Top 12 things to get situated before studying for the bar exam

by Dustin on

Preparing for the bar is a time of focus and discipline.  The last thing you want are overdraft statements from the bank, “Where the heck are you?!?!?!” text messages from your significant other, or angry growls from your stomach asking you to feed it some real food.  So, before your bar prep begins, let’s take a look at the Top 12 things to get situated in your life.

(12) Family

Time to call mom, pop, Aunt Susie, Little Johnny, and Jenna to tell tham that their daddy/mommy/son/daughter may be more MIA than normal the next couple months.  “It’s nothing personal mom, but I just might not feel like hearing how Aunt Carol’s chocolate cake didn’t quite live up to Cheescake factory standards.”  Just tell them you’ll be working hard and making some sacrifices to create a better future for yourself and family.  They’ll definitely relate to that!  If not, don’t be afraid to put your phone on silent.  Also, tell them you may need to make random, emergency calls to them just to talk and ‘get things out.’  Hopefully you’ve been keeping up on your Christmas cards so the karma will come around now.

(11) Outside schedule

As I stated in my post regarding keeping the same routine, you probably want to keep the same routine you have been before.  So, make sure you have your schedule outside of law school setup.  Know when you’re taking yoga, going to church, what time Tuesday night family night begins, etc.

(10) Food

It might be a good idea to do a quick google search of ‘healthy, energizing foods’ to find out what foods you should eat to keep you going through the bar prep (I’ll be writing a post about this soon).  Professional athletes have a diet plan they follow to make sure their mind and body is sharp, focused, and replenished.  Your mental endurance and body health will be very important the next two months.  Make sure you’re getting lots of fish, almonds, nuts, vegetables, and fruits to keep your mind ready to study.  Maybe hit up mom to do some cooking.  I was lucky enough to have my mother cook me a bunch of Persian food I could freeze and warm up over the two months of bar prep.

(9) Job

Some of you may not have a job lined up and be ‘trippin’ about it.  If you can get one before bar time begins, great.  If not, you may be thinking about it during bar time.  If you must, devote what time you need to find a job; however, try not to allow the ‘worry’ about finding a job mess with you.  You have enough on your plate.  Write out a plan of sending out ‘x’ number of applications every week if you must.

(8) Relationship

If you’re with your same sweetheart you had before you started law school, then getting this part of your life squared away should be a walk in the park for you.  If you have a new love interest, you may want to let her know what this ‘bar’ thing really is about, and how it will be your primary focus the next couple months.  Ask for her understanding in that you may be skipping out on dinners, dessert, and tv time (but of course you’ll be there for the post evening activities!).  Also, let her know you may need her to be there for you if you go through any hard moments.

(7) Music playlist

We all know classical music has a scientific basis for helping our minds learn, and sometimes we just want to take a break or study with our own favorite music.  Either way, get your list of tunes synched to your ipod, and have it ready to go when you need a study break or want to hype yourself up during outline reading.  I recommend having a list of different genres to fulfill you when you’re in different moods.

(6) Get your support group list

There will be a time during bar prep where you simply want to hear, “It’s going to be ok.”  Having close or trusted friends and family can be a BIG help!  Write a list of people you can count on and call during your prep.  You can count on me for any advice or venting as well (  Creating the list before you dive on in will be beneficial.

(5) Location

What are three important rules about bar prep?  Location.  Location.  Location.  It’s a good idea to have a list of several places you would like to study.  Hopefully, you’ve found some locations you like during your last few years of law school.  They might be the library, living room, coffee shop, park, backyard, etc.  Try and make sure your place of study will be quiet (or bring your headphones).  Make note of construction that might be going on (when I took the bar, there was construction in our library as I studied).  Being in a positive environment can help as well.  If you’re in the library surrounded by hundreds of others students studying, this may encourage you or stress you out.  Just know what is best for you.  If you’re not sure yet (I wasn’t), don’t be afraid to try out new places.  I recommend having a list of several places because sometimes you’ll feel like studying in different area, just to change the scenery and energy of the place you have been going.  My list was my couch, a small room in the library with round tables, and a classroom with no one else in it.

(4) Bar materials in hand

Bar prep programs should be very good in getting materials to you way ahead of time.  Make sure you have all your books and materials, your laptop hasn’t been having any major issues, and you’re all paid on your bar dues.  The sooner you have these in hand, the better.

(3) Exercise

There is nothing quite like exercising to get away from it all during bar prep.  There is a lot of science behind the enormously positive effects of exercise, especially when putting your mind through the mental vigor that is the bar exam.  Have a gym membership or a nearby park ready and waiting for you when you want to ditch the books and hit the ground running (pun intended).  Multiple sources have stated that people need 20 minutes of cardio vascular exercise at least three days a week to keep fresh and healthy.

(2) Finances

Your law school time is over and so is all that leftover loan money.  If you haven’t been doing any work other than work study, you may want to make sure you have enough money to last you the next couple months, through and beyond the bar exam.  Some schools offer bar loans, but they work differently than your normal Perkins and Stafford friends, so check with your financial aid office to get the details.  I knew my bar was coming up, so I maxed out my loans the previous semester to make sure I had some leftovers to feed myself on during bar prep time.  If you need to, borrow some money from mom and dad, and do try to avoid receiving ‘overdraft’ emails from the bank the week before your bar.  It won’t be a lot of fun.

(1) Happy activities & Fun Time

Speaking of fun, it can be a huge help to keep happy, upbeat, energized, and positive during bar time!  For those moments when you get down, it may be nice to have a list of things that can pick you back up.  It might be a favorite book or blog to read, your favorite Netflix show or movies, youtube videos, a trusted friend, a video or board game, painting, or some other activity that you can simply retreat into and have fun.  Having a list and the activities written down and ready before bar prep will make it easier on you if you find yourself lost in a forest during bar prep.

I hope this helps!  Good luck on passing your bar exam!

Get used to reading your name and this: “This name appears on the pass list.”

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Anonymous December 15, 2010 at 12:14 pm

way to cover every base, good job.


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