I remember after my first week of Bar prep the instructor telling us to enjoy our summer break—meaning Memorial Day weekend because that was going to be it in terms of free time and fun. I hate to break it to you but that’s mostly right, so take advantage of this long weekend and have some fun! Go get drinks, go shopping, hang out with friends, whatever you want to do because this is the last weekend you’ll feel like you can do anything without a tremendous amount of guilt and anxiety.
Having said that, does that mean that you will have no fun or breaks for the reminder of the summer? That’s not entirely true. It’s really important that you don’t start studying at a crazy pace from the beginning so that you burn out before the exam. You need to pace yourself and make sure you give yourself breaks to re-energize and de-stress.
The main thing you should do now is to plan ahead—are there any plans or small breaks you can do now every weekend to help add some levity and fun into your life? When I was studying, my husband and I would go out to dinner every Friday night as a way to end the week and to help get me away from the books. I know other friends who added a run every day or would bake on the weekends to help distract.
It’s also great if you can pick up some hobby that will help you take your mind off things—after being almost completely sedentary in law school, I started exercising to get rid of stress. I took the Bar during the World Cup and 99% of the guys I knew taking the Bar were suddenly soccer fanatics—whatever works. You may find that adding some new distraction to your life is exactly what you need to help balance the push and need to study all the time. Obviously, closer to the exam you won’t have time to do these extra things, but if you can find a balance while studying from the beginning you won’t feel so haggard and at your limit.
Finally the big question is—can you do big events, travel, etc during the Bar? It really just depends. I was able to go to an overnight wedding of a friend because it was in early June and I opted to not drink. Not having hangover meant that I could get some studying in the next day instead of losing a whole weekend. You really have to gage how much time you’ll lose to studying if you opt to do a certain activity and then decide if it’s worth it for you. Depending on what milestones your friend and family are hitting it may result is some difficult decisions of missing weddings or big life moments because you just can’t give up that much time. It’s not an easy decision and it’s best to be upfront with friends and family from the beginning so that you can spare hurt feelings.
Ok—so this isn’t really how to have fun during Bar prep, it’s more like how to keep your sanity. It’s a high stress time because it’s high stakes—do what you need to do to keep going.