I’ve fallen behind. How do I catch up?

The first step is admitting that you’re behind. Next, ask for help. If you’re in bar review, consult the course materials, FAQs, or ask one of the reps what to cut to get back on track. Cutting strategically can help you get to where the course now is, and then with any extra time you can fill in gaps. And, they do build in extra time.

Don’t work 15-hour days to make up for “lost time.” You have almost a month left to keep up the pace and you cannot sustain sleepless nights and still be functioning at your best for that long of a time. In fact, you don’t want to do any sleepless nights.

Remember how much you have learned before certain final exams in a few days. You have several more weeks. Focus on all the positives and on getting back on pace. You’ve got this!

Simulated bar exams: Take them next week!

If you are preparing to PASS the upcoming bar exam, calendar your simulated bar exam next week so you have time to learn from -and improve from- the experience. Take the exam under as close as possible to simulated exam conditions. And, study the sample answers to any questions you got wrong or guessed on as soon as possible after the simulated exam.

#barexam, #simulatedbar, #barreview

Don’t forget to Breathe!

How tense are you right now? How much learning is blocked from coming into and staying in your brain because of nerves.

My constant refrain that I ask bar takers and other students getting ready for exam to tell yourselves is: “Turn Panic into Power and not Paralysis.” That power phrase appears in my books and articles and in most every talk I give to students preparing for high stakes exams.

There are many steps for turning panic into power. Step one is always to breathe. We’ll talk about next steps in future blog posts.

July Bar Takers: Five Prompts for Bar Success Planning, Starting Now

If you are taking the July bar exam, start planning now. Here are five prompts to get you started:

1. Where will you live after graduation?

2. Do you have a place to study that is conducive to learning?

3. Have you lined up all the bar review resources you will need?

4. Have you let your family and friends know you’ll be gone in June and July – and, have you taken care of all summer obligations so that you can either handle them by May or put them off until August?

And, last but not least, for now,

5. Do you have enough money saved to live for two months after graduation without working?

#barexam, #barexamtips, #barsuccess, #lawschool, #lawstudent

Ten tips to manage procrastination

Many students share that as midterms and finals approach, and during bar prep, they find themselves unusually eager to clean their homes, review and delete old emails, clip their toenails. You get the idea – anything other than studying!

Here are tips if this is your situation:

  1. Know that procrastination is normal. Lose the self-criticism.
  2. See some procrastinating as a positive. Sometimes, it does serve a useful purpose – helping re-charge your batteries so that you are all-in when you are studying.
  3. If your procrastination is paralyzing, rather than positive, seek help from reliable, expert resources.
  4. Think of an academic goal as a series of finite projects. It is more tempting to avoid something that feels like a huge challenge. Identifying tasks as doable parts of a project makes them more approachable.
  5. Once you identify the various tasks, ask yourself if any of them feel overwhelming, and see if you can get some help with those pieces of the puzzle.
  6. List what you tend to do when you procrastinate and schedule specific, limited time slots for those things. Don’t make them guilty pleasures. Make them a controlled part of your day. For example, if you procrastinate with social media, you may find yourself losing many hours. If you know that every day, you have social media “office hours,” you will be less apt to use that as an escape.
  7. Study first, then take your time “off.”
  8. Adopt a routine. Being on a schedule will help your body and brain “accept” that you just do particular tasks at certain times. You just do.
  9. Talk to yourself about how good you feel when you accomplish what you set out to do. And, if it’s helpful, remind yourself how icky it feels when you don’t. Simple example: many people have a habit of never going to sleep with dirty dishes in the sink. No matter how tired they are, they just don’t procrastinate on that one. Why? They find it pleasant to wake to a clean sink and very unpleasant to wake to dirt. They also realize that the task gets more difficult the longer food sticks to dishes. And, they know that a sink for of dirty dishes attracts bugs.
  10. Articulate why your big goals are important and valuable. And give yourself props for all the hard work you are doing.

#studysuccess, #academicsuccess, #lawschool, #lawstudent, #ASP, #barsuccess

Bar Exams and Law School Differ

For example, when you go into your Civ Pro final, you knew you would be tested on civil procedure. Bar examiners will fire questions at you on dozens of subjects, in random order –and they won’t be labeled! You’ll have to figure out what subject you are in, hopefully before even reading the full question.

The are many differences. The one I am thinking about today is with the MPT. Format your answer the way the Task Memo (sometimes called the Sr. Partner Memo) tells you to.

When my students show me beautiful Memos, for example, formatted just the way their Legal Writing professor told them to write and ask why they got low grades in bar prep, I simply say, “You need to follow the instructions for this exam.”

In practice, you may work for and report to different partners who will have completely different styles. You may appear before different judges who have different rules in their courtrooms. Likewise, when you are writing for the bar exam, write for bar graders.

In bar prep and on the bar exam, forget for a moment what you learned in law school and in any legal work experiences. Follow the bar examiners’ directions. (I say for a moment because all that learning will come back and be utilized when you are in practice.)

