5 Self-Help Tips … Before You Have That Dreaded Bar Prep Meltdown

GUEST BLOG by Sara Valentine, Graduate of Capital University Law School

Stay calm! We got this.

We’re approaching that notorious time in bar prep, when all of your lawyer friends say, “Oh, I had a meltdown, you’ll have one, too. It’ll be fine.”

… PARDON ME?

This is probably true. We’re close to July and that’s supposedly when the meltdown happens (although, let’s be real, who hasn’t already had some bad days? I’m looking at you, Commercial Paper).

I want to help give you the proper tools so that when the time comes (or doesn’t, if you’re lucky and are staying calm throughout this whole process — go you!), you know what to do.

This week, we’ll focus on mental health and the importance of staying calm, cool and collected.

1) GET SOME REST

I get it. We’re all stressed out and feel as if we’re not doing enough when we’re not studying. However, getting good sleep is so important. You’re not going to be able to focus throughout your bar prep if you’re not getting good sleep. Make sure that you’re getting at least seven hours of sleep per night. It may seem unreasonable, but it’s going to make the difference.

2) MEDITATE

Patrick is on to something, okay? I struggle with anxiety and I cannot begin to tell y’all how much meditating has helped me throughout law school and certainly throughout bar prep. Taking a few minutes a day to calm your mind and give yourself some time to process and ~chill~ can lower your stress and help you feel more prepared. I enjoy using Headspace (find it here), but there are also plenty of free guided meditations that you can find on YouTube. Reach out to me if you want to talk more about it.

3) GO OUTSIDE

This is cliché, I know. So many people have told me to just go outside and take some time away from my studies and I’ll feel better … they were right. After sitting inside all day and staring at my computer screen and books, I get lethargic! I’ve started to take some time in the evenings to walk around a local park and it has done wonders for my stress (also, an added benefit, petting doggos!). Granted, there are times when I take my study aids with me, but that’s okay. If you can get some time outside and away from time in front of your screen, you’ll be much better off.

4) COLOR

Taking some time out of your day to color has been proven to reduce anxiety levels. Yes, it may seem juvenile and, yes, you may think that it’s a waste of time but trust me. Focusing on coloring inside of the lines as opposed to whether you can introduce character evidence is helpful in reducing stress and anxiety. Next time that you want to treat yourself, pick up a coloring book.

5) SPEND TIME WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS

I know that your friends and family can be stressful sometimes, especially if they don’t understand the gravitas of what you’re going through. You need to give them the chance to help. Your friends and family love you. Although they may not quite understand the magnitude of what the bar exam entails, they do know that you’re stressed and you’re going through a lot. They want to help! How are they going to be able to help you if you don’t tell them how?

The perfect time to reach out to your support network is when you’re feeling overwhelmed and stressed out. They’ll be able to get your mind off things and even make you laugh (what’s that?). Not to mention, they may even offer to help you do things that you need assistance with, but didn’t want to ask — maybe they’ll offer to cook you a few meals, or maybe they’ll offer to do your laundry for you or clean your place. We know how much time these chores can take away from studying.

If you give your friends and family a chance to help, I’m sure that they will. Spending time with them and away from your studies will help you calm down, recharge and get to a good headspace so that you’ll be at your best when you’re studying. Rely on your support group and stay calm. We’ll be able to #PassTheBar.

The “Keys” to Studying Well? Tap The Right App.

GUEST BLOG by Sara Valentine, Graduate of Capital University Law School

Let’s talk about a super helpful bar exam prep tool that I’ve been able to take with me on-the-go. If you’re like me, I get a little anxious when I have to leave bar studying for a while or want to interrupt the monotony of sitting at my desk (yes, I know it’s good to take breaks but hear me out). The BARBRI LawMaster Study Keys have been an incredible resource for these situations.

