how to start bar prep the right way

There are a few things you need to do when you begin your bar exam studies. I’ve discussed many of these things in other blog posts and in various podcasts, and I will link to those resources at the end of this post.

Here, I want to highlight two things you should be focusing on:

  1. making sure you clear away any stress-inducing influences as best you can, and
  2. ensuring that you have a good place to study and a reasonable schedule.

Stress cleansing

It is very important to get stress-inducing people and things out of your life while you are studying for the bar exam.

Studying for the bar exam takes a substantial amount of time for most people and if you can avoid wasting time on worrying about or dealing with stressful people or situations, then it is much easier to focus on your bar exam studies.

Among the stressful people and situations to which I refer are annoying friends and family members, financial stress, concerns about upcoming events in which you will be participating, and the like.

In terms of the stressful people in your life, there are two main ways to do deal with them:

  1. exclude them from your life for the period of time you’ll be studying for the bar exam; or
  2. explain to them that you need time to yourself to study for the bar exam and ask them to be patient with you.

Only you know which of these is best for a particular person, so act accordingly.

Financial stress. We all have bills to pay, and those bills do not stop when you are studying for the bar exam. Assess your resources and determine whether you have a thick or a thin financial cushion.

If you think that you may come close to running out of money during your bar exam studies, see if there’s anything you can do about that now.

  • Could you take a bar exam loan from a lender?
  • Could you borrow money from friends or family if you suddenly ran out and needed a few hundred dollars to make rent or buy food?
  • Could you move out of your current location and move somewhere where you could live more cheaply or for free? (I would not advise moving during the time you study for the bar exam, but if you can move after you complete law school but before you start studying for the bar exam, that might be something worth exploring.)

Make sure that all your bills get paid. If you are a forgetful person, set some computerized reminders on your phone or computer to tell you to pay your bills. When your head is filled with bar exam this-and-that, it may become easy to forget to pay your bills.

In terms of upcoming events, be sure to get out a calendar (either paper or virtual) and review what’s coming up during the period of time you be setting for the bar exam. Most people will have a holiday or two or maybe a birthday or a wedding or some significant event they want to participate in or celebrate. Make sure that you budget your time so that you can participate in these important events.

Study location and schedule

If you know where you will study then you can stop reading.If you are debating where to study, you should consider how you study and what sort of environment need to study in.

I preferred a calm environment for studying, though some background noise was fine. I studied at my law school’s library for my first bar exam, and I studied at a public library for my second bar exam.

Some people study at coffee shops or outdoors, if you can do that great. I could not have done that.

Also, be sure to consider when you will study. I highly recommend studying during the same time at the bar exam is offered (i.e., 8 AM to 5 PM).

If you study at different times during the day, then be sure to slowly change your study time to the normal 8 to 5 time as you approach the bar exam since you will need to be ready to go during those hours.


I hope you have enjoyed this post. I’ve linked to various resources below relating to the topics discussed above so that if you’re interested in them, you can explore them in more detail.


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