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.”

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.
  • Or maybe you only have the first 6 hours of your day free while the kids are at school.

Meanwhile, your bar review course could have a cookie-cutter schedule that packs in an overwhelming number of tasks or “self-study” sessions where you have no direction on what to do.

Is there a smarter, more effective plan that would serve your needs more and improve your odds of passing?

Here’s one example of what such a personalized study schedule could look like:

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Passing the California Bar Exam with a “STEM Brain” on Her Second Try

“R” passed the 2024 February California Bar Exam on her second try. She had some obstacles on her first attempt…

💬 “J23 bar exam, I wasn’t able to study because of personal reasons.

💬 “That was something I felt in J23, I was not physically prepared to take the bar exam.

💬 “I have an engineering background, so law school was a whole different beast for me!  I was very near the bottom of my class in law school.  My STEM brain found it hard to grasp the way of thinking like a lawyer!

R had a similar background as mine. Coming from a STEM background, law school was a struggle for me as well.

But once it clicks, it clicks. And it only needs to click once before you can go out there and start your career.

In my case, failing the exam was a huge shock that finally unlocked the part of my brain to figure out this bar thing. That must have been some trauma to keep me on this crusade 10 years later.

Here’s what R (and I) did on our second attempts so you don’t have to traumatize yourself…

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Should You “Trust the Process”? You’re the Dean of Your Own Bar Exam Studies

Here’s something that people who pass the bar exam never say:

“All I had to do was listen to all the bar course lectures and take a lot of notes. Work hard like me and you’ll pass!”

Can you imagine?

Sometimes we think “doing whatever it takes” to pass the bar exam means exhausting yourself and throwing 1000 hours and even more dollars into a black hole. (But it doesn’t have to be expensive.)

Or following some unsustainable cookie-cutter schedule (that doesn’t care if you have other responsibilities like work or family). Good luck if you fall behind by one day.

Or letting a perfectly fine morning slip through by religiously sitting through 4 hours of droning lectures. Worse, pausing lectures to fill in all the notes. Then not even remembering 99% of it.

When you thought the lectures made sense

Trusting the process.

I remember those days. All of these are things I didn’t do my second time. Here’s what I’d do instead:

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Bar Prep Is Overwhelming: Making Independent Choices for Yourself

You have questions about the bar exam. How to study. When to study. Whether you’re on the right track. Picking the right bar prep supplements out of all the resources out there.

"Yes, it is very overwhelming and the amount of resources out there to help are also overwhelming lol"

When you say you want the “best” answers to these questions, what are you really looking for? A sense of certainty? Someone to just tell you what the hell to do? Best for most people or best for you?

How would you even trust that it’s the “best” answer?

(In my view, it’s one where someone is willing to take responsibility for that answer.)

That’s where the danger lies in the landscape of bar prep. You shop around and yet end up where you started. Everyone who passed suddenly has an opinion (and sometimes a tutoring rate), which you should take as just that.

There are no secrets, and there are a million ways to pass. You have it in you already. It’s always been up to you to make them work for you.

Sounds scary but also freeing, right?

Sure, you could use some support from others, but I want to encourage you to listen to yourself a little more instead of blindly doing what someone else says you “need” to do… Not just with bar prep but with everything else in life.

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What If You Failed the Bar Exam? Should You Retake a Bar Review Course?

So you find yourself in an unbelievable situation: You failed the bar exam.

Procedure in case you failed the bar exam

Reality is undeniable. You dust off your tears. It’s time to take action.

You wonder: What’s the next step?

Should you retake your bar prep course? What’s the alternative? 

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