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How To Build Your Bar Exam Study Schedule

May 24, 2024
5 min read


Reviewed by:

David Merson

Former Head of Pre-Law Office, Northeastern University, & Admissions Officer, Brown University

Reviewed: 04/12/24

Are you an aspiring lawyer getting ready to take the bar exam but need some help with creating a bar exam study schedule? Continue reading for tips on how to build an exceptional study schedule to guarantee your success!

So, you’ve aced your LSAT and got accepted into the law school of your dreams. After years of hard work, you are getting so close to becoming a lawyer! Now, your final major step to becoming a practicing lawyer is passing your bar exam. 

Getting ready for the bar exam can be overwhelming and stressful. The bar is notoriously difficult, and it covers six areas of law: 

  • Constitutional Law
  • Contracts
  • Criminal Law
  • Evidence
  • Real Property
  • Torts

This is a wide range of legal material to memorize. However, if you prepare early and create a bar exam study schedule, you have a great chance of doing well on the exam. 

After your years of diligence and dedication, we want to help you with your final steps in your legal journey, whether you're a law school graduate or someone who's pursued legal studies through other means. Continue reading for all the tips and tricks you need to build an effective bar exam study schedule.

How to Make a Bar Exam Study Schedule

Your success on the bar exam begins with your studying schedule. Key the following in mind as you make your bar exam study schedule: 

1. Schedule Your Bar Exam First

Before you create your study schedule, book your exam. Booking your exam will give you a timeline to structure your study plan around. 

2. Create a Study Timeline

Once you know when you are taking the bar exam, plan out a study timeline. When creating your timeline, think about how many days you have to study and how many hours a day you should study to reach the recommended 400 to 600 study hours. 

3. Strategically Schedule Time for Each Subject

Do some research and find out what the bar exam consists of in your state. Some states have different bar exams, while others have the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE), which is the same across states. 

States may weigh different sections differently. If that is the case, you should plan to spend more time on the subjects that weigh heavily on the exam to maximize your potential points earned. 

4. Reach Out Sooner Rather Than Later If You Are Struggling 

If you are struggling at any point in your bar exam preparation, reach out. You can reach out to family, friends, professors, or one-on-one tutoring experts

There are so many supports and resources available to you - take advantage of resources to make sure you feel and perform your best! 

5. During the Last Month: Review, Review, Review 

During the last few weeks leading up to your exam, dedicate your study time to reviewing and taking practice tests. Review all the materials, concepts, and topics you have studied, and take practice tests so you have a solid idea of how long sections on the exam will take you to complete. 

Knowing exactly how to manage your time on a major exam like this is always a good idea so you don’t run out of time. 

6. Leave the Last Week For Self-Care, Rest, and Other Details

Don’t cram in major studying the week prior to your bar exam. Burning out and overloading yourself with last-minute cramming will not help you on the exam. You cannot perform your best or think your best when you are burnt out. 

Additionally, ensure you have all the logistical details worked out a few days before your exam. 

For example:

  • Confirm the location of your exam
  • Find out how long it takes you to get there 
  • Figure out a mode of transportation to your exam 

While pre-exam nerves and anxiety may make you feel the urge to cram in last-minute studying, consistency is a much more effective way to memorize and understand the topics. If you have set a schedule that provides ample time to study and review, the more likely you’ll be prepared and ready to take the exam. 

Take the week before the exam to rest and clear your mind! You might want to try yoga or meditation to calm your nerves leading up to the exam. 

Bar Exam Study Schedule Templates - 10-week, 12-week, 4-month and 6-month

Get ready to tackle the Bar Exam head-on by downloading our straightforward study schedule templates, 10-week, 12-week, 4-month and 6-month durations. These practical plans offer a clear roadmap to cover essential subjects and practice strategies efficiently, ensuring thorough preparation tailored to your timeline.

Simplify your Bar Exam preparation with these adaptable study plans, crafted to suit different study paces and preferences. Best of luck with your bar exam prep!

Common Mistakes When Studying for Bar Exam

To ace the bar exam, set a clear study schedule, practice extensively with real exam questions, and adjust your approach based on your progress. Don't forget to prioritize your health, focus on high-value subjects, and actively engage with the material to enhance comprehension and retention. Let’s take a closer look at each of these tips. 

