Ten Ways To Make Bar Prep More Enjoyable
The bar exam invokes a strong—and likely negative—reaction from most who have taken it or are about to take it. Studying for the bar exam requires a ton of time, energy, and focus crammed into only a couple of months’ time. There is what seems to be endless material (you may even start to wonder if you absorbed anything from your law school classes at all because it seems like you are constantly learning new things!). And the stakes are high—you need to pass the bar exam to become a lawyer and move forward in your career!
Rest assured, even though bar prep isn’t exactly fun, it does not have to be as miserable as it sounds. Although it may seem impossible, there are a number of ways to enjoy studying for the bar exam, from maintaining a positive attitude to switching things up to keep bar prep interesting, and so on. Below we describe our top 10 ways to make bar prep more enjoyable so that you can make the best of it and stay sane!
Ten Ways To Make Bar Prep More Enjoyable
1. Establish (and keep) a positive mindset.
First and foremost, establish and keep a positive mindset before the bar exam to make bar prep more enjoyable. It’s easy to get lost in a downward spiral of negativity when there are endless other ways you likely would rather spend your time. However, if you go into bar prep thinking that you will hate it, you will hate it. Don’t create a self-fulfilling prophecy!
Instead, embrace the reality of your situation and make the best of it. Visualization truly is a key component to passing the bar exam. Go into each day with a positive attitude. Allow yourself to feel good about each day’s accomplishments. Consider how lucky you are just to have made it this far. Remind yourself that this is a big step in reaching the career goals you have worked so hard toward. And just remember—it will all be over with SO soon! All that work you are putting in now will pay off in the end!
Need some more ideas on how to stay positive and remain motivated? Check out our post on how to stay motivated for bar prep here!
2. Practice self-care.
Physical and emotional health are very important in general, but especially during bar prep. If you feel good, it will make bar prep more enjoyable! Some ideas on how to practice self-care during bar prep include the following.
Healthy foods give you energy to study, whereas too much junk food will lower your energy and disrupt your sleep schedule. Avoid greasy foods and alcohol. Instead, incorporate plenty of fruits, vegetables, and healthy proteins into your meal plan. Also, since bar prep will keep you busy, plan your meals ahead of time to make healthy eating easy and natural! Read more about the benefits of a well-balanced bar exam diet here!
Exercise is one of the best ways to release endorphins and boost your mood. You don’t have to train for a marathon or start bodybuilding (in fact, this probably isn’t the time to start an intensive workout routine that will take too much time away from your studies).
You should, however, build time into your study schedule to do whatever it is that makes you feel good—whether it’s going for walk or run, taking a yoga or spin class, lifting weights at the gym, going for a swim, or so on.
The time of day that you exercise can make a difference as well. Exercising in the morning, for instance, can be a great way to get a burst of energy to power through your day of studying. Or if you prefer, you can exercise after you are done studying for the day as a way to decompress. Or maybe you like to break up your day and avoid monotony, so a mid-day workout suits you best. Or you may change up your schedule each and every day. As long as you are exercising consistently, you will reap the benefits and find bar prep more enjoyable.
Check out our post containing 4 tips to stay fit and focused during bar prep here!
We cannot stress this enough: sleep is SO important during bar prep. If you are too tired, not only will you not focus as well or study as efficiently, but it also will bring down your mood! Do not try to sleep less to study more. You may study longer but your time will be ineffective. Your brain also files away information and organizes it while you sleep. Do not rob yourself of this important process!
In addition to making bar prep more enjoyable, self-care has the added benefits of learning new information more effectively, increasing focus and concentrating for longer periods of time, avoiding burn-out, and better retaining and recalling information. So, take the time to consistently destress about bar prep!
Affirmations can be an effective and empowering method of self-care. Examples include:
- “I am making great progress in my study plan.”
- “I will continue to learn and memorize the law.”
- “I will always try my hardest.”
- “I am a dedicated learner.”
- “My life will go on no matter what result I get on the bar exam.”
If you say affirmations on a regular basis, you may notice a real change in your attitude and your confidence—and feeling empowered will make your experience with bar prep more enjoyable!
3. Move your study location.
Do you study at the same time and in the same place every single day? Whether you study at home or the law library or some other location, you can find a new and creative place to go to keep things interesting and make bar prep more enjoyable! Once you start working, you might be stuck in an office. Take advantage of your temporary bar prep routine to change things up while you still can. (And, as an added bonus, changing up where you learn something can actually help improve recall on exam day!!)
Some ideas for different places to study for the bar exam include:
- Coffee shops
- Public libraries
- Empty classrooms
Wherever you move to, switching up your study spot can give you a new perspective and help you feel refreshed.
4. Utilize active learning techniques.
While passive learning involves memorizing and reviewing without really engaging with the bar prep material, active learning does require you to engage with the material consciously and proactively. Not only is active learning an incredibly effective method of studying, but it also keeps things interesting and makes bar prep more enjoyable!
Examples of active learning techniques include:
- Making and studying flashcards (check out this post on how bar exam flashcards can help you pass!).
- Quizzing yourself and your friends.
