How to Gain Motivation Studying for the Bar Exam

You’ve seen all the euphoria from people who passed the bar exam.

You’re probably “inspired” and “motivated” when you look at bar exam success stories and accounts of people who excitedly announce they passed the bar exam.

When that happens, we say things like “if they can do it, so can I” (true). Or “I needed this today.”

Today?

That’s some “new year, new me” type energy. I’m not letting you off the hook like that.

Anyone can desire to pass the bar. Anyone can fixate on the goal and SAY they want it.

These are people who come to me desperate and lost… get “inspired” or gain “perspective”… and then return to the same old cycle looking for hits of relief.

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Two Biggest Fears of a Bar Exam Taker

“I need to know all the law first!”

What were those three years of law school for? Never mind.

There’s this strange concern in the atmosphere floating around.

A concern that if you don’t know it all, then you won’t be prepared to solve the problems… The thought that all you need to do well on the bar exam is to know it all…

So you sit there, fold your arms, and wait for osmosis. You wait. Maybe your soulmate will one day knock on your door, too.

And then when you finally flip open that essay after weeks of becoming a know-it-all…

You stare at the blank page.

In front of you, a blank canvas ready to be filled but only reflecting a harsh stillness.

The cursor blinks at you, urging you to fill the awkward silence.

Cold sweat squeezes out of pores you didn’t even realize you had on your body. 😓

“…”

You decide to hit the books and videos again. Maybe you just need to study a little more…

You’re mostly grasping the material, but then when you take a practice exam it’s like everything you know is out the window.

WTF? Why didn’t it work?

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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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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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6 Ways to Reclaim Your Time & Energy While Studying for the Bar Exam (Even If You’re Working Full Time)

Your hair feels gross, the fridge is empty, and you’ve been scraping together whatever free time you can.

Words in front of you are jumbling together into a blurry mess, passing by like a dream and also slipping away like one.

I’ve been where you are. In a way, I’m still there.

Bar prep steeps you in this undercurrent of anxiety because there’s so much to study with so little time and you’re feeling the pressure from the exam getting closer and closer. The worst combination.

But it’s not just time. Time isn’t your scapegoat. “Life is short” is propaganda by people who wasted their time.

“Yeah, maybe when I have more time. I’m going to feel motivated someday. Everything happens for a reason.” Oh, okay.

We like to tell people we “don’t have time” or that “time is the most valuable resource” or that “life is short” (even though we love to procrastinate).

Time is not your most valuable resource.

You ALSO need ENERGY and ATTENTION. You need CLARITY so you can be productive. Even if you “had the time,” it wouldn’t mean jack unless you did something with it.

Here are 6 ways to take back your time and energy while studying for the bar exam (even if you’re working full time):

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