Bar exam study schedule for a working, neurotic undisciplined student
April 10, 2008 8:50 AM   Subscribe

Please help me design a bar exam study schedule for a working person.

I have started going over outlines and have done a couple sets of MBEs. I know it's early but I need to get started.

Here are the specifics:
1. Arizona's state bar portion is 12 essays. No MPT's or multiple choice.
2. There is, of course, the MBE (state portion is weighted 2/3, MBE is 1/3 of the score).
3. I work from 8 to 4:30 every day, no overtime... Very straightforward work day ... I work less than 2 miles from where I live and the library is en route between home and work.
4. I have a tutor who will be working on essays with me.
5. I have PMBR CDs and question books, BARBRI outlines, old Arizona bar exams with model essay answers and outlines from my tutor.
6. My metabolism (and psyche) require that I workout 3-4 times a week....The plan is to do that at the lame but convenient workout room at the job. Walking to and from work will be kind of an option for about the next month or so. After that, it will be too damn hot... and right now, all the construction near my home makes it unpleasant at best and dangerous at most.
7. I have the discipline level of a five-year-old. (My apologies to the 5-year-olds.)

Anyone have a schedule idea in mind?

And finally, the test is in July so after that, the green won't have to endure any more questions from me about this motherf$#%@! test.

Thank you.
posted by notjustfoxybrown to Education (5 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
It's never too early to prepare for the bar.

I took the MD bar (with about the same number of essays) while working full time. I only took off a week before the bar, and the actual days of the bar. And I passed with flying colors, so it definitely can be done.

The best thing I did was to work on it every day. I used Bar Exam Strategy, which was invaluable, and did practice exams and essays every single day. During lunch, after dinner, whatever. If you do it in short but frequent bursts, your five-year-old attention span shouldn't be too challenged.

If you have a partner, or a friend that you see often, get them to quiz you whenever possible.

Spend some time writing out the state-specific stuff in short question/answer format. Formulating the questions and answers helps engrave it into your brain, and studying it that way makes it accessible when you're doing the actual test.

Okay, not all of this is about schedule. But I hope the tips help.
posted by cereselle at 9:24 AM on April 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

Here's what I did when I was working full-time and studying for the bar. I bought the barbri CDs for home study. This was crucial for me because it allowed me to bring the CDS with me on my commute to work. I listened to one CD on the way to work and another on the way home. When I got home, I spent the rest of the time outlining and writing practice essays. What was nice about the BARBRI homestudy program is that they gave you a calendar of what you were supposed to finish when. I never could keep up with the schedule during the week, but I was pretty much able to catchup on the weekends. I had fallen a little behind by three or four weeks before the bar so I took two weeks off from work and studied full-time. That allowed me to finish the entire BarBri schedule.

Basically, I think you'll have to find something that works for you. I only really have two pieces of advice that I think are crucial. One, is allow yourself something fun for mental health. There was a movie theater near my house that played movies kind of late. Sometimes I would allow myself to catch a movie after I had finished studying. My boyfriend also cooked me dinner, which was really nice and allowed me to keep studying in the evenings. The other thing is to figure out how you can use downtime for studying (e.g. play c.d.s in the car on the way to work -- use flash cards when your waiting in line for the post office, etc.
posted by bananafish at 9:30 AM on April 10, 2008

Best answer: I am an expert at few things. This is one of them. I was clerking and studying for the bar at the same time. I took BarBri at night, worked from 8-3, went to my school library before the classes and did the homework. I then took PMBR and took 2 weeks off before the bar to cram. I worked from 8 AM to 12 PM, working 55 minutes an hour, and then played Age of Empires for 5 minutes each hour--used a timer on a watch and was very disciplined. I took an hour for lunch, worked from 1 PM to 6 PM, same schedule, then took an hour for dinner, worked one more hour and then took the rest of the night off. This resulted in 7700 minutes of study just before the exam. that's 128 hours and 22 minutes of study. Needless to say, I passed.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:19 AM on April 10, 2008 [4 favorites]

Also I took tons and tons of time on the PMBR practice tests. i can write just fine, so I focused on what I wasn't so good at. Plus watch out for the trick questions with all sorts of detail, which screams "situation A" but includes a tidbit that throws all of that out of the window--the best example I can think of was a Miranda question where all sorts of detail indicated that it was proper, except that the questioning officer asked a compound question: "Do you understand and waive your rights." Needless to say, the "yes" answer was insufficient to waive Miranda, because it was unclear which question the suspect was answering.

Use a very structured system for watching time--I had a timer on a watch that I would set for the aforementioned 55 minutes. When it went off, I reset it for 5 minutes and had my fun. When that went off, I set the timer for 55 minutes again and got back to work.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:24 AM on April 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

I found that for MBE prep, sitting down and taking an ENTIRE section of a practice MBE in a "test like" environment helped enormously. You may want to set weekend appointments with you PMBR books, and set aside the hours to sit down and do the entire section. I found that doing the entire section was an entirely different experience than sporadic review of outlines or going over individual MBE questions.

By breaking down how you're doing on the various MBE topics in this environment, you can also make decisions as to how what subjects to focus on as you get closer to exam time.
posted by QuantumMeruit at 11:00 AM on April 10, 2008

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