- Taking a practice or diagnostic exam.
- Writing down why you got a multiple choice answer wrong.
- Drawing diagrams or pictures.
- Inventing mnemonics.
Actively engaging with the material also is a more effective bar exam study technique than simply reading your outlines or mindlessly watching course videos!
5. Reward yourself.
You should reward yourself for both big and small accomplishments. Did you stick to your daily study plan? Complete your bar prep course assignments for the day? Do well on a practice exam? Put in a solid, productive day of studying? Reward yourself! Rewards come in all different shapes and sizes. It can be as simple as taking a short break to peruse social media, taking a walk, eating a favorite snack, or calling a loved one to chat. Having these little things to look forward to throughout the day after accomplishing tasks will make bar prep more enjoyable!
You may find it helpful to reward yourself:
- Each day (with something small, like watching your favorite Netflix show at night!)
- Each week (with something a little bigger – e.g., a half day off, brunch with a friend, etc.)
- After the bar exam is over (give yourself something to look forward to! – a nice dinner, a staycation/vacation, or some kind of break!)
6. Take time off from studying.
Studying for the bar exam typically takes two to three months. Even though bar prep will take up much of your time, no one can effectively and efficiently study all day every day for that long! That is why taking time off from studying is so important. Consider some of the key benefits—breaks help you:
- Keep focused and energized.
- Remain engaged with the material.
- Study more intensively when you do study.
- Avoid mindless studying where you are not actually absorbing the material.
- Reduce stress and anxiety.
The amount of time you take off from studying is whatever you feel comfortable with. If you have a good study schedule set (check out our post here on how to create a stellar bar exam schedule!), it will have time off built-in for breaks. For example, maybe you’ll plan to take a full day off on Saturday to sleep in, catch up on laundry, binge-watch a tv show, and then spend time with family and friends. Or, if you find it easier to concentrate in shorter blocks of time, maybe you’ll study Saturday and Sunday mornings but take the rest of those days off.
Having time off built into your schedule will reenergize you for the week to come and also serve as a reward for all of the hard work you have done! Read more about the importance of breaks during bar prep here!
7. Take study breaks.
Incorporate plenty of breaks into your daily bar exam study schedule to make bar prep more enjoyable and to help you stay efficient. You can take breaks at a natural stopping point, or whenever you feel you need a break in order to avoid burnout. Some people find that a ten-minute break every hour or so is perfect, whereas others wait longer. Do what works for you!
Just be sure that you take study breaks in help your brain reset and organize what it has learned. You can take a quick walk, or eat a healthy snack, or get your exercise in with a gym session. We call these “power breaks!” Step away from your study materials and give your brain a rest. Read more about the benefits of taking study breaks during bar prep here!
8. Study with a friend or group of friends.
If you have a friend or group of friends from law school who you know and trust to remain productive, studying with them can keep you accountable and ensure that you stay on task during bar prep! Scheduling study sessions force you to set aside a designated time for studying. And you’ll stick to your schedule because you won’t be able to procrastinate if you have others waiting for you. Avoiding procrastination while studying for the bar is key to ensuring you stay efficient and don’t fall behind!
Not only will studying with friends break up the monotony and make bar prep more enjoyable, but it also is a great opportunity to discuss confusing concepts and ensure that you fully grasp the material. And if nothing else, it is nice to be reminded that you are not alone in bar prep, even though it may feel that way. Many of your classmates are probably struggling through bar prep the same way you are!
9. Make your study space comfortable and distraction-free.
The environment that you study in matters. If your space is uncomfortable and full of distractions, you won’t study as efficiently and effectively. Consider how you can satisfy each of your five senses—sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. Examples include:
- Sight. Minimize clutter by cleaning off your desk, move your desk in front of a window, or put something that brings you joy within eyesight.
- Play light music you enjoy (or even sounds of birds or water or white noise), or wear noise-canceling headphones.
- Smell. Light a candle or use a room scent (bonus: this can also be great for recall!).
- Taste. Have a cup of coffee or other beverage you enjoy nearby, and keep your favorite healthy treat in an easily accessible spot.
- Sit in a comfortable chair, keep a stress ball in your study space, or have a cozy blanket for when you get cold.
If you feel comfortable, you will find bar prep more enjoyable—and you will study more efficiently—which is a win-win!
10. Get new study supplies.
Are you someone who used to love back-to-school shopping because you got to pick out new school supplies? Did you use different colored highlighters to book brief during law school? Do you like to tab out pages to easily refer to material at a later date? If so, studying for the bar exam is the perfect excuse to treat yourself to new study supplies!
Stock up on nice pens, highlighters, notebooks, and other organizers in your favorite colors (as a bonus, you can use your new colors to color code, which is a great way to stay organized!). Find some fun-shaped sticky notes and tabs. Get yourself “job well done” stickers to place on practice tests. Purchasing new study supplies is a minor—but effective—way to make bar prep more enjoyable!
As you can see, once you accept your fate, there are several ways that you can make bar prep more enjoyable! Find the ones that work for you, and bar prep will go much more smoothly!
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