If you are getting ready to study for the bar exam, you likely have your preparation plan all set up including purchasing your bar review program and signing up for the exam. Way to go! But one of the things that many people don’t consider when studying for the bar exam is how to make sure their life is bar preparation ready. This is incredibly important because you want to make studying a priority and eliminate unnecessary distractions and stressors. To make your life easier, here are some things to consider thinking through before the bar season starts.
1. Get your finances in order. Who likes thinking about money? When you are in law school or studying for the bar exam, thoughts of money (how little you have or how much you are spending) can be really stressful. So spend some time now getting everything in order so you need not worry about money during the bar exam (any more than you usually do, at least). Get creative with this planning process. Put together a budget for the bar exam months so you know what you can spend on what. You might even want to see if you can squeeze out a few extra dollars for some relaxing experiences, like a massage or a yoga class. Once you have your budget down, think about whether you can set up payment for your bills using an online banking system so you don’t have to keep track of getting things paid on time while you are studying. It may seem silly now, but all those little to-dos can add up and make things more stressful.
2. If you have travel plans or other family obligations, adjust your study schedule accordingly. Life isn’t completely put on hold for the bar exam and you might have some family commitments during the bar period. You shouldn’t feel that you have to miss a friend’s wedding or a 60th birthday party just because you are studying. But make sure you have a thoughtful plan around these events so they don’t cut too much into your bar preparation time. If you need to travel, consider how you can work in your travel schedule to allow for studying. Or if it is a birthday bash, make sure you schedule your weekly break time around the event so you have adequate time to recover. Unexpected life things may come up as well, but the more you plan around these commitments the better.
3. Make sure you have completed all required paperwork for the state bar. What is one of the many things you don’t want to be spending time on while you are preparing for the exam? Filling out moral character or other state bar application materials. This tedious work can be time-consuming and there is no room for that while you are preparing for the bar. So if there is work to be done in this department, get it done now so you don’t have to worry about it come preparation time.
4. Talk to your family/friends/significant other about how important these months of preparation are. If you have lawyers in your family (as I do), they may be very understanding about the bar exam. But even if you do, you may want to set some expectation of what the bar exam period is going to look like. Many people don’t understand the time commitment and the emotional commitment that studying for the bar exam requires. You don’t want anyone to take your focus personally, as if you aren’t interested in spending time with him or her. Set aside some time to talk with loved ones so they know what to expect (long study hours, limited free time, and reduced availability). Also, to celebrate the end of the bar season, you can plan for something fun to do when it is all over. And remember you will be taking breaks during your study time, so you can catch up family and friends then (if you so desire).
5. Ask for and put together a help schedule. Do you need extra child care? Have a dog that needs walking? Need help keeping your fridge full of healthy food? Most of us need as much support as we can get while studying for the bar exam. If you need help, ask for it now and even set up a support schedule so you know who will be helping when. Then, you don’t have to worry about asking for help during the exam prep time; the help is already there for you.
Taking some time now to get yourself set up for the bar exam season will ensure that you are ready to prepare and succeed at conquering this test.
All opinions, advice, and experiences of guest bloggers/columnists are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, practices or experiences of Solo Practice University®.