Questions By Licensed Attorneys Taking The Uniform Bar Exam
Many attorneys find themselves in a position of having to take another bar exam years after graduating from law school and becoming licensed. If you are starting to think about taking another bar exam, you may have some questions about where to even begin. In this post, we cover some of the common questions from licensed attorneys who are taking the uniform bar exam.
Questions By Licensed Attorneys Taking The Uniform Bar Exam
1. Do I actually need to study?
YES! Many attorneys make the mistake of thinking that they know enough from their years of practice to get by on the bar exam, and they simply do not take studying seriously. However, many of the subjects tested on the Uniform Bar Exam are tested in a very detailed way. You need more than general knowledge to score well on the UBE!
Furthermore, how laws are tested is often different than how you might encounter them in your practice. When studying for the bar exam, it is important to understand the law the way the examiners expect. The Uniform Bar Exam does not test any state-specific laws. However, many of the Examiners’ Analyses of the essays include discussions of the majority/minority approaches to different laws. Thus, knowing your state’s law might really well still might not be enough to get a great score on a particular essay. Also, the MBE portion of the exam tests common law, which might be different from your state’s law. So, it is important that you take the time to learn the laws as they will be tested on the exam.
2. Do I need to take a full course?
We definitely recommending investing in a full bar prep course if you have the resources to do so! Your full course will provide all of the subject matter outlines that you need, lectures on each topic, and practice questions for the MBE, MEE, and MPT. A full course can also provide structure and helpful hints regarding how to study (see more about this below!).
That being said, you might not need to complete everything in the full course. For instance, if you have been a practicing litigator who frequently uses the Federal Rules of Evidence, you might not need to sit through 5 hours of Evidence lectures. Instead, you could skip those lectures and spend more time reviewing a subject that you haven’t visited since law school. Nonetheless, a full course will ensure that you have everything you need to pass at your fingertips. Find out more about JD Advising’s UBE Course options here!
3. When should I start studying (and how much time should I spend studying)?
If it has been a while since you took the bar exam, you may want to consider studying early. Chances are, you are going to be re-learning most of the subject matter as if it is the first time. We recommend students start studying for the bar exam about 8-10 weeks in advance if they plan to study full time. If you will be working, or know that you are not able to dedicate 40+ hours per week to studying for the bar exam, you may want to start studying earlier so you can spread out the material.
The amount of time that you spend studying is one of the biggest indicators of how successful you’ll be on the bar exam. So, try to spend as much time as you can studying for the exam. If you are working, try to study for 3-4 hours a day outside of work. Additionally, plan to spend most (if not all) of the weekends studying for the exam. As mentioned above, it is usually not enough to have a general understanding of a subject; rather, you want to know as many nuances as possible and also understand how a subject is tested. Dedicating sufficient time to studying is the best way to improve your chances of success!
4. I haven’t taken a test in a while – how do I study for the bar exam?
If it has been a while since you were in law school (or since you last took the bar exam), thinking about how to begin studying may seem a little daunting. A full bar exam course will provide a study schedule and give you suggestions for what to do each day. Even if you aren’t taking a full course, you can (and should) make a study schedule! Check out How to Make a UBE Study Schedule for guidance!
Watching the lectures is a great place to start, especially if there are subjects that you are not familiar with. Outside of watching lectures, about half of your time should be spent memorizing the material. The other half of your time should be spent doing practice questions. Many licensed attorneys who are taking a bar exam skip the important step of memorization and jump right into practice questions. However, as mentioned above, it is not enough to know the general concepts. You will need to know some details about the law to ensure that you pass. This is where memorization comes in. Check out How to Memorize Bar Exam Outlines for some great suggestions on how to actively memorize all of the material that is tested on the bar exam!
5. Can I continue working while I study for the exam?
Absolutely! Not everyone has the opportunity to take time off to study, and many people study for (and pass!) the UBE while working full time! If you plan to work while studying, know that you have to be diligent with your studies outside of work. You might have several months where you really have to buckle down and set aside social engagements, but in the end, the sacrifice will be worth it! You should also be judicious with your time and only spend time on things that you realize are actually helping you prepare for the UBE. For example, if you really know a subject, you might skip the lecture and focus primarily on practice questions. Or, if your bar prep course has assigned “busy work” that you don’t find productive, feel free to skip it!
If you can take time off, it is highly recommended. Even if you are only able to take the week off before the exam, that is an entire week that you can dedicate exclusively to studying for the test. This can make a big difference! Although using vacation time or taking time off may be a sacrifice in the short term, if this sacrifice means a better chance that you will pass the exam (and not have to take the time to study again next administration!), it may ultimately be worth it!
6. Can I skip studying for the Multistate Performance Test (MPT)?
No! Many lawyers mistakenly think that they can easily tackle the MPT because they regularly write briefs and/or memoranda. The biggest obstacle of the MPT is timing. You will have only 3 hours to complete two entire MPTs – that includes learning about the client matter, reviewing the file and all of the research in the library, and completing the task (e.g., write a memo, draft a brief, etc.). The time flies by, and so practicing the MPT under timed conditions to develop a good strategy is crucial. Furthermore, since you don’t need to know any black letter law for the MPT, the MPT is a great way to accumulate some extra points and build a cushion in the event that you don’t do as well on the MBE or MEE portions of the exam! So, rather than just getting by with a passing score on the MPT, be sure to include MPT practice in your study schedule so that you can get a GREAT score and help increase the likelihood of passing the UBE!
We hope this post on licensed attorneys taking the Uniform Bar Exam can help shape your approach!
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