Six Micro Hacks To Help You Pass the Bar Exam
I know you’ve probably heard this before, but studying for the bar exam is a marathon and not a sprint. Staying focused and motivated throughout your studying time is one of the most difficult things you will encounter while preparing for the bar exam. And, you will need to overcome it in order to be successful on the bar exam. In this post, we cover some great bar exam micro hacks to help make your studies more streamlined!
Six Micro Hacks To Help You Pass the Bar Exam
While preparing to pass the bar exam, you will spend a considerable amount of time studying. To make the most of your study time, it is important to distinguish between quality study time and non-quality study time.
Quality Study Time
Quality study time is the time you spend studying when you are focused, actively learning, and able to absorb information at a high rate. In order to be successful on the bar exam, this is the type of studying you will need to maximize. Quality study time is also a time period where your stress and anxiety levels are more or less under control.
Non-Quality Study Time
On the other hand, non-quality studying is the time you spend when you are unfocused, passively learning (i.e. just reading outlines, flash cards, or checking your email and social media accounts), or are unable to absorb information at a rate enough rate needed to effectively prepare for the bar exam. In order to be successful on the bar exam, this is the type of study time you will need to minimize. Non-quality study time can also refer to periods when your stress and anxiety levels are not under control.
This post will discuss six micro hacks to help you maximize quality study time while minimizing non-quality study time. Keep reading for more details on how to maximize your quality study time!
1. Use scents, like essential oils, to help you retain information while studying
Essential oils are a great tool to help you better focus and retain information more easily. Studies have shown if you smell the same scent when you are studying as when you are sleeping, you will remember more!
Essential oils are the natural scented oils taken through a type of distillation process from different types of plants or flowers. Essential oils are often used to help people relax, relieve stress, relieve pain, and help focus. Since you will need to be able to both manage your stress and focus on the bar exam, essential oils can be a great resource to help you be successful. Diffusers are a great tool for misting essential oils into the air around you. You can also make your own diffuser using items such as a small or medium-sized spray bottle.
The following 3 essential oils can help you study and reduce anxiety while preparing for the bar exam:
Lavender Oil has properties that will help you relax as well as reduce stress and anxiety. This essential oil is great to help calm your nerves while studying. Lavender oil can also help you sleep better which is essential for focus and concentration during the intensive bar study schedule. Many people also find the smell of lavender to be very soothing.
Peppermint Oil is a great essential oil for both focus and concentration. It has a strong scent that will help increase your level of concentration. It will also help you retain information better, especially when trying to learn large amounts of material. Peppermint oil has a very refreshing scent as well.
Rosemary Oil provides you with increased levels of focus and concentration while studying. It is similar to that of peppermint oil in its abilities. Rosemary oil is also a great oil for increasing your attention span and ability to focus on details (e.g. exceptions to exceptions) while studying for the bar exam. Out of the three, Rosemary oil has a bit more muted scent than the others.
2. Taking short study “power” breaks and doing beneficial activities.
Taking short breaks at regular intervals can help you stay focused and concentrate for longer periods of time while studying. It is recommended that you take one or two 10–15-minute breaks for every 2 hours of studying. Breaks are necessary to keep your mind focused for long periods of time while learning bar exam material. Trying to study for 8 or more hours straight with little to no breaks is both an inefficient and ineffective way to study. This is because your mind will struggle to focus and retain information. Therefore, some of this time will go to waste, as it will be non-quality studying time.
We list a few great activities to do while taking a break. You can also combine activities to make the best out of the time in between your study sessions.
Go for a walk – Walking will help relax and clear your mind while rejuvenating you for more study.
Eat a healthy snack – Light snacks like mixed nuts or fruit can help give you the energy needed to study for longer periods of time.
Drink water – Staying hydrated while studying is extremely important to help you keep focused and help you concentrate while studying.
Stretch – Stretching your body while taking a break will help relieve stress that will surely be building up in your body from studying in the same position for long periods of time.
Close your eyes – Resting your eyes can help your brain relax and absorb the information you have been studying. By taking a quick rest, you can make room for more information while you continue to study after the break.
Meditate – Mediation is a great way to regain your focus and concentration for more studying after breaks. It can be done for a few minutes or longer and can help lessen your stress and anxiety.
Play an easy game – Playing a game like solitaire or backgammon can be a good method for calming your nerves and regaining focus for continuing studying after a break.
Read a fiction book – Reading a fiction book, in particular a light read, can help you regain your focus and concentration during a break.
What not to do during a study break!
While the above activities are all beneficial to do during a study break, not all activites are as beneficial. The following activities are not good for helping you rejuvenate your mind (and might increase your stress and anxiety!) while studying for the bar exam:
Do not waste break time on social media – Social media is both a time suck and an energy suck because it can take a toll not only on your mind but also on your emotions. Therefore, it is a much better idea to stay off of social media while studying for the bar exam.