The BARBRI LawMaster Study Keys App! *ba dum tss*

The best part is that the BARBRI LawMaster Study Key App is portable. So, if I need a change of scenery, but still want to get some review in, I can. These tools boil down the bar exam topic so that I can get an overview of exactly what I need. The big picture is perfectly set out.

Also, you have to get a look at how pretty this app is! I love it when apps are aesthetically pleasing and BARBRI has done this one well. It’s seriously so helpful. I’m able to get all the bar review I need while on-the-go. It’s like I always have the ability to get some quick review in and we all know how important that is at this point in time. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve already used this handy app. (Most notably, when I was waiting for the Columbus Clippers game to start and got in some great review. Go Tribe!)

So how did everyone’s first week go?

Tbh, studying for the bar has been exactly what I expected it to be up to this point. Yes, I know that we’re only one week in, but it is the gut-wrenching, soul-sucking, joyous work that I thought it would be. It’s grueling, but as long as we are able to keep up with our PSPs (Personalized Study Plans) then I know that we’ll make it.

Also, don’t freak out (or do freak out and cry it out then get back to it)! If you’re a little behind, that’s okay.

It isn’t the end of the world. The best thing is that you’ll be able to make it up soon, just make sure that you carve out enough time to make up the work.

You also need to make sure that you carve out enough time for yourself too! Just like our videos said, this is a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t burn yourself out now. We’re only one week in. Keep at it – slow and steady wins the race!

Behind? Start Now!

For those folks who are more behind than they should be: it’s okay! Start now. Start today. Literally, stop procrastinating.

This isn’t your typical law school class where you think that you’ll be fine. This isn’t something that you can put off until the last minute and wing it. Start now!

You don’t want it to be the middle of June and you’ve barely touched BARBRI Bar Review. Also, you don’t want to be in a situation where you haven’t put your best foot forward, it’s July, and you’re starting to freak out. Don’t let that be you!

If you start now with the LawMaster Study Keys App, you’ll have an excellent overview of everything that you need to learn. Who doesn’t need a good refresher since your law school classes? I know that I did. Get started now and while you’re at it, download the LawMaster Study Keys App to help you out. It’s helped me and it’ll help you, too.

Stay strong, comrades, and let’s do more than #PassTheBar – let’s #OwnTheBar.

5 Facts All Graduating Law Students Should Know About BARBRI

By Matt Mundo,
BARBRI Director of Legal Education

In my job as a Director of Legal Education for BARBRI, I get the pleasure of working with thousands of law students each year.

My job, every day, is to help students achieve the dreams for which they have worked so hard by succeeding in law school and on the bar exam.

Recently, I spoke with some students who had received some misinformation as part of their bar preparation research, so it prompted me to put into writing “5 THINGS ALL GRADUATING LAW STUDENTS SHOULD KNOW ABOUT BARBRI”.

As the nation’s #1 bar review course, there are so many things to talk about so often some of these features are overlooked; however, with the bar exam being the only thing between you and the career of your dreams, we want to ensure you have all of the information so you can choose the very best partner for your needs on this life changing exam.

FACT 1: BARBRI does not charge extra to grade extra essays.

During bar study, your goal is to write the best bar exam essays possible, as fast as possible. BARBRI knows from experience that a purely “unlimited” essay grading system does not provide the best results. Think about it. Writing and submitting dozens of essays a week for grading simply reinforces bad habits rather than correcting them.  Unlimited graded essays leads to spending a lot of time on many poor essays.

BARBRI has a better answer. It starts with Essay Architect, our exclusive powerful online platform that takes you through a series of steps to learn to critically read bar exam questions, enhance the speed of your essay writing and construct strong, winning answers. Then we assign a carefully selected series of specific essays for grading as well as many more essays for practice and self-grading.

And, if after all of that, you want additional essays graded, you can simply work with a BARBRI Director, like me, to get personal, 1:1 help, all free of charge!

FACT 2: You can do 100% of the BARBRI course online… but we won’t force you.

