There is a little under one month left until the bar exam—prime time for a bar exam freak-out! It happens every year, almost like clockwork. Why is this? Because instead of the bar exam being months or many weeks away, it may now feel like only a matter of days. Let that sink in for a moment—days. This is not meant to freak you out. This is just meant to encourage you to take a moment and evaluate how things are going. It’s now time for this activity! If things are going well, great! If things are not as you had hoped, there is still plenty of time to come up with a plan for success. If you are worrying about your bar prep, here are a few tips to help you get back on track.
If bar prep seems easy, you are probably doing something wrong.
I don’t mean to suggest that bar exam prep should be incredibly taxing and difficult at every turn. But your studying should make you “uncomfortable”—it should make you think, “Oh, wow, I am really not as good as I thought I was at this.” Sounds terrible, right? But when you are in that uncomfortable space, you are challenging yourself. So, if you are finding bar prep too easy, take a moment and ask yourself if you are doing the “hard stuff.” If not, start focusing on the law that you don’t know yet and prioritize the big topics that are heavily tested in your jurisdiction. Are you avoiding doing essays or performance tests? Then, stop and change course. Right now. Essays and performance tests are exactly what you should be spending your time on. Making yourself uncomfortable when you study is the best way to get ready for exam day.
Take some time to re-evaluate your study schedule.
Do you look at your study schedule every day and say, “There is another day falling behind. Oh well”? This is not the right outlook. If you have fallen behind, that should stop, immediately! Now is the time to decide where you are in the study process and build yourself a study schedule to help you get to where you need to be on exam day. Check out tips here for how to make sure you’re staying on task by making your own calendar for the month of July.
Don’t become obsessed with practice scores. Become obsessed with learning from the practice.
Practice scores are great. You might be getting practice scores when you turn in essays for feedback from your bar review company. But it is easy to become obsessed about practice scores. Fixating on these scores is useless. Instead, you need to acknowledge that you are struggling and figure out how to fix it. For example, are you struggling with contracts essays? If so, then set aside time to study that law and do plenty of practice. And, make sure what you are calling “studying” is actually something that helps you, individually. Everyone is different! Learn how to memorize effectively and always evaluate your work as soon as you’re done so you can learn from your mistakes.
Memorizing the law is important, but practice is more important (and actually helps you memorize).
The bar exam requires minimum competency knowledge of the law. That means you don’t need to know every single nuance to pass. You need to keep this in mind as you study. Along with knowing the law, you also need to be able to write structured, coherent essays and organize a PT in less than three hours (in California) or 90 minutes if you are taking the MPT. If you’re consistently missing issues on your practice essays, start by reviewing those issues (not your entire subject outline). Targeted memorization is the name of the game right now. And remember that writing out the rules in an essay or recalling them while you are working on an MBE question is a form of studying. You are testing yourself and checking your recall (and reviewing the law as necessary). So, by practicing you are working on both legal analysis and memorization in one. Great, right?
Remember—you can learn a lot in a month if you focus and work hard.
Remember law school exams? (They probably weren’t all that long ago for many of you reading this.) You would study intensely and learn an amazing amount of information for exams in just a matter of weeks. Well, think about the bar exam like the “biggest final exam” you have ever taken. You have four weeks or so left. You can put your head down and get a lot of work done. You still have time to get ready for and be successful on exam day.
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