Sample Bar Exam Study Schedule: Your Day-by-Day Guide

Every Bar prep program will have study schedules. Most ask you to stick to their sample Bar Exam study schedule. However, here in the real world…we are all very different. We learn differently, we handle stress differently, we have very different responsibilities that may or may not be postpone-able for 2-3 months. So feel free to start with their schedule and tweak it, or start from scratch and create your own.

Know Yourself

The first thing you need to do is be honest with yourself. What are your study strengths? What are your study weaknesses? What helps you to focus? What interruptions cause you to chase a rabbit down a hole for 2 hours without realizing it?

sample bar exam study schedule, know yourself
Make a list. Sift through YOU. Write out all the things that you believe will help you. Write out all the things that will hinder you. Then write out your best subjects. Now your weakest subjects. What do you fear the most on the Bar Exam? What subject on the MEE would make you want to stop and cry?

Write it out, then take a breather.

This is your starting point.

You can’t make a great study schedule without being completely honest with yourself about all of the above, and then some. If you pretend to be “the perfect, model student” you are lying to yourself. If you talk yourself into following some schedule that was given to you by a friend who said their friend aced the Bar by doing A, B, and C; you could end up in the gutter come exam time.

A, B, and C may have worked for your friend’s friend, but there is a high probability that it won’t work the same magic for you. So know yourself. Put it on paper. And then begin planning.

Use What You Know About Yourself

I used what I knew about myself to come up with my own personal study plan. Ok, admission here, I did use BarBri’s schedule as a guide to what subjects to cover for the first month. I wanted to be sure I was covering everything that other students were covering. But after that, it was all me.

What did I know about myself that helped me create my successful, personal study schedule?
I knew:

  • I would do whatever it took to be almost CERTAIN that I’d never have to retake this test
    • I was willing to put in whatever number of hours it took. I don’t need lots of breaks.
    • I was far more concerned with passing the first time out than I was interested in my break time.
  • I knew that I am a visual learner.
    • Going to lectures would be a colossal waste of my time.
    • So I stayed at home and studied with no bar prep classes
      • Note: I would NOT recommend using no classes or prep course. I’m an extreme example of sheer determination. And this was before internet Bar prep tools. I would SO have used them if they had been available back then.
  • I knew I had a bad back and would not be comfortable sitting in the same place for hours at a time.
    • So I had to set up a fantastic study chamber. Yes, I’m laughing at the terminology too! But it really was. My great big bedroom turned into my study chamber, to which no one else in my house had access from 6am till 7pm. I had three different areas to move to when I got “antsy.”
  • I knew I hated silence.
    • I need background noise or music that enhances my mental faculties, rather than silence when I study.
    • So I bought some DVD’s with beautiful landscapes and Cafe-type music to soothe my soul as I crammed my head full of the UCC et al.
  • I knew my weakest subjects
    • I allowed more time for them in my study schedule.

Those are the basics around which I built my study schedule.

Start With the Big Picture, and Work Down

I started big, then worked down to a daily schedule. First, I looked at a monthly calendar for three months. I took the Bar in July, so I blocked off April, May, June, and the first couple weeks of July. Yes, that is a long time. Many people only study for two months, but again, I wanted to leave nothing to chance. I had the time. I wasn’t working. So I used it. Better safe than sorry.

On a monthly calendar, I wrote in the subjects as they were studied by BarBri students for the first month or so. Each day I wrote in the subject that others would be seeing videos on. That was my skeleton.

I wanted to study the hardest in the morning. That worked well for me because I happen to be a morning person. However, if you are not – for this exam – you need to become one for awhile. May as well get used to it now. You don’t take the Bar Exam at night. So start getting used to using your mental faculties early in the day.

Sample Study Schedule

sample bar exam study schedule,
Here is what my daily schedule looked like:

5am Wake and coffee.

5:30 Shower

6am: Do MBE Questions under timed conditions

  • I started out doing only one subject at a time. I did the subject that I’d studied the prior afternoon/evening.
  • I carefully reviewed all answers after taking a 1-hour “mini-MBE.” I wanted to be sure that I knew the correct reasoning, whether I got the question right or wrong! Sometimes I got questions right, but for the wrong reasons.
  • I did this first thing in the morning, because that is when I’m sharpest, and that is also when I’d be taking the real exam.

Noon: Lunch – to be eaten in my study chamber while continuing to read over answer explanations.

1pm: Go over the outline for the subject of the day (as per BarBri)

  • Spend time committing rules to memory
  • Test myself by covering the rules and ‘testing’ my memory of what I just read
    Continue until I’d gotten through the whole outline

6pm: Take a break

  • I’d get in the hot tub with my husband usually, and relax. Maybe have a glass of wine to unwind after the intense day.

7pm: Go over flashcards for the subject of the day. I constantly tested my memory of the rules.

10pm: Sleep

Tweak When Necessary

This worked well for me for the first five weeks or so. When it came time to study for the essay exam, I replace the morning hours with essay exam writing. At this point, I was also experiencing cabin fever. So in the afternoon, when I needed to memorize essay subjects…I took to the pool. I brought my (laminated) outlines to the pool, and swam while memorizing the outlines.

This not only changed things up for me, it got me out of the sacred study chamber and into the sunlight! It improved my mood, and the physical activity improved my memory. It was a win-win.

Do not deviate from the daily schedule you’ve made, as long as it is working for you. If it isn’t working, tweak it. If it is working, stick to it like glue. I always did real-time testing in the AM and memorizing in the PM. That did not change. But I did change what subjects I covered when I needed to, according to my strengths and weaknesses. And I changed where I studied, like moving to the pool.

Keep an eye on what you are good at, and what you need more work on. Don’t be afraid to go back to that 3-month calendar and rearrange subjects according to what you discover needs strengthening.

By the final 3 weeks, I was practicing partial or full exams under exam-like conditions at least 3-4 times per week. I can not overemphasize how much this helped me function like a robot during the exam itself! I was so conditioned by exam day that going through the test was second nature. There were very few surprises. And it was glorious.
sample bar exam study schedule, well done
This worked for me. Use this technique to find what works for you. Then plan it. Stick to it. And come out victorious!

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2 Responses to Sample Bar Exam Study Schedule: Your Day-by-Day Guide

  1. anne October 14, 2018 at 2:22 pm #

    Which Bar Prep you would advise

    • Dawne DuCarpe
      Dawne DuCarpe October 23, 2018 at 9:24 am #

      Hi Anne! As I answer this, keep in mind that I took the Bar Exam about 10 years ago. Back then, all that was really available to us was BarBri and PMBR. I’m sure that now there is a greater selection — so I can’t speak from experience with any other programs right now.

      However, studying with BarBri and PMBR materials worked extremely well for me. As I mention in my blogs, I did not go to classes for the reasons listed above. I simply bought the books and worked on my own.

      But BarBri’s schedule is a great jumping off point. BarBri’s outlines were also my lifeline! And PMBR is priceless for practice.

      Keep in mind that you can buy “recently and gently used” BarBri and PMBR books (if you all are still using actual books) for a fraction of the price and get just as much out of them as the current year. But I would not go any older than a year or two.

      And research all you can. In the last 10 years there may be some new programs out that are even better. Just take your time, really look over the materials, and make sure they are a good fit for you.

      Good luck! All the best.


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