Actually, BARBRI Bar Review offers you the best possible learning experience by blending online, mobile and in-class study options. Each day you can choose whether to view the lectures on your computer, use the BARBRI Mobile App on-the-go or attend a bar review classroom location to watch a lecture in a structured environment with fellow students.

No matter which option you choose, you get the same great lectures. BARBRI lets you mix and match what works best for you – go to a classroom setting for your most challenging subjects, revisit specific topics and subtopics online afterward or speed through your best subjects online only at 1.5x speed.

It’s your time, your preference and your choice as to what works best for you to reinforce and recall the material you need to know to Own the Bar.

FACT 3: BARBRI is the only bar preparation course that will truly allow you to see where you sit on the bar exam curve

If you look at the MBE National Score Distribution from the National Conference of Bar Examiners, you will see the score distribution of the 2015 scaled scores. Results of the MBE fall in a pattern that look like a bell curve. This is why you often hear of people who fail the bar exam by just a few points. A large number of examinees are clustered right around the top of the curve – right around the score you need to pass the bar exam.

During the BARBRI course, you’ll have the chance to sit down and do a full simulated multistate bar exam. The simulated MBE has exam-like questions and we treat it just like the bar so you’ll know exactly how it feels to survive the multistate bar exam.

We also take your results and provide you your percentile ranking, by subject, so you know exactly where you are sitting on the curve in comparison to every other BARBRI student and where you need to focus your efforts between that time and the actual bar exam.

Since the vast majority of students sitting for the bar exam choose to partner with BARBRI, this will be your best predictor of bar exam success by far.

FACT 4: BARBRI makes it easy to take lecture notes by hand or on a laptop.

In order to provide the structure necessary to be organized as well as the flexibility that best fits your learning style, BARBRI provides lecture handouts in hardcopy AND as fillable PDF’s each day.

If you prefer to hand write your notes, then the pre-printed handout volume is there for you. If you prefer to use your laptop, download the fillable PDF’s so that you can type as much as you’d like for each blank, highlight text and use “sticky notes” for the occasional sidebar that you want to make a note of during class.

FACT 5:  BARBRI’s Personal Study Plan organizes your study time from Day 1 straight through to the day of your bar exam.

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The BARBRI lectures conclude two weeks prior to your exam but your Personal Study Plan does not. Once you’ve been taught all of the law that you need, your Personal Study Plan continues with homework, personal assignments, and practice exams to make sure that you are applying the law and memorizing the material during those critical final weeks and that you are focused on your personal areas of opportunity.

And, of course, my BARBRI Director of Legal Education peers and I will be there to support you right up to and during the exam. BARBRI’s study schedule and practice exams are the result of a dedicated academic team combined with the experience of training over 1.3M attorneys for the bar exam.

When it comes to your bar preparation and this critical decision, we want you to have all of the facts. Thousands of students have already chosen to prepare with BARBRI in 2017 – we can’t wait to welcome you to that group and help you Own the Bar.

About BARBRI Bar Review:

BARBRI pioneered bar exam preparation 50 years ago and our gold standard reputation continues to attract the overwhelming majority of law school students each year. BARBRI has helped more than 1.3 million students pass the bar – more than all other courses combined.

BARBRI focuses on you the entire way, using innovative new learning technologies that personalize your bar study. Add to all this our elite faculty of highly-respected law professors and top legal minds that know the law and especially how to teach it for you to Own The Bar.

Also, with the BARBRI Guarantee, if you take a BARBRI Bar Review course for the first time for a particular state and you do not sit for or do not pass that state’s bar exam, you may repeat the same course online once for the same state, the next time a course is offered, without paying additional tuition.

We have the longest history of pass rate success, going back 80-plus bar exams. No other bar prep program comes close.

