If you are taking the bar exam for the first time (or even if you are a repeat taker) you are likely getting ready to log hours upon hours at your commercial bar review course. But do you know what to expect when you sit with hundreds of others in a ballroom, conference center or law school?
Lets be honest, I didn’t. I took Barbri and I had heard that you just went to class and “followed the study schedule.” I want you to be more prepared. Here are some things to know about what happens during a typical commercial bar review course.
Most commercial bar review programs are primarily composed of lectures.
Professors from all over the country travel around to deliver lectures on different subjects. Some of the lectures are funny and entertaining and some are a bit dry, but they all give you lots of information on the substantive law. You can expect (depending on the subject) to spend at least part of your days during the week in lectures. Some of them are very memorable! Funny story — recently I met one of the lecturers for Barbri that speaks on California law. During his lecture he used funny voices and mnemonics to help us remember black letter law. When I met him, I made a joke about remembering his mnemonics – and repeated them back to him. I felt a bit silly, but it shows that some of the lectures are really memorable!
You likely won’t be able to ask any questions of the lecturer.
For logistical reasons, most lecturers are not able to answer individual questions— if there are hundreds of people attending the lecture, how could the professor answer everyone’s questions?
What is the study schedule you speak of?
Most courses will also provide you with a study schedule. That study schedule will assign you practice assignments outside of the lectures. These will include essays, multiple-choice practice, and performance tests.
So, if I follow the study schedule perfectly, I am all good, right?
Yes and no. Yes, you want to follow the study schedule to make sure you keep up with the assignments and move through the studying of the law quickly and efficiently. You also want to practice, which is often included in the study schedule. But you also need to take ownership of your preparation. The learning piece of the studying is done outside of class. Most of us don’t learn the law just by attending a lecture, we have to outline it, make flow charts or flash cards. You should be spending time outside of the lectures developing these study materials for yourself.
Always remember though, commercial bar review courses are created to help a large number of people prepare.
They are not built strictly to support you. If you need additional help with essays, multiple-choice questions, or the performance test, you should ask for help. You can reach out to mentors, tutors or academic support professionals. Remember only you can make sure you are ready for the bar exam. Make sure the preparation period works for you. Good luck!