Keep Your Focus & Motivation: Maximizing Your Bar Study Time

When I was studying for the bar exam, at times I found myself off the tracks I was supposed to be on. Studying was frustrating, monotonous, and isolating. Students tend to feel this way as they approach the half-way point. There will be bumps along the way: low scoring practice tests, a difficult MPT, or a harsh essay grader. In these moments, it’s important to stay focused and keep yourself motivated. This post discusses the ways in which you can keep yourself motivated and moving during the rest of your bar exam study.

  1. Tell yourself that you can do it. I know I’ve said it’s important to think positive before, but I mean it more than ever as we get to the half-way point of study. Positivity will get you to where you need to be every day for a productive day. Positive attitudes create positive outcomes. Envision yourself passing the bar exam and envision your name on the pass list of your jurisdiction. This creates tremendous motivation in and of itself.
  2. Don’t let a bad moment in your study to impact the rest of your days and progress. We tend to find ourselves saying “I can’t do this anymore” or “I’m not good enough.” If you feel like you cannot move on from a bad study day or a bad moment, and find yourself saying negative things about yourself, remember this: five weeks ago, months ago, or years ago, you likely had a similar thought at some point in time. Sometime before this in your life, you were in a position that threatened all that was hopeful within you. And at that point in time, you likely thought you couldn’t get through it. But – you did. You woke up in the morning. You pushed through the negativity, and dug yourself out of your moment. Think of these moments, because they remind you of the strength you have and that you can keep going. You’ve always had the strength to get through anything. Don’t ever forget that.
  3. Create plans or lists and stick to them. Crossing things off a to-do list or study schedule makes us more productive and makes us motivated to keep crossing things off.
  4. Give yourself a break and treat yourself. Although as the exam gets closer and you feel like you can’t take any time off – you can. Do not burn yourself out at this point. In addition, as humans, we are motivated by rewards. Treat yourself after a hard week of studying. Go see a movie. Have a glass of wine. Go to dinner. Go eat some awesome ice cream (I recommend Somerset Creamery if you’re in the RI area). Treating yourself and rewarding yourself can be a helpful motivating factor. Of course, the biggest reward of all awaits you – becoming an attorney.
  5. Keep going. See quitting, slacking, and procrastinating as a non-issue because it is not an option. When you do not want to write an MPT – do it. When you do not want to write an essay – do it. You all have it in you to keep going. This is all temporary and worth it. Remind yourself of this to keep going.

Tell yourself these things as you begin a new week of bar prep. No one else can do this for you – you have to push yourself. Stay motivated and stay strong – just like I know each of you are.

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