Enroll now

9 Tips To Keep Your Over-Stressed, Over-Worked “Lizard Brain” At Bay

When law school graduation arrives, it’s time to relax … right? Not so fast. Not when the bar exam is on the not-so-distant horizon. One last hurdle to becoming a licensed lawyer, your ultimate personal and professional goal.

WE’RE ONLY HUMAN … WITH A “LIZARD BRAIN”

There’s so much pressure surrounding the bar exam. Passing means everything – mostly the opportunity to actually practice law and make a decent living doing it. Before that becomes your reality, you have to deal with the major stress of preparing for the bar exam. You are now on a deadline because the bar exam is happening on time, as scheduled, whether you are ready or not. You fear failure, which is totally normal. All this causes chronic sympathetic nervous system arousal – in other words, “lizard brain.” It’s a fight-flight-freeze survival mode that goes way back to our prehistoric days as Paleolithic humans.

YOU KNOW WHY, NOW THE SYMPTOMS

It’s likely that you may already have experienced chronic stress during law school. According to the Mayo Clinic, “lizard brain” symptoms include headaches, muscle aches, fatigue, increased illness, upset stomach, chest pain, sleep disturbances, anxiety, lack of motivation or focus, irritability, restlessness, depression, angry outbursts and social withdrawal.

IT WANTS TO DRIVE YOUR BUS

Considering the laundry list of symptoms, your body expends quite a bit, if not all, its energy to keep you going. It’s survival, literally. And that level of energy consumption doesn’t leave much for anything else, especially when you need to be able to memorize black letter law, take practice exams or simply remain upright during lectures. The lizard is driving your bus with the pedal to the metal. As you might imagine, a frazzled lizard driving a bus can be detrimental to everyone and everything nearby, including the bus itself (that’s you).

9 TIPS FOR TAKING BACK CONTROL

  1. Be Grateful. Every day, find time to reflect on 3-5 things you appreciate. Lawyers tend to be world-class pessimists. Remembering things that really matter can help you focus on the positive and, in turn, improve your overall physical health and much-needed energy levels.
  2. Make time for family and friends. Stay connected with the important people in your life. Your support system will help you feel less alone, or isolated, and keep your outlook positive.
  3. Smile. Research has shown that the simple act of smiling can slow your heart rate and reduce stress. Smiling more may even help alleviate depression.
  4. Meditate. Take a few minutes each day. Be still and focus on your breathing. Research has shown that meditation can help prevent mind-wandering, increase focus, reduce stress, improve sleep and strengthen the immune system. Om … Om … Om …
  5. Plan the day. Map out time for studying, eating, sleeping, fun activities and exercise, for example. You’ll feel prepared and ready, less anxiety, greater control and, ultimately, get the most important things completed. It will save you time, too.
  6. Eat, sleep, play. Smart food choices, enough sleep (seven hours minimum) and exercises that you enjoy (could be a nice walk outside or dancing at home, when nobody’s watching) are important to your health.
  7. Be your own cheerleader. We’re often quite critical of ourselves. Become aware of your self-talk, challenge it and replace it with a positive mantra. Research shows that people with a positive outlook can fight off colds, handle stress better and – bonus! – even live longer.
  8. Laugh. Laughter has shown to lower cortisol in your bloodstream, relax your muscles and improve your overall well-being.
  9. Eat 1.4 oz. of chocolate: Doing this every day for two weeks can actually lower your stress hormones. How much is 1.4 ounces of chocolate exactly? Google it and you’ll see there are many choices and brands you may like.

What The UBE Means To Your Legal Job Search, Career Marketability

At the time of this blog post, the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) has been officially adopted by 33 states and one jurisdiction. The UBE was first adopted in 2011 by just three states (Alabama, Missouri and North Dakota), and now there are plans to implement this “universal” testing format going out as far as 2021 (Texas).

INSTANT PORTABILITY OF BAR SCORES

The UBE was designed initially to help reduce the need for newly minted attorneys to take another bar exam in order to become licensed in another state or jurisdiction. The UBE permits you to transfer a score obtained in one UBE state/jurisdiction to another, subject to certain limitations (the NCBE Bar Admission Guide has those details).

