Six Tips For Passing The Bar Exam
There’s no way to sugarcoat it: the bar exam is a very difficult test. With that said, it’s not insurmountable. In this post, we’ll discuss six tips for passing the bar exam!
Six Tips For Passing The Bar Exam
1. Know the black letter law
This point cannot be emphasized enough. Throughout your bar prep, make the time to learn, study, and memorize the black letter law so that you have it down cold. Here are our tips for learning black letter law in more detail. Some students choose to study directly from pre-made condensed outlines from their bar prep courses, while others choose to create their own outlines. Use whichever method works best for you! Irrespective of which you choose, check out our strategies and tips on how to memorize your bar exam outlines.
The goal is to know the rules well enough to be able to explain them to someone else unaided. When you’ve reached this level of mastery, you’ll be in a much better position to tackle your MBE and MEE practice questions—which often test a highly specific point of law.
2. Practice, practice, practice and then review
As the saying goes, practice makes perfect. In bar exam prep, practice doesn’t necessarily make perfect. However, it does make for a much more manageable bar exam. Working through practice questions—when used properly—may be one of the most effective ways to prepare for the bar exam. Successful students often work through close to 1,000 MBE questions and close to 100 essays.
But, plowing through questions alone is not enough. Take the time to review all of your answers (right and wrong) so that you understand the structure of each question and the reasoning behind the correct answer. The review process is critical to know what to continue doing correctly and what rules you need to revisit and work through.
Would Tom Brady head into the Super Bowl without having practiced all season? Of course not. Well, the bar exam is your Super Bowl. If you’ve put in the work throughout your prep, then the exam becomes an opportunity for you to showcase the legal skills and knowledge that you’ve acquired over the past three years.
3. Practice with real exam questions
Many prep courses use simulated MBE questions in their prep courses. But, nothing beats the real thing! If you can, find a prep course that uses real MBE questions from past exams or purchase a question bank of previously released questions to practice with. This will give you the opportunity to get a feel for real exam questions so that you’re not surprised or caught off guard on exam day by any slight differences between simulated questions and the actual questions.
4. Incorporate timed practice
For the 200-question MBE, you have to work at a pace of approximately 1.8 minutes per questions, and for the six-essay MEE, a pace of 30 minutes per question. Check out our tips on MBE timing and MEE timing! You should start your studying by working through practice questions focusing on systematically reading, analyzing, and answering each question without worrying about time. However, once you start to feel more comfortable with the questions, you should start timing yourself and work on becoming more efficient.
It’s important to be disciplined with time during your practice exams and on actual test day. For example, if you find yourself spending close to two minutes (or more) on an MBE question, it’s time to choose what you think is the best answer and move on. The same goes for the MEE. Don’t let yourself spend more than 30 minutes on an essay. If you allow yourself even two extra minutes on each essay, you’ll leave yourself with only 20 minutes for your last essay—not a good idea.
If you start to incorporate timed practice early—and you’re disciplined about it—working within the allotted time will feel like second nature on test day.
5. Don’t be afraid to adjust your study plan
Bar prep courses assign material and practice questions based on a general schedule that will help most students comprehensively study for the exam. With that said, don’t blindly follow your bar prep materials if certain things are not working for you. In other words, be careful not to fall into “checklist mentality”—i.e., approaching bar prep assignments merely as items to be completed. Check-in with yourself and see what’s actually working, or not working, for you! If you find that certain tasks are just not helping you master the material and questions, you may want to consider using other study tactics that worked for you in law school. Of course, it’s not advisable to veer too far off course, but approach your prep course with a degree of flexibility and use your time wisely. At the end of the day, there’s no award for checking every assignment off your list.
6. Take care of yourself
Another way to ensure a confident and successful exam performance is to have a healthy body and mind heading into test day. Neuroscience research increasingly shows links between physical health and mental performance, and you’ll want every edge you can get when you tackle one of the most challenging professional licensing exams out there. First and foremost, be sure to get enough sleep. Most adults need seven to nine hours, so don’t shortchange yourself. Second, make time for regular exercise. Go for a jog, a brisk walk, or whatever gets your blood pumping. Third, eat a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables, and drink plenty of water.
If you take these simple steps during your preparation, your body and mind will be in the best state possible to take on whatever those bar examiners throw at you.
For more information on taking care of yourself, check out our post on bar exam self-care.
We hope this post of 6 tips to passing the bar exam is helpful!
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