You finished law school, graduated, and are ready to start your career, right? Unfortunately no, you are now entering one of the most dreadful periods of time in a law student’s career: bar prep. This is when your life comes to a halt and you become a studying hermit in order to pass the bar exam. So how exactly do you get yourself ready for the bar exam and successfully pass? Fortunately for you, I have navigated the treacherous fields of bar prep and victoriously passed the bar exam! In order to make your life easier in preparing for the bar, I have curated a list of things that I did to help me get prepared for the bar exam. Here are ten things for you to do to get yourself ready. I hope that this list helps you feel equipped for success on the bar exam!
1. Finish Your Bar Prep
This to-do item is simple: finish your bar prep course or study plan. However, I do not mean that you have to finish every single activity and checklist item that your bar prep company gave you. Instead, complete the preparation that makes you actually feel prepared and is beneficial for you. This doesn’t mean that you should slack off and do the bare minimum. Instead, you should manage your time wisely, make good use of your bar prep materials, and get comfortable with the different topics on the bar exam.
2. Review Your Incorrect Answers
Unless you are perfect and have mastered the law, you will likely have some incorrect answers to practice questions. Although many people just check to see how many questions they got wrong, it is important to review the specific questions and answers that you missed. You should look to see if you are frequently missing the mark on a certain subject or subtopic of law. You should also evaluate whether you knew the answer and just misread the question or didn’t understand what the question was asking for. This will help you get better with each practice set and closer to passing the bar exam!
3. Know What is Frequently Tested
Each bar exam has topics or areas that are tested more often than others. Or, when more rare topics come up, they are typically similar to questions that were tested in the past. Thus, it is good to know what is frequently tested on your bar exam. You definitely do not want to bank on getting frequently tested questions (when I took the bar exam most of my essays were uncommon topics or issues). However, this is a great way to manage your time wisely and allocate more prep time to these areas. So be sure to check out what topics/questions are frequently asked on the bar exam you are sitting for!
4. Look Over Model Answers
You should also take some time to look over the model answers to your exam’s essays. Most jurisdictions release previous essay exam questions and the model answers to the prompts. These are great tools to utilize in your exam prep because you can write a response to the essay and “grade” yourself using the model answer. This allows you to understand what exam graders are looking for. It is important to note that most exam graders do not expect examinees’ responses to look exactly like the model answer. Thus, these are good tools to check your understanding of the prompt and the law relating to it, which helps prepare you for the essays you will face on the bar exam.
5. Go Over Difficult Subjects
While studying, you will likely encounter some areas of the law that you are not familiar with or that you struggle with. Although your first inclination may be to avoid these subjects or save them until the end of bar prep, you should tackle difficult subjects early on. This way, you will have the ability to deepen your understanding of the area of law and go over the topics you have difficulty with. This will give you enough time to review and feel prepared for the exam.
6. Get Your Game Plan Together
Although this may seem like a no-brainer, it is extremely important you get all of the mundane details situated before you go to take the bar exam. This means you will want to figure out where you will be staying and book a hotel room. You should also plan out your meals and decide what you are going to eat the day(s) of the bar exam. And of course, you will want to make sure that your bags are packed and you have triple checked them to make sure you have everything you need for the exam. These things sound simple but getting them done before the exam will significantly reduce your stress for game day!
7. Pump Yourself Up!
During my law school career, I would always write “You Can Do It!!!” in bright letters on my outlines before my exam. It made me feel better and gave me a little boost going into the exam. The morning of the bar exam, I listened to my “pump-up” song and gave myself a pep talk while looking in the mirror. It really helped me go into the exam with a good attitude and ready to take on whatever the examiners threw at me. Thus, take the time to pump yourself up before the bar exam. It will help you go into the exam swinging!
8. Take a Breather
Although bar prep and the bar exam are very important, your health and well-being are also crucial to your success. There is nothing wrong with taking a break or relaxing to prepare for the bar. You should make a habit of taking breaks during your prep time. This will improve your focus, help your motivation, and make you feel healthier. So go ahead and take a breather.
9. Talk to Someone
Bar prep causes a lot of stress and anxiety. The pressure to be successful and do well on the exam can be really daunting. You should always feel able to talk to someone about your feelings and work through issues you’re having. It is also nice to talk with your colleagues about the bar exam and talk about things you’re struggling with. This will help build a sense of comradery and make you feel better.
10. Visualize Success on the Day of the Exam
The bar exam is one of the most stressful exams you will ever take in your life. It is easy to feel overwhelmed and to convince yourself that you are going to fail. One way to help yourself through this anxiety and to prepare yourself for the bar is to visualize success on the day of the exam. Think about all of the things that could go right on test day. Think about how much you have prepared and studied. Think of all the blood, sweat and tears that went into bar prep. You can pass the bar and you will be successful. You CAN do this!