As you embark on the bar exam journey, it can be tough to determine which bar prep resources you will use. If you decided to go with a bar prep company, then scheduling a consultation is a great opportunity to speak with a bar prep representative to help you make the best possible decision. The alternative is going with a program that doesn’t suit your needs and realizing this too late can be costly—both for your time and your wallet.
1. Learning style
It is really easy to go with the crowd and sign up for a well-known company with a great promotion, but be sure the program you select aligns with your personal and unique learning style. The benefit of law school is you have gone through three years of being faced with the question, how can I learn all this complex material best? Do you learn best from audio recordings and/or visual aids? You will want to ask and even preview some of the methods that the company uses. As you know, you won’t have all the time in the world to prepare, so the more tailored the materials are to your learning style, the better off you will be!
2. Support for weaknesses
To succeed on the exam, it’s important to continuously assess and improve on your weaknesses. Having a sense of what some of these weaknesses are ahead of your consultation can be beneficial so that you can ask what support is available to make improvements. If you are a repeat taker, you may be well aware of the specific aspects you need to tackle first. Did you lose time on the MPT portion because you did not have a solid strategy to read through the library and file? In those cases, you will want to learn more about the specific support that is offered in this regard. If you struggled on the essays, does the prep company offer review of your essays? If so, are the review limited or unlimited?
No worries if you are just starting out and everything is fair game in terms of your weakness. In that case, you will want to ask questions about how you can assess your areas for improvement. For example, does the program offer a baseline exam so that you can see which subjects need to be prioritized sooner rather than later? Are there helpful analytics or a tracking system to check your own progress along the way?
3. Licensed MBE questions
MBE questions make up a great deal of your score, so you want to be sure that the questions are based on previously tested and released by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE). NCBE licensed questions can offer some of the greatest insight into what you may see on exam day, as these questions have been previously tested. They will equip you by help you to become familiar with the style of the way the NCBE tests – this is something you don’t want to realize during the actual exam day. For example, I was previously unaware that NCBE questions were an integral part of mixing into my MBE practice. When I saw the exam day questions, I felt thrown off. Luckily, you can avoid that by asking if there is a question bank with licensed NCBE questions. Is there a simulated exam that also includes previously tested questions with explanations? If the program you’re looking into meets most of your other needs, then see if it is worth adding an additional supplement from the NCBE itself or programs like Adaptibar.
4. New approach for repeat takers
If you are taking the exam again, don’t be afraid to try a different method. If you used a program the first time and you did not pass, this is a great signal that you should try something new. Perhaps there is a resource out there that you haven’t given a chance such as UWorld that can make all the difference. In this case, add this to your list of consultations to schedule to learn more about how they can help you succeed this time around.
5. Consider cost
As you know, the money you put into preparation is a great investment. Before you make the big financial commitment, be sure to learn about the total cost and payment options. If there are installments, can you adjust the dates so that you ensure you can meet the deadline and are able to pay. It is a major stressor during bar prep to have financial worries, so be sure to eliminate that by planning accordingly. Take into account your personal spending (i.e. holiday gifts) and obligations such as student loans that may be set to kick in during your bar prep.
Doing your research and speaking with the company early on can really position you to make the best decision for the bar exam long haul. During bar prep there really is no time to drastically change your plans, so be sure to choose wisely early on and true to what suits your needs best!