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10 Ways to Optimize the Bar Exam Preparation Process

— September 10, 2019

The bar exam… two words that can strike fear into the heart of would-be lawyers. However, by following some insider tips, you can make the preparation process much easier.

Studying to pass the bar exam is something every aspiring lawyer has to do, and it’s probably come around faster than you anticipated. If you want to give yourself the best possible shot of showing the examiners what you’re capable of, you need to optimize the exam prep process. Take a look at 10 tips from people who have been there and done it, then get ready to take the next step of an amazing new career. 

Staying hydrated is key 

People underestimate how much of impact dehydration can have on performance. Fizzy drinks and coffees are often used for a burst of energy, but they soon lead to a crash unless you have another one. The simplest way to stay hydrated is to regularly sip from a bottle of water you keep on your desk. Once you do it for a couple of days, you’ll be able to notice the difference in your concentration and focus in the second half of the day. 

Make sure you don’t leave it to the last minute 

Cramming for a test is something plenty of us have done in our time, but you just can’t do it for the bar exam. It’s one of the most grueling intellectual examinations anywhere in the world, and you need to prepare for it the right way. By taking pride in what you’re doing you’ll be able to find the extra spark of motivation you need to keep going. 

Healthy choices are the order of the day 

Sugary snacks and junk food might taste great, but they don’t do anything to improve your ability to think on your feet or retain information. In fact, because of the feelings of lethargy they so often induce they will do quite the opposite. Eat small, regular meals throughout the day that are rich in fruit and veg. That way you can fuel your mind and body with the right ingredients. An athlete would do it, so why wouldn’t someone looking to pass a notoriously difficult examination?

Study groups are a great way to get new insights 

Aside from the social aspect, study groups allow you to gain fresh insights by

People at a table with laptop computers; image by Marvin Meyer, via
People at a table with laptop computers; image by Marvin Meyer, via

hearing other people’s opinions. You don’t necessarily have to find a kindred spirit you agree with to the letter, but it will open your eyes to other approaches and ways of thinking. As a lawyer, this is something you will have to do on a daily basis, so it makes sense to get into the habit now. 

Create a timetable that gets you into a rhythm 

One of the main issues people struggle with is deciding when they’re going to study and revise. The approach of rhythmic work is rather simple, and it makes a lot of sense. By working at the same time each day you can get into a habit in just a couple of days. Before you know it you’ll be organizing your day around your studies, and you’ll be learning challenging material on autopilot. 

Get plenty of sleep the night before 

A good night’s sleep isn’t just essential before the exam. By aiming for one every single night you’ll be able to retain your sharpness of thought and focus for longer. That means you can work with greater intensity, get more done in less time, and reap the rewards accordingly. Ideal if you want to be able to give passing the bar everything you have. 

Regular breaks will keep your mind sharp 

Fatigue is an all too common affliction for those studying for a prolonged period of time. It can be hard to know when it’s creeping up on you, but then before you know it you just can’t string two sentences together. Whilst lots of people will then reach for the candy and energy drinks, we suggest taking a short walk outside for about 10 minutes or so. It’s a chance to clear your head, get some fresh air, and then come back in feeling refreshed and ready to go again. To make sure you never overdo things, you could even schedule your breaks in advance. 

Put your phone away when you’re studying 

Smartphone use is a guaranteed way to fragment your attention and destroy your ability to focus properly. Putting your phone on silent really isn’t enough, because the temptation to check it and reply to messages is still going to be there. Leave it in a different room, or out in the car, and you’ll find the temptation largely subsides because you can’t see it. 

Take a break from social media

This point follows on naturally from the last, and it’s really key if you want to get everything out of your preparation time. Social media has been engineered to grab your attention at all hours of the day, and it’s safe to say it does an incredible job of it. Many people try to limit their time on Facebook during exam season, but that’s only half a solution. If you stop your use dead for 30 days whilst you’re prepping you’ll find it a lot easier than you think, and you’ll get more done. 

Visualize yourself making it happen 

Last but not least, you want to do something that allows you to gradually build your confidence. Overconfidence can be fatal, but so can chronic nerves and worries. Picturing yourself taking the exam, doing well, and then being able to tell everyone how you did it is something certainly worth trying. The power of visualization is used by some of the world’s leading athletes and performers, and it’s something that could make all the difference to you, too. 

Final Thoughts

Now that you’ve heard all about how to put the finishing touches to your bar exam prep, all you need to do is start putting it all into practice. Passing the bar exam is a rite of passage for every aspiring lawyer, and it’s something you need to take seriously if you want to be able to give it your best shot. Once you do, the results will speak for themselves. 

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