Not everyone will be able to start bar prep early. For some, it is just not practical because final exams, work, and life will take up too much time. Others, however, have a little bit of time to get a head start on bar prep. Note that just because you can start bar prep early, doesn’t mean you need to. I recommend that the following students start preparing early (when possible):
- Students who graduate near the bottom of their law school class.
- Students who struggled a lot in their first year courses.
- Students that plan on working (or who have a similar time-consuming obligation) during bar prep.
- Students who are extremely anxious about the bar exam.
- Students who have failed the bar exam in the past.
Starting early is not mandatory for all of the above categories of students (that is, you can start when the traditional students start and still pass!) but starting early will likely increase your chances of passing as well as ease any anxiety you may feel.
What should you do to start bar prep early?
Learn the Law: The best way to plan ahead and to start early is to learn areas of law that you feel especially weak in. If you are feeling uncomfortable with any of the MBE topics (Constitutional Law, Contracts and Sales, Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure, Evidence, Real Property, Torts….and for those of you who are taking the bar exam in 2015, Civil Procedure) it is wise to work on these. Many times these subjects are “double tested” (that is, tested on both the multistate bar exam as well as the essay portion of your exam). If you have bar prep books and outlines already, slowly go through them and actively learn them and review them. If you do not yet have your bar exam resources yet, it is a good idea to purchase some bar outlines on Amazon or eBay if you can find them for good prices (remember to check both: sometimes the price of the same book will be drastically different on Amazon and eBay!)
Also, we offer private tutoring for the bar exam (we have wonderful outlines for all of the MBE subjects as well as many state essay exam outlines). Students who retain us for early bar prep can use these outlines.
Get Comfortable with Multiple Choice: It is also a good idea, in some cases, to get a head start on multiple choice. The Strategies and Tactics books are a good place to start. If you are very shaky on most areas of the law, however, I do not recommend that you dive into doing multiple choice questions. They will intimidate you and create anxiety rather than serving as a learning tool. Only look at multiple choice questions if you feel as though you have a decent understanding of the law. If you feel very confident about Constitutional Law and Criminal Law & Procedure, say, but do not feel very confident about the other subjects, only look at multiple choice subjects for those two subjects until you feel like you have a better handle on the other subjects.
If you have failed the bar exam before, make sure to spend time understanding exactly what went wrong so you can change your method of studying. There is no point in studying the same way again or you will likely get the same result! Instead, really consider why you failed and what you can do next time to make sure you pass.
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