Bar prep pointers now that I’ve officially taken the bar exam

Writing the bar exam

By Makenzie Way, University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School Graduate

While I won’t be able to say whether I passed until a few months from now, I can definitely point out a few things that I truly believe will lead you in the direction of bar exam success.

Do your absolute best to not only finish BARBRI bar prep, but to finish it a few days before you take the bar exam.

Completing your course requirements early gives you time to review your notes/flashcards, do additional MBE multiple-choice practice questions or take a more in-depth review of areas of struggle. You’ll also have time to unwind a little in the days leading up to the bar exam. You don’t want to be in the position where you’re forced to cram until 2 a.m. the night before.

Make the most of the extra essay questions in your MEE book.

Success on the essay writing portion of the bar exam really narrows down to three things: 1) timing, 2) knowledge of the law and 3) formatting. Not only do the practice essays teach you small rules that you may otherwise overlook in your prep, it’s also a fantastic way to ingrain the typical format for essay answers. This way, you don’t lose any time on game day figuring out how to structure your essay answer.

Likewise, work the extra MBE multiple-choice practice questions.

While BARBRI practice questions for the MBE aren’t word-for-word the same as exam, they’re still a fantastic resource for teaching you the law, showing you your strong and weak areas, and getting you accustomed to analyzing and answering tricky multiple-choice questions. If anything, I found the BARBRI MBE practice questions to be harder than the real thing. I’m glad I spent the time working extra question sets.

Create flashcards from your lecture notes, outlines and the multiple-choice/essay answers that you struggled with the most.

I seriously can’t tell you how helpful my flashcards were in the days leading up to the bar exam. I loved being able to sit down and go through a stack of cards to refresh concepts in my mind before turning to the outlines. 

Get yourself on an appropriate sleep schedule a week or two before the exam.

If you’re like me and enjoy staying up late, you’re going to want to adjust your lifestyle because, unless the exam is online again, your bar exam is going to be early in the morning. Take my word for it, you don’t want to be groggy.

Set a sleep schedule before the bar exam

Finally, practice your timing for every single bar exam activity.

When I get nervous, I tend to rush through questions. I make simple mistakes from not reading the question prompts closely enough. Some of my friends, on the other hand, slow down and end up running out of time. There’s no question that you’re going to be a bundle of nerves when exam day finally comes so the only way to prepare yourself is to practice under the same time constraints.

Now, as for my takeaway … re: what’s the bar exam like … well, that’s complicated. In my opinion, bar prep was tougher than the actual test. Maybe it’s because I worked hard. Maybe it’s because I had worked the bar exam up in my mind to be this massive monster but when test day finally arrived, I felt alright about it. Aside from how exhausting bar prep is, the second-worst thing is waiting for your results. 

The moral of this story: if you put the time and effort in, you can 100% crush the bar exam. To everyone who just took the 2020 bar exam(s), CONGRATULATIONS — you did it!

Learn more about BARBRI Bar Review here.

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