Ironically, the familiar faces we see around the law school in the summer are those who recently graduated. The bar exam is no joking matter, and it is full-time work for those preparing to enter the legal profession.
To support these lonely, pressured souls, I created a bar exam blog a couple of years ago. My goal is to post weekly pick-me-ups to help our graduates survive the summer. Here is my first post of this (and each) summer, posted today:
BEEN THERE, REMEMBER THAT
There is a VERY familiar question that dominates the bar-studying mind at just about this point each summer. The question is: When do I actually learn all this stuff?
Sure, the lectures tell you exactly what you need to know, but that is still a lot to learn – per subject. Then, you are given multiple choice sets to complete, and essays to write, and at least several of us start wondering – When do I get time to process it all?
Here is my advice:
1. Follow the program. It is tempting to tell yourself that you need to “learn it first” before doing the practice questions, but that would be a big mistake. Trust me when I say that practicing is very important in the memorization process. You should follow the program, do the practice sets and essays, and make sure to thoroughly review your answers once you are finished. Every reputable bar review company has you do lots of practice for a reason – it is a time-tested process that works for those that take it seriously.
2. Use your “review” time wisely. This is the big question – what to do with the “review” time in your daily calendar. My suggestion is to decide early on if you prefer using outlines or flashcards (or something else?) to summarize all you plan to know – prompted by the lectures – for each subject you are responsible to learn. Then, after a lecture, use the review time to assemble your outline or set of flashcards that summarize what you need to extract from the lectures. Eventually, once you have composed these study aids, you will use your review time to work through them and continue toward the goal of memorization. (I should also mention that you will continually tweak your outlines/flashcards throughout the summer as you take practice tests and discover bits of information you did not originally include.)
3. Remember the myth of the leaky bucket. A friend of mine told me that studying for the bar feels like your head is a bucket with twelve holes in it. You feel like you start to “get” a subject, then you move on to others, and when you return to the first subject, it feels as if everything you learned has leaked out! This is exactly what it feels like, but it is simply not true. Instead, studying for the bar is more like adding layers of paint to a wall. The first time through, you get a layer. Next time through, you add another layer. If you keep following the program, by summer’s end (which is your destination), you will discover that you have added many layers of memorization and are amazingly ready to test on a wide variety of subjects.
So, to answer the original question – When do I actually learn all this stuff? Surprisingly, you already are. Keep following the program, start composing the study aids that will help you the most, and in time you will discover that you have added plenty of layers necessary to pass the bar.
Please feel free to stay in touch with me all summer. You can post questions/comments on the Facebook group, on the blog, send me personal emails, come see me, or give me a call at the office (x7695).
I am rooting for you all.
Yours to count on,