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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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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Predictions for the Bar Exam (What to Focus On)

Before every exam, a handful of people come out of the woodwork and shamelessly ask about subject predictions for the bar exam.

“What do you think will be tested?”
“I don’t think ____ will be tested.”
“Anyone think ____ will be tested?”
“Does anyone know the predictions?”
“What are ____’s predictions?”
“Here are MY predictions!”

If you’re like many bar takers, or if you’re a repeater, you say:

“Haha of course I’m not going to rely on the predictions. I shall adequately study all the subjects. You should too!”

And then you look at the predictions anyway.

BTW, I’m calling out California mostly because it’s almost entirely California bar takers who do this shit and (as a resident myself) Californians think the world revolves around them.

Did you expect me to tell you, “Aww poor baby, don’t worry. It’s normal and happens to the best of us 🥺”?

You SHOULD worry if you’re secretly tempted about relying on predictions… because this kind of thinking is entirely predictable and avoidable. Sweating about predictions is not a good place to be in and requires intervention.

Also, remember when subjects actually leaked for the CA exam in 2019 and people got mad over it? Maybe you’re too young to remember. Good times.

Make up your minds! Do you want to know the subjects ahead of time or not? Jesus

Here’s why you should only look toward subject predictions for entertainment value (and 3 things you can focus on instead):

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Stupid Simple IRAC

Everyone says “just IRAC” when it comes to writing essays on the bar exam.

That drives me crazy too. I’ve heard that since I was a 1L. And it kinda makes sense until you ACTUALLY TRY TO DO IT.

It’s supposed to be one of the most basic skills in law school (and on the bar exam), but it’s frustrating when you have no idea what you’re writing.

Coming up with things to write is hard! Know the pain of creation. But you don’t have to suffer.

Let’s break down “IRAC” so it finally becomes simple and the least of your concerns. We’re going for the win!

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