How to Save Time Studying for the Bar Exam
When you study for the bar exam, your biggest asset is time! Learning the law takes time. Memorizing the law takes time. And practicing questions take time. And you also need to sleep, eat, do chores, and maybe even work or care for others. So, in this post, we give you a few tips on how to save time studying for the bar exam.
How to Save Time Studying for the Bar Exam
1. Speed up or eliminate lectures when possible.
If you are watching a commercial course that requires a lot of lecture-watching, try to speed up (or even eliminate) lectures. Generally, you should divide lectures into the following categories and treat them accordingly:
- If you are completely unfamiliar with a subject or if you find a subject difficult, watch the full lecture at regular speed.
- If you feel pretty comfortable with a subject, speed up the lecture.
- If you feel very comfortable with a subject, consider not watching the lecture.
- If you feel pretty comfortable or very comfortable with a subject and the lecture is not helpful at all, eliminate the lecture.
Some bar review courses release very lengthy lectures and students spend a substantial amount of time on them. Reducing the amount of time you spend on lectures should save you a substantial amount of time when you studying for the bar exam!
Note: most bar exam students are visual learners so lectures do not help them very much, but if you are an auditory learner, you may want to watch the lectures at regular speed (or 1.5 speed perhaps). If you are not sure what kind of learner you are, check out our bar exam learning style quiz.
2. After you feel comfortable with the essay portion of the exam, bullet point answers rather than writing full answers.
Once you feel pretty good about how you are structuring and formatting essays, start to bullet point answers to essay questions rather than writing full answers. Instead of taking, say 30 minutes per question, you can easily cut that time in half (and get through twice as many questions!). This is a great way to get exposed to more essay material in a shorter amount of time.
A few notes on this:
- If you struggle with timing, it is not a good idea to eliminate writing full answers to essay questions. You should consider incorporating regular timed exams into your schedule.
- Some students take this too far and in an effort to save time studying for the bar exam, they read the question, think of the answer (without writing anything down), then read the model answer. We do not recommend this! You will not actively learn anything and you are actually probably wasting time if you do this. You should always briefly bullet point your answer in order to get the most out of essay practice questions!
3. Be smart about how you approach MBE questions.
This is really divided into a few tips. If you follow this method you will not end up wasting a bunch of time answering thousands of MBE questions. Instead, you will answer less questions, but you will answer them better. There are three steps to this:
- First, memorize your bar exam outlines before trying to practice questions. This is so important! Do not try to answer questions without reviewing and memorizing the important rules of law first or you will get frustrated and end up wasting time.
- Second, use real MBE questions when you practice. Using real MBE questions will be the best exposure to the types of questions you will see on the actual MBE. If you are primarily using questions invented by Barbri, Kaplan, or Themis, you are not spending your time as efficiently as you could be!
- Third, start by answering questions slowly! We talk about that a lot here in our post on how to improve your MBE score. We give you a methodical approach to MBE questions. We have had some JD Advising students increase MBE scores significantly and answer less than 500 MBE questions total. That is because they are answering questions well and focusing on quality rather than quantity.
4. Make a to-do list for each day and organize it well.
Before you go to bed, make a checklist of what you will get done the next day. I find it helpful to also number the tasks in the order of how you will accomplish them. There are a few effective ways to order your to-do list:
- Start with the hardest task first. This is what I recommend because you will feel productive instantly and be “on a roll” for the day. Also, many people can focus better when they wake up in the morning (and it may be easier to eliminate distractions).
- Put your most challenging tasks at your “best” time. If you work best at night, it make not make sense for you to start your day off with the hardest task first. Instead, put it where you are most productive.
- Mix up the order of your to-do lists. If you always save MBE questions for the end of the day, try answering them in the beginning some days. This will keep you interested and focused. (And you may see your scores go up if you don’t feel so drained when you answer questions!)
By having a to-do list, you will not waste time trying to figure out what you should be doing. And you are less likely to procrastinate.
We hope you enjoyed this post on how to save time studying for the bar exam. We welcome questions and comments below!
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