As you begin bar prep, you’ll get a lot of advice about best practices, but it’s also important to know what traps to avoid.
These are the top three mistakes people make when studying for the bar exam, whether they know it or not:
1. Focusing too much on your strengths
You’ll quickly find out which subjects you understand the best and which you handle well on practice exams. Naturally, you're going to want to spend most of your time on these subjects. Why? Because they’re not as hard for you and, instinctively, we gravitate to work we know we can do well.
But you can only rack up so many points on the subjects you’re good at. You’re going to get plenty of questions on the subjects you hate, and those subjects are where you need to focus. Otherwise, your overall score will suffer. Quite simply, to pass the bar exam, you must take an honest and thorough look at your weaknesses and create a study plan around them. You won’t get anywhere if you aren’t willing to spend a good chunk of your study time struggling to turn your weaknesses into competencies.
To avoid this trap, make sure to check in with yourself routinely. If you find yourself avoiding or putting off certain subjects, those are the subjects you probably need to focus on.
2. Not testing what you’re learning
For many people who fail the bar exam, the issue isn’t that they didn’t study long enough. It’s that they didn’t spend the right amount of time practicing what they studied.
Spending hours upon hours reviewing, outlining, and reading only gets you so far. It’s just as important to test yourself on how you’re memorizing and applying the material you’re reviewing.
3. Neglecting your past successes
Yes, the bar exam is like no other exam you have ever taken. But that’s not a reason to ignore all the successes you’ve experienced on past exams.
Take time to think about what worked for you on past exams and how you can make it work for you as you prep for the bar. Are you a kinesthetic learner? Do you study best alone? How do you best retain information?
On the flip side, consider what didn’t work for you in the past. Don’t let history repeat itself, especially when the stakes are this high.