Should I Start Studying For The Bar Exam Early?
There are many good reasons to start studying for the bar exam during your second year of law school. On the other hand, you should not necessarily feel pressured to start studying early! In this post we discuss the benefits of starting to study during your second year of law school, and also why you do not have to start studying early.
Should I Start Studying For The Bar Exam Early?
There is a lot of material to cover – spread out the work.
Most bar prep companies start their bar exam courses 2-3 months prior to the bar exam. You have a lot to accomplish during the 2-3 months of bar prep. Depending on what state’s bar exam you are taking, you might have 20 or more legal subjects to learn and memorize. Furthermore, you will need to figure out how that material is tested and complete some practice essays, multiple choice questions, and performance test tasks. You may want to start learning some of the material during your second year of law school so that you aren’t simultaneously trying to learn, memorize, and practice the material during the 2-3 months of bar prep.
So where do you begin? You most likely took a lot of the classes that cover bar exam material during your first year of law school (Civil Procedure, Contracts, Torts, Real Property, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law). Some of the other subjects tested are covered in what are generally “elective” classes (such as Family Law, Wills & Trusts, and Corporations). If you do not take those elective classes, you can at least start reviewing outlines for those subjects to get a basic understanding of the law.
If you are wondering which elective classes you can take to help you prepare for the bar exam, check out this post on Law School Classes that will Prepare you for the Bar Exam.
Avoid feeling overwhelmed
Bar prep courses generally give you a schedule for what you should study and accomplish each week of bar prep. It is very easy to fall behind on this schedule and quickly become overwhelmed in the days and weeks leading up to the bar exam. Unfortunately, the date of the bar exam is not going to change, so postponing the exam will not be an option if you happen to fall behind on your study schedule.
By beginning to study early, you may be able to accomplish some of those daily and weekly assignments ahead of time, thus mitigating your chance of falling behind and reducing the risk of feeling overwhelmed as you approach the bar exam! Spending time learning the various subjects that will be tested on the bar exam will leave more time during bar prep for memorization and practice application. In the end, this could help you feel more prepared for the test as it approaches!
Allow for flexibility in your schedule
If you are working while you are studying for the bar exam, that could significantly cut into the number of productive hours that you will be able to dedicate to bar exam studying in the 2-3 months before the bar exam. If you know that you will not be able to devote 40 hours a week to studying for the bar exam, you may want to consider starting early to spread out the work. There is no magic number of hours that you should spend studying for the bar exam each week, but the more outside engagements (work, family, etc.) that take you away from bar prep, the more work you will have to cram into the limited number of hours you have! Starting to study early will allow you to spread the work out over a longer period of time.
Reduce test anxiety
If you generally feel anxious while preparing for or taking tests, you may want to start studying for the bar exam early. Many students feel much less anxious if they do not feel rushed during their prep. Starting to study early will also reduce the large volume of material that you have to learn and memorize during bar prep. Reducing that volume could help reduce your anxiety!
However, don’t feel pressured to start early!
If you don’t start studying for the bar exam until 2-3 months prior to the bar exam, that does not necessarily mean that you are behind! If you took a wide range of elective courses that covered subjects tested on the bar exam, you don’t generally struggle with test anxiety, and/or you know you will be able to dedicate 40 plus hours of work per week to studying for the bar exam, it is certainly possible to effectively study for the bar exam in 2-3 months and pass! In fact, this is the route that most students go. Try to honestly gauge your own capabilities and time constraints when determining whether you should start studying early!
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