Dear Hastings Bar Exam preparers, here are some study tips from a fellow Hastings grad (Class of 2010). Immediately after graduation, I dived into my bar course but was burnt-out from law school and had difficultly staying focused. I took the bar exam and failed. Failure was extremely difficult to deal with; it put me in a dark place. Crucial to my emotional recovery was immediately showing up for the repeat bar course and being surrounded by other students who had failed their first attempt. I realized that I was not alone, that others went through the same heartache as I did, and most importantly, I was encouraged by seeing how many others were willing to give it a second try.
Enough backstory. Here is how I was able to pass the second time around.
- I IGNORED MY CELL PHONE. Seriously! Cell phones cause distraction. Do whatever it takes to ensure that your cell phone is nowhere near you during your daily study time.
- I FREQUENTLY TOOK MINI PRACTICE EXAMS. At some point during your daily study, STOP – and attempt 1 essay prompt or a small set of multiple choice (timed). Repeat essay prompts if necessary. Do this at least 3-4 a week in addition to the scheduled practice exams provided by your bar company. I cannot emphasize this enough. I was able to walk into my 2nd attempt at the bar exam with confidence given the number of practice essays prompts I drafted during my studies.
- I STAYED ON PACE WITH MY BAR COMPANY. It will be extremely difficult to complete 100% of the homework your bar company assigns you, even if you are diligent in your studies. If you fall behind, don’t panic. Leave the unfinished work as is, and move onto the next lesson according to the schedule given to you by your bar company. This way you will get the most out of your bar company lectures.
- I MADE AN EFFORT TO REST AND RELAX. Google it for yourself: there are numerous clinical studies demonstrating a positive correlation between rest and mental acuity/memory. It is never a good idea to pull an all-nighter in the hopes of completing 100% of the bar company homework. Take naps after a long stretch of studying. Set aside 30-45 min daily to briskly walk around the block a few times. Develop a healthy sleep pattern and watch your caffeine intake. When you begin to feel tightness in your chest due to stress, take a step back, close your eyes, meditate, and remind yourself of all of your accomplishments. End your day doing something relaxing (watch some Netflix, play some X-Box, etc.). It may feel counterintuitive to relax while preparing for arguably the most important exam of your life. However, if you have an anxious personality like myself, and are prone to burn-out, maintaining a healthy and well-rested mind and body will be just as crucial, if not more, than mastery of legal knowledge.
Good luck on your exam!