For some, Bar prep is a monantic pursuit: isolated from others; living on MBE questions and Red Bull. 12 hours a day is just not enough time for them. They will do more reviewing and reading than they even thought they could do. Others claim two weeks was enough for them. Intense, focused preparation, take the test and go back work. No biggie, just a long quiz. There is even a sizable minority that procrastinates to the end and then turns to prayer hoping for divine intervention when trying to remember the elements of a unilateral contract. I am sure you fall somewhere in between these different extremes. Probably you’re a little worried, not sure where to start and dreading the continuing drudgery or reviewing the law again and again until your dreams are a series of tort fact patterns featuring Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner (I’d sue Acme for every crazy anvil/rocket/bear trap I ever bought if I were Wile).
To me, it is situational. You have to find your way to bring together 3 or more years of law school together for a 2 day test. Even those who feel they could get away with only studying for two weeks, they wouldn’t do it; they’re too risk adverse. On the other end of the spectrum, some candidates feel as if they’re cheated out of life’s sweetness by spending ANY more time than they have to on studying. I am from the risk adverse school for Bar prep; I planned great things only to not always complete them. But I tried hard to meet my study goals and always felt bad when I did not meet them. I passed (not by much) so obviously it was enough. Your situation is unique as you are unique. You need to plan ahead to meet your preparation needs:
If you have to work during Bar preparation: 12 weeks, six days per week, 4 – 5 hours per day. This early start should give you time to review the law, make your outlines, practice questions and make your own study guides. Just make sure the 4 hours is quality time where you are not interrupted and you stick with the program. Slow and steady wins the day. This is an easier pace than more intensive studies.
If you’re not working during Bar preparation: 8 weeks, six days per week, 8 -10 hours per day. This gives you a little more wiggle room for missedor partial days. Same program as above. You want to set weekly goals to make sure you’re getting in all of your study time. Every week you meet your goal, do something nice for yourself. Think triathlete style of study. The advantage here is you can focus more practice on individual subjects as well as spend more time preparing outlines in a single day.
Quality v. Quantity: I always vote for quality. Better to do quality studying versus the false satisfaction of sitting through 8 ours of lectures and claiming to have studied all days. It’s better that you spend two hours writing your own summaries of the substantive law than sit through lectures where you’ll ‘hear & forget’ what’s being presented.
Bottom Line: Know thyself. Set modest goals and go beyond them. Own the law you’ll be tested on. Study enough for this test and you’ll know you’ll be prepared for the real test – practicing law and making a buck at it.
Next Time: Waht Qualifies as Quality Studying?