Bar Exam Prep While Working Full Time: What You Need to Know

If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of having to do your bar exam prep while working full time, then this article is for you. Take it from someone who’s done this two times (and passed two different exams), that not having the resources to study for the bar exam full time is not the end of the world.

My first go at the bar exam was in Colorado. I wasn’t able to get any money to pay for my expenses while I studied for the bar exam, so I had to work to make ends meet. It was rough since I was married and had three kids at the time. That was a lot of mouths to feed. But, I made it work, and passed the Colorado Bar Exam with flying colors.

bar exam prep while working, I passed - magooshPhoto by Sofiaworld

The second go around, when I moved to Vancouver, WA, I had to take the Oregon Bar Exam, since Vancouver is just across the river from Portland, OR. I was doing my bar exam prep while working full time as a legal assistant at a law firm in Oregon, and needed to pass the exam to work at the firm as an attorney. Unfortunately, once again I found myself unable to take any time off to prepare for the bar exam. In fact, the only time off I had was when I actually sat for the exam. Long story short, I passed that exam as well!

So believe me when I say I know what it’s like to be working while studying for the bar exam. To help you along, here are a few things that will be good for you to know if you find yourself in this position.

1. Studying for the exam is not going to be any less stressful for you than for anyone else—and that includes everyone studying full time.

You should be really excited about this. As far as stress goes, there are going to be people who are even more stressed out than you are. That’s a fact. So, know that while things are going to be crazy, it’s the same for everyone.

2. You should start studying a couple of months early, if possible.

If you must do bar exam prep while working full time—the earlier you start your bar review, the better. If you’re planning on taking the exam in July, then you should try and start around April, or even March. Take a couple of hours every night to work on getting through the material. Trust me, you’ll thank me later when you’re trying to keep up with the crazy schedule the bar review company has laid out for you.

3. Saturdays are your days to make real progress.

While you should be able to find 3-6 hours on week nights to study for the exam, Saturdays are precious. They are the best days to catch up on missed lectures, and really put in a lot of good quality study time. Trust me, you’ll need this if you’re working while studying for the bar exam.

4. Run through as many essay questions as possible the last week of your bar study.

While a lot of your study is going to revolve around the Multistate Bar Exam (the 400 multiple choice questions you’re going to run into), you can’t forget about your essays. To really hit it home, take that last week to go through as many multistate essay questions as possible.

I went through at least 100, taking more in the subjects I was weaker on.

The repetitions you get in the last week will prove to be invaluable to you when you take the exam. You’ll understand how to read, map, outline, and answer your essays very quickly, the more you’re able to go through. You’ll also be very familiar with the different kinds of issues that are commonly tested on the exam.

To sum up, it’s not the end of the world if you can’t study full time for the bar exam! I know that from personal experience. Just keep your head up and follow my advice and you’ll get that passing score you need.

Sign up for early access to Magoosh UBE Prep!

4 Responses to Bar Exam Prep While Working Full Time: What You Need to Know

  1. Shanthi Hu November 13, 2018 at 5:46 pm #

    Would you mind telling me or sending me a copy of your bar prep study schedule? I’m also working full-time and studying for the UBE but I’ve found that commercial study programs create schedules for those who can study full-time.

  2. Brandy Alexander April 13, 2019 at 2:10 am #

    Hi, thank you for the great article and for making me feel that it is in fact possible to pass the bar while still working full-time. I really needed your words of encouragement and I am feeling better about it ALREADY! I am at work this evening but tomorrow, SATURDAY is my official BAR STUDY START DAY!!! So, I will use it to launch my path forward to the bar exam!!! All of the Saturdays until July 30/31 will indeed be my opportunity to make real progress FORWARD!!! Also, I am planning to wake up earlier each workday so that I can review materials cumulatively each day from the evening study the night before. That way, I will see my outlines of substantive material repetitively hoping that they will become second nature to me by the time the bar exam roll around. Once again, thank you for the words of encouragement and I will keep you all posted on the outcome of my bar exam in July 2019. The test results are due to be announced on September 27, 2019, so WISH ME LUCK!!! – Brandy

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert April 15, 2019 at 4:32 am #

      Hi Brandy!

      We’re glad to hear that you found this blog post helpful. It sounds like you’ve got a good plan moving forward 🙂

      Have fun studying, and best of luck on your exam!


Magoosh blog comment policy: To create the best experience for our readers, we will only approve comments that are relevant to the article, general enough to be helpful to other students, concise, and well-written! 😄 Due to the high volume of comments across all of our blogs, we cannot promise that all comments will receive responses from our instructors.

We highly encourage students to help each other out and respond to other students' comments if you can!

If you are a Premium Magoosh student and would like more personalized service from our instructors, you can use the Help tab on the Magoosh dashboard. Thanks!