10 Things To Do The Month Of the Bar Exam
After months of studying and weeks of preparing, you’re starting to approach the finish line. The bar exam is less than a month away! With only a few weeks left to go, many students wonder how they should be spending their time. Below, we discuss ten things to do during the month of the bar exam.
10 Things To Do The Month Of the Bar Exam
1. Focus on memorization.
In the weeks leading up to the exam day, take a step back and explore how you have been spending your time studying. You’ve likely been attending lectures, tackling practice questions, and writing essays. However, have you been devoting time to memorizing the material you’ll need to quickly recall on exam day? If not, there is no better time than now!
Pull out your outline and spend time memorizing rules and exceptions! As you’re practicing questions, see if you can accurately recall the rule before guessing at an answer choice. Write down rules that you are unable to recall or can’t recall in their entirety. Refer to this list often in the weeks leading up to the bar exam so you have those rules ready to go on exam day.
2. Don’t spend too much time on the MBE.
In the weeks leading up to the exam, some students fill up their days with MBE questions. While you definitely should be practicing MBE questions leading up to the bar exam, make that you emphasize quality study time with MBE questions! This might mean doing fewer questions but spending more time to make sure that you’re identifying correct issues and reaching the right answer for the right reasons.
If you haven’t already done so, now is a great time to work with NCBE-released multiple-choice questions that have been previously used on the bar exam. These questions will be in a form most similar to what you can expect to see on the MBE, so it is definitely worth your while to incorporate these questions into your study session.
3. Don’t ignore the essay portion!
The month leading up to test day is a great time to get in some quality time practicing essays! If you have yet to write a practice essay for the bar exam, now is a great time to start! If you’ve been diligently practicing your essays, now is a great time to check in on timing and figure out what rules you need to go back and memorize.
As you practice essays, be sure to self-grade! Self-grading is an excellent active study technique that helps you identify rules you missed, facts you forgot to incorporate, and can help you better construct a response. Students who self-grade tend to have a much better understanding of where they need to focus their studies in the weeks leading up to the bar exam!
4. Practice the MPT.
One of the biggest myths we hear about the bar exam comes from students who don’t believe that they need to practice MPTs as they prepare for the bar exam. After all, everything you need to know to respond to an MPT is provided to you, right? While you might have access to all of the material you need in order to write a successful MPT, you’ll be ahead of the game if you practice MPTs before exam day!
While many students might be familiar writing an objective memo or a persuasive brief, taking on that task in an hour and a half may be an entirely different story. Practicing MPTs under timed conditions can be a huge help going into the bar exam. Doing well on the MPT provides you with some cushion in the event you get an MEE question on an area of the law where you’re struggling or some MBE questions that you weren’t expecting!
5. Make sure to take timed exams.
We mention the importance of timing yourself in the month leading up to the bar exam, but practicing using timed exams really deserves its own bullet point. The month leading up to the exam, find some time to take some timed practice exams in a setting similar to what you will encounter on the bar exam. For students taking the UBE, this involves at least a 6-question MEE, a 2-question MPT, and a 200-question MBE practice exam.
When you take mock exams, taking them in a setting similar to what you encounter on the bar exam is key. Sometimes law schools provide mock exams in a classroom setting, which is a great spot to practice. If that option is not available, try renting a study room at your local library or checking to see if your law school might have an empty classroom available. If you embark on this challenge at home, make sure your phone is in another room, your tv is off, and you’re sitting at a table as opposed to the sofa. The bar exam is a long two days, so anything you can do to mentally prepare yourself for that challenge will be worthwhile!
6. Be sure to take breaks.
With the bar exam not far off, it’s tempting to want to study as much as possible over the course of the next few weeks. While you should definitely be taking your studying seriously, don’t forget to take breaks! The last thing you want is for you to head to the exam already burnt out and mentally unprepared for the task at hand.
Instead of doing marathon study sessions, try breaking up your day into manageable chunks with breaks in between. For some students, this means studying for about an hour with a 10-minute break. Some students prefer to take a longer lunch where their books and laptop are out of sight. Others are ready to go for a run or walk in the morning or afternoon as a way to break up their studying. So, make sure to add some breaks to your study schedule!
7. Know where you’re going.
If you’re an applicant who does not have the luxury of taking the bar exam two blocks away from where you live, now is a great time to start planning if you haven’t already done so. Make sure your hotel room is booked. Be sure to book whatever transportation you might need: secure your airplane or train tickets and don’t forget to book your rental car if you need one. The last thing you want to be doing in the days leading up to the bar exam is worrying about where you’re going to stay or how you plan to get to the bar exam! Plan in advance.
Once you arrive at your lodging for the bar exam, take some time to acquaint yourself with your surroundings. Do you need to drive to the testing center? Take a practice drive the night before so you know how long it takes! Are you relying on public transportation? Do a test run beforehand so you know what train you need to hop on! By spending some time the night before the bar exam going through some of these details, you’ll get to the exam ready to engage with the material instead of worrying that you’ll be late!
8. Plan ahead.
Many students spend loads of time studying for the bar exam (and rightfully so!) but don’t plan what to do at the bar exam. We encourage you to get a head start on this so you walk into the bar exam not only with a strategy on how to excel on the exam itself but also with a plan for the non-exam aspects of the bar exam!
How can you start on this? Check to see what you can and cannot bring into the testing center! This information should be available on the website of the jurisdiction where you plan to take the exam. Some items that are not allowed might be incredibly obvious (leave your airpods at home!), but some things might not be as obvious. For example, some jurisdictions have specific dress codes that exam takers are expected to abide by. We always recommend that students wear layers to the exam, but be sure to double-check to see what types of sweatshirts are permitted. The last thing you want is to show up to the bar exam in sweatpants when you should be wearing a suit!
Also, ponder lunch! Since the exam lasts all day, exam-takers get a lunch break. However, don’t just assume you can easily grab a bite to eat on exam day! We’ve heard nightmares about students who spend their entire lunch periods waiting for food and never wind up eating before the second half of their day! Sometimes nearby restaurants aren’t expecting a large influx of business coming at the same time, leading to delays in getting food. Instead, make sure to have a plan. This might involve bringing your own lunch or checking with your law school, law firm, or alumni network to see if they will have lunch available to you!
9. Surround yourself with support.
Do you have friends or family that have been asking how they can help as you prepare for the bar exam? Have you taken them up on that offer? The month of the exam might be a great time to consider asking for help or support from those that care about you! Taking a break to catch up with a good friend or listening to one of your family member’s latest adventures can be a great way to take a break from hitting the books! Sometimes even a quick conversation with a loved one can provide enough of a morale boost that makes tackling a topic or two just a little bit easier!
10. Take time to relax.
Make sure to take some time after the bar exam to relax a bit! After all, you just spent months preparing for a huge test, you’ll need some time to wind down from that experience. Some students already have a vacation planned the second they begin studying. Don’t think you need to hop on a plane right away in order to relax post-exam, though! If you’re going to be starting or continuing a job, see if you can take a few days off. Check out a local museum that you’ve been meaning to go to, pick up that book you’ve been meaning to read from the library, or grab some popcorn and watch the latest series on Netflix. Taking some time to yourself to relax post-bar exam can help you recharge before heading back into the office or as you gear up for a job hunt!
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