You did it! Congratulations!
Just getting through the bar exam is a huge undertaking. Go out and celebrate!
You did it! Congratulations!
Just getting through the bar exam is a huge undertaking. Go out and celebrate!
Stop now. Your brain and body need to rest. They need time to absorb the material and get ready for two intense days of testing.
Stop looking at your outlines.
Don’t do any more practice questions.
Stop searching the internet for last minute tips and predictions.
Go outside. Have an ice cream cone. See a movie. Do something that forces you to get your mind off of the bar.
You’ve got this!!
It’s important to make a plan for exam day. You want to know when you have to wake up, how you’re getting to the test site, what you can bring to the test site, what you’ll eat, and how you’ll get home. You also want a plan for what you’ll be doing during each portion of the exam.
Stop by the test site before exam day so you don’t have any anxiety about getting lost. Make sure you give yourself plenty of extra time to deal with every day issues such as traffic and transportation delays. Make a back up plan in case your first transportation plan doesn’t work.
Thoroughly review the security policy for your jurisdiction so you know what you are permitted to bring in to the test facility, and what you are not permitted to bring in.
Map out a plan for your day.
If you’re taking the UBE on the east coast, your schedule will look like this:
9:30-12:30: 2 MPTs
2:00-5:00: 6 essays
9:30-12:30: 100 MBEs
2:00-5:00: 100 MBEs
(On the west coast, your MPTs will be in the afternoon and your essays in the morning.)
It is your responsibility to keep track of your timing, so know what time you should be at each point. At 90 minutes, move on to the second MPT (that’s 11am). Spend no more than 30 minutes on each essay. For the MBEs, you’ve got 1 minute and 48 seconds per question. That’s roughly 17 questions per half hour, 25 questions per 45 minutes, or 33 questions per hour.
Make a schedule for yourself and look at it every day. Memorize it. Write it out on scrap paper next to you as soon as the exam begins so that you can stay on track.
It’s also recommended that you bring your own lunch. Many test sites will offer meal services. However, if you bring something you 1) won’t have to wait on line and 2) can make sure the food won’t upset your stomach or make you sleepy.
Wherever you are taking the bar exam, dress in layers. The room will either be too hot or too cold. You want to make sure you are comfortable and not distracted by your body temperature.
Also make a plan for what to do if you don’t know something, or what to do if you start to panic. It’s impossible to know everything. There will be a sub-question of an essay that you don’t know. Practice making up a rule. Plan for it.
Also make a plan for what to do if stress and anxiety fill your head and make it difficult to focus. Will you get up and walk to the bathroom? Will you write out a mantra on scrap paper? Will you close your eyes and take three deep breaths before reading the next sentence? Have a plan so that you can move through your anxiety, instead of letting it move you.
I’ve heard from a lot of people in the past day or so who are very concerned because their practice MBE scores are going down. Unfortunately, this is very common. It does not mean that you are forgetting everything, or that you are going to fail the bar. It happens to plenty of people, and they go on to pass.
There are a number of potential reasons for this decline, but the important things to remember are 1) you’re in good company, and 2) you’re still going to pass the bar.
Keep pushing forward. Try switching the source of your MBE questions. Try focusing on essays. You want to see as many fact patterns as possible, so read through several essays every day, issue spot, and read the model answer. You can even copy down the model answer if that helps you learn.
Be active. Don’t just read and re-read your outlines. Talk, write, test yourself.
Keep going. You’re so close to the finish line!
You’ve got one week to go before exam day! This week should be about shoring up your memorization and seeing as many essay and MBE fact patterns as possible.
This week you can assess what you know and what you don’t know. You can decide which sub-topics to throw away because getting them will take too much time. Trust yourself during this time period. Only you know how you learn best – not your bar company, not your friends, not even me. If your gut is telling you to spend time memorizing, do it. If your gut is telling you that you need to do more practice, do it.
Don’t put too much stock in bar exam predictions. They’re right sometimes and wrong sometimes. The bar examiners work hard to be unpredictable. So, you can look at them, and make sure you know the areas of doctrine that they predict. But, be prepared for everything. Don’t just prepare for those subjects.
You’ve only got two weeks left. Don’t try to master everything in a subject before moving on. You’re better off seeing everything more times, than spending 3 days on contracts/sales and never getting to wills and family law. Move through the subjects quickly, practicing along the way. Follow the method of spaced retrieval. Here’s an article about it.
Most importantly, just keep going. You don’t have to know everything, and indeed it’s impossible to know everything. You will know most of it, and that will be enough.
First of all, don’t panic! Many people, if not most people, bomb the practice tests. It’s just practice. It’s not the real thing. It can be very valuable, if you stay in learning mode.
The key now is to learn as much as possible from the experience. Pay attention to which sub topics you struggled with. Notice when you answered several questions in a row incorrectly and see whether it was a lapse in focus, or if you let a difficult question break your confidence and infect the next several questions.
