J. Reuben Clark Law Society

How Not to Study for the Bar Exam

The original title for this article was “how to study for the bar.” After studying for a couple months for the patent bar examination, I figured I would be in a fantastic position to guide fellow students on how to study for the bar. I am, however, in no such position to give that advice because I failed the patent bar examination. Fear not; I will still be able to bestow qualified advice, however my advice will not be “how to study for the bar” but “how not to study for the bar.”
The most important key to failing the bar is to get discouraged. Make sure to look at how little time you have remaining and the intense schedule that lies before you. Try to imagine your peers completing every assignment with ease, gleefully living in the library with their one true passion: studying for the bar. If discouragement is not having the desired effect, try worrying. Worrying is a successful paralytic and will effectively lead to vain procrastination.  If you get good at it, you can spend an entire day “spinning your wheels.”
The second key to failing the bar is to make sure to not exercise time management. Do not keep track of how many hours in a day you are effectively studying. Do not monitor your leisure time. Do not try to follow the schedule, and definitely make sure to multi-task as much as possible. I have noticed that the most effective way to mismanage time is to reward yourself before completing the task: watch some T.V. and go for a walk before you start studying. Tell yourself that these rewards will prepare you best for lengthy study sessions.  Whenever you are starting to get distracted, make sure to take long breaks. If you take breaks every fifteen minutes you will be surprised at how much time you can waste in a day.  Beware, a reward that comes after accomplishing a study task can motivate you in ways that will ensure you effectively focus for studying. Your hours for friends, family, and recreation will diminish proportionally with the hours wasted to ineffective study.
The final key to failing the bar is to passively study. Tell yourself that you will pass as long as you put in the time; just keep the videos rolling and an open book in front of you. Mindlessly turn a page every now and then while highlighting big words; if you get good at this you can even let your mind wander simultaneously. Do not focus on areas you struggle with and make sure to gloss over portions over and over again. Do not commit things to memory and only do the exercises that are mentally trivial.
If you wish to pass, however, you will be fine as long as you put in the requisite effort, not time. A reputable source from inside a popular bar review course has said in confidence that nobody is realistically expected to do every single assignment.  Just do your best, keep a cool head, find ways to motivate yourself, pace it out, and you will be fine.
By Scott Richards

Posted: July 9, 2014