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Bar Exam Study Tips

June 11, 2007

This is a bit of  a dangerous subject to address, but I’ve been asked about bar exam study several times in the last two days.  I’d like to note that I am not an expert on the subject.  All I can do is recount the advice that I found useful and add a few tips of my own.   

I’ve been repeatedly asked if I did everything on the BarBri schedule.  No.  I did not.  I did not find writing essays helpful during the first couple of weeks.  Yet, during the last week, I found writing/outlining essays very helpful.  The friend who studied with me in the library never found writing essays helpful.  I think she wrote one (sort of) the entire time.  We both passed.  Studying is an individualized process – as if you didn’t learn this during the first year of law school.  I used BarBri as a guideline.  If it helps you to do everything on the calendar, by all means, do it.  If not, do whatever you find helpful and do a lot of it.

The advice that I found most helpful – and kept reminding myself of along the way – was that the bar exam is a performance test and not a test on the substance of the law.  Knowing the law is important and definitely helps, but if you don’t know everything (and in my opinion, you can’t), do not have a total meltdown.  Keep studying and doing as much as you possibly can and be at peace with it.  It may help to think of yourself as in training for a big two day long race.  You are building up to the actual event and will be ready to go when the day arrives. 

Back to meltdowns for a minute – having a meltdown early in the study process is a big waste of time and energy.  STAY CALM.  Stay calm while studying and at the exam.  I would also recommend minimal contact with your friends who constantly operate on freakout mode…their influence may work against you…

Now a confession – I freaked out the Saturday before the exam because I could not remember information that I knew the week before.  Apparently, this may be normal as several of my friends had the same problem.  When I got to the exam, I remembered enough to pass, which is really all that matters.

The best advice that I can give you is to wear layers and closed toe shoes.  I was really glad that I wore closed toe shoes because it was cold in the room.  But definitely wear layers because it could be hot this year and you won’t know until you get there.  

I’m sure everyone had a different experience, studied differently and has different advice to give, so please share anything valuable that I may have forgotten.  And GOOD LUCK!!!

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21 Comments leave one →
  1. Lily permalink
    June 11, 2007 7:10 pm

    Good tips! Ditto on the essay point. I never wrote the practice essays, I would simply outline them – then check to make sure my outline mentioned the main points.

    I did a couple of the essays where you could mail them to barbri for sample grading, it was good to do the writing…but the grading part can work against you by totally freaking you out, or making you over confident.

    Also, try to avoid your entire law school section – I found studying in the library with one of two sane people was enough contact with law students for me.

    Remember – bar exam studying is all about finding what works for you, and DOING IT!

  2. Lily permalink
    June 11, 2007 7:11 pm

    P.S. I passed PA and NJ on the first try. 🙂

  3. Jill permalink
    June 11, 2007 7:25 pm

    I agree with the tips and advice. By this point, you know what works for you, so stick with it. And don’t do too much! Remember to be nice to yourself during this stressful time. Make sure you’re well-rested and you’re eating a decent diet and go to a movie or sit by the pool and relax. Build down time into your schedule. You’ll perform better for having done it.
    And when you totally freak out – and I think everyone does – remember this: This is the only exam in your entire life where you’re aiming for a D-. All you gotta do is pass, baby! Best of luck!

  4. David permalink
    July 22, 2008 1:21 am

    For PA, all I did was read the BarBri books for 2 weeks before the exam. BarBri in itself is a ripoff, IMHO. You don’t need to go to the “lectures” (which is just you in a large room watching a video tape of some “expert” drone on and on), you don’t need to do the practice tests, it is all rubbish. For NJ, I did the same thing. All you need is the review books, which you can get for about $100 from Craigslist.

    It is important, though, to eat well in the days leading up to the exam and get plenty of rest. Arrive at the test site early. If you are any distance away from the test site, it is probably a good idea to get a hotel room nearby, so you can stay rested. During the exam, be mindful of the clock. For the essays, I found it helpful to do a brief outline before writing, so that you don’t forget to write anything.

  5. Carl permalink
    July 15, 2010 9:33 am

    I did a couple of the essays where you could mail them to barbri for sample grading, it was good to do the writing…but the grading part can work against you by totally freaking you out, or making you over confident.

    Also, try to avoid your entire law school section – I found studying in the library with one of two sane people was enough contact with law students for me.

    Remember – bar exam studying is all about finding what works for you, and DOING IT!

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