McGeorge Bar Prep

What You Need to Succeed on the CA Bar Exam

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  • June 2017
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Focus on Tasks, Not Time

Posted by mcgeorgebarprep on June 8, 2017

Several graduates recently have asked how much time they should be spending on bar prep each day.  That is a common question, but the answer truly depends on every individual.

For example, imagine that someone told Person X and Person Y that they need to spend eight to ten hours each day on bar prep.  So X and Y dutifully wake up and head to their preferred study spaces to begin, and each stays there from 8:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. (with a few breaks).  If X is focused and engaged in the material but Y tends to daydream or is easily distracted, Y will get far less out of that time than X.  Yet if X and Y only were tracking how much time they were spending each day, both could say that they were “on track.”  If this remains true for the entire summer, and X passes the bar exam but Y does not, Y will not understand what happened, since Y “spent 10 hours a day studying, just like X.”  This is one reason why focusing only on how much time you spend is dangerous.

Of course bar preparation is a very time-intensive endeavor, and you should be spending the majority of your days working at it; but instead of tracking how many hours per day you spend at your desk, focus instead on the tasks you want to complete each day.  Instead of beginning the day by thinking, “I need to spend ten hours studying today,” try, “Okay, today I need to write two practice essays and review the answers, review the Contracts lecture outline, complete 34 MBEs, and work on my attack sheet for Property.”  That may take you ten hours, and it may not.  Instead of adapting the tasks you complete to fit how much time you want to spend, adapt how much time you spend to fit the tasks you want to complete.

A sizeable chunk of every day should be spent preparing, but every day will be different; it may take ten hours to complete your tasks on one day, and on another day it may take seven.  On yet another day, you may not finish before needing to go to sleep (or perhaps you need to budget for some time off for a planned event), so you will have to move a few tasks to different days.  Regardless, you will be using your time far more effectively than if you were just going through the motions to say that you spend X number of hours per day “studying.”  To give you an idea of what tasks you should be working on in addition to reading outlines and viewing lectures, by the end of the summer you should have completed at least 45-50 timed essays, 5-6 timed PTs, and 1600-1800 MBEs.

So focus more on the tasks you complete and less on the time you spend (unless you’re writing a timed practice essay or PT, of course!), and your bar prep should become much more efficient and effective.



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