Hello July Bar Takers!
If you are anything like I am, you have an app CONSTANTLY counting things down and you know that the bar exam is in T-minus 56 days – yikes. If you are anything like I am, you also have spent the last week or so freaking out about every possible variable. Thankfully, I found a few resources to help me out along the way and I am here to share them with YOU!
Today kicks off an 8 post series detailing how I prepared for the Texas Bar Exam – mentally, physically, and emotionally. Hopefully one or more can help make the process a little less crazy for you 🙂 If you have any tips of your own, feel free to leave a comment on the blog or the Facebook page!
For my first post, I will be covering a topic I have been asked about at least five times in the last few days – study schedules. One thing that you should probably know though: I didn’t use a commercial bar prep course to study. I know, I know. It’s crazy to do that, I never should have passed, WHAT WAS I THINKING?!?! But guess what guys, I not only passed on my first try, but passed with PLENTY of points to spare and without feeling like I was going to rip someone’s head off for two+ months straight.
That brings me to my golden rule of study schedules: flexibility is key. I have heard from friends that the schedules provided by some commercial programs are more lax than they would prefer. We just spent three years of our lives studying, analyzing, and organizing only to be thrown to the wolves when it comes to THE biggest test of our lives – wut? When I was creating my original study schedule, I was positive it would be the thing to champion me through the exam. I would diligently study for 8, 9, 10 hours a day and I would know pretty much every single law that was ever written… For those who know me, you know that was never going to work (lol).
An unexpected trip to New Orleans for New Years meant I started studying a few days later and after spending my first week DREDGING through torts (I am still concerned by how many banana peel slip-and-fall examples there are), I threw any kind of weekend studying out the window. In January I had every intention of picking up the other weekends to make up for the lost time, but my best friend had her birthday party and then I got the flu, and life kept going on even though the bar exam was ever-looming. So I learned to be flexible. Though totally NOT in my nature, I realized that if I was going to be able to make the most out of this experience I needed to stay calm, cool, and collected (my 3C mantra). This meant taking off a few days (or more than a few) and only working when my brain was up to the challenge.
So for specifics, attached (Bar Study Schedule) is my general outline for topics/types of question practice I did. You can basically throw out any day that says “MPT” because that quickly became my codeword for “nahhhh, not today.” I started with MBE subjects, assuming there would be some overlap in those topics and the Texas essays. I spent about one full day reviewing material and then a second full day doing practice questions or essays for that topic.
While I did not purchase a commercial program, I did use (and fully endorse!!) Adaptibar. I set a goal the first week of completing 250 questions per week. Some weeks that totally worked, other weeks it was completely ignored. By the time the exam rolled around, I had completed somewhere around 85% of the provided questions and I felt more than confident after taking the MBE portion on Day 2.
The Texas essays I did mostly practice exams. The BLE ever so graciously posts every past exam and a group of sample answers. In a few posts, I will delve into specifics on how I studied for these exams in particular. Using my methods, I was able to predict every specific subject topic for every essay but one. You will be able to, too, if you keep up with me ;).
You will notice on my study schedule that pretty much every weekend continued to be taken off (lol). Even though I had every intention of studying more days, it simply didn’t work for me. Once my brain is done, there is NOTHING going to be retained. Law school prepared us to know when enough is enough and thankfully it only took me a -few- times to realize when my “enough” is.
Some commercial programs suggest a set amount of time to study each day. Following the theme of this post – I am not sure that is always the best method. If one day you really just want to lay out and sip a marg, go for it! If another day you think doing 10 practice essays is the only thing that will save you, I am all about it. Personally, I went to my study area (more about that in the next post!) every weekday from 8 am to 3ish pm. I took about a 30 minute break for lunch, but other than that my phone was off, notifications muted and I was 110% into whatever topic I had lined up for the day. That’s not to say that this method worked every day for two months, but for the most part, my daily routine didn’t change much and that seemed to be my sweet spot.
So for those of you still with me and wondering – WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO THOUGH KATIE?! Here it is, my first magic little secret to studying for (and crushing!) the Texas Bar Exam: stay flexible. Life will happen. You may not be able to answer every practice question or read every explanation, but that’s okay. If you arm yourself with the right tools, you will be able to retain the information and EASILY recall it in July.
Check back on Thursday when I post about tools I found helpful for studying: podcasts, books, forums, and a whole lot more. In the meantime, feel free to shoot me a message or an email, or drop a comment about anything you would like me to cover! I am here and willing to answer ANY question you might have 🙂
A final head’s up: I will be offering services for specific subject tutoring, essay grading/feedback and a few other things in the coming weeks. Let me know if you would like to jump on that early on!