By Tania N. Shah, Esq.
Getting Rid of Preconceived Notions
If you are taking the Bar for the first time, take some time to erase any preconceived notions that may result from your doing well in law school. If you are a repeat taker, it is not because you don’t have a vast knowledge of the subject matter, it’s because passing the Bar Exam is not about brilliant creative legal thought.
The question is, can you spot all the issues in a multi-subject essay, outline it, and put it down on paper in about 35 minutes 10 times over? I don’t think you have ever done this in law school, so you need to prepare.
Can you do 200 multiple choice questions in about 1.8 minutes each on seven different subjects with confidence? This is probably not something you have practiced either.
Remember: in law school, you knew you were taking a torts exam. On the Bar, one essay can involve as many as six different subjects [not issues, subjects].
h3. Your Schedule
I know it feels like you have to learn an insane amount of material in two months. That is why creating a schedule and sticking to it is necessary.
Sticking to your schedule means behavioral management: force yourself to do the behavior in your schedule and reap the rewards later. The satisfaction of sticking to your schedule will come. Treat your schedule like a contract, but don’t make it completely rigid and inflexible.
I stress the importance of scheduling because it is what I spend the most time doing with my students during the initial meeting. The initial session is really about figuring out what makes you tick, and what makes you want to hide under the covers and refuse to study. Every week your schedule is assessed, managed, revised