Bar Exam Tips — from those who have been there
Posted: May 22nd, 2012
Recent grads! As you gear up for the bar exam, the Office of Career & Professional Development has compiled a list of favorite tips to help ease the stress of bar prep…..
Keep up whatever keeps you mentally healthy: exercise, eating decent meals, watching a favorite TV show. It’s all about time management, and it’s important to build in time for those things that keep you sane.
Treat bar review as a full time job: bar review classes may be 3-4 hours a day, then completing all the assigned work will make it a full work day (or longer). On the plus side, it will get you prepared for entering professional life as an attorney!
You are paying a lot of money for your bar prep course, so take full advantage of their expertise. They’ve done this for a long time and there’s a reason they charge so much — because they know what they’re doing. The course will provide you with an easy-to-follow calendar, just stick to it and plan ahead. If you know you have an event coming up during the summer (like a wedding), budget your time accordingly.
Practice makes perfect: nothing gets you prepared like doing the practice essays and practice multiple choice tests. Force yourself to sit down and write out essay answers. If you can get your hands on past bar exam questions, do them too (hint: several states have been known to repeat questions).
Don’t listen to anyone else (well, except us!). Some people will tell you that you MUST study 23 hours a day to pass. Some people will tell you that you don’t need to start studying until after July 4. You have successfully completed law school and you know what study method works for you — stick with it. Don’t worry about what “everyone else” is doing.
Remember, you don’t need to know EVERYTHING about secured transactions. You just need to have sufficient grasp of the subject to be able to spot issues and craft an intelligent response. If you have perfectionist tendencies, keep this in mind: you don’t need to make an A, you just need to pass.
That said, if you’re a procrastinator, keep this in mind: the bar exam requires knowledge of a LOT of information. Much more than the average law school exam. It is VERY difficult to cram that amount of information into a short period of time. If you’re a last-minute crammer, at least be sure to give yourself enough time to get it all in!
When the big day comes, do whatever you need to do to go in confident and relaxed. You may want to focus on nothing but the exam, and review your notes up to the moment you enter the exam room. You may need to build in time to take a break (some of us may have gone out for ONE beer between test days). You may feel better having your meals planned out ahead of time. Again, you know how to make yourself successful. Give it some thought and plan ahead so that all you need to worry about is the test itself.
Best of luck from all of us in the OCPD!