For more bar success tips and strategies, read or listen to the audio book of Bar Exam Success: A Comprehensive Guide –available on Amazon, ABA Publishing, and West Academics (free for certain law students who have West Academics subscriptions).

#barexam, #barsuccess, #lawschool, #lawstudent, #ASP, #academicsuccess,

First Gen Students: Struggles are Real

You belong. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Finding people, organizations, and resources that help you feel that you do belong can make all the difference, especially on days when the struggles feel overwhelming. (And, you will have those days. We all do.)

More and more colleges and graduate programs have First Gen student orgs. Seek them out. Ask your Dean of Students or Student Services office if there is one at your school, and request the name and contact information of the president. Reach out today. Ask when the meetings are this semester, find out when the next one is, and attend that meeting.

As you begin this new semester, think about how you can help the people in your world (family, friends, co-workers) to understand how much time you need to study. There is simply no way to compete in academic settings without a significant investment of time -possibly more time even than you are already spending.

But people are not mind readers. Those in your world may only see the results, (the amazing results, that you should be very proud of!). They may notice that you have succeeded at many past challenges. But, they often don’t see how hard you work. Your effort very often remains invisible. Sometimes you keep it that way, not wanting to show people for a variety of reasons just how much you put in.

All of that is tiring! And it can be particularly discouraging when you see friends and classmates whose families are giving them all sorts of help while you are not only not getting the help you need but are still being expected to help everyone else, show up at every event, etc.

At some point, it might help to let your family and friends know that you need time “off” from every other commitment so that you can focus your energies on the goal at hand. You cannot be in two places at once. Especially during midterms, finals, or studying for licensing exams – but even just on an every day week. Studying is hard work. It’s really hard to say this, but many of my students report that once they do it, it’s liberating.

You can also let people you care about know how they can help you . Not everyone is receptive, but some people really want to help and just don’t know what would be useful. Yes, you need to be left with lots of alone time to study. But you may also really appreciate a home-cooked meal, especially after you have put in a good study day or week. You might want it delivered, or you might want to go pick it up, say a quick hello, and leave so that you can sleep or study. Maybe it would be helpful to have someone test you with flashcards you have made. Maybe, someone can help with an errand that you must take care of during midterms or finals. On that note, let people in your world know now, at the beginning of the semester, which weeks will be particularly difficult. They won’t know if you don’t tell them.

To sum up for today, struggles are normal. But you don’t have to struggle alone. Build your support network. And, follow your dreams. Not only do you belong, but we need you!

#firstgen, #firstgeneration, #motivation, #academicsupport, #academicsuccess, #studentsuccess, #studysmart, #collegesuccess, #gradschoolsuccess, #lawschool, #lawstudent, #barexam

Ten Motivation Tips

How to Motivate for Bar Exam Studies here. And, big hint, motivation for bar study is similar to motivating for any academic challenge and most every other challenge in life as well.

Ten Motivation Tips:

  1. Know your why – have a clear, articulated purpose for what you are doing;
  2. Focus – delve deep into the tasks at hand and resist everything that takes you away. See many other posts on this blog and in books on the website for how to effectively combat distractions;
  3. Train/practice regularly – you can’t learn to swim by watching videos on swimming; you must jump in the pool!
  4. Get help from trustworthy experts – when you don’t get help from reliable resources, you can find yourself spinning in circles -a sure way to lose motivation;
  5. Sleep – it is hard to accomplish small tasks when you are tired; set yourself up for success by getting sufficient sleep and rest. Be sure to exercise and eat healthfully as well; you are feeding your brain and your body;
  6. Find and keep a safe outlet to express doubt and frustration – these are normal. You don’t want doubt, frustration, loneliness or other feelings to derail you, though, so get them out where it is safe to do so.
  7. Take your time and avoid rushing through things that just take a lot of time. We have come to expect that everything can happen quickly. But, especially in certain studies (and in making maple syrup), take your time. Read slowly and carefully, stop to re-read, think, put what you’ve learned into practice, read more, think more, discuss with colleagues, ask questions, and keep at it! As the Maple Syrup Song goes, “everything worthwhile takes a little time.”
  8. Break large projects into smaller tasks. It’s easy to get overwhelmed at the thought of having to read an entire book, for example, but much more inviting to read one chapter at a time. Break challenges into do-able pieces and you are more apt to do them!
  9. Reward yourself – give yourself small, daily and weekly inspirational gifts, and give yourself something big when you accomplish your current goal. When you are working toward something big, such as a degree that takes years to earn, or a book, or passing the bar exam, the work you are doing each day may seem invisible. No one recognizes your effort until you have a visible outcome. So, reward yourself along the way!
  10. Believe you can accomplish this goal, and set your next goal when you do – there is hard science to confirm that people who believe that they can do something persist more often than people do not believe. Belief must be coupled with action, of course. But action without belief is hard to sustain, especially when you have setbacks –which you will (because everyone does). The Little Engine that Could was onto something!!

#motivate, #accomplishyourgoals, #lawschool, #lawstudents, #barexam, #academicsupport, #academicsuccess, #barprep, #passthebar, #motivation, #prelaw, #pre-law,