Bar Exam Mind – Journaling Exercise Two

by thedesertion

Today’s journaling exercise from Bar Exam Mind: A Strategy Guide for an Anxiety-Free Bar Exam by Matt Racine is this: Review  two quotes and write about what they mean for bar prep.

Lack of time is actually lack of priorities. Timothy Ferriss

This is SO me. Sooooooo me. I always feel like I’ve run out of time, or that I just don’t have enough time to do all the things I want to do. This quote really makes me think about myself. Is it that I don’t have enough time? Or is that I don’t care? Or is it that I just don’t care enough to prioritize? Or is it that I suck at prioritizing tasks?

I think it’s that I don’t put enough diligence into prioritization. I used to have one of those day planner agenda books well after Google calendar and iCal were in existence. In tune with most of the legal profession, I am slow to upgrade technology to the 21st century. I am the type of person that tends to forget appointments or miss out on doing something that I should have done or that I really, sincerely wanted to do because I failed to mark it down in my agenda. Then, somehow, I run out of time or I just don’t have time to begin with, and so on and so forth.

This quote is an eye-opener. What it is saying to me that the time is there, but the priorities are not. If you want to get something done, you will do it because you have made it a priority. This especially rings true for bar studies. Last time, I ran out of time to make my own condensed bar outlines and flash cards. I think the real truth is that I didn’t figure out how to make the time to do it. That is to say, I did not prioritize such tasks, and then later blamed it on Barbri’s schedule being too full for me to incorporate outline creation and flash cards into the daily study routine.

What I am seeing now is that I think prioritization is important when studying for the bar. There is a lot of material to internalize, and you have to do it in your own way by prioritizing the type of study habits and techniques that have proven to work for you in the past. Even if that means not doing things Barbri’s way, and eliminating some of the tasks Barbri sets out for you and replacing them with your own, highly prioritized tasks.

This time, I have begun the creation of condensed subject matter outlines for all of the areas of law to be tested on the exam. I have also started creating flash cards on all of the MBE subjects. I am feeling better about bar exam round two already.

The second quote is:

[Diligence is] the necessity of giving sufficient attention to detail to avoid error and prevail against obstacles. – Atul Gawande

One thing I am doing this time around that helps me avoid error by giving sufficient attention to detail is that I have created and Excel spreadsheet for logging all of the MBE practice questions that I get wrong. I had mentioned this in an earlier post and I think it is such a wonderful thing that it’s worth mentioning again. By looking at this spreadsheet, I can see the exact topics that trip me up time and time again and spend more time focusing on improvement in those areas. If you are doing Barbri, the StudySmart online MPQ essentially does something similar – it tracks your multiple choice questions and lets you know which specific topics in evidence, for example, are troubling you. As I mentioned, I am an old-school type of person, so I tend to stick to the paper and pencil multiple choice.

What I am already noticing the second time around for bar study is that the concepts are coming back to me faster. The first time around, I had to learn everything from what seemed like scratch. It was as if I’d never taken a year of torts, a year of contracts, and so on in law school. This time it is allowing me to focus, giving sufficient attention to detail. Now that I am paying more attention to the details rather than trying to shove information in my brain, I am starting to see how all of the moving parts of various areas of law work together. It is not just a matter of rote memorization anymore. It is a matter of observing the inner workings of the concepts and having that “a-ha!” moment in my mind that makes me feel a great sense of accomplishment. Those kinds of moments are priceless.

I am feeling much better about getting a “pass” this time. I feel like in my mind I can see my name on that pass list. This is a feeling I didn’t have last time.