INSTANT RECIPROCITY, MAXIMIZING JOB OPPORTUNITIES

Today, with more than half of the U.S. administering the UBE, students are benefiting from instant reciprocity, an immediate benefit right after passing the bar exam. With a high enough score, you can cast a much wider net to expand your job search, faster, into all states that have adopted the UBE. That makes you more marketable to employers in different parts of the country, who are looking to hire to meet greater demand, in areas less inundated with legal practitioners.

Many student have taken advantage of this mobility. Since 2011, roughly 12,000 UBE test takers have transferred their scores to a jurisdiction where they did not take the bar, according to Judith A. Gundersen, President of the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE)*.

“Lawyers are more mobile than they once were. No longer do lawyers settle in one state and practice in that state until retirement,” said Jeffrey Ward, President of the Tennessee Board of Law Examiners**.

THE MBE, MEE AND MPT COMPONENTS

The UBE is a two-day exam drafted by the NCBE, consisting of the Multistate Bar Exam (50%), Multistate Essay Exam (30%) and Multistate Performance Test (20%). These testing components are not new and have long been part of the bar exam format in many states. However, the UBE rests upon an agreement, whereby a state agrees to give full faith and credit to a score achieved on the bar exam in another jurisdiction because that jurisdiction uniformly administers, grades and scores the exam.

PASSING SCORES SET INDEPENDENTLY BY STATE

Each UBE state sets its own minimum passing score, which ranges from 260 to 280. Your passing score is portable to another UBE state as long as you sit for the entire exam at one time in the same location. You may transfer the score to a state with a lower required passing score, even if you “fail” the bar exam in the state in which you sat.

For example, a student who takes the UBE in Colorado, scores 272 and fails to achieve the required passing score of 276 may transfer the score to Utah, a neighboring UBE jurisdiction with a passing score of 270. The UBE score is not valid beyond a set period of time and each state sets its own deadline, varying between three and five years.

UBE PASSING SCORES

260: Alabama | Minnesota | Missouri | New Mexico | North Dakota
266: Connecticut | District of Columbia | Illinois | Iowa | Kansas | Maryland | Montana | New Jersey | New York | South Carolina
270: Massachusetts | Nebraska | New Hampshire | North Carolina | Tennessee | Utah | Vermont | Washington | West Virginia | Wyoming
272: Idaho
273: Arizona
274: Oregon
276: Colorado | Maine | Rhode Island
280: Alaska
TBD: Ohio (coming July 2020) | Texas (coming February 2021)

You can get bar exam information for every U.S. state in the BARBRI Bar Exam Digest.

BARBRI KNOWS THE UBE, SINCE ITS INCEPTION

BARBRI has been preparing students for each of the components that now comprise the UBE since their inception: 1972 for the MBE, 1988 for the MEE and 1997 for the MPT. The BARBRI Bar Review course in each state is uniquely tailored to the needs of the bar exam, accommodating the subtle grading differences among UBE states.

 

*Source: American Bar Association, Before The Bar Blog
** Source: The National Jurist

How to beat the bar exam by doing extra things to improve your odds

By Stefan Borst-Censullo, Esq.

To begin off I want to apologize to you, the good reader, for my contribution to this over stuffed cannon of “hey so you’re about to take the bar, here’s some tips.” However, you have obviously decided to read this post, so you are either very bored or beyond desperate. In any case I hope this will help you realize either that ALL HOPE IS NOT LOST or alternatively assist in further procrastination before you dive head-first into the hours of MBEs.

The main lesson that I, an underemployed, heavily indebted, but FULLY LICENSED ATTORNEY can impart on you  is to remember what the bar is really testing. The bar is not measuring your intelligence, your commitment to the pursuit of justice, or the goodness of your soul. Rather the bar is a relentless ritual. Plenty of great advocates have failed the bar multiple times while undeserving folk (like yours truly) somehow managed to sneak past the graders.

