Another year has come and gone, which means that upcoming February bar examinees are swapping the cheerful music and holiday parties for outlines, books and MBE prep. Although it may feel like crunch time, studying for hours each day without taking proper precautions is sure to lead to burnout. Be proactive with these tips to ensure that you stay motivated and maximize your studying, all while avoiding bar prep burnout in 2015.
You’re a law student, not Superman, and most of us know our own limitations. However, during bar exam preparation, law students will often set superhuman goals of how much studying to accomplish in one day. This approach, however, is far from effective. It will only leave you feeling overtired and overwhelmed. Remind yourself that you’re human, which not only means that that you will make mistakes, but that it’s also okay to make them.
Don’t overdo it.
From grocery shopping to paying the bills, your free time can quickly transition into time dedicated to your to-do list. However, filling your free time with additional responsibilities will only send you spiraling into stress overload. Don’t push yourself to accomplish more than you can handle. Regardless of each day’s responsibilities, make your schedule more manageable by keeping studying your main priority and setting one to three smaller goals that you are confident you can achieve.
Find a stress reliever.
It’s easy to fall into the repetitive routine of waking up, studying for hours, and going to bed soon after. While this method may seem like a surefire way to maintain focus on the bar exam, it’s also one of the quickest ways to get burnt out because it leaves little time for your brain and body to recover. To solve this issue, think about what allows you to de-stress the most. While some favor a specific environment, such as a candlelit room, others relax better through an activity like running or yoga. Identify your biggest stress reliever, then regularly make time for it in your schedule to boost energy, health, and overall motivation.
Track your progress.
Knowing how you are progressing in your bar prep will save you time and frustration in the long run – either by reassuring you that your study method is working or indicating that you need to change something to study more efficiently. To track your progress manually, keep a detailed summary of what you study each day, how long you study, and how many practice questions you answer correctly in each subject and subtopic. Use this record to identify which areas you may need to dedicate more studying to. Or, if you have an AdaptiBar account, you can monitor your MBE strengths and weaknesses under the ‘Performance’ tab.
Identify your triggers.
Do you feel like calling it quits every time you practice writing state law essays? Is there a specific topic or subtopic that discourages you the most? Pay close attention to your biggest frustrations while studying for the bar exam, then avoid burnout by studying them in smaller increments. For example, if practicing Torts questions makes you want to run in the opposite direction, don’t force yourself to study the subject for an extended period of time. Instead, break up the material into several one or two-hour segments of studying that you can complete over the course of a few days.
Put yourself first.
Passing the bar exam can often feel like the most important thing in the world. While passing the bar is undoubtedly important to your career, there are other things, such as your physical, mental, and emotional health, that are more important. Keep your overall health in check by exercising regularly, eating healthy, getting adequate sleep each night, and surrounding yourself with friends and loved ones. Doing so will not only help you avoid burnout, but also motivate you to perform your best on test day.