Top 10 Bar Exam Productivity Tips
Top 10 Bar Exam Productivity Tips: As we get closer and closer to February, the bar exam is closer! Right now is the time you should be hitting your stride in studying. If you find that you aren’t getting as much done as you would like, we have 10 bar exam productivity tips to help get you back on track!
Top 10 Bar Exam Productivity Tips
1. Time yourself.
We love this tip. And so do many of our students. It is very simple, whenever you start studying, start the clock on your phone. Whenever you stop to study (to take a break, get a snack, get up to go to the bathroom, etc.) stop the timer.
You will quickly see that six hours in the library is not six hours of studying! (And that is okay!) This will help you gauge how much you get done every day, and it will inspire you to study more.
2. Keep track of WHAT you do during your time!
Write down what you do with your time. I used to just keep a word document and I would bullet point when I got something done and how long it took me.
It doesn’t take a lot of time to do, and it will help you see if you are actually getting enough done and using your time efficiently. So if you spent 30 minutes with your Torts outline, write “reviewed Torts for 30 minutes” on your list. Or if you spent an hour practicing two essays, write that down too! Keeping a running tally of what you do will motivate you to do more, and it will help you to see what you can realistically complete in a day.
3. Have a daily to-do list.
Every night, create an action list for the next day. This will inspire you to get moving and is much better than simply sitting down with a vague idea to study “something.”
4. Take frequent breaks.
You cannot study (or at least you cannot study well) if you try to study for four hours in a row without a break. Take a long break mid-day and exercise, eat lunch, etc. Take several short breaks in between conquering items on your to-do list. (I used to take an approximate 10 minute break every hour or so.) It can be getting up and walking around, grabbing a snack, etc. Try not to do something where you are stationary during your break time. This rejuvenates you and helps keep your mind fresh.
5. Ask yourself: Is what I’m doing helping me?
Some people get in the habit of doing something just because it is on their bar review course’s to-do list. They do AMPS, or read 200-page “big outlines” before lecture. Or they get into a bad habit (making flashcards for every single topic) and never get out of it just because it is their habit. Or they feel like they have to continue doing something for each subject just because they have done it in the past.
Take five minutes a week to reflect on whether what you are doing is actually helping you. Stop habits that don’t help you!
6. Name your distractions.
Take 15 minutes to think about what you, personally, are distracted by. Is it your phone? Is it Facebook? Is it your friend studying in the library with you? Is it people-watching? Your internet browser that is always open?
After you name these distractions, find a way to eliminate them. For example, agree to only look at your phone on a break. Don’t study with friends who distract you. Close your internet browser and do not even open it during the day (you do not need it to practice essay questions!). If people-watching or running into friends distracts you, face a wall when you study or study somewhere that you won’t see many people (a corner of the library, a study room, or at home). These 15 minutes of naming (and taking steps to reducing) distractions can save you tons of time down the road.
7. Break up a big tasks into manageable pieces.
Instead of saying you will learn all of Evidence, complete 14 essays this week, and 300 multiple choice questions, break it up! Say you will review 1/3 of your evidence outline on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. You will complete two essays a day and self-grade them. And you will answer 50 questions a day Monday through Saturday. This makes a very daunting, overwhelming week much more manageable. And it is much easier to conquer something when it is broken down into manageable steps.
8. Switch up the tasks you do.
So, you are planning on memorizing your 100-page Real Property outline all day? Good luck. (Even I, who love the bar exam, and love Real Property, would dread that day!). Instead, break up your outline into manageable pieces (10 pages, say) and go through it one piece (10 pages) at a time. After reviewing, re-reviewing and making sure you have memorized those ten pages, go to the next ten pages. As soon as you find yourself losing focus, do something different. You could switch to an essay question or multiple-choice questions. Or you could switch subjects altogether! Then come back to the Property outline, review what you have done, and move on to the next chunk. This will keep you refreshed every time you go back to your outline. It will give you mental breaks and also help keep you motivated.
9. Sleep, exercise, and eat healthy!
It sounds dumb but these three things will hugely boost your productivity! Sleep helps you organize information in your brain and recall it. You should be getting as much sleep as you need every night! Exercise will not only relieve stress and anxiety but can also give you a great mental boost! You should also eat healthy. This is good for both your body and your brain.
10. Have something to look forward to each day, each week, and post-bar exam.
Reward yourself. Start by rewarding yourself with small things each day—relaxing in front of your TV at night, going on a walk, eating a good dinner.
Each week, also have something to look forward to (this could be a half-day off, sleeping in on the weekend, a night out, etc.).
Lastly, it is a great idea to have something fun planned for when the bar exam is over. It could be a post bar exam vacation or it could be a night out or a special dinner. This will help keep your anxiety in check as it will remind you that the bar exam is not the be-all, end-all of your life. This, in turn, will increase your productivity and motivation.