The summer I spent studying for the bar exam feels like yesterday. Passing the bar was the only thing I thought about my last semester of law school. That summer was probably the hardest summer of my life thus far. There were times that I broke out in tears while studying because I felt that I was not learning anything. Studying for a bar exam is both mentally and physically tough and you will go through a rollercoaster of emotions.
With the next round of bar takers in their studies, I feel obligated to share my advice and tips for passing the bar. When I was studying for my bar exam I looked up bar exam tips and advice until the day of the bar exam. So how did I prepare?
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10 TIPS FOR PASSING THE BAR
1. PREPARATION: I started preparing for the bar exam before the bar exam. That meant I took every professor that I knew would prepare me for the bar exam. In addition, I spent the last semester of law school preparing and getting familiar with reoccurring issues by issue spotting old Texas Bar Exams. I also took the time to pull out my first-year outlines to start refreshing myself on the material taught my first year.
2. FREE OF FINANCIAL STRESS: The last thing I wanted to be was stress about money. I knew I did not want to get a job because I wanted to use the whole summer to focus on passing the bar. However, I still had bills to pay and needed to feed myself that summer. Luckily, I did not have to pay rent because I stayed with my sister while I studied for the bar. Taking the bar exam is stressful enough I did not want to add on more stress. Therefore, I took out an 8,000 dollar bar loan and paid all my bills up until December of that year. The idea was to also give me enough time to secure a job after results came out.
3. ORGANIZATION: During that time I stuck to a very strict schedule. My study started at 8:00 p.m. and ended at 12:00 a.m. every day until the day of the bar exam. I took a break between 12:00 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. to eat lunch and nap. Then took my last break from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. to eat dinner. One thing I understood was that I was blessed to not have to work while I studied for the bar exam, nor did I have children who needed my attention. I wanted to make the most out of that opportunity.
4. Study Area. Finding a place to study is key to passing the bar exam. When I studied I really tried to mimic bar exam conditions. That meant I studied at a desk about 70% of the times. Days I took practice exams I went to the library to copy testing conditions. I also invested in some noise cancelling earphones to block out surrounding sounds when I was trying to mimic testing conditions.
5. Eliminate Stress. It’s amazing how annoying family and friends become during this time. I literally told my family and friends (besides the ones studying for their exams as well) not call me unless it was an emergency. If they support you they will understand.
6. Bar Prep Course. I will never understand why some folks believe they can get away with not taking a bar prep course. I understand that they are extremely expensive, but the thing about bar prep courses is they hone in on what exactly is tested. This saves you a ton of studying time because you are not wasting time studying things that are not tested. Which bar exam you take is up to. I cannot make that decision for you because I know people who passed and failed no matter which bar prep course they took. Also, I suggest that you do not follow these bar prep course by heart. They have to justify the amount they charge by giving you a ton of assignments. If you follow their strict schedule you will learn that you do not have time to actually sit down and learn the material.
7. Other Study Material. Law school and my bar prep course were not the only material that I used to pass the bar exam. I know that is extremely annoying, I mean you did just spent a ton of money on law school and a bar prep course. But I learned that I needed better supplements for learning the Multistate Bar Exam material. While Barbri did a great job preparing me for my state portion I felt that it was lacking in the MBE portion. That is partially due to the fact that Barbi creates their own MBE questions. I highly suggest purchases the two items linked below.
- Critical Pass MBE Flashcards
- Strategies and Tactics for the MBE (Strategies & Tactics for the MBE Book 1).
I loved the critical pass flashcards because I could take them with me no matter where I went. Also, they did a really good job simplifying the rules of some topics. I also highly suggest the Strategies and Tactics for the MBE book. This book uses real old MBE questions and breaks down how you should attack each question.
8. Know your Strength. I think people forget that most bar exams are a number games. How many points can you receive to pass? What does that mean? Do not waste time on topics you just cannot get down. Especially if you only have a week left till the exam. Real property was not my best friend when I was studying for the bar exam. Instead of continuing to stressing myself out behind it. I moved on when I still did not understand it a week before the exam. I would rather focus on nailing and working out of the kinks of other topics I did understand. Not knowing one topic is not the reason you will fail a bar exam.
9. Take Practice Exams. Never ever sit for a bar exam without doing practices exams. You should have done so many practices exams that you feel extremely confident that you can answer any issues they throw your way. The last two weeks of my studying I was only doing full practices exams under timed conditions. It had got to the point that had I sat for 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 bar exam I would have passed.
10. TAKE BREAKS: It is ok to take days off from studying. There is no point of studying when you are not learning anything. Whenever I did not feel like studying I would attempt to do a Multistate Practice Test (MPT) since it did not require any real thinking. If I could not get through one of those because my brain was over it. I took a break and watch a tv show or went for a walk to clear my head.
When the Pain is Over
Pretend it never happened. Don’t go back and look at your outline to see if you answer the questions right because you can do absolutely nothing about it. Every time one of your friends receive their results your heart will drop a little more and more waiting on yours. To pass that time go on a vacation, clean up your resume, get your job applications ready for when your results come back saying you have passed your bar exam.