Try not to spend time dealing with stressful situations – If you can get away with it, try not to spend study break time dealing with stressful situations as they can lead to complete loss of focus and concentration.
Do not take “fake breaks” while studying for the bar exam – You should actually take breaks while studying for the bar exam and not just sit there and look at your outlines or talk to other bar examinees about topics or rules on the bar exam!
3. Optimize Your Study Space – Be Aware of Lighting
Before you block off that study room at the library for the entire summer, pay attention to the location. Is it an interior space in the midst of tall bookshelves? Are there windows? Does it have access to a healthy dose of natural light?
Lighting matters! Studies show that people who have access to natural lighting during their work day are significantly more alert at the beginning of the evening than those who spend their days under artificial lighting. Additionally, artificial lighting can even make you more stressed! The best part about studying with plenty of natural light? Aside from finding that spot with some sun, there’s nothing else you need to do in order to increase your productivity! You can continue with your studying just as you planned, but you also might have some more energy at the end of the day!
If you are struggling to find a spot with plenty of natural light that’s conducive to studying, fear not! Waking up a little bit earlier to take advantage of some morning sunlight or finding a study space with plenty of lensed-indirect light can also help with productivity!
4. Optimize Your Study Space – Not Too Hot, Not Too Cold
Like with lighting, the temperature of your study space can also impact your productivity. Spaces that are too cold or too hot can impact your ability to focus. Keeping your body warm (not too hot, not too cold!) is key. So, what’s the ideal temperature? For most folks, it’s around seventy-seven degrees Fahrenheit (25 degrees Celsius).
If you plan to study away from home for the day, we recommend that you wear/bring multiple layers if it is cold outside (or even if it is warm and you plan to study in a place with A/C). Putting on or taking off a sweatshirt might make memorizing the rules of adverse possession just a little bit easier!
5. Get excited for the bar exam!
Getting excited for the bar exam might sound absolutely impossible for many students. After all, studying for the bar exam can be incredibly stressful. In order to relieve some of the nervousness surrounding the bar exam, many students try to channel some calm energy. Finding a way to get excited about the bar exam, however, might just be what you need in order to take your studying to the next level!
For most students, the bar exam brings nerves, stress, and anxiety. This can be incredibly distracting as students try to focus on their studies and keep their emotions in check. Naturally, students try to channel calm energy as a way to overpower these emotions. A Harvard study, however, shows that this might just make things more stressful! Instead, channeling your nervous energy into excitement might be more beneficial! Redirecting all of that nervous energy into excitement as opposed to trying to quell that energy tends to be an easier transition to make.
That study showed that people who got excited about taking a math text actually performed 8% better than people who tried to relax or who did nothing at all before the test. That 8% can make the difference between passing and failing the bar exam!
So, how can you get excited about the bar exam? Start with simple positive affirmations. Tell your mom, your friend, your dog, your cat, or even just yourself that you are excited for the bar exam. Simply saying that you are excited about the bar exam can help you adjust your emotions into ones of excitement as opposed to stress and worry.
Another way to get excited is to simply have fun with the bar exam! Spend a short time each day or each week explaining a part of the law you find interesting and/or exciting to a friend or family member. Figure out what subjects you find to be the most exciting, and work on those areas when you feel like you are in a lull.
Finally, spend time with people who are also excited to take the bar exam! Surrounding yourself with positivity can be incredibly motivating as you finish up your studies!
6. Don’t Study in the Same Spot!
One of the hardest things to do while studying for the bar exam is to be consistent in your study habits, especially early on in your bar prep. While consistency is certainly key when preparing for the bar exam, you still may find yourself spinning your wheels, especially on days when getting motivated is a struggle.
If you find yourself in this position, try moving to a new study space! For example, if you usually study on your living room sofa, try going to a coffee shop. Spending all day at the library? Try studying at your kitchen table! Studying in multiple locations can help you better retain and recall the material on exam day. Thisis due to a concept called context variation.
Context variation refers to the idea that as you learn information, you also, unintentionally, internalize information about the surrounding environment. When you attempt to recall the information you learned at a later date, the environmental information you unintentionally internalized can act as a “hint,” making the information easier to recall. By studying for the bar exam in multiple settings, you are expanding the number of contexts available, or “hints,” when you attempt to recall the information at a later date. This leads to higher retention (which leads to more success on the bar exam!). For more information about context variation and how it can impact your studying, check out this article!
We hope that the above 6 micro hacks are helpful for your bar study! If you have any questions about any of our materials or programs, please contact us!
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