The bar is nothing more than a ritual

Our esteemed elders in the legal community insist that we need to endure simply because they too went through it. The way to pass this exam involves the time old method of “embracing the suck.” Translated from its original grunt, that your best bet is to focus on improving your chances of survival through trying your best to put in eight good hours of studying a day in some sort of organized methodology of covering as many subjects as possible.

Given the razor-thin edge between passing (which feels like this) and failing (seen here), it’s understandably unnerving to think about how little of your fate is out of your control.

A few extra things that help improve your odds

  • Don’t take chances with your computer. I bit the bullet and replaced my five-year-old Mac once it started showing its age. The “hey I’m going to turn off without warning” thing was annoying enough while I was streaming Bobs Burgers, and it would have been panic inducing during the test.
  • Spend good money on a quiet hotel. With all the understandably massive levels of stress you’ll have during the actual testing days, there’s no guarantee you’ll have a good night’s sleep. But a place with thick walls and dark curtains is a nice place to decompress.
  • Don’t skimp on exercising and eating right. I have no clue whether my habits of long distance running and healthy snaking contributed to me passing or not. However, I can tell you that I maintained my focus during both my studying period, and the extent of those grueling three hours without a blood sugar drop or an emergency run to the restroom during the MBEs. So do your best to get 45 minutes to an hour a day of some sort of movement (walking a pet would suffice) and eat whole grains, fruits, veggies and lean proteins like your mom told you to do years ago.
  • Imbibe some mood-elevating media. Inevitably during the course of your studies, you are going to have moments/days full of self-doubt. Furthermore, walking into a room of a few thousand stressed out type-A personalities undergoing the most important test of their lives is a bit intimidating. Therefore, do you best to take the occasional break from studying to look at a cute animal (your friends who went to med school even approve). On the way to the test, listen to family friendly inspirational music, or really anything from friend of the legal community Freddie Gibbs. When things got especially bad I (reflexively) turned to this preview of “Elysium,” because repeatedly seeing Matt Damon murder rich people in space somehow reminded me why I was taking the bar in the first place.

Finally I have to say that the best advice BARBRI gave me during the extent of this test was remembering that taking the bar is a privilege. Plenty of people (not me, though) would trade places with you in a second. In addition, YES, becoming a lawyer (even in this job market) is worth the pain. So seriously, I wish a sincere “best of luck” to all of y’all. This is an experience you will justifiably hate, but the reward is sweet.

2019 MPRE Changes Are Coming

The National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) has announced changes to the 2019 Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE). Most notably, an increase in the registration fees and steps to phase in a new computer-based testing format (to be fully transitioned by the March 2020 exam).

If you are a 2L or 3L law student in line for the MPRE this year, it’s important to be mindful of the registration deadlines because you can save some money and also how the computer-based exam format could impact how you experience taking the exam.

NEW REGISTRATION FEES

The 2019 MPRE regular registration fee is now $125 and the late registration fee, $220. By marking your calendar to meet the regular registration deadline, you’ll save $95. And remember that the late registration deadline is only one week later. Here are the registration deadlines and fees for all three administrations of the 2019 MPRE:

COMPUTER-BASED TESTING, RANDOM PARTICIPANTS

For the March 2019 MPRE, students will continue to use the traditional scantron form. For the August 2019 and November 2019 MPRE, up to 5,000 examinees will be randomly selected to take the computer-based exam at a Pearson VUE Center.

You’ll know if you’re one during the online MPRE registration process. All other examinees will take the paper-based exam at an LSAC test center. For more information, visit the NBCE FAQs webpage.

FREE BARBRI MPRE REVIEW, INFOGRAPHIC & BAR EXAM DIGEST

The MPRE is meant to task you with thinking like a lawyer when ethical situations aren’t so clear cut. It’s also a different testing format compared to law school. You’ll need to complete 60 multiple-choice questions in two hours. Get ahead and sign up for the free online BARBRI MPRE Review.

