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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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. (Don’t invite space tourists to try this.) 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! Do all the things! 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.

(4th one is my favorite!)

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Lessons Learned from Failing the Bar Exam (Live Workshop Replay)

I did a live workshop + Q&A with Doreen Benyamin (host of “Before You Take the LSAT“) on what I wish I had known on my first attempt at the bar exam.

This was a fire conversation! I’m happy to share that the recording is now available as a podcast episode (links and handout below).

It’s been edited down to 48 minutes long. But you’re not here to dilly dally. So here’s some social proof from other people who already spent the time:

"I found you from Doreen’s Benyamin’s zoom a few weeks ago and I appreciated your insight. I’m in crunch time and I’m hoping your Magicsheets and Approsheets will get be over the hump. I’m obviously very nervous and worried that I haven’t dedicated enough time to this but I look forward to going over your sheets!"

Hopefully this forced a suggestion in your mind that maybe it’s worth a click.

Not sorry in the least. I know it’ll be worth at least a few seconds of your time, so it’s my obligation to share it with you.

If you’re in the middle of preparing for the bar exam, this is a great time to calibrate how you’re doing in your studies.

The episode covers:

  • Philosophies for effective bar prep
  • What moves the needle in bar prep
  • Optimizing for learning vs optimizing for performance
  • How to spend the last month of studying (including sample schedules in the Handout linked below)
  • Memorizing
  • Motivation and confidence
  • Q&A (tons more Q&A and goodies in the Handout)

Listen on Spotify:

Listen on YouTube:

And a message from Doreen:

Handout linked above. Magicsheets samples here.

I’m eternally grateful to Doreen for making this happen and for her hard work putting this together for us.

Please show her some support:

  • Play the episode.
  • Share her Instagram with 0L-3L law school friends. She primarily caters to LSAT takers (and now bar takers).
  • Share the Spotify or YouTube link above (or this page) with a bar taker you care about.
  • Tell us your takeaways or what you want to see in the future, by commenting on the YouTube video, on the Instagram reel here, or below.

Distractions and Passive Learning vs. Active Learning

Dude, I get it… This shit exhausting.

You don’t want to take this exam or SEE another question EVER again. You want nothing more than to pass this stupid bar so that you can move on with your life.

You can see the One Outcome on the horizon. So close yet so far.

So close yet so far to end of bar prep
(Is this reference outdated? Oh well)

But you can’t escape this endless cycle. You’re not allowed to. Not yet.

Wake up, then crash your face into the pillow. Hope and despair, rinse and repeat. It feels like you’ve been preparing for this bar exam your whole life.

It doesn’t even feel real anymore. But this exam is the realest thing in your life right now.

Maybe you turn to unimportant fiction to get your mind off it. All the constant news in bar world, about how many questions other people are doing, whether others are feeling just as behind or panicked as you, whether they’ll abolish the bar exam, remote testing issues

Feels great to have some drama in your life. Something OTHER than Civ Pro to vent about!

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Predictions for the Bar Exam (What to Focus On for Efficient Study)

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

“Does anyone know the essay predictions?”
“What do you think will be tested?”
“I don’t think ____ will appear on the exam.”
“Anyone think ____ will be tested?”
“I know we’re not supposed to listen to predictions, but…”
“What are ____’s predictions?”
“Here are my MEE predictions!”

Whose speculations are you going to listen to?

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 panic and look at the predictions anyway.

Did you want 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 to rely on predictions… because this kind of thinking is entirely predictable and avoidable. Sweating about predictions is not a good place to be and requires intervention.

Also, remember when subjects actually leaked for the California exam in 2019 and people got mad over it? Do you want to know the subjects ahead of time or not? Make up your minds!

Maybe you’re too young to remember ancient history. I’ve been dealing with you people for too long.

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

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