Bar Prep Tips & Tricks Pt. 1
Studying for the bar exam can be mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausting. It’s hard to imagine that everything you’ve worked so hard for comes down to how you perform during the two days of the bar exam. I was recently in your shoes. I dealt with all of the anxiety, depression, and fear of the unknown when it came to studying for and taking the bar exam. That’s why I’ve decided to put together some study tips to help as many people as I can possibly reach. This is not a guarantee in any way that you will pass the bar exam, these are just some things that worked for me. Whether this is your first attempt at the bar or if you’ve attempted the bar multiple times, just remember to never give up. You got this.
1. Establish a bar prep budget.
Bar prep can be extremely expensive. There are a variety of factors that you must keep in mind when you are creating your bar prep budget. For example, when I created my budget I factored in the cost of a commercial bar prep course, a meal delivery service, the fees to sit for the bar examination, the cost of supplemental bar prep materials, and all of my other monthly bills.
If you can get through bar prep without the need to take out loans that is great! But if you feel like you need financial support, there are private bar loans that you can take out from lenders such as PNC, Discovery, and Sallie Mae. You can find more information about bar loans and alternatives here. At the end of the day, you must make the best financial decision for yourself.
2. Purchase a bar prep course.
It is important to make an informed choice on what commercial bar prep course you want to take. There are many great prep courses out there. I personally chose to take BARBRI because of the reputation BARBRI has for helping students pass the bar exam. I am the type of person who needs structure and guidance, so I purchased the Guided Pass. The BARBRI Guided Pass created an online personal study plan for me, I had access to all of the lectures, I was given unlimited expert graded essays, a simulated MBE/ MBE customized report, and a 100 NCBE released question final prep.
3. Create a detailed study schedule.
By creating a detailed study schedule, I was able to complete 100% of my BARBRI prep course. Bar prep is very intense, so I typically spent 12-14 hours studying each day. Having a set routine is extremely important during this time. It's like training for a marathon and getting your body in a set routine so that you will perform your best on the day of the exam.
I'd be lying if I said I never deviated from this schedule. Of course, there were days where I just couldn't get out of bed. I didn't start my day sometimes until 10 AM, which was late for me. If this ever happens to you during bar prep, know that it truly is okay. Every day is not always going to be a great day. You are allowed to have bad days during bar prep. You are only human. The most important part is to never give up, even when you have those bad days. Remember your why. Remember that you are in the exact position you have always dreamed of. That mentality can help you stick to your schedule.
There are also going to be days where you fall a little behind. It is 1000% okay to adjust your study schedule. I often did because there were times when I spent a little more time on a subject than I had originally planned for. I've learned that things in life rarely go as planned. It is important to know how to adjust when things come up. I had to learn how to be flexible, how to remain calm, and how to trust the process.
4. Create a separate profile on your laptop.
If you don't take any of my other advice, I really hope you take this piece of advice as you prepare for the bar. CREATE A SEPARATE BAR PREP PROFILE ON YOUR LAPTOP! It is extremely important to remain focused during bar prep. As technology advances, we are so accessible to the outside world, which has its pros and cons. During bar prep, can truly be a distraction.
I created a bar prep profile on my laptop and made the background a motivational quote. Every single time I went to study I would see "Focus is more important than intelligence. YOU GOT THIS!!!!!" Even if I feel like I am not the smartest person, I can achieve any goal if I focus. I made sure I didn't sign into IMessage, FaceTime, GroupMe, Instagram, Facebook, etc. on this profile; the passwords to all of my accounts weren't even saved to this profile. This profile was strictly for studying. If someone wanted to reach me, they would have to wait until I was finished studying.
5. Find a quiet place to study.
If possible, I highly suggest finding a place to study that is not located in your home. I am the type of person who loves to be comfortable. If I see my bed or my couch, I'm 100% going to want to lay in/on it. Because I know myself, I know that if I study outside of my house, I will focus and be better prepared. I chose to spend my 8-10 weeks of bar prep studying at my law school. I spent every day in the same room. I ate lunch and dinner in this room on most days. If I needed a 15-minute nap, I took my nap in this room. Of course, being in this room and sitting in this chair was uncomfortable. But I didn't come to school to be comfortable. I came to study.
As you see in the picture, I had a Lumbar support pillow and a blanket with me every day. That's because 1.) after 2 weeks of studying my back was already hurting me, and 2.) it was freezing in my law school. But studying at school was worth it. It helped me separate my home from my study space.