Reading time: three minutes
Having recently completed the Bar course and successfully passing it, I’ve compiled what I believe to be the most vital tips for prospective Bar students.
1. Create revision notes from day one
This tip is a lifesaver and a gamechanger for criminal litigation and civil litigation in particular. As a prospective Bar student, you’re probably no stranger to completing vast amounts of reading, but don’t be mistaken – the reading on the Bar course is monstrous. It’s made even more difficult by the fact that the centrally set assessments are closed-book exams, so forgetting content is pretty much expected. Take my advice and create revision notes from your first day. Make sure they cover all the salient points from the readings but avoid long sentences and detailed points. When you get to the end of the course and there’s less than a month before the centrally set assessments, you’ll be glad you did.
I know students who failed the centrally set assessments because they thought they’d have time to revise from the books themselves, only to realise that the content in the books takes too long to read. Students who’d compiled revision notes for themselves breezed through the exam prep and passed with high marks. Be warned though – the weekly prep for classes is a lot and there’ll be weeks where you won’t have time to do the work of compiling notes, which brings me to my second point.
2. Plan ahead
You get your term timetables for each module along with the content you’re expected to cover each week. Some weeks will require more prep than others, so it’s absolutely vital to plan ahead and create a study schedule that works for you. Personally, I created a weekly schedule rather than a daily because I’m someone who chooses what to study based on my mood on the day. As a result, I created a checklist of content I had to complete by a set deadline. Other people created daily schedules, even going so far as to time-blocking their days because that’s what worked for them.
Regarding the weeks with extra prep, the best example I can give is having two civil litigation classes in the same week and therefore twice the prep when compared with other weeks. For example, if the week with two classes was week four, I’d do the prep for it during week three. Week three was a comparatively lighter week, so I combined my prep for weeks three and four into week two. This meant that I wasn’t drowning in prep during week three because I was ahead of the schedule provided by my university.
3. Take regular breaks
This is honestly so important and I can’t stress that enough. The course is incredibly intense, and you won’t feel like you can afford a break but trust me when I say you’ll need it. Even if you can only take an hour to unwind everyday, do it. The intensity of this course makes burning out a very real risk, and the last thing you want is to get to the end of the course only to burn out just before the exams and end up having to postpone sitting them. Or worse, failing them. Also, it’s a nice idea to have some plans to look forward to once exams are over – it might be that you plan to visit family or have a day out with friends in a new city, for example. I had a holiday planned and this really helped to keep my spirits up.