Hey, everyone! I decided to continue my little series on bar prep since it’s that time of year. Although it feels like it was a million years ago now, I was studying for the bar only a year ago. Three years in law school teaches you how to study, but studying for the bar is a marathon of its own. It will be a long, difficult summer, but if you commit and study hard then that is all it takes. I already wrote a post on all of the essentials you need for bar prep – so now, let’s talk study schedules!
One unique thing about bar prep is that you are almost completely on your own. Sure, you will probably enroll in a bar prep course through Barbri, Kaplan, or Themis. But they still allow a lot of flexibility in your schedule. I personally chose the “Live at Home” option where I “attended” lectures daily online – similar to Zoom classes that have been taking place during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, a lot of courses have recorded videos for you to watch daily, then additional assignments to do throughout the day. Some courses assign weekend work, some don’t. For simplicity sake, I’m going to map out a daily study schedule for your study days. But PLEASE do not forget to take days off and give your brain a break when you can. However, if you’re looking to have a productive bar prep day, here is what I would recommend!
I’ll be the first to admit, I’m an early riser. But I think maintaining some sort of wake-up and sleep schedule is imporatnt during this time, and it’s probably best to work during regular working hours. This is great because you will have a compatible schedule with your friends and family not studying for the bar, and also give you some sense of normalcy.
You’ll be home studying most of the summer, so you might think you don’t need to be a presentable human. Which is true. But it’s best for your mental health and stamina to be somewhat human. I recommend “getting ready” each day. I don’t mean putting on a full face of makeup and dressing up all fancy, but at least rinse off in the shower and change out of the clothes you slept in. And eat breakfast. Your brain needs fuel.
First thing in the morning, get your lectures done. Depending on the course you choose this may be a recording or a live video lecture. Use this time to watch your lectrues and take notes, just as you would in law school classes. Don’t be afraid to take breaks, I’d recommend taking 5-10 minutes breaks every hour at minimum. And this will be the longest part of your day, so get it done first.
Actually eat lunch! Personally I loved being home during bar prep summer and being able to cook a decent meal for lunch. But even if you just have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, set aside time each day for lunch. It’s important to give your brain fuel.
This was actually probably the most important part of my day. I decided that I needed time to get out of the house and away from my bar prep materials, so I would usually go take a walk around my neighborhood. It was great to get exercise, soak up the sun, and I would usually listen to music or an audiobook. If you don’t have an Audible subscription yet, I highly recommend it.
Even if you don’t take a walk, take 30 minutes to yourself and watch TV, listen to music, play a game, read a fun book, or do something you generally enjoy. This break is what is going to get you through the afternoon.
This part of your day is when you should do the other assignments or practice questions or essays you were assigned for the day by your bar prep course. If you finish early or don’t have any, I’d recommend making flash cards, studying outlines, or doing sets of MBE questions. During this part of my day, I would usually post-up at the Starbucks or local coffee shop near my house, or move my studies to the living room with my laptop desk. The change of scenery helped me focus.
Time for another break! About half the time on this break, I would go to the gym and sweat it out. This helped me keep my sanity. On the days where I didn’t go to the gym, I would watch some TV or do something else I enjoyed. You get the idea.
Food – the best part of the day! During bar prep I really loved making quality dinners for my boyfriend and myself. It was the one productive thing I did outside of bar prep and I really enjoyed it. I bought a variety of cookbooks and tried a couple of new recipes every week which was super fun. If you don’t like cooking, that’s okay! Just make sure you eat quality brain food and actually take a break to have dinner.
Use your after dinner time to do the laziest part of your studying, whether it be flashcards or practice MBE questions on your bar prep course app. The way I though about this was that this was time for horizontal studying – the stuff I could do laying down on the couch. To be honest, I probably only did this nighttime studying a couple nights a week, or I only did about 30 minutes of questioning. Some people think you need to study 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, but that’s an idea that I don’t subscribe to. Your brain and body need breaks and keeping a balanced schedule helps. Having this optional time at night was really helpful for me because I could use it if I needed or wanted to, but could take a break and not feel guilty if that was what I needed.
This is your cool down and relaxation time of the day. For me, this pretty much meant TV, skin care, or scrolling on my phone. For you it may be video games, crafting, listening to music, yoga, etc. A couple of times a week my boyfriend and I would walk to the Sonic down the street for half-priced limeades and talk about our days. Pretty much use this as “me time” and do anything you enjoy that doesn’t stress you out. And of course, get yourself ready for bed.
So I’m a baby and was asleep by 10:00 nightly, but your sleep schedule may vary, especially depending on how much sleep you personally need. Make sure you keep your bedtime regular, and try not to stay up too late – remember you’ll get up early tomorrow to do it all again!
I’m also going to be totally honest with you – I took most weekends completely off. A lot of people would not recommend that, and I had peers tell me I would fail based on that alone. I didn’t. The moral of the story is that there are 1000 reccomendations out there, but at the endd of the day, you need to do what works for you. Just make sure you take care of your brain and body and you will succeed!
What are things you plan on incorporating into your schedule to help with bar prep?