Gearing Up for the Bar Exam: Your Countdown to Success

June 4, 2014 Leah Singer

Prospective lawyers must pass the bar exam in order to practice law, and preparation for it is critical. Following the suggestions below can help you have a successful test-taking experience.

Six Weeks Out

Evaluate your study method. Most people studying for the bar exam are either enrolled in a bar preparation course or working with a private tutor. Evaluate your progress under the prep program. Are your practice scores improving? Are you comfortable with writing exam answers? If your method is working, stick with it. However, if you feel like the prep program is not helping, it’s not too late to change. Look at private tutoring options if large lecture-style classes are not for you. If you are a disciplined learner, perhaps an online-learning environment would be best. If you’re struggling with the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE), look for an MBE tutor that focuses specifically on that portion of the test.

Take full-length practice exams. Taking full-length tests will help you identify the areas in which you are doing well and those that need extra attention. Taking full-length tests will also help you with time management. For example, when you allow yourself the same amount of time as the actual exam, you will get a better idea of how long it takes to complete various sections. You can then adjust your study schedule accordingly.

Thirty Days Out

Evaluate your mental state and get help if you need it. Sitting for the bar exam is a stressful experience. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or depressed, reach out to a coach or therapist who can help you work through your struggles. There are several coaches who specialize in helping students overcome bar exam anxiety.

Take breaks. You can actually be more productive when you take breaks from studying. Spend thirty minutes each day exercising, walk around your neighborhood, practice yoga, or talk to a friend on the phone; do anything to take your mind off the act of studying. In addition, eat your meals some place other than where you study. And try to get a proper amount of sleep each night to stay physically and mentally sharp.

Devote more time to your weaker areas. With the exam one month away, focus your time and attention on the areas where you need more practice. For example, if you’ve aced every constitutional law practice essay but contract law leaves you guessing, spend more of your time reviewing contract law.

Keep to your study schedule. Stick to your study plan and make sure you’re not over scheduling your day. Doing so can lead to frustration.

Two Weeks Out

Decide where you’ll stay during the exam. Bar exams are typically offered in the downtown region of many cities. Consider reserving a hotel room close to the administration site to avoid worrying about getting stuck in traffic or a long commute before and after the test.

Take a break. At this point, you will likely have been studying for more than two months. While you should continue your daily preparation, give yourself permission to take a break every so often. Go to a movie or out to dinner with friends.

Test your computer and the exam software. If you’re planning to take the exam on your laptop, make sure you test your computer ahead of time. Most bar exams require you to use specialized software on your computer. Install and test the software well in advance. In addition, make sure you have your computer charger packed and ready for the big day. And if you’re not planning to use a laptop, make sure you have plenty of pens ready to handwrite the exam.

Two Days Out

Have your transportation plan in place. If you are not staying in a hotel that’s within walking distance of the exam site, make sure your gas tank is full if you’re driving yourself. When using public transportation, purchase your tickets early.

Don’t freak out! It’s not uncommon for students to worry excessively during the final days before the exam. Remember to trust yourself. You’ve made it this far, and you probably know more law than you think you do. Stay calm and remember to breathe!

Keeping the aforementioned suggestions in mind can help assure you’re ready for exam day.


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