Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Maximizing Your Last Week of Study

By this point, many of you have let your study plans fall to the waste side. Now you are studying like crazed lunatics. Practice questions, practice essays, outline after outline, or index card after index card – you’re desperately trying to drink a fire hose-worth of bar exam knowledge. With a little less than a week before the biggest exam of your life, you keep telling yourself that you must make the most of every hour leading up to it. All sound familiar? While I don’t recommend this plan, I do understand.   

Rather than lecture you about how you should have studied earlier, I’m better off helping you not totally screw up your last few days of study. All is not lost! This time is very important to your success next week! Here are six pointers to keep in mind.

1.  Review Smart 
  • Pop off 25 MBE practice questions per day—but review each explanation!
  • If you’re comfortable with all of the major issues for each subject, then focus on the details. If you’re still trying to nail down all of the major issues, focus on them—and forget the details.
  • Think small at this point. Ditch the big outlines and books. If applicable, rifle through your index cards, three or four subjects per day. Better yet, just read the essay book. No outlining, no writing—just read the essay and model answers, one essay at a time. The model answers are chalk-full of law. More importantly, all of this law was actually, previously tested. In other words, all of the fatty, irrelevant details are by default trimmed away. Take note of any frequently tested issues in the essays. These subject-specific patterns will show you the law that the examiners think is important!
2.  Recharge Your Body
  • You can’t afford to get strung out or sick. You’ll risk carrying your exhaustion or sickness into the exam days. Now is the time to begin physically preparing for your exam days. 
  • Study no more than 8 hours per day. Trust me, it's plenty. And do not stretch 8 hours of quality studying over 12 hours, as this approach will burn you out.
  • Get sufficient rest (minimum 7 hours per night, preferably 8 hours), eat healthy foods and drink lots of fluids. Your body needs to be physically prepared for two grueling days.
3.  Recharge Your Brain and Psyche
  • Emotional meltdowns are the enemy! Avoid crying in a stupor about your preparation or progress, or lack thereof. At this point, those issues are behind you. 
  • Also, avoid crying in a stupor about the bar exam. Fretting over it won’t make it come sooner and go away or get any easier. It’s coming. Embrace it.
4.  Keep Up Your Confidence
  • This one’s crucial! You have to keep your head up. You must be confident in your abilities, even if you don’t quite feel that way. The bar exam is like a premier chess player. It wins by finding your weaknesses and exploiting them. Don’t let that happen. Build an impenetrable wall around yourself. When you feel an urge of anxiety or fear rushing upon you, get up and take a break. Then smack your anxiety back with a pep talk.
  • If you walk into the bar exam under-confident, chances are you’re not going to pass. You can do it. Believe in yourself!
5.  You’re on the Home Stretch
  • You’re almost there! Take a minute to appreciate just how much effort you gave this summer, how you put your mind to taking the bar, and just how much law you now know. Honestly, you know more law right now than you may ever know in your entire career. That’s impressive!
You’re rounding the turn for the final 100 meters. Don’t let up know; finish strong, but finish smart.

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