Getting Ready for the Hard Work of Bar Prep

As we gear up for a new bar prep session, it’s time to assess our readiness for the task ahead. Whether we’ve just finished law school or we’ve learned that we must face the task of preparing for the bar exam again unexpectedly, we’ve got to be realistic about what’s now ahead. And here’s what’s truly ahead:

A lot of hard work.

There’s really no way around it. We may feel like spending time either celebrating our graduation or we may feel dejected by our bar results and want to just stew in our disappointment for a while. No time for this when the bar session barrels rolls in like a huge wave. We have to ride it or it’s going to crash over us and we’re going to be overwhelmed.

There are 3 facts that we all have to face so we not only keep our heads above water, but ride the wave to success.

1. Time is going to fly.
2. There are a lot of subjects to cover.
3. It’s time to sacrifice the perfect for the good enough.

Your bar review session will last around two months. Seven to eight weeks. I don’t know if this sounds like a long or short amount of time to you, but rest assured, for the amount of work you have to do, that time will fly by. When you hit the fourth week, you’ll be asking yourself, Where did the time go? Can I have some of it back? Please??

Those subjects—those many, many subjects—some of those subjects you barely remember from first year in law school, some of them you hated, some of them that were taught by a terrible professor, some that you might not have even taken in law school—they all must be reviewed and they all must be understood well enough so that you can prepare a competent essay and answer challenging multiple choice questions. You have a lot of work ahead. And remember—not a lot of time in which to do it.

So how do you do it all? You can’t expect perfection. You can’t write perfect essays. You won’t get every multiple choice question right. You have to let go of the idea that you’re gunning for an A in the class. There is no A. There is no class. There’s just you, prepping for an exam that you only have to pass, not ace. You have to be “good enough.” You have to be good enough in a lot of subjects, so if you get hung up on being perfect, on getting that A, or on answering most of the MBE questions right, you’re going to get behind because you’re going to stress too much over the earlier subjects instead of practicing just enough then moving on. You must cover it all. Not perfectly. Just enough to pass.

So where does this time come from? How do we light the fire under our behinds when we’re used to working in semesters, not in a short, intense prep session like this? It requires two things: Commitment and focus. Come up with your primary reason for doing this and remind yourself of that reason daily—hourly if you need to. If you don’t have a reason, a core motivation, you won’t do the work. As the cliché goes, You gotta want it. That’s your commitment.

As for focus, you have to be willing to limit your distractions for the seven to eight weeks of your life to reach that goal. You have to say no to Facebook and Twitter and email and texting when it’s time to sit in lectures or write essays or study. You have to stay home when everyone else is going out, you have to put down the video games, you have to let calls go to voicemail—whatever your time thieves are, you know what they are and you have to say to yourself, I need this time to achieve this goal and this time is going to fly by, I have a ton of subjects to cover and once it’s over, I can go back to my normal life. And don’t be afraid to ask for help from friends and family if you’ve got a lot on your plate and find it hard to carve out time to study.

So get ready. We’re headed for a serious challenge. But you’ve gone through a lot to get to this point. You’re up to this. You can do this, too.