It’s always in the back of your head. In class. At the gym. In the bar (a more fun type of bar). Your whole 3L year it’s natural to constantly be thinking about the bar exam. And, somewhat surprisingly, it’s not always easy to find answers to some of the questions that burn on our brains the most. In talking with current 3Ls, I’ve tried to come up with six of the most burning questions for which a state’s bar website won’t really have an answer. The answers to these questions are just opinions. At the end of the day, do whatever feels right to you!
1. Will I fail if I don’t Start Studying Before Graduation?
I wish I could be a magic 8-ball for you. But I can’t. Your best bet is to be realistically cognizant about who you are, how you study, and what obstacles might get in your way during your study hours. If you think you might be the kind of person who would benefit from starting early, that’s great! But if you’re not, that’s totally fine, too! For me, I preferred to spend my last few weeks in law school enjoying time with my friends, my classes, and everything else that I knew I’d miss when I graduated. At the end of the day, spend time thinking about how you want to tackle studying without getting burnt out. Then, make a rational, logical choice about when to begin.
2. My Eyes don’t Open Before 10am, Will I have Enough Time to Study, Eat, Exercise, and Everything in Between?
YES! There is this weird myth that you can’t possibly take a break from bar studying to eat or exercise. But you can. And you should! I try to encourage test takers to maintain as normal of a schedule as possible. You should be studying a lot. But you should also take time to take care of yourself. It will help you stay fresh in mind and body.
3. I’m So Bad at Contracts! What Do I Do?
There are a lot of subjects on the bar. It’s natural to feel more confident about some and less confident about others. It’s critical, though, that you don’t avoid the tougher subjects. It feels good to get a lot of practice multiple choice questions right or to see your writing reflected almost perfectly in a sample answer. But continuing to pick and choose only those topics with which you feel safe can be dangerous. Remember, no one but you and your tutor is looking at your performance. Don’t be afraid to fail in practice settings. That’s what they’re for. Tackle the tough subjects now so on the actual exam you’re ready to face them head on.
4. What do I Need to Buy to be Fully Stocked and Ready to Roll for Studying?
Snacks. Having an excuse to just eat snacks all day is probably the best part of studying for the bar. But in all honestly, I also think it’s important to be stocked with study supplies. I liked to write out complex or hard to remember rules on large sticky notes and hang them around the house. That way, when I was cooking or shaving or going to sleep, I could look at those large sticky notes and still feel like I was being productive. Be thoughtful about how you study and what materials you’ll need to study effectively and prepare accordingly before you start.
5. Should I Keep my Law School Textbooks and Outlines for the Bar? Do I Need to Memorize Case Names?
I found my law school outlines useful from time to time. Sometimes, you may want to do a deeper dive on a particular topic that you know you covered more thoroughly in your law school outlines. Keeping your textbooks is probably unnecessary. There are a lot more effective and tailored means of studying for the bar exam than trying to sift through a textbook. As for case names, generally it’s a better use of your time to memorize concepts rather than case names. Sometimes a particular case like Terry in criminal procedure or Twombly and Iqbal in civil procedure is important enough to know. But if you don’t remember the names from law school, they’re probably not important enough to try and memorize now.
6. How am I going to Feel when I’m Studying? I’m already Nervous!
I asked around before writing the response to this question because I feel it’s the most important one of the bunch. Truth is, you’re going to feel a lot of things at a lot of different times. There are going to be days when you’ll feel filled to the brim with confidence, days when you’ll feel positive you’re going to fail, days when you’ll feel burnt out, days when you’ll feel energized and motivated to take another step in your studying, days when you’ll need a hug, days when you won’t want to talk to anyone, days when you need a beer, days when you need to eat only vegetables, and days when you’ll feel all of these things at once. My best advice for you is to keep moving forward. Fight through the hard days. Embrace the good days. Focus on the light at the end of the tunnel. You can pass if you just keep moving forward!
And always remember, we’re here for you! If you ever feel like you need more help or want someone to work through your study plan with you, get in touch with us! That’s what we’re here for.