I vowed never to be "that guy" giving advice out to prospective bar takers, but under the circumstances of the stupidity of this initial post, I felt a few words were in order.
First, whoever posted this initial post was clearly not a California bar passer. For those of you taking the bar in states other than california, no sweat. Just put in a few hours, do about 50 multiple choice questions a day, and you'll pass.
I took and passed the Feb 2009 california bar exam as a first time taker. Studying for the CA bar exam was the hardest thing I have had to endure in my life (major tragedies aside).
The first bit of advice I would give to any bar taker is do not listen to anyone who gives you advice on "how to study" for the bar exam. You have got to realize that studying for the bar exam is essentially like being in a three month "finals" mode. You and you alone know exactly how you learn best, you know your own study habits, and you know what works for you. Don't change that because it's the bar exam.
To all those who tell you "All you have to do is x amount of multiple choice questions," or "All you have to do it xyz" you need to smile and nod and completely ignore them.
Here is the only advice you will ever need for studying and passing any state's bar exam:
1. You know what works for you. If you are a flashcard person and always have been, keep doing flashcards. I, for one, never used my own outlines in law school, and just grabbed outlines from upperclassmen and modified them. Hence, during barbri, I just used the barbri outlines as my study tools. BUT, I know plenty of people who COULD NOT study without making their own outlines, and they continued that process through the bar exam with much success. In other words, implement the same study strategies for the bar that you implement for a law school final.
2. Take Barbri. If you already took barbri, probably no need to take it again. If you didn't take barbri the first time, now is a good time to invest in the course. I don't remember what the statistic is, but a ridiculous percentage of law school grads take barbri. This means two things: 1. A ridiculous percentage of law school grads will have bar exam answers that look the same, and 2. Answers that look the same are a good thing. You want to adopt the same exam style as a majority of the people so that your answer will "fit in" with the rest.
3. Put in the time. For the California bar exam especially, you need to put in 2-3 months of dedicated studying, no exceptions, no part-time work. Anything less and you are guaranteeing failure. You need to treat this like a law school "finals week" that lasts three months, period.
4. Know your study habits. If you can wake up and put in a solid 8-9 hours of studying and be done by 5 pm, fine. Other people (like yours truly) have massive ADD. As such, I would always make sure I slept a solid8 hours a night, would hit the barbri lecture from 9 to 12, take a long lunch to relax, hit the library for another three hours, take a dinner break, and hit the library for another 3 hours minimum. Usually I did not go to sleep until 10 p.m. or so. BUT, I did not force myself to adopt a ridiculous schedule (like my roommate who decided to be at the library at 6 am everyday) and I passed the bar exam (unlike my roommate who burned out after the first month because of the ridiculous schedule he put himself under).
5. Know that barbri punts on the performance test. At least in California, barbri's approach is "You only have to pass 2/3 sections" Therefore, barbri focuses its efforts on the essays and the MBE, and tells you to "write whatever" on the performance tests. This is ridiculous. Why wouldn't anyone want to do their best in each section, to make up for their shortfalls in the other sections? Treat the performance test like an essay, they are just as layered. Also, work as many performance tests into your schedule as possible.
6. It's all about getting into a comfort zone. Accept the fact that you will NEVER know everything there is to know about the 14 areas of the law (in CA) that will be on the bar exam. The goal is to get to the point that you are comfortable fielding any question they throw at you, not that you will knock each one out of the park.
I know I probably sound like a dick, but the biggest problem with the bar exam is that there are so many people trying to tell you their individual recipe for success, and that is such garbage. WHAT WORKS FOR SOMEONE ELSE WILL NOT NECESSARILY WORK FOR YOU. Most people do not even really spend the time to take a step back and really focus on what will work for them. I've tried to make the foregoing advise as generic as possible in so far as all persons who have passed the CA bar exam will likely tell you that their approach was in line with what I outlined above.