February bar exam takers often talk about the stress of having to study for the bar exam over the holidays. You may feel guilty when you are studying because you are missing out on family activities….but you may also feel guilty when you are participating in gift exchanges and going to your Aunt’s for Christmas Eve dinner…because you should be studying! Then you may just eat a lot of cookies and drink a lot of wine to try to overcome the unceasing feeling of guilt!
Instead of the former approach, we recommend you read the below five tips for studying for the bar exam over the holidays. We hope they help ease your anxiety about participating in activities and allow you to study productively when you sit down to study! (And if you choose to eat a lot of cookies and drink a lot of wine, it should be because you choose to, not because you are trying to allay guilty feelings!)
Five Tips to Studying for the Bar Exam over the Holidays:
- Plan out your breaks ahead of time. If you have some holiday traditions that are important to you, keep them! If you have a cookie exchange or dinner that you are really looking forward to, go. If you celebrate Christmas, plan on taking the day off. Breaks are good for you. If you find yourself feeling guilty about taking breaks, read this post! Breaks will help you focus. They will help you stay energized, and they will help you study productively when you sit down to study. Further, you do not need to miss out on every single holiday activity to pass the bar exam! Attend whatever is important to you, and forget the rest.
- Tell others about your plans. Studying for the bar exam over the holidays is hard, in part, because many people do not understand why a test in February interferes with your holiday plans. Many family members will tell you to “not stress out” or “take a break!” or how they had to take their teaching/CPA/nursing (or whatever) exam and they only studied for a week. They likely mean well but it certainly does not help and if anything has the opposite effect! Instead, understand that they do not understand. Then, let them know ahead of time what you will and will not attend. Stand your ground. There is no reason to feel guilty. You have already decided what is important for you to attend and what is important for you to get done study-wise. The bar exam needs to remain a priority.
- Do things to remember the holiday season. Make gingerbread cookies. Decorate your room with Christmas lights. Play festive music. Take your cousin to see Santa. Buy some meaningful presents or write holiday cards – whatever you like to do! Just having some extra reminders of the holiday season will help you feel like you are not missing out!
- Plan when you will study. The easiest time to study for many students over the holiday break is the morning. It is much easier to study when others are sleeping (and therefore not texting you, calling you, or trying to make plans with you!) For this reason, many students find it helpful to set their alarms early. If that sounds terrible to you, though, plan when you will study during the day or at night – and plan it out ahead of time, or you will likely not do it!
- Plan out what you will do when you study. If you just sit down to “study” chances are you will not get much done! Instead plan out what you will do – for example, maybe during one session you want to review Real Property, write an essay or two, and conquer 10 multiple choice questions. Making a list of specific things to do each day will keep you on track and make it much easier to study when you sit down!
We hope this helps you study for the bar exam over the holidays while not feeling guilty about taking breaks. Happy holidays!!
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