7 Ways to Save Time Studying for the Bar Exam
You’re in the final stretch on your way to becoming a lawyer. The end is so close you could taste it. The only thing between you and your dream job is the bar exam. Many set aside weeks and months to study for the bar exam full-time. Even the most prepared student will notice that, if they’re not careful, this time can fly by.
Before you know it, the bar exam will be just days away and you’ll be scrambling to fit in every last bit of studying that you can. Whether you’re at the beginning of your weeks of study or the exam is just around the corner, there are ways that you can manage your time to study more efficiently and quickly.
To make sure that you are getting the most out of it, here are 7 ways to save time studying for the bar exam:
1. Eliminate Distractions
Find a quiet place, turn off your phone, and focus completely on studying. Some people are able to study at home and others are too tempted to turn on the TV, do some cleaning, or talk to others. A big part of studying well is knowing your strengths and your weaknesses. If your roommate/significant other/family member is home, will you get distracted? Will they interrupt your study time? If so, find another place to study.
Make it difficult to get distracted. Silence your phone and commit to keeping it in your bag or in another room until you take a study break. Don’t meet with others, even other classmates who are studying, if you know that you will end up chatting.
2. Start with Your Weak Areas
When you begin studying, start with the things with which you expect to have the most difficulty. By starting with your trouble areas, you ensure that you’ll have enough time to cover them thoroughly. If you run out of time toward the bar exam date, then areas that you are rushing through will be the areas you are more confident in.
You should also spend more time on these areas in terms of your study materials. In weak areas, review full lectures and go over as much study material as you need to grasp it more fully. For areas that you are more comfortable with, skip reviewing the lectures and just freshen up with a few practice quizzes or other short exercises.
3. Work with a Tutor
Tutors are trained to help you study in the most efficient way possible. They have general tips that they can offer you and they will also be able to give you guidance on how to study best for you. Everyone learns differently and sometimes you need someone to point you in the right direction.
Bar exam tutors are helpful at any stage of the study process. You can work with them at the beginning of your bar prep to help you create a good study schedule or you can work with them toward the end to give you a last-minute boost in the areas you’re still not grasping.
4. Take Breaks
We all know that taking breaks for your brain to recover and refocus is useful. But, in practice, many of us skip over breaks and work through them. We think, “I feel fine. I’d rather use the time to study a little bit more.”
Even if you feel productive and think you don’t need a break, take it. Keeping a schedule with frequent breaks will help you stay productive and fresh throughout the day. If you keep working through them and ignoring them, you may burn out early in the day and have a difficult time in the afternoon.
5. Study Based on Your Learning Style
We touched on this a bit earlier, but it deserves its own point. You need to understand your own learning style and study based on that style. Do you learn a lot from lectures? Do you absorb more information if you read it or if you hear it? What if you write it down?
No matter what your study style is, try to find bar exam prep materials that teach in the way that you learn best. What works for your peers may not work for you and vice versa. If you’re unsure, try out a few different techniques early on, talk to a tutor, or talk with professors about your options.
6. Practice in Long-Form and Shorthand
When you practice essay questions, write them out completely the first few times until you start to feel really confident. You want to be able to answer these questions with your eyes closed. Writing them out completely will also fully prepare you for the experience of exam day.
Once you’re really comfortable, switch to writing out the answers in shorthand and bullet points. You don’t need to write out every word every time. It’s a waste of valuable study time. Switch back and forth so you can save time but also get practice answering them fully.
7. Cycle through Topics
If you’re dealing with a really tough part of your bar prep, break it up with other topics. Working too long in one area may cause you to burn out quickly. It can also be too easy for your mind to become numb and quit taking in information.
This is especially true if you are trying to memorize long outlines. Rather than pushing through it all at once, break the outline into portions. Once you memorize one portion, switch to a different task for a bit and then revisit it.
Studying for the bar exam is a daunting process. It may feel like you have a lot of time ahead of you to prepare yourself, but before you know it, that time will be through and you’ll be in the exam room. Make the best of every bit of your study time by using these time management tips. They will ensure that you’re using your studying effectively so that you can perform at your best when exam day arrives.