“Just do what (insert bar prep company here) tells you to do.”
When it comes to studying for the bar exam, this is the advice you will hear time and time again. It is true that commercial bar prep companies provide a very detailed suggested study schedule as well as tools to monitor progress. However, the suggested study schedule assigns more tasks than you can accomplish. Trying to do it all sets you up to fail. Furthermore, studying for the bar exam should be about learning the material (and skills). This requires more than simply doing the work. You have to plan, monitor, and assess what you are learning. You must be a self-regulated learner.
Self-regulated learners are not born, they are made. It is not an innate ability that you do or don’t have. It is a cognitive skill that must be developed.
Plan: analyze the task ahead, set goals. Decide what you want to get out of each task.
Monitor: take responsibility for and actively participate in the process.
Assess: reflect on why you did or didn’t progress.
In addition to the cognitive aspect, you can’t underestimate the role of motivation and environment. It’s difficult to learn something if you are not interested so stay motivated by reminding yourself why this matters and why you must push through. Be aware of distractions and take steps to minimize. Be honest with yourself and don’t let a situation control your behavior.
Self-regulated learners take charge of their learning. Use the commercial bar prep study schedules to help you meet learning goals. Make choices about how to achieve your goals by deciding the tasks you will complete and the methods you will use.