If you’re preparing to retake the bar exam after a disappointing result from a prior test administration, you should have one goal in mind: to pass the exam no matter what! It’s not easy, but you have to find a way to put the disappointing result behind you and focus solely on preparing for the upcoming exam. Your bar prep schedule over the next several weeks should include the obvious study activities like reviewing the law, completing practice essay questions, and taking mock exams. But as a retaker, there may be a few things you need to consider or do differently than someone who is taking the exam for the first time. Here are 6 tips for retakers to help you find success on the bar exam this time around!
Put the hours in.
Preparing for and passing the bar exam takes a lot of time. There is an immense amount of detailed, nuanced information that you need to memorize and an assortment of skills that you need you to be able to perform quickly and accurately. Although almost all students intellectually understand that passing the bar exam requires a lot of effort, many nevertheless fail to put in the time needed to prepare properly. It’s no surprise that students who fail the exam are often (but not always) the same students who also failed to complete a majority of the prep work assigned, failed to attend the lectures, failed to turn in practice essays, failed to work through practice MBE questions each day, etc. You do not want to cut corners during bar prep, especially if you are retaking the exam. This time around, commit yourself to putting in the hours needed to correctly prepare for the exam. That means studying each day (probably for several hours), completing all of your assignments, staying focused over the course of several weeks, and consistently evaluating your performance so that you can make improvements along the way.
Find an Advisor.
One of the most valuable changes a retaker can make is to find a person who can act as their advisor. You may be on your own when you take the exam, but you definitely don’t need to go it alone during bar prep. A good advisor should be able to answer your questions, help you evaluate your past performance and make positive changes, keep you accountable to your study schedule, and, perhaps most importantly, motivate and encourage you over the next several weeks. Your bar prep advisor should be your sounding board and mentor when it comes to all things bar prep related. You may have a professor or academic support person at your law school who can help you or you may want to hire a reputable bar exam tutor, but make sure you have someone who knows the ropes to guide you and encourage you.
Personalize Your Study Schedule.
If you’re using a study schedule provided to you by a commercial bar prep company, give it a good, hard look. Those schedules are often a helpful starting place for preparing a study plan, but it’s important to remember that they are one-size-fits-all approaches that aren’t tailored to specific students. If you’re re-taking the exam, you should have an even better idea of your strengths and weaknesses than someone who is taking it for the first time. Analyze your study schedule and make sure it’s tailored to your own needs. You may need to spend more time on certain subjects or sacrifice some essay prep for more MBE practice depending on your results from the last time. It’s important to have a well thought out, detailed schedule of what and when you will study over the next several weeks, but make sure that the schedule you use is personalized to address your own strengths and weaknesses.
Keep a List of What You Didn’t Know.
A great study tip for retakers is to keep a running list of rules that they didn’t know. As you’re reviewing outlines, checking scores on multiple choice questions, and comparing your essays to model answers, write down any concepts that you didn’t know. The act of reviewing this material and physically writing it down will help you remember the rule on future problems and prevent you from making that same mistake on the actual exam. Add to your list throughout the prep period and read through it every few weeks to keep the rules that you missed fresh in your mind.
Practice More MBE Questions.
You’ll likely still need to review the law and read through subject matter outlines, but as a retaker you may find it more valuable to practice applying the concepts like you will on the actual exam. Most students find the MBE to be the most difficult portion of the exam, so make sure that you are completing lots of MBE practice questions – do some each and every day and make sure you review the answer explanations. Working through practice MBE questions will not only help you learn the law but it will also show you how concepts are commonly tested in multiple choice format and improve your ability to solve these tricky and nuanced questions.
Control Your Nerves.
You may feel even more pressure and anxiety taking the bar exam for the second time. It’s important to find healthy ways to manage your stress level and to control your nerves on exam day so that you can perform at your best. Take comfort from the fact that many highly successful people failed the bar exam and remind yourself that you are more than capable of overcoming this obstacle.
You’ll probably need to garner even more strength, focus, and determination during this prep period than you did during the last exam. Stay focused on the end goal, and remember that success will feel that much better knowing that you’ve overcome a difficult challenge.
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Did you find this post helpful? Check the other articles in this post:
- The Daily Schedule You Need to Study for the Bar Exam
- Train Like an Athlete for the Bar Exam
- 5 Ways to Tell if You Are in Bar Study Trouble
- Why Really Wanting to Pass the Bar Exam Isn’t Enough
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