Make note of how you felt at different parts during the day. What distracted you? When did you get hungry or tired?
This score is not dispositive. Keep studying and stay focused on learning. Your score will improve significantly from now until exam day as you learn more, memorize more, and practice more. You’re not in exam mode until July 24-25.
To get the most out of your post-exam review, you may want to review your score and study strategy with the bar support folks at your school.
By now, your bar company’s lectures are over or coming to an end very soon. That often leaves bar studiers uncertain about next steps.
Your bar review company will give you a schedule that you can follow, if you feel like it works for you. Most people tweak the schedule, and do not strictly follow it. This period of time, like all of bar study (and life in general, it seems), is all about balance. You need to balance memorization and practice. Some days that might mean 50/50 memorization/practice, while other days it might mean spending 70% of your time on memorization and 30% on practice. It depends on what you think you need.
Memorization takes time. Sometimes bar review companies underestimate how much time needs to be spent on this task. Make sure that you keep two things in mind as you memorize: 1) in order to be effective, you must be active with your memorization, and 2) it doesn’t have to be perfect.
Many people make the mistake of passively reading through outlines and thinking that means they’re memorizing. Studies show that reading is actually a pretty terrible way to memorize. You want to be more active – write things out, say things out loud, test yourself, walk around while going through flashcards, teach the law to your cat. There are many ways to be active with memorization. Figure out which ways help the material stick in your brain and do them.
Unlike your law school professors who expected to see rules on your exam in the manner you discussed them in class, the bar grader doesn’t know what you have in your outline or on your flashcard. People are learning the rules with variations in language. That should be comforting to you. If you have those rules that just won’t stick perfectly, but you understand the concepts, and can write generally about them, that will be enough. Don’t get hung up because the way you remember the rule isn’t exactly what you wrote on your flashcard. If you’ve got the concept, move on.
In terms of practice, you want to simulate exam-like conditions as much as you can. That means having practice MBEs, essays, and MPTs printed out in front of you. It means paying attention to your timing. It means doing two MPTs back to back at least twice. It means doing six essays back to back at least once. It means doing 200 MBEs in one day, at least once.
That said, if you are doing your regular daily practice and come across an issue in an essay that you can spot, but for which the full rule hasn’t stuck yet, it’s still ok to look up the rule. You want to practice with the correct rule so that you don’t end up memorizing the incomplete or incorrect rule you put down in the haste of a practice essay. You are still in learning mode. Every piece of practice you do will help you learn something that you can use on exam day. You are not in exam mode until exam day.
Make a schedule for yourself for this final period so that you know what you need to do every day. You want to give yourself time to go through every subject at least twice, and preferably more than twice. Even if you don’t feel like you have fully mastered a subject, you need to keep moving. Don’t wait to move on until you have mastered a subject. You will never feel that you have mastered everything. That is ok. Spaced repetition is a theory of memorization that posits that revisiting material often, with intervals of time in between, is the best way to improve recall. P
ractice will help you memorize as well, so schedule practice essays on subjects that you haven’t looked at in a day or two. Do mixed MBE sets to train your brain to switch subjects rapidly.
Don’t forget to build in time to take care of yourself. Eating, sleeping, exercise, and fun, are just as integral to a study plan as memorization and practice questions. You need to be in good shape for exam day.
It’s July! The very idea that the bar exam is in the same month that appears on your calendar is enough to create serious anxiety. Plus, those of you who have (incorrectly) been told by attorneys that June is low key and bar study really ramps up in July, are probably trying to figure out what that ramp up looks like.
The truth is, many of you do not have room to ramp up. If you’ve been putting in 10 hour days watching lectures, making study materials, and doing practice, you’re in excellent shape and you should continue to do what you’ve been doing. Once your bar review lectures end, you’ll have the opportunity to memorize and practice, instead of learning new material. But, you don’t need to radically increase the time you have been studying.
If you haven’t put in the time, however, you really have no time to lose. You need to step up your game immediately. Make sure that you are doing some form of practice every single day – MBEs, MEEs, or MPTs. Ideally, you’ll do more than one type of practice every day because you don’t have as solid of a foundation of practice as you would like to have.
You also want to make sure you have a solid plan for what you will use to memorize. If you haven’t been making study materials, make sure that what you have from your bar review company, or the materials that were passed down from a friend, will actually work for you. You won’t have time to make and effectively use study materials now. You’re going to have to figure out how to make the best use out of what you’ve got.
Make no mistake, July is intense. Whether you’ve been on top of your game or not, it is natural to feel more pressure in July. But remember that you are only human and there is only so much that is humanly possible to do. You still need to take breaks. You still need to eat well, exercise, sleep, and have some fun. Rest needs to be part of your study plan.
You’re almost at the finish line! The light at the end of this tunnel should provide you with the motivation you need to get through the final weeks.