In April of 2021, some states had a bar exam pass rate as low as 39.4%. There’s nothing easy about the bar exam. But if you want to be allowed to legally practice law, you need to take it.
But how do you go about studying for an exam that encompasses something as broad as the law? What areas should you study more? How do you prepare mentally and emotionally for an exam that is this important for your future?
Luckily, the secret to passing the bar exam isn’t all that secret after all. Keep reading to find out how.
1. Eliminate Distractions and Study Early
Start studying for your bar exam your first year in law school. It may sound like basic information, but it really is the key to doing well.
When you’re in school there is always the temptation to slack off at first and then make up for it when you’re ready to graduate. You can’t treat the bar exam like any other test. It’s also important to choose the best BAR prep course in advance. You might need to study different options and see which one is the best for you. And if you are under pressure, you might make a wrong choice.
2. Keep Your Loved Ones Informed
Studying for the bar exam is much easier when you have a support system behind you. Let your friends and family know that you’re preparing to take the exam so they can figure out how to best support you.
If you have loved ones who would be willing to help you take care of some of your daily tasks, consider asking them for help. The more time you have to study, the better.
Also, let your friends know to expect you to turn down invitations. Ignore the temptation to party instead of study. There will be plenty of time to celebrate after you pass.
3. Make the Time
The key to passing the bar exam is making the time to study. Maybe you cleared your schedule to make time for school or you’re working to pay the bills while you’re studying. Either way, you can’t just fit studying in around your schedule.
Take time off of work to study. If you can’t reduce your hours, start studying early.
Managing a full-time job and studying for the bar exam is hard, but you can do it!
4. Collect the Best Materials
If you don’t have top-notch studying materials, you could be missing out on valuable information. Your bar exam may provide outlines to help you study.
Everyone learns differently. If the outline for your bar exam isn’t organized in a way you can successfully study, you’re going to fall behind.
Invest in some courses or outlines that are tailored to your state’s bar exam, especially ones that fit with your studying habits.
5. Develop Active Study Habits
Passive studying is ineffective. It can actually hinder the way you understand more difficult material.
Don’t read through your notes from front to back and consider that a good study session. Make your study sessions interactive.
Try to explain difficult topics to yourself. Ask yourself important questions to test if you understand the material or not. Make flashcards, rewrite your notes, and recreate outlines.
When you spend time studying and using your hands, you’re cementing those facts into your brain in more than one way.
6. Study Practice Questions Frequently
There are a few free resources out there that have sample or practice questions for you to study. Additionally, there are tons of reputable study guides that you can purchase that come hand in hand with test questions.
Some of these questions may be pulled directly from recent or past bar exams. While the material may not be exactly what you’ll see on the exam, it’s worth taking the time to study thoroughly.
Use all of the resources you can to ensure you pass the exam.
7. Focus on Tested Areas
Not every area of law is tested equally on the bar exam. Some areas, like negligence in Torts and relevancy in Evidence, are tested at length to determine your understanding of the subject.
Some areas, like future interests, only take up one or two questions total. So you should focus the majority of your study efforts on the areas that you know you’ll be tested on.
8. Remember: It’s Not a Law School Essay
When you’re in law school, you’re used to answering questions by picking out every issue in the fact pattern. But a bar exam essay works much differently. Instead, you need to structure your answer around the question.
Don’t argue both sides of every issue when your exam asks that you apply the law. Then, write your conclusion thoroughly.
Law school essays make the practice of issue spotting a focal point. This is great to help you apply what you’re learning later on. But during the bar exam, having a concrete understanding of how the law applies and a definitive solution will help you pass.
9. Take Care of Yourself
We’ve already stressed the importance of carving out time to study for the bar exam. By now, you understand that most of your time leading up to your testing dates should be devoted to studying actively.
That said, you shouldn’t neglect taking care of yourself. Unless you are taking care of your nutrition, physical fitness, and personal hygiene, your brain simply won’t function the way you want it to.
Brain fog, depression, drowsiness, and anxiety are all things that will distract you from your goal: passing the exam.
Make time for yourself to eat, drink plenty of water, and don’t neglect your physical needs.
Passing the Bar Exam
It’s normal to feel nervous leading up to your bar exam. It’s a test that will decide what your future looks like. Treat it with the brevity and respect it deserves by taking the time to study.
While you’re studying, rely on your friends and family to help you get through your day-to-day tasks. Taking care of your needs while you focus on studying law is a juggling act, but you can do it.
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