It includes our new MPRE Maximizer, your last-minute quick-study cram packet of legal ethics rules, exceptions and broad topic areas. And you can go back as often as you like to the BARBRI MPRE Review online lectures and practice questions. Reinforce the rules of professional responsibility, the code of judicial conduct and the law of lawyering.

Taking a legal ethics or professional responsibility class in law school won’t guarantee a passing score. That’s why most 2L and 3L students take the free BARBRI MPRE Review. It covers everything about ethics, is highly organized and always current on legal ethics information.

Check out our MPRE passing scores infographic that compares all states/jurisdictions. Download our free, comprehensive BARBRI Bar Exam Digest for all the state-by-state MPRE scoring information you need, all in one convenient place.

2019 MPRE

Should you work while studying for the bar exam?

GUEST BLOG by Brian C. Pike, Esq.
Passed the July 2015 New York Bar Exam
Automation Architect at Riverview Law

Do I work during the Bar Exam?  Should I work while I study? What a dreaded question.  If you have ever asked a practicing attorney this question they fall into two heavily defended camps: (1) in moderation; or (2) none at all. My take? I think it is entirely a personal decision.

During the summer of 2015, I had the tremendous opportunity to work with an amazing group of people at BARBRI while studying for the bar exam as a social media intern.  I had connected with BARBRI’s social media manager, Melody Maleitzke, while she judged a social media competition at my law school.  It truly was a wonderful experience to learn from an industry veteran and I’m honored to pass-along a few of the tips I learned along the way.  I’ll give a series of lessons with examples of how it worked for me before asking you to ask yourself: should you work while studying for the bar exam?

  • Be honest with yourself. I think this is the hardest lesson learned and is the reason why I listed it first.  As BARBRI will tell you, studying for the bar exam is a mental beat down. I describe it as boot camp for your brain. However, don’t let that discourage you. You should listen when your instructors say it is an honor to take the bar exam —you’ve worked really hard to get where you are.  And along the way you’ve made habits that work for you. Don’t give into peer pressure to abandon those habits. This goes double for when it comes to subjects. You want to be bad in an area that you don’t know because BARBRI will give you wonderful tools to help you improve in that area.

    For me: I’ve always been the type of person to overload myself and burn out.  Fortunately, I have a wonderful girlfriend who helped me realize when I needed to take a break.  But I didn’t always put it on those around me.  I built into my schedule a number of breaks for me to unwind and refresh my brain.  If you study for an hour, take a 10-minute break to watch a cat video or, even better, get up and enjoy some fresh air.

  • Make a schedule.  No matter what your study habits are, making a schedule is important. BARBRI will give you a great outline of what topics you will study and when, but get into the habit, especially if you are balancing work, of planning out your week.

    For me: I made a rough outline for the entire process of studying for the bar.  On Sunday, I would sit down and see what needed to be moved around and also to make myself aware of what deadlines for work I had that week.
  • Be honest with those around you.  This goes for both your employers (if you should choose to work), and your friends and family.  Share your schedule with your boss(es) and your loved ones so they have an idea of what you up against.  If your boss wants you to take on a new assignment, don’t feel shy in saying that it might not be a good idea because you have property coming up this week.

    For me: I shared my weekly plan with my bosses and also those I spent a significant amount of time with.  This allowed me to stick to my schedule and not to over-commit in any one area.  Plus, if something really interesting came up in work, I could use my breaks to tackle it as a mental refresher.
  • Don’t be your own worst enemy.  This is my last tip.  The bar exam is entirely a mental game, and the game begins when you study.  It is completely possible to have a full-time job and study for the bar exam, but you have to know when to turn it off for the night.  Studying for the bar exam is about being honest with yourself on what works for you, and what doesn’t; what areas you really know, and which ones you need to spend more time on.

