Effective time management skills are at the heart of both preparing to take the bar exam and performing on it. Remember: From the start of your preparation through your performance on the test itself there is an ever-shrinking supply of time. How you use it means everything in ultimately optimizing your chance to succeed.


Using Your Time


We begin with the proposition there are 24 hours in every Earth day. To prepare for your goal to pass the bar, I recommend dividing your time into four categories in working to “get the max” out of both your bar preparation and performance. Each of these categories supports the other in integrated fashion – they are positively interrelated – as you commit to a practical study regimen that can lead to successful results.




Necessary Priorities


These are “Must-To-Do-List” priorities, including sleeping, eating, family, school, work, church, transportation – you name it – the sorts of things in this life that figuratively “keeps the lights on”, the “trains running”, and “wolves at bay” as you scramble to hold things together. Here, identify the hourly windows of time during each 7-day weekly interval – there are 168 hours in each week – in itemizing how much time you need for each chore and when to spend it.


Identify the myriad of ways in which you can streamline your use of this time; for example, prevailing on your Significant Other or babysitter to help out with the kids, minimizing trips to the grocery store, using public transportation to get an hour or two of study, in effect compressing everyday tasks into specific to-do-periods during the week to enable you to knock off as many priorities as reasonably possible. The theme here is the more efficient conservation and management of your “necessary priorities” time.


Memoralizing your to-do-list tasks on a weekly calendar can be an effective tool in disciplining yourself to follow your schedule.


Rest & Relaxation


Like a meticulously trained but sometimes overworked Olympic athlete, a little “R&R” time can be a powerfully restorative piece of your total time management equation to pass the bar exam. Everyone’s facility for pain and suffering is different in working to sustain consistently focused bar prep study habits, but it is altogether counterproductive if you don’t build at least a few “Units of Pleasure” into your weekly bar study regimen. Give yourself permission to do this – with the understanding you are doing so to climb your figurative (bar) mountain more productively. The extra bump to your Central Nervous System caused by bar preparation should be acknowledged and accommodated by building some form of “R&R” into your otherwise crazy schedule. Here, be prudent in taking control over the use of your time – no parties till dawn – in committing to pre-planned (& maybe some spontaneous) windows of time that will promote both physical and mental health. Like your “necessary priorities,” enhance your accountability to use your “R&R” time by memorializing it on your weekly schedule.


Get away from the tedium that can blunt concentration and, in doing so, serve as an antidote to the effect of negative energy that is complicit in the growth of physical and mental fatigue. This can take the form of enforced idleness – sleep – or any number of pro-active endeavors, such as a movie, light exercise, a walk-in-the woods, time out with family or friends – the sorts of things that will liberate your spirit and keep your needed focus knife-edge sharp.


Bar Preparation


Here, the art of time management is a subject unto itself and one you will spend quality time with in creating a meticulously orchestrated daily study schedule – based on your “net available study hours” (there is a formula for figuring this out) – and that will take you from your starting point through the finish line. Literally every hour of your individual study time will be programmed into a daily calendar to assure balance and discipline in the use of your total study hours. This will allow you to avoid overinvesting it in areas less important while also emphasizing areas of individual need.


The proportionate use of your study time for each of the three sections of the bar should generally be allocated given their proportionate value toward your total scaled score (essay 40%, performance exam 26%, MBE 34%). In contrast, your more generically prepared competition will usually not do this – with less efficient life and study habits overwhelming their bar study process. These candidates work hard, but with less effective focus in preparing for the test as a timed “problem-solving speed examination.” In other words, more effective time management is always a function of preparing for the bar as a 3-day, 2,000 point test administered under strictly timed conditions. Put another way, train for the kind of mountain you will be asked to climb: Getting up Mount Everest is a very different goal than training to climb a lesser mountain.


There is a tried and true equation for putting your individual study plan together and in learning how to execute it. This exacting strategy to prepare for the bar will be the subject of our first class. Another article on the Cal Bar website addresses the bar study process in more detail.


Bar Performance


For most, unless you are granted additional time, you will have 18 hours in which to perform the exam. You must do so at a bar-passing standard. Learning how to use each minute of each of these hours should be your goal in order to achieve the necessary passing minimum of at least 1,440 points. This is a function of executing the efficient and effective use of all of your time: In managing your necessary priorities, achieving enhanced study power through relaxation, and through the study process of your bar preparation.


There is a reason the Examiners give you a timed, 3-day test – and like any adversary – learning how to improve your focus to produce the points necessary to pass the bar is always a function of applying your test-taking study methods through practice to improve your test-taking skills which, in turn, will lead you to bar-passing standards. Challenging your test-taking comfort zones, building onto the foundation you have already successfully achieved through law school and perhaps other bar exams (if you are repeating) – will combine to enable you to close the circle in putting the test behind you. This is our ultimate goal at Cal Bar in working with you so that you perform at your highest standard.


Have faith – you will do it!


CAL BAR is a leader in providing customized and personalized service in preparing bar applicants and may be contacted through 800-783-6168. Or, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Their website is: