The thought of summer bar review can be a daunting one. However, if you put in the right amount of effort and follow a few tips you can make all the hard work pay off come November when you get that magical email with the word PASSED.
Over the next week all the different bar review courses will be getting started and the first thing every student is confronted with is the study schedule. For me, this little piece of paper felt like a big mountain staring down at me daring me to try and climb. I thought to myself: How is one person supposed to watch the 4 hour lecture, read and consolidate your notes, do a few practice questions AND tackle the 10 essays you are supposed to practice on? Oh and then there is that MPT thing I don’t understand.
Thinking back on this scene at the beginning of my summer, I started thinking of what I wish I had known before I started studying. I spoke to some professors as well as some of my friends who studied with me and I came up with a list of things to help you get ready for the summer ahead. I know the analogy to climbing a mountain is a bit cheesy, but it’s true. Getting through bar review is a struggle and it will absolutely feel like an uphill battle, but with these tips you will have all the right “gear” to tackle and overcome this challenge.
1. Make Your Own Schedule
First things first, take a breath and relax. That schedule you got from your bar review is simply not realistic and to be perfectly honest, it is only the rare work-obsessed student that manages to get anywhere near completing everything they say you should get done. Determine how you study. Do you need to take short breaks every 45 mins or can you go for a few hours and then take a longer break? Take the assignments that your bar review course gives you and work them into a schedule that works with you.
2. Avoid a Burn Out
Pardon the second analogy, but this is true as well. The bar exam is a marathon not a sprint. This is not just true for the exam itself but also for the preparation leading up to the exam. If you start out studying 12 hours a day every day, by the time you get to July, you will be ready to jump off a bridge. Yes, by the last few weeks before the exam you will likely loose some sleep and spend every waking hour staring at your books. The point is that you need to build up to that. Start by making sure you watch the lectures and review notes. Learning the law is the basis for your preparation. As the weeks go on build in more practice questions so you are learning the law while also learning what to do with the law on the exam.
3. Take a BREAK!
It is tempting to freak out every time your brain is momentarily distracted from bar review. BUT this distraction is also an important part of you preparation. Your brain needs a break every now and then. Taking some time to do something totally unrelated to bar review, will provide for some stress relief and it will keep you sane. Go to the movies, cook dinner, have a beer! Just make sure you don’t go overboard. Obviously as you get closer to the exam you won’t be able to take big breaks, but that’s when you remember the most important thing: the closer to the exam, the closer you are to being DONE!