    For me: I’m the type of person who thrives on lists.  I completed between 95-100% of the assigned work from BARBRI.  Now, many of those assignments are given as guidelines.  You might need to spend the full 3-4 hours reviewing your notes on a topic area you really aren’t understanding.  Or you might need even less in another area.  What I can recommend and what I did is to really crank it up in the last two weeks.  I toned my actual work down to 0 and turned my studying up to 100.  Find the balance that will leave you feeling satisfied at the end of the day when you call it a night.

So, weigh my tips and decide for yourself: is it right for me?  Will I let one area slip more than another?  Do I not feel comfortable sticking to such a tight schedule?  Am I afraid of disappointing those I work with?  Then maybe you should consider working less, or on a project-basis.  At the end of the day, I believe anyone can work and study for the bar.  The question for you is how much you think you can work and still feel happy with your study progress.

Great 1L outlines: It’s about the process

It’s that one thing that looms around every corner of law school.

Maybe you did it some during undergrad, but never quite like this before. It is the bane of your law school existence, yet at the same time, the most crucial piece of exam preparation.

Outlines.

The first month of school consisted of scavenging the right 2L’s and 3L’s for the best outlines out there. Making sure to find those who did very well in your courses – and with your specific professors – is important.

But outlining is about more than just the end result. It’s about the process. Moving your class notes, supplements and handouts to a refined and organized study aid helps you put that critical information to memory. If you just grab from your peers or copy and paste from online sources, you won’t be putting that material in words familiar to you that truly help you understand the rules of law.

Another thing about the “process” … it’s a very long process. It’s time to start outlining (it’s mid-October already). Many schools will have a writing assignment due just before Thanksgiving Break that will require nearly all of your outside time and effort. It’s crucial to be up-to-date with your outlining as soon as (make that, BEFORE) you are given the assignment. This allows you to push aside your other classes, crush that writing memo, then get back to outlining in time to be finished before reading day.

That’s a lot of information. And potentially, a lot of additional stress. But that’s what it takes to get those 1L grades that matter so much.

Simple 2L outlines now, more time to memorize later

We’ve been down this familiar road before: Outlining. While it isn’t all that fun (you don’t say), it is without a doubt important and you need to start now.

We’re approaching that halfway marker for this 2L fall semester (wow, already!) and it’s time to start outlining once again. Yes, you should start now. And by “now,” this actually means you probably should have begun a few weeks ago. That’s okay. You haven’t suddenly reached a state of emergency. … yet. It’s October. But December will be here in the blink of an eye. If you have your second-year course outlines started (or finished within the next month), you’ll be way ahead of the game. That’s exactly where you want to be.

It’s an ambitious effort, considering the hustle-and-bustle of 2L year. Yet it all goes back to paving the way for success on final exams. Always keep that in mind as motivation. With outlines ready by mid-November, you’ll have extra time to learn and memorize everything in those outlines, instead of trying to figure out what you should put in and what you should leave out.

Looking back on 1L year, you probably tried to make your outlines as comprehensive as possible. You were a new law school student: focused, determined and hard-working. That everything -must-go-in (afraid-to-leave-anything-out) approach may have worked well during the fall semester and your first set of final exams, but maybe not as effectively for the spring semester. It’s easy to get bogged down by the details and random facts from cases.

Knowing what you know now, cut back on the minutia this 2L year. Attack the outlining process with the discipline to keep them short, simple and to the point.   

Instead of focusing on all of the details from each case, focus on the important plot pieces from the case. Learn the rules rather than the random details about the opinion. Memorize and understand the black letter law. During finals time, you won’t be rushing to creating outlines; you’ll be able to review them.

Also, when you start outlining early (translation: now), you will have enough time to leverage supplements (don’t hesitate to consult commercial outlines like those available with BARBRI’s 2L/3L Mastery), professors and classmates if you have any questions.