With just over a month to go before the February bar exam, it may feel like you've been studying for an eternity, even if you've just started.
Regardless of how long you've been prepping, you have plenty of time left before the bar exam. It's important to use that time to ensure you're developing good study habits - specifically, the habits you'll want to carry with you into the home stretch.
So how do you make sure you're on the right track? Here are three ways you can ensure you're as prepared as possible when you sit down for the bar exam.
1) Treat it like a job
The best way to study for the bar exam is to treat it like a regular job. If you've heard this before, it's because it's true. Don't try to dedicate each waking hour to some aspect of bar exam prep. A normal job isn't performed all day. Rather, you start in the morning, work most of the day, and go home at night. Think about studying in a similar fashion. If you put in a good-faith effort for 6-8 hours per day, you’ll be fine.
2) Don't go nuts
On the other hand, trying to maintain a 12-14 hour daily study schedule will get you into trouble. It might work for a couple of weeks and have you feeling full of confidence. But it's unsustainable. You'll simply burn out eventually, and it's probably going to happen at the worst possible time – a couple weeks before the exam, right when you need to hit your studying "peak," i.e., the time when you’re switching into memorization mode.
We can't emphasize this enough. Don't go overboard studying. If you feel you need to study 12 or more hours per day to cover the material, you're simply not studying efficiently.
3) Evaluate, evaluate, evaluate
When it comes to efficiency, don't just study for the bar exam. Study how you are studying for the bar exam. It’s important to pay attention to the methods you've used thus far and figure out what's working for you and, more importantly, what's not working.
Do you feel like you're absorbing all the notes and outlines you've reviewed? Many people do, but for others passive review isn't helpful for synthesizing material. Absorbing bar exam concepts is often more effective when you're actively engaged, for example, by taking practice exams or quizzing yourself with flashcards.
Any number of studying methods might work for you. What's important is that you're evaluating and aware of what's working and not working. And that you're making adjustments based on what you've noticed.
4) Utilize free time
Time off from bar exam studying is crucial. But make sure you're using that free time effectively by doing things that make you feel calm and replenished. When you’re not “at work” studying, hang out with friends (preferably friends who are not studying for the bar exam), read "normal people" books and magazines, go to the gym – whatever you need to preserve your sanity.
Keep up the hard work, but do it consistently and reasonably. In other words, stay sane.
Good luck studying!