Before the last month of bar preparation, I had a pretty solid idea where I stood. Having scribbled copious notes and made ample flashcards in the extended first few months of bar prep (see: pandemic), I was pretty confident that only 2% of the substantive law was in my head (if even that). But 30 days before, and leading up to exam day, THAT is where you really need to have an effective plan in place to review your MBE questions and essays.
Planning & Reviewing Essays
First, essays. How you confront your preparation for MEE and state subjects is very unique to your skills sets and strengths. For example, I have always been a confident essay writer, so I personally spent more time outlining and issue spotting rather than constructing full essays. Alternatively, maybe you took Wills, Trusts, and Estates in law school, so you do not feel pressured to spend a lot time there. Be open to switching around commercial study schedules to meet your needs (like spending less time on Wills and maybe more time on Family Law, which you might not have taken in law school).
Tackling your MEE or state specific subjects early in the last month is also very effective. If you dedicate a week of study to state subjects and make effective outlines, you can focus on MBE for the remainder of the last month. As review, you can look over your state specific outlines and plan 2 essays a day as practice. Trying to cram all of your MEE or state subjects in the last week or two before the bar takes away from crucial moments where you should be focused on nailing your MBE score. Every time you do a practice essay, spend an hour combing through the model answer. What are the rules, how is the law being applied? Take time to create your own rule statements and add them to your outline for each subject. The next time you do a practice essay, try to incorporate the rule statements you have created. Check out How to Practice Essays in the Last Weeks Before the Bar Exam, which helps you plan your essay studying. Truth is, you will learn all the material you need to before exam day. But the process with which you approach the material will reflect how well you do on them.
Preparing for the MPT
Second, MPT. Practice at least one a week, so that you have completed 4 minimum MPTs by exam day. The key to the MPT is refining your process: how do you effectively filter through and process the material? You need to have a timing strategy, a plan for working through the bulky MPT packet, an effective way to take notes so you do not have to read MPT material twice, and a dedicated writing time. I created a cheat sheet for myself that I would look over before every MPT (see below).
- Read Task Memo
- TIMES TO REMEMBER
START MPT #1: 3:00 | Writing Start: 2:15 | MOVE MPT#2: 1:30 | Writing Start: 00:45
- Look at the Template
Fill in those headers and structure it EXACTLY THE SAME, get ready to fill in with your analysis.
- Start with the LIBRARY
- Read the Cases first
- Read the Statutory Law next
- Pull Facts from the FILE
- Spend 45 min. to read/outline & 45 min. to write
Having a plan like this did wonders. I was focused on scoring points efficiently, rather than being bogged down by the information. For more ideas on keeping to your unique strengths for MEE and MPT for effective review, check out: What’s Your MEE and MPT Bar Prep Strategy?
Effective MBE Practice & Review
Last, but definitely NOT least (honestly 80% of your preparation should be here): MBE. The last month of MBE preparation is really about practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. It’s nothing you have not heard before. But not many sources and mentors tell you how to practice. The trick is to do so many practice questions that you begin to note down patterns. The NCBE writers can only write each type of subject so many ways. This is where practice questions broken down by subtopic or subject prove super useful, either on your commercial bar course or AdaptiBar. Every day, I would select two subtopics from two MBE subjects to focus on, for ex: Homicide, Inchoate Crimes (Criminal Law); Motions, Pretrial Procedures (Civil Procedure). I would only do 25 questions from each of these subtopics, and then review. Afterwards, I would make a quick attack outline or flashcard for each subtopic. A running google document with all of the black letter law from each subtopic is also an efficient way to keep track of all of the MBE subtopics you may confront in your preparation. Before each new session, I would look over my outline, google document, or flashcards. I would orient my brain on how to tackle that particular subtopic, then begin my 25 practice questions.
The last week is crucial. For most people, it’s the last week where things begin make sense in the big picture and in the fine details, and you wish you had a little bit more time in this space. But along with memorization, continue to do MBE practice by subtopic. Now is the time the material will really etch into your brains if you see it over and over again. Read What to Do the Week Before the Bar Exam for more thoughts and techniques on binging MBE in the last 7 days. And of course, keep your mind clear and resolve strong – DON’T PANIC! Make sure to combat stress and anxiety effectively. Create calming morning and evening routines, see yourself acing the exam! You’re not cramming in the last week. You are only solidifying the material you had been efficiently processing for the last 30 days. You’ve got this!