12 Best Tips for Working and Studying for the Bar Exam:
Planning on working and studying for the bar exam simultaneously? You are not alone. There are many students and even lawyers each administration that take on such a challenging task! Of course it will not come with its challenge, working and studying for the bar exam means you will be tired, sleep deprived, not have time for family and friends, or maybe anything else for that matter, but it is definitely possible to accomplish being successful and passing.
In this post, we outline our 13 best tips for working and studying for the bar exam. These tips are time-tested and have been touted as helpful by those who have successfully worked while studying for the bar exam. Also check our other posts for additional information regarding preparing for the bar exam.
13 Tips for Working and Studying for the Bar Exam
1.Talk to your supervisor to make certain you both are on the same page regarding your work schedule.
Working and studying for the bar exam is no joke. This is important for two reasons. First If you are asking for time off, or if you want to notify your boss you cannot stay late or do overtime, or work on the weekends, make sure you have such a talk with your supervisor beforehand. Be truthful, tell them you are studying for the bar exam beforehand. We have found, even at law firms where you had to pass and you failed to do so potentially on the first time around, there is no reason to lie or hide what you are doing. It is best to be forthcoming. If you have a supervisor that does not know what the bar exam is, explain what it is and why it is so challenging. We also recommend you include the cost of studying as well…this tends to help as well.
2. Super Important! Make a bar exam study schedule.
Your goal should be to study every day. This is especially true if you are working and studying for the bar exam. You can still take some time off. But you must try to stick to your bar study schedule as much as possible.
3. Study Early
No matter who you ask or what website you go to, if the entity or person is worth their salt they will tell you that that if you are working and studying for the bar exam it is best to start studying early. We recommend you start, at minimum, a month earlier than traditional bar exam prep courses.
4. Figure out where & when you will study.
Although we may be preaching to the choir, your are likely well aware that life does not come to a halt when you start to study for the bar exam. Remember to find a place that you like to study and study there. Make sure it is quiet, and try to study at the same time each day so that you get in a good routine. This can be especially helpful. We highly recommend starting in the morning around 8 AM because that is the time most exams tend to start. Better to condition yourself earlier than later. If you can not study in the morning no worries, what matters is that you are not distracted when you study.
5. Take A Break. Seriously It’s Ok.
IF you start studying early you give yourself an advantage…you can schedule breaks without feeling guilty and without it hindering your ability stay either before schedule or on schedule. Trust us, you need study breaks to not be burnt out. It is a good idea to take some time off every week. It does not have to be a lengthy period of time, even a few hours or a half a day, just enough time for you to recharge.
6. Study Smart.
Use the best materials for your state bar exam. Don’t skimp on quality, the better the materials, the better the study habits, the better you will do on your exam. Create your own outlines and use real MBE questions to study. Realistic essay questions and MPT’s are also crucial.
7. Tell others that you are studying.
It will likely make your life much easier if you tell friends, co-workers, and family that you are studying. This explains why you are not spending as time with them and they will also keep you in check if they believe you are slacking off on your studying.
8. Seek help!
If you have responsibilities like chores, childcare, coaching the kids baseball team or whatever get some help! Tell others you are going to start studying and that you want to have a plan in place to dedicate as much time as you can to studying. Pay for help if necessary, this exam is not easy.
9. Take care of yourself.
Do not neglect thyself. Do not deprive yourself of sleep, food, or exercise. Taking care of yourself pays dividends in many ways including keeping yourself focused. Remember you do not have to exercise for long periods of times and you do not need to cook lavish meals all the time. Even short exercises and quick healthy meals will help.
10. Be creative when you study.
Its the 21st century, you do not always have to study out of your book. You can study from your outlines during lunch breaks or if you take public transportation to work. You can download Adaptibar and study on your phone whenever you have time or in between any activities. Or ask your supervisor if you can start at different times during the day so that you can do a bit of extra studying. Every minute of studying counts when you are working and studying for the bar exam.
11. Manage Your Time
If you are doing a commercial course such as Barbri and have a laundry list of items that you need to cross off, think of what areas you need to learn more about or what you need the most assistance. If you are working and studying for the bar exam, you cannot follow a to do list unless you start early enough. Make certain anything you are doing is actually helping you.
12. See if you can take time off work.
No matter how minimal, try to see if your supervisor will give some amount of time off work. Some supervisors do not want their employees to take any time off, but hopefully they will understand what a trial this is.
13. Don’t Go Through the Motion
It is often easy, especially after long periods of studying or going through a bar examination course that you start to feel that you are just going through the motions. Remember that the exam is a beast, do not go through the motions. If you feel like you are stop. Take a break and then go at it again. If you have to take notes, if you have to move to another location to refresh yourself, or if you need to switch around your study habits, do it. Do not just go through the motions.