When I was a law student, the bar exam felt like a challenge way off in the distance. I figured I better put my energy towards getting through law school first, and then, I could worry about the bar exam. What I didn’t realize then is that there are plenty of ways to both study in law school and simultaneously prepare for the bar exam.
Here are a few suggestions on how you can maximize your time in law school and get ahead of the game when it comes time to study for the bar exam.
Determine Which Bar Exam You Will Take
As a law student, I didn’t realize that there is a lengthy application process just to sit for the bar exam. I also did not know that there would be a second application process for admission to the bar. Each application required information that I did not have readily available such as every address where I had lived for the last twenty years. It took quite a lot of time to track down some of the required details. Some forms even had to be notarized, which required me to figure out who was a notary, where they were located, and when I could take my application there to be notarized.
The sooner you can identify which bar exam you want to take and in which jurisdiction, the sooner you can review the application for the exam and the bar and start pulling together the information required.
Deciding which bar exam you will take also helps in your preparation for the exam itself. The Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) is now accepted in multiple states, but other states still have their own exam. Whichever route you choose, UBE or state-specific exam, the study strategy may be a bit different. There may also be significantly different requirements for each.
Knowing where you will take the bar can help you be more organized and more informed throughout your entire law school career.
Take Bar Exam Subject Classes
The UBE tests the following subjects on the Multistate Bar Exam (MEE) portion: Civil Procedure, Criminal Law and Procedure, Torts, Real Property, Contracts, Constitutional Law, and Evidence.
All of these are typically required in first year curriculums.
The Multistate Essay Exam portion covers these subjects: Business Associations, Civil Procedure, Conflict of Laws, Constitutional Law, Contract Law, Criminal Law and Procedure, Evidence, Family Law, Real property, Torts, Trusts and Estates, and Article 9 of the Uniform Commercial Code (Secured Transactions).
Many of these courses are not required in law school, but take them anyway. They will help give you a solid foundation of all of the rules you will see on the UBE. You could learn these subjects on your own through bar preparatory programs. I did, and it worked out okay for me. However, I would have gone into the exam a lot more confident if I had taken more of these courses.
The bar exam mostly tests your ability to apply legal rules to various hypothetical situations. Knowing the rules is key to passing the bar. In each of the courses highlighted above, strive to pull together a list of rules. This will obviously help you while taking those classes, but it will also help you prepare for the bar exam.
Keep reviewing those rules, and by the time you take the bar, you will know them cold.
Play Bar Exam Games
What a time to take the bar exam! There are all sorts of entertaining ways to prepare for the bar these days including bar exam board games and apps. By the time I tried the board game, I graduated from law school and was living at home with my mom and two of my brothers. They humored me and agreed to play a bar exam board game after dinner one night. Not only did I not get most of the answers right, neither did they. It turned out to be a pretty lousy experience.
Had I played with friends from law school, it would have been not just more fun but more productive. Being able to review the answers with classmates who understood the subject matter would have helped me prepare far better than reviewing with loving relatives who just couldn’t comment on the questions or answers. And, it would have also reinforced rules for classes I was taking while in law school.
Make bar exam studying a little more fun by gathering your law school classmates to play bar exam games. Don’t have one? You can always make one up! Get creative and enjoy some time with friends while studying for the bar exam.
It’s Never Too Early To Start Preparing For The Bar Exam
The bar exam can be intimidating, but the more prepared you are, the more confident you’ll be on exam day. That preparation can start earlier than you think. And, while you’re preparing for the bar, you could also be improving your study skills for your classes while in law school.