It’s important to practice good study habits so that you can maximize your efforts and ensure that you succeed academically. By being strategic with your studies, you can enjoy the following benefits:
- Better information retention
- Better time management
- Better balance between work and life
- Exam success
When you study efficiently, by managing your time on what is important, by having balance and better retention—you develop a solid foundation to your studies. When you establish a strong baseline, you will learn, remember and perform better and more efficiently over time.
Take for example the first benefit, improved retention. One of the ways you can start to retain bar study material is to repeat it in various forms. Repeat the black letter law through your MEE practice, through your MBE answer choice review and outlining, by speaking the black letter law, singing it (yes, give it a try!), drawing or diagramming it, and teaching it to a duck or other inanimate object.
You can experience these important benefits by kicking the following bad study habits out of your life:
The act of delaying or postponing something is the definition of procrastination. Sometimes we wait close to the last opportunity to get the job done or miss the deadline completely. In the case of the bar exam, postponing your studies and practice can really hurt your chances of passing.
Do you tend to avoid difficult things until the last minute? Do you intentionally seek distractions? Are you overwhelmed by the complexity of the tasks? Are you fatigued? If you answered yes to any of these, you may be procrastinating.
If you know you tend to procrastinate, there are ways to overcome barriers such as accountability.
Good reasons to quit procrastination: even though the pressure and rush of having a tight deadline can motivate you, there are drawbacks to delaying bar studies:
- Your quality of work suffers
- You may experience trouble sleeping, insomnia, anxiety, and other health issues
- You may experience interpersonal issues
2. Poor Sleep
Law school can include some restless nights and pushing forward for three years can get really tiring. The bar exam experience doesn’t have to be that way just because law school may have been that way. Perhaps you heard how hard the bar exam is and sacrifice your rest to show your commitment. Diminished quality of sleep can hurt your studies. Develop healthy habits that improve your quality of sleep and in turn, your health and your studies will benefit.
Before you call it a night, be sure to disconnect completely for the bar. Sometimes right before bed is the point where all of our worries and concerns over the exam hit us the most. It can be especially tempting to go on TikTok, Reddit, and the news outlets to read up on what is new right before sleep. You might even be tempted to review digital flashcards or take a practice question off of an app. Be sure to take steps to make a sleep routine before bed. This may include drinking tea, winding down with relaxing music, taking a shower, basically anything non-related to the bar which will relax you. Fast forward to day one of the exam. You will need to get good rest before the second day. Start making it a daily habit to have a bar curfew and barrier so that there is a buffer between this stressful test and your much needed rest. So give your brain a break and get good rest!
3. Studying Without a Plan
Ask yourself some of the following questions to ensure you are studying with a strategy and purpose:
- Do you have a study plan that will cover the tested material? A study plan is especially important if you are self-studying.
- Are you studying with too many exam prep materials? Sometimes too much of a good thing can hurt more than help.
- Are you familiar with the way the exam graders assess your work? Check out the MPT and MEE rubrics and guidelines for graders to understand their grading system and expectations. Research previous MEE and MPTs from the NCBE study aid materials which include the grader’s rubric and sample answers or outlines.
4. Using Time Inefficiently
It is easy to fall into a passive routine during bar study. Try setting goals and assessing your progress over time:
You will also want to set goals as part of your plan. For example, have a daily target for the number of MBE practice questions to take and review. Taking a series of questions without reviewing both correct and incorrect answers is a missed opportunity. Similarly, have a target goal for essay and MPT practice.
Check in with yourself to assess your study method, and progress to ensure your study plan is still effective. It is okay to make changes and adjustments that will get you closer to your goals. For example, if you are using a certain method for property, but over time have not seen any improvement in your multiple choice for this subject, you need to take a closer look at where your problem areas are. Perhaps you need to revisit the detailed outlines on the topics that give you trouble such as mortgages. Although this is not the plan for all the subjects, it is ok to place extra effort and attention where it is needed and where you will see a difference.
Much of your life right now probably revolves around the exam, so you want to make sure you make the most of your bar study. Use these tips to keep you on track!