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.”

It’s so true. Is bar preparation worth doing? Then it’s worth doing right.

We know that we must enjoy the process (not merely fixate on the goal of passing the bar) for sustainable momentum.

Just as what’s enjoyable is personal, bar prep is also personal. Your study plan and schedule are personal.

Sample 4-week study schedule for bar prep

Sample 4-week study schedule from Passer’s Playbook. This should be a template that’s flexible to YOUR needs and without strict hour-by-hour timing.

After all, you’re the “dean of your own studies.” You’re ultimately responsible for learning the material as well as the skills to apply the material.

You might be working while studying for the bar exam. Maybe you have every day free for bar prep and don’t want to blow this opportunity. Or maybe you only have the first 6 hours of your day free while the kids are in school/Zoom classes.

There are a million ways you could approach this which can’t be captured with a unified master calendar. There is no one-size-fits-all bar prep study schedule. This alone is reason to abandon the cookie-cutter plan and create one that works for your situation.

Like why spend more time on Torts and less time on Evidence if that default autopilot setting doesn’t make sense to you?

Great, but where do you begin?

You may be lost and not sure where to start heading from here. Like you ran into an unfamiliar part of town and your phone dies (which is why I finally got a car charger after months of denial about how good my phone’s battery actually was).

Like the Titanic, going in the right direction is more important than how hard you go.

So here’s a first reminder that will narrow down your routes and simplify the sudoku of choices…

Continue reading “You Need a Study Plan: Why You Should Make Your Own Bar Prep Study Schedule”

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

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

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.

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).

You ALSO need ENERGY. You need CLARITY so you can be productive. Even if you had the “motivation,” it doesn’t mean jack unless you do something with it.

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

“I’m so unmotivated to study for the bar exam”

Feeling unmotivated to study for the bar exam? 

There’s a lot of talk about motivation around this time of bar season.

"How to bring back motivation?

I’m a retaker. I was doing pretty well score wise the last couple of weeks and felt generally decent. But this past week has me mentally exhausted and unmotivated. I can barely bring myself to do any meaningful study.

I know I can’t let this continue. It’s crunch time for God’s sake! How the hell do I bring back my motivation??"
"Failed simulated exam and feeling unmotivated

I'm a mess. I started off very optimistic but I'm just nervous and scared now. I've done all of the MBE subjects and 3 MEE subjects (I still have family law, corporations, agency and conflicts of law left). I scored a 79/200 on Barbri's simulated MBE and I'm just scared that I won't have time to practice. Has anyone failed the simulated exam but still managed to pass the bar? Do you have any advice? I'm sobbing."
"Seeking Motivation

I know this may be a little too soon into the process of preparing for the February Bar Exam, but how do you seek motivation? I know I’m supposed to study, but I just can’t seem to get through my tasks. I don’t know how more to get into the psyche of “I need to study because I want to pass” but I’m really struggling to motivate myself to put myself through the process. Any tips?"

Let’s first distinguish being unmotivated from being mentally exhausted.

If you’re TIRED, don’t accumulate exhaustion and enter a downward spiral. Stop at a reasonable point. Take an early day off. Reset your mind. Go the f🌕k to sleep.

Passive activities like watching (or rewatching) lectures, transcribing notes, or “reading” for hours also can be DRAINING if that’s all you do. Thinking about doing it is more exhausting than actually doing it. Don’t autopilot on default to avoid doing what helps you learn. Be more methodical and deliberate.

This is pretty boring stuff! It’s normal if you just can’t or don’t want to study right now. But this feeling will pass if you break eye contact with bar prep for a while. Your energy is at least as important as time, as we’ll talk about in the next email.

If you have the energy but still aren’t feeling motivated, that’s a separate issue. Being able to self-motivate is key. Otherwise, you might wait for a long time for things that make you say “I needed this today!” and do nothing about it.

Here are some strategies to fix the “unmotivated” issue:

Continue reading ““I’m so unmotivated to study for the bar exam””

Stop “Studying” and Start Learning: The Underrated Practice of Practice in Bar Prep

You read outlines. Then you did nothing with them. Did you ever do this?

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.

“Do I really know this? Am I really becoming ready for the bar exam?”

It’s natural to question yourself at every step when preparing for the bar exam.

What people try to do:

  • Consume material to get all their “ducks in a row” first
  • Obsess over every rule and get overwhelmed
  • Collect more tools than is possible to look at and reconcile
  • Endlessly seek the “best” silver-bullet tool
  • Fill in the available time

This is when we pour our coffee, make room on our desk, organize our pens, turn on the computer… and then just stare at the words and ask random people online for yet another document that collects digital dust.

not practicing

Endlessly seeking more information is really just a distraction away from what it is we already know we need to do.

How to actually find out:

Continue reading “Stop “Studying” and Start Learning: The Underrated Practice of Practice in Bar Prep”

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

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. So I hope you’re not spending all day thinking about unimportant fiction, catching up on all the distractions, panic, and the doom and gloom.

All the constant news in bar world, about remote testing issues, how the grading works, diploma privilege, exam software concerns, new coronavirus variants…

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

Continue reading “Distractions and Passive Learning vs. Active Learning”