Thinking about the next bar? When to study for the bar exam and how long

Great Scott! It’s been a while.

Today’s the day that Marty McFly time travels to in Back to the Future II. Ironically, my previous post is titled “Don’t Time Travel.”

July feels like forever ago even for us, and times sure have changed. We even got to see Justin Bieber’s wiener (if you missed it, go see how much he’s packing).

You probably don’t miss the bar, but this is a quickie post just in case you’re looking to get a head start studying for February (even if you’re still waiting for results).

I’ve received multiple questions regarding when to start studying and how long to study after failing with Barbri. For your benefit, below is my most recent answer to that type of question, verbatim. Take a look if you’re wondering when to study for the bar exam, whether you should start studying now or later, so you can start planning contingencies at least.

In the meantime, I’ve been cooking up some sweet new material for you. Look forward to it starting the third weekend of November!


If you failed with Barbri the first time, I’d look into another course or self-study. If you choose to look into another course, I heard good things about Themis, although I haven’t taken it myself. If Barbri didn’t work for you, I’d look into Themis first when doing due diligence. Themis and BarMax are the two relatively affordable yet better-known ones.

If you feel particularly good about self-learning (no lectures, no online materials), you can probably find used books on Craigslist or through a friend. I took Kaplan (and failed), then self-studied with Barbri and passed. Using a second prep course really helps fill in the gaps from the first one. So I would still keep an account with Barbri only if it’s free for retakers so that you can access their bank of MC questions and whatnot, but I would not use it as a primary source.

I don’t want to tell you that you must study X hours for Y days because it will vary depending on what needs improvement, the state bar being taken, etc. Do you get a score breakdown from your state bar? If so, that can be a great diagnostic tool to guide you to see where you should focus.

There is one thing I do want to emphasize: consistency. That is, I think getting into a habit of studying every day (even for 10 minutes, including on holidays) is crucial. One missed day can lead to another as well as mental friction and resistance to the idea of studying—not good for your motivation or productivity.

Lastly, 3 months was just at the cusp of feeling like I was getting a decent review and going at a consistent yet comfortable pace. Personally, 4 months would have allowed me to feel more comfortable. And yes, you can never study too much for the bar. Remember that you will never run out of things to do when studying for the bar exam. However, if I’d studied much longer (like 5-6 months), I probably would have gotten burned out and/or bored and maybe even start forgetting because of the relative comfort and lack of urgency.

I hope that gave you a good starting point. I’ll be talking a lot more specifics about study frameworks in November, so keep your eyes peeled for that (you can do so conveniently by subscribing to my email list). Feel free to respond if you have further questions.


So I went to Nordstrom Rack the other day to complete my Marty McFly Halloween costume, and the cashier was totally on board (hoverboard, you might even say) with my plan. I haven’t decided yet whether I’m going to show you picture of me in it, though.

What? Nobody calls me chicken! At the least, you’ll get new articles from me starting the third weekend of November.

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