During law school any chance to get a head start on coursework and final exam preparation has tremendous benefits like peace of mind, time to focus on other immediate tasks such as internship deadlines, better sleep, and feeling more productive, efficient, and organized. You can experience these benefits when studying early for the bar exam too. Many bar takers who work and have extensive commitments and responsibilities would agree that two months doesn’t turn out to be enough for them to feel ready by exam day.
Benefits of early bar prep include:
- free time to move priorities around down the road
- ability to hit the ground running for the intensive couple of months before exam day
- time to develop habits to achieve success, including life changes such as improved nutrition, exercise, self-care, and mindset
Slow and steady can really win the race. If you know in advance that you would benefit from an early start approach, then take the opportunity to prepare early.
Some of the steps you can take to get a head start include focusing on skills you can improve over time, getting ahead of deadlines to reduce stress, developing effective study habits, and more.
When you start early you can take the time to:
1. Focus on Skills You Can Progressively Improve
Reflect and focus on skills you know you need to improve. The good news is that you don’t need to wait until the pressure turns up as the exam gets closer to work on these problem areas. You can start now and address the issue head on.
Some skills that require time to see improvements and make sense to start early on include:
- Critical reading
- Typing with swiftness and accuracy
- Developing an essay outlining system
2. Learn Requirements and Deadlines
You won’t regret getting a head start on the fees, deadlines, and character and fitness requirements for your licensing state. Additionally, you can confirm MPT submission, other state exams and any updates regarding the bar exam for the next administration.
If you need exam accommodations, you will be grateful you started early as the requirements may include gathering documentation and support for your request. This may involve contacting your health care provider(s) and getting assessments.
Before your bar prep course begins, or if you are opting for self- study, there are things you can do on your own to get a head start. You can download previous passing sample answers on your jurisdiction website. These past questions and answers are insightful and show you what answers are possible during the time frame restriction.
You can also subscribe to the National Conference of Law Examiner’s Study Aids which includes previously tested multiple choice questions, essays, and MPTs.
4. Schedule Modifications
An early start gives you time to change your schedule around and see what works best for you. You may find that during law school you were a morning person, but now you’re more of a late afternoon studier. You may need to experiment with a power nap or breaking your studying into two-hour blocks. Take the time to really figure out what works for you.
Study Schedule System
Once you have figured out what works for you, be sure to utilize that study system and rely on it. You can use google calendar, or your personal devices to get this done. Whatever it is, make sure it’s not a closed planner that collects dust. Be sure to check in with it daily, make sure it’s visible, and make sure you have an alert system so you know when deadlines are coming.
5. Develop Effective Study Habits
One of the toughest aspects of bar studying is the time that you need to figure out an effective study atmosphere and system. You really need to hit the ground running the couple of months before the exam. The earlier you can start to solidify effective study habits, the more they will become automatic.
Some of these effective habits include refining how to:
- minimize distractions
- heighten your focus with different tools such as music and breathing techniques
- maximize your efficiency with time management apps and tools that work for you (i.e., to-do lists, phone, and calendar alerts)
- striving for progress and not comparison or perfection
- organization and time management systems
- resilience and persistence no matter your outcomes
The benefits of starting early make it worthwhile to try. You can take a small step today in the direction of bar exam victory. Remember to celebrate your progress. You have a long road ahead, but it is certainly a marathon and not a sprint.
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