing so consistently. Simply jumping in with a new gym membership is a recipe for your goal getting ghosted.

There are three main components to good goals…

1. A goal you can MEASURE.
2. A goal you can CONTROL.
3. A goal that has a timeline.

Examples of goals for bar prep:

BAD: “I want to pass the bar exam.”

And I want to be a billionaire with 8-pack abs. Everyone can have dreams. Passers and non-passers have the exact same goal. What are you going to do about it?

GOOD: “I will:

  • Know the rules of the game. I will understand the components of my bar exam and grading methodology, including how many subjects I need to study for the MBE and the essays. 
  • Aim to solve 20 MBE questions each day, reviewing and cataloging rules I didn’t know about, and here’s the document I set up for that (example). 
  • Aim to solve at least 2 essays each day, and review the model answers. I don’t need to do 20 MBE questions or 2 essays, or beat myself up if I can’t.
  • Review outlines and memorize the issues and rules before and after attempting practice problems. Next time, I will remember more and more.
  • Aim to write at least 1 PT every week, and review the model answers.”

Notice how there is no fixation on the end result. The actual goal here is to build the foundation over time, optimizing for learning and improving. Doing these things will naturally lead to your goal. Focus on the theme, not the end goal.

“There is no guarantee, no ultimate formula for success. It all comes down to intelligently and relentlessly seeking solutions that will increase your chance of prevailing. When you do that, the score will take care of itself.

—Bill Walsh, three-time Super Bowl winning coach

BETTER: “I have until X date to cover all the subjects adequately doing the above bullet points. Based on my needs, I will decide which subjects I will cover each day until then.”

Create a schedule that embodies these specific and measurable goals until the exam.

Now you can see which subjects will fit into how many days and how many times you can cycle through them. Now you have clarity on paper. Now you can put your energy into meeting that goal with a clear purpose.

Motivation is often a clarity problem.

No motivation? Just start with 5 minutes. You can stop after that. No pressure. But, by that point, you’ll have gained the advantage of momentum and want to keep going.

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