You are about to graduate from law school. Everyone you know is gearing up for bar review. Many students in your class signed up for a bar review course during their first year of law school, primarily to get access to the outlines provided by those programs. Now they’re locked in, and they will not consider taking another approach. In fact, they are staunch believers that you have to do a bar review course to have a realistic chance of success on the bar exam.
You, on the other hand, may have a tight budget, and are maxed out on student loans. You put off signing up for that bar review course during law school. Now you won’t get the great discount you could have gotten if you signed up during the first week of law school. You’re thinking you might have to ask a great aunt to float you some money for that bar review course as a graduation gift.
Or maybe, you’re not fresh out of law school. You failed the bar exam at least once after going the traditional route of using a bar review course. The course either did not work for you, or you can’t afford to devote the same amount of time and money for the new bar season.
Whether you are a new law school graduate or just recently failed the bar, there is also the possibility you need to work and won’t be able to keep up with the bar review schedule. Maybe you are tapped out financially. Maybe you have been presented with a job opportunity you can’t pass up, and your employer is willing to give you some flexibility with your schedule, only expecting you to work part-time. So now what?
Go It Alone!
All is not lost. Under any of these circumstances, you should consider going it alone. It is possible to study on your own, using your own resources and getting some help from some other, more affordable sources. Scary, I know, but it actually may be the best approach for you to take once you realistically consider all your options. For example:
- Were you disciplined in law school? Did you create your own outlines and religiously take practice exams to prepare for midterms and finals? Did you (and this is the most important part) keep all that material instead of burning it at the end of each semester like your classmates. This would be the best-case scenario. The material will feel familiar to you and all you will have to do is switch to old bar exams from your jurisdiction to practice your writing and time-management.
- Perhaps you took that bar review course, failed, but still have those outlines. Don’t throw them away! Use them to study on your own this time. You’ve used them before – the material should be familiar to you at this point. Now maybe supplement your use of these outlines with the use of a tutor or a program that can feed you lots of practice exams and feedback to fine tune your essays and multiple-choice strategies.
- Get some help in making the decision on whether to go the self-help route and whether it is the best option for you. Such help is available here at the Bar Exam Toolbox. Using the Bar Exam Self-Study Program, you will have access to practice exams and feedback. You will be able to structure your study time in a manner that fits your life and your schedule, and still be confident you will have the materials you need to be successful on the bar.
- Supplement self-study with books you can purchase online that offer practice on the Multistate Bar Exam. These practice books offer lots of questions with explanations. You might even consider signing up for a short online course on the Multistate Bar Exam, where you will have the opportunity to take practice exams under timed circumstances, and then get feedback. Using multiple-choice questions to study for the bar is actually a very good way to reinforce your knowledge on the elements of important rules. For example, the correct answer is often based on the lack of an element rather than on a consideration of how a court might rule in a given situation.
You have options. Don’t assume you have to use the same approach that your classmates are using. If you are disciplined and confident in your abilities, you can structure your bar preparation routine in a way that is best for you and best for the people around you. When you have time to consider all your options, you may just decide it’s not such a bad idea to go it alone.
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That’s good advice. I’m working full time while self-studying for July’s bar. The Barbri Conviser mini-review, Critical Pass flashcards, and Strategies & Tactics books are more than doing the job. The additional busy work of bar review courses are no substitute for black letter law memorization and practice testing.
Thanks, Jeffrey. Glad you enjoyed the article!