One important element of studying for the bar exam is creating the right study environment. You can have the best intentions, but the wrong environment can derail your entire study plan. One key to effective studying is a location that allows you to study efficiently and without distractions.
Here are some things to think about as you decide where to study for the bar:
What were the things that distracted you from studying when you were in law school? If you are constantly tempted to turn on the TV, then studying in your living room may not be for you. If studying in the law school library meant that you visited with friends rather than getting work done, then the same might hold true as you study for the bar. Some people prefer the background noise of a coffee shop, while others find themselves listening in to every conversation at the tables beside them. Be realistic in your assessment of what distracts you, and choose a study environment that avoids those distractions.
What do you like to do when you take breaks from studying? If you want to be able to take a short walk, then setting up your study station at the local coffee shop may not make sense—you won’t want to have to pack up your stuff every time you take a break. On the other hand, if your idea of a great break is checking your email and spending 20 minutes playing computer games, then a more public location may not be an issue. Just make sure that your study location is conducive to taking study breaks.
What space do you need to study? Some people prefer to study at a desk or table, where they can spread out their materials and have plenty of space to work. Others prefer to sit on a comfortable couch, overstuffed chair, or even the floor. Think about what type of space makes you feel most comfortable when you are studying—you’re going to spend a lot of time there.
Do you want to be able to eat or drink while studying? This is an important consideration, as many people like to have snacks and drinks available as they study. If you want endless amounts of coffee or periodic snacks of pretzels, fruit, etc., a library with a strict food and drink policy may not be the place for you. Likewise, if you are on a tight budget this summer, an expensive coffee shop may not work as well. Choose a study location that fits with your snacking habits.
Finally, do you like the routine of studying in the same space all the time, or will you need to change things up periodically? For some people, maintaining the same routine every day—studying at the same place at the same time—works best. For others, a little variety in the order and location of the routine helps them to stay focused. Depending on your own preferences, you may find that you want to change up your study location sometimes. Periodically reassess your study environment and make sure it still works best for you.
The perfect study environment is a very personal thing—experiment and find out what works best for you!