I completely feel your pain. A year ago the summer from hell (as i affectionately call bar prep summer) had me feeling confused, insomniac, angry, happy, anxious all at the same time...but I picked up a few things along the way, I think passing the bar on the first try with high enough scores to practice in any UBE state qualifies me to tell you these secrets to passing the bar that no bar prep company will tell you.
1. Use self-awareness while studying for the bar: From your 3 years of law school you have some amazing inventory about your self and your study habits. You know what classes you absolutely loved and what classes you did not enjoy at all. You know whether you are more of a multiple choice person or an essay person. Evaluate all that information and let that determine your pace and style of studying.
2. Use that information to find your study sweet spot: After you have done an honest evaluation of yourself, let that information determine how you use the materials provided by your bar prep company. You have permission to deviate a little bit from the bar prep company if you know what you need.
About 5 weeks before the bar I realized that I was not retaining the information I spent all day learning from video's and I knew it was because my learning style requires more than watching a video and filing in some blanks with notes. The first 4 hours of my study time are my best brain hours & I was spending them watching videos and was too exhausted the rest of the day to actually learn. I knew that something had to change because based on data collected about myself I know that I get a high off making charts, taking jumbled messes and organizing them until they fit into nice little compartments in my brain. I don't do well with other people telling me what acronyms to remember things by. I am the queen of answering essay questions but I do not do well on multiple choice questions. These were all things I knew about myself from over a decade of going to school but the Bar prep companies did not know that about me. I realized I had to tailor their methods to ways that worked for me. While it was super scary to branch out on my own, I completely stopped watching the videos in the morning. I made charts from the comprehensive outline and then proceeded to spend the afternoon lecturing the charts to myself and an empty classroom that I imagined was full of 12 year olds. My ability to understand any material was measured on my ability to explain a concept to an imaginary 12 year old. And that was my study sweet spot! Find yours and don't be afraid to branch out, its worth it.
3. Its all in your head: Part of what I do is provide coaching to law students & bar examinees and while doing that this week one of my clients explained that they were stuck. This is an all too common thing that happens while studying for the bar exam so don't freak out. I think that the mental and emotional part of studying for the bar is harder than retaining information. In reality you have been studying all your life, and while the bar exam is the exam of all exams statistically you are capable of passing it. The mental and emotional drain that a culmination of all your education puts on you is what makes it hard so be sure to fill this time with as much positivity as you can.
I know that the nature of law school tends to bred lawyers who are too logical and a little pessimistic but during the bar you NEED the positive energy constantly so be positive or surround yourself with positive people.
For me that looked a lot like purchasing some positive art work, writing short & inspiration packed letters to myself on sticky notes an placing them after every 10 pages of my outline, going on a walk and being surrounded by nature when I was stressed out, going to the park with my giant stack of notecards and watching random children play so I could feed off their energy, having a 10 minute limit on venting with my study buddies, praying before every study session, not allowing myself to think of any possibility of failing the bar.
Figure out how to calm your brain down so all it has to focus on is retaining what you are studying. Clean up the mental clutter and negative self talk.
Thousands of lawyers just like you pass the bar every year. You are the rule, not the exception.
I wish you the absolute best as you study. If you would like a one-on-one consult session about the bar with me to get your head out of the fog and discuss your strategies, I have a few slots open for the next 2 weeks so contact me asap.
If you feel great about your strategies but would like to see my journey through bar prep as a motivation I can also help you with that.