  • Lack of a Structured Study Schedule: Without a clear plan, you'll likely feel overwhelmed. Establish a structured study routine that includes specific times for studying, breaks, exercise, and rest. This schedule will help you stay organized and make the most of your study time.
  • Insufficient Practice: Passing the bar exam requires practice. Don't underestimate the importance of practicing multiple-choice questions, essays, and performance tests. Regular practice will help you become familiar with the exam format and improve your skills.
  • Failure to Adjust Study Methods: Everyone learns differently. If your current study methods aren't working, don't be afraid to change them. Pay attention to what works best for you and adjust your study routine accordingly.
  • Neglecting Health: It's easy to get caught up in studying and forget about your health. However, neglecting exercise, nutrition, and sleep can negatively impact your performance. Make sure to prioritize your health to stay sharp and focused.
  • Not Simulating Test Conditions: Practice under realistic exam conditions to reduce anxiety and improve your performance. Take practice exams timed and in a similar environment to the actual exam to better prepare yourself mentally.
  • Over-reliance on Lectures: While lectures can be helpful, relying solely on them may not be the most effective way to learn. Instead, actively engage with the material by taking notes, summarizing key points, and practicing application.
  • Ignoring Highly Tested Subjects: Focus your study efforts on subjects that are heavily tested. Allocate more time to mastering these subjects to maximize your chances of success.
  • Passive Reviewing of Outlines: Simply reading through outlines won't help you retain information effectively. Instead, actively engage with the material by summarizing key points, quizzing yourself, and applying concepts to practice questions.
  • Not Using Real MBE Questions: Practice with real MBE questions to better prepare yourself for the exam. These questions closely resemble what you'll encounter on the actual exam and will help you become familiar with the format and difficulty level.
  • Excessive Reliance on Flashcards: While flashcards can be useful for memorization, don't rely on them too heavily. Focus on creating flashcards for key concepts and rules, and use them sparingly as part of your study routine.

By addressing these common mistakes and implementing effective study strategies, you'll be better prepared to pass the bar exam.

FAQs: Bar Exam Study Schedule

Still have questions about building a bar exam study schedule? Keep reading as we answer some of your frequently asked questions. 

1. Is Three Months Enough to Study for the Bar Exam?

This all depends on your schedule and when you plan to take the exam. 

The American Bar Association recommends that you begin preparing for the bar exam at least six months before you take it. This preparation includes catching up on lectures, assignments, and other school materials before you graduate. 

If you can study for the bar full-time (meaning 40 to 60 hours a week), you might be able to start studying for the bar about nine weeks before taking the exam. In this scenario, three months should be enough. 

2. How Long Should a Bar Study Be?

You should spend at least 400 to 600 hours studying for the bar. If you begin studying earlier, you can spend about 20 to 30 hours a week studying. If you begin studying later, or your bar exam was scheduled close to your graduation date, you should spend at least 40 to 60 hours a week studying. 

3. How do I Create a Bar Study Schedule?

You can use this article’s sample study schedule as your own bar study schedule! 

Feel free to modify the schedule to best suit your needs. For example, if you work better later at night, you should do most of your studying at night. If you are someone who needs multiple breaks, extend your study time but add in more breaks throughout the day. 

When you are creating a bar exam study schedule, remember:

  • Research and be aware of what the bar exam consists of
  • Don’t jam too many topics into one day 
  • Schedule enough time for each topic 
  • Give yourself sufficient breaks 
  • Get an early start 
  • Plan for days of just review

Don’t overcomplicate your study schedule, as it may be hard to manage and follow. Keep it simple and straightforward!

4. How Many Days a Week Should I Study for the Bar?

Again, this depends on your personal schedule, the study schedule you create, and when you are going to take the bar. 

If you find yourself in a situation where you are scheduled to take the bar exam within a few weeks after you graduate, then you may have to increase your study days to six or seven days a week. There is a lot to cover in the bar exam. 

If you have at least a few months before you take the exam, you should aim to study for the bar four or five days a week. Be mindful not to overload yourself and your schedule. Breaks are important! 

Get Ready for The Bar Exam

Get ready by utilizing your bar exam study schedule. Successful preparation begins with strategic planning and time management. Consistent and continuous study is key. 

Here are some non-study-related tips to help you get ready for the bar exam:

  • Eat Healthy 
  • Stay Hydrated 
  • Practice Affirmations 
  • Think about something else other than the exam 

As mentioned before, self-care is just as essential to your success for the bar exam as studying. Taking care of yourself physically and mentally, especially while you’re under a lot of stress, is key to being prepared to ace the exam. 

While all of this is a lot of information to take in, remember that you are not starting from scratch–your J.D. has been preparing you for the exam. 

You should also be actively preparing for the bar while you are completing your J.D. Your lectures, class notes, and assignments provide you with the best (and most reliable!) study materials. 

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