7 Tips for Surviving the Last Month of Bar Exam Studying

Published: Jun 29, 2011

Topics: Law       

The bar exam is less than one month away, and right around now is when the real fear and anxiety about the test start to set in. Your MBE practice tests aren’t going as well as you hoped, and sample essays are taking you down. Or everything is going just fine, but you’ve convinced yourself you’re going to fail anyway. Take a deep breath, and check out the below tips on getting through the next few weeks of studying.

1.If you don’t have a schedule yet, get one immediately.

And by schedule, I don’t mean merely showing up for BARBRI each day. A month seems like a long time to study for one little test, but with the sheer amount of knowledge that you’re expected to retain—and distractions like email, summer BBQs and whining from fellow bar studiers fighting to pull you away from the books—it’s in your best interest to set up a daily study routine. When planning your schedule for the next month, consider both how much time you should spend on each subject and how many hours each day you need to finish all of your outlining, practice testing, reading, and reviewing for each subject. Prioritize the subjects, and schedule your time appropriately.

2.Be Steady.

Remember those all-night cram sessions and paper-writing fire drills from your school days? Forget it. This isn’t school—it’s your professional future. So, you should approach the bar exam as a professional: for the remaining weeks, studying for the test is your job. Keep a steady, disciplined pace over the next month. Go into that exam knowing that you prepared yourself the best you could.

3.Stop listening to everyone else.

He’s got a stack of 1,000 flashcards and has already taken every multiple choice question in the PMBR books. She has outlined all of the topics—including those not yet reviewed in the bar review course yet—and spends 15 hours a day locked in the library studying.

Who cares? They aren’t you, and what works for them might not work for you. You’ve been going to school for 20 or so years now; you’ve probably figured out which study methods you prefer. Whether those methods include flashcards, outlining, study groups, flow charts, or something else, choose your tools and get going. That’s not to say you can’t consider other people’s methods, but you definitely should stop comparing yourself to others.


While you need to pick your optimal tools, don’t forget to actually practice taking the test, which means writing out essays, completing multiple choice questions and setting aside time to complete timed practice tests. Just like you practiced for the LSAT or reviewed professor’s past law school exams before your final, you need to understand what to expect on the day of the bar exam and how you perform under the timed conditions.

5.Make time to relax.

Preparing for the bar exam is overwhelming, and it’s easy to fall into constant study mode, with nothing but coffee, highlighters, flashcards and your laptop surrounding you. I bet you could study every hour of every day for the next month and still not completely master every topic, and I understand that is scary. But you can’t study 24 hours a day—you need to take a step back and relax so that you avoid burning out and having a bar exam meltdown. Go out to dinner, check out a new movie, take a walk, go to the gym—get your mind off the test for a while so you don’t crack before the big test.

6.But don’t relax too much.

It's important to integrate breaks into your study routine, but you also need to get serious and commit the next month to studying. Now is not the time for beach house getaways and long camping weekends. In a month, your studying will be over, and you can head out on your bar trip glory. For now, stick with your schedule, make steady progress and prepare yourself the best you can for the exam.

7.Prepare now for game day.

How are you going to get to the exam? What will you eat? What happens if your laptop crashes? What do you do if your pencil breaks? What materials do you need to bring with you? Should you have a snack in the room? Will there be an easy place to park at the test site? Will the room be too cold or too hot? Do you need to bring an ID? Should you carry your own timer?

Try to think of all of the issues that might arise on test day, and address them now. You will be too stressed on the day of the exam—and the days leading up to it—to worry about these things. Questions that seem minor now will appear daunting to you the day of that test when your stress level has hit its peak. Don’t add to your stress—plan the logistics well in advance.

Read More:
Bar exam tweet types
Get Ready for the February 2011 Bar Exam
Five Tips for Surviving Post-Bar-Exam Stress