The February 2009 bar exam is five months away. If you are a law student and about to graduate this December, then I urge you to begin your studies now. And, if you are an examinee who graduated in May of 2008 (or some time earlier) and have postponed the bar exam, you should begin your studies now.
Many examinees delay their studies and leave only 1 1/2 or 2 months to prepare. While two months of full time study is often enough, it simply makes sense to begin your studies earlier.
Why should I begin my studies early? The reason you should begin your studies early is because it will help ensure that you only take the exam once (or if you are already a repeat bar examinee, then it will help to ensure that this is your last bar attempt). It simply is easier to learn the material and to develop the necessary technique if you have more time to do it.
Gear up to full time study and pace yourself. Rather than try to learn everything all at once or to start studying 12 hours a day, begin slowly and build up over time. Think of your study for the bar as getting ready for a marathon. You don’t have to be an athlete to pass the bar exam. But, utilizing some of the techniques and strategies of professional athletes is not a bad idea. For example, a marathon runner trains for the big day. Success on the bar exam is also about training. Marathon runners also build up to the big day by gradually increasing the lengths of their runs and increasing their time and distance as they approach the date of their marathon. In addition, many distance runners run a few miles on a few days of the week and then take longer runs on other days of the week. The idea here is that you a runner trains in such a way that he or she builds up endurance and strength and allows for breaks (days that involve a shorter run and also days with a complete break). It makes sense to train in this way for the bar exam too.
For example, beginning your studies several months in advance of the bar exam (October for the February bar exam or March for the July bar exam) will allow you to study a few hours once a week and gradually build up to more hours on more days. This is an extremely effective way to train/prepare for the bar exam.
I encourage my students to begin their studies early to allow for this kind of gradual start that builds over time and ultimately culminates into the intense final month and a half of study leading up to the bar exam. Our students who study in this fashion – beginning their studies several months in advance – essentially build in a buffer for themselves. Because they have studied early, they can take a break, they are less stressed out in the weeks and days leading up to the bar exam and they tend to have exceptionally high pass rates.
So, don’t wait to crack open one of your bar exam books and begin your studies early. Come exam day, you will be really glad that you did.
The best of luck to those of you about to prepare for the upcoming exam!
Bar None Review