By Sam Farkas,
BARBRI curriculum architect and instructor
I took my first bar exam in the state of Florida in 2012.
Through my role at BARBRI, I help students every day prepare for success on the bar exam; however, when I personally began preparing for my second state bar exam (Georgia) this past February, I seriously questioned whether I was up for it—particularly given the demands on my time and my work responsibilities.
I invariably recalled the stressful and angst-ridden few months following graduation from law school when I marshalled every ounce of effort to pass the most important test of my professional career the first time.
As I began studying for the exam though, I realized that the skills, knowledge and grit that I had cultivated over the past few years impacted how I prepared for the exam.
5 ways in which I approached studying for my second bar exam differently:
1. I treated the bar exam like a client
Every minute matters. Most of us have learned how to maximize efficiency by putting every minute of available time to good use. Moreover, many of us are well practiced at juggling multiple client matters throughout the day, moving seamlessly from one task to the next.
I treated bar preparation like a client matter and decided how much time per day I could spend on it. I kept track of my time and moved on when I needed to work on something else. Where I could, I filled breaks in my day with some focused study. A half an hour of review during my lunch break or answering practice MBE questions on my mobile device while waiting for an appointment were great ways to maximize what limited time I had to devote to studying.
2. I obtained the right preparation resources
Of course I had access to BARBRI materials; however, I didn’t need the exact same materials that I needed my first time around. I wanted the right combination of the best study resources so that I could study the most efficiently.
These insights went directly into the development of the new BARBRI Attorney’s Course. This Attorney’s Course is all online and provides a streamlined study plan that allowed me to pinpoint my personal topic and subtopic weaknesses so I could spend time working on the areas that would most benefit MY personal exam score. This strategy was critical in maximizing my time while still putting me in the best position possible to be successful on the exam.
3. I maximized efficiency
To make the best and most efficient use of my limited study time, I had to determine which subjects deserved the most effort and prioritize my study accordingly. I found, like most of you likely will, that I had developed a very sophisticated understanding of a few areas and a better understanding of many additional areas of law since my first exam.
All subjects are not necessarily treated equally on the exam based on jurisdiction; therefore, I evaluated which subjects required a more in-depth review and prioritized those over other subjects that required (or deserved) less time. The benefit of the BARBRI Attorney’s Course is that we’ve already figured out that weighting for you.
For me, and I believe for most, familiarity with the subject and the amount of time I needed to dedicate to learning the rules in a subject dictated the best method of study, and it was a little different for each subject. Sometimes I relied more on the lectures during my daily commute and other times I really needed to review written materials.
4. I played to my strengths
The bar exam is a test of legal problem-solving. Sure, knowledge of the law is important, but well developed legal problem solving skills, strong reading comprehension skills, and sheer endurance will take a person very far on this exam.
As licensed attorneys, we have spent our professional career sharpening these skills and are adept at breaking down even the most complex of problems. Luckily, legal problems on the bar are much more straightforward and simple than what we encounter in practice.
In practice, I am accustomed to studying the law through the context of actual legal problems. Therefore, when preparing for the exam, I strengthened my knowledge of the rules by frequently working practice problems—both multiple choice and essay. I also made good use of the model answers to reinforce my knowledge of the black letter rules.
5. I kept the big picture in mind
Above all, I maintained my focus on the goal: passing the exam, which I did. The bar exam is a test of minimum competency. Expertise and specialized knowledge are not required for success. I had already passed the bar once and am already a licensed attorney. Sure, I may have had to learn some state-specific law or brush up on the common law majority rules, but mastery of every rule— or even every subject—was not necessary! I just needed to earn enough points to get a passing score.
If you find yourself contemplating another state bar exam, we at BARBRI wish you all the best and always know that BARBRI is here to help you Own The Bar….again.
About the BARBRI Attorney’s Course:
The BARBRI Attorney’s course builds upon your knowledge and skills to get you to your next law license, faster. This attorney-focused course saves you time by:
- Providing a streamlined, all online experience constructed to save you precious, valuable time
- Bypassing many basic bar exam test taking skills critical for first time takers
- Getting you quickly to the most highly tested areas of the exam overall and within each subject
- Pinpointing your topic and subtopic weaknesses so you can spend time working the areas of law that will most benefit your exam score.
Licensed attorneys studying for the exam in a state in which the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) is administered or California may enroll in this course at this time.
Learn more here: Attorney’s Course