“I’m Studying But I Don’t Feel Like I am”: How To Understand This Common Feeling

I think we have all been here and can relate – we have been studying for over one month and we have days where we feel like nothing is sinking in and like we don’t know any law. What’s up with this?

First, know that just because this is a feeling, doesn’t mean it has truth. You are learning during this process, and please trust that. Second, if you’re feeling this way, it might mean you aren’t mixing up your study approach enough. This looks like a typical day for most students: (1) watch hours of lectures, (2) read outlines, (3) make flashcards, and (4) do some practice questions. If you’re just reviewing law, it feels like you’re not studying because you’re not testing what you know and learning from factual examples. Further, if you’re just reading someone else’s material over and over again (commercial bar review outlines, commercial flashcards), it might feel like you aren’t digesting anything in this vortex of constant reading and review. So – if you’re feeling this way – try changing things up a bit!

  • Make some of your own study materials. Is there a subject you’re really struggling with? Take some blank pieces of paper and work on drawing or charting that subject out. Look at the general law and how the nuances fit in. Look at how the subject and its subtopics connect with each other. Making some of your own materials and writing things out can help you remember law better and can make you feel like you’re studying more because you’re working more actively with the material.
  • Find a balance between review and practice. Students usually feel like their not studying if they’re doing too much of one thing and not the other. Review and practice, at this point, should be 50/50. Students who are reviewing in most of their hours feel like they aren’t studying. Students who are practicing and not reviewing enough to adjust their understanding find themselves making the same mistakes in their practice and feel like they are not studying. Mix it up. You learn from both reviewing and you execute what you know or don’t know from your practice, and you further your learning.
  • Talk it out. Get together with someone and talk out a subject. Teach it to someone – when you do, you’re teaching it to yourself. When you talk about a subject aloud, and even explain it to yourself aloud, it helps with your understanding and makes you feel like you are studying.
  • Remember that bar study is a gradual process. You’re not going to see improvement in a matter of hours or even a few days, but you will see gradual improvement over the course of the next weeks in your study. A lot of us are too hard on ourselves, expecting ourselves to score incredibly high, and not crediting the fact that this is difficult and you are juggling so much at once. Give yourself this credit, and remember that you will see improvement, and every day and every week of bar prep creates that difference.

This is a normal feeling, and it’s okay to self-assess and reevaluate your study process. Try mixing things up. Remember to have a balance between review and practice. And, as always, give yourself the credit you deserve going through this.

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