Five Common Mistakes First Time Bar Exam Takers Make
Five Common Mistakes First Time Bar Exam Takers Make: Taking the bar exam is a daunting experience, but for a first-time taker, it can be completely overwhelming. While a lot of new things in life come with a little trial and error, the bar exam is a bit different. Although failing the bar on your first try is certainly not the end of the world, you also shouldn’t take the first try lightly. Luckily for first-time takers, there is a wealth of information out there for how to best approach the bar exam. So, many examinees before you have made mistakes in their own preparation, and you can easily learn from them! We’ve put together this list of five common mistakes first-time bar exam takers make. If you are aware of these ahead of time, hopefully, you can avoid the pitfalls and traps that have cost people in the past!
Five Common Mistakes First Time Bar Exam Takers Make
Here are five common mistakes first-time bar exam takers make:
1. Not utilizing a study schedule.
A lot of work goes into studying for the bar exam. Depending on your state, there could be 14-30 subjects worth of material that you need to learn. That’s a lot to get through in a relatively short period of time. One of the common mistakes first time bar exam takers make is that they don’t have a study plan mapped out. It won’t be set in stone and things will certainly change as you move along, but you need to make sure your schedule gives you enough time to get through everything. Some first-time takers don’t start studying early enough and then end up cramming right before the exam.
If you’re still learning new material the week before the exam, then you won’t have enough time to get in the practice reps you need. The best bar prep is about more than just reading the outlines. You need to plan time for memorization, practice questions, writing essays, and even simulating the exam. Without a solid study schedule, you might not get to these elements that are critical to your success.
2. Not using real released MBE questions.
Many commercial courses don’t use real MBE questions. Instead, they will write their own. While they are certainly still good tools for practice, they aren’t the best examples of what you will see on the actual test. Thus, another of the mistakes first time bar exam takers make is to rely solely on these questions. We then hear from many takers that they felt unprepared for the MBE because the questions were unfamiliar to them.
The best way to prepare for the MBE is to use actual MBE questions released by the NCBE. These are questions that were on past bar exams and are far more representative of what your MBE will look like. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to find these questions. Luckily for you, we sell them in our store! Be sure to check out our packages of real MBE questions for sale! We also wrote this post on other sources of real MBE questions!
3. Making flashcards for everything.
This is easily one of the more common mistakes first-time bar exam takers make. Depending on how strong of a test taker you are, it most definitely doesn’t have to be fatal. However, it will end up wasting your time. There is a time and place for using flashcards. That time is not every single rule that could be tested on the bar exam. If you try to make flashcards for everything, you will never finish. You will have so many that you could never hope to run through them all to memorize them. You’ll run out of time to get to the practice questions and essays. It’s just not worth it.
Instead, try making flashcards for just the rules or details you’re having difficulty with. Or maybe for just the highly tested topics in key subjects. This will allow you to utilize this handy memorization tool without taking up too much of your time.
4. Not adapting as you move through your commercial course.
Most commercial courses have a highly detailed schedule that they want you to progress through. Sometimes their students find their goal becoming to get as high of a course completion percentage as possible, instead of just passing the bar. This is an easy trap to fall into and a common mistake first-time bar exam takers make. Remember that your study schedule needs to be personalized for you. If you find that a certain study technique from your course isn’t helping, then you shouldn’t keep doing it when it comes up in your plan!
If you feel like you need to do more practice essays but your course doesn’t have that scheduled, follow your instincts and do what you need to do. Your commercial course doesn’t know you and how you learn best. Make sure you are adapting as you progress through the plan, and don’t get caught up in that course completion percentage!
5. Improperly utilizing practice questions and essays.
This common mistake first time bar exam takers make has many variations. Some examinees don’t do enough practice problems. They just focus their time reading and memorizing their outline, assuming that they’ll be able to handle any question thrown at them on test day. Others jump right from reading outlines into doing practice problems without taking the time to actually learn the material.
While doing practice questions is a critical study tool, you still have to know the details of the law so that you can apply them to any unique scenario. The essay questions, in particular, require you to have the law memorized. Otherwise, you’ll never be able to work through the fact pattern and articulate a solution to the legal problem. Thus, it is important to find the balance. Spend time reviewing your outlines, work on memorizing the law, and practice both MBE questions and essay questions. The timing strategies necessary to conquer both portions are very different, so you need to practice each of them extensively. Every element of bar exam prep is essential and should be given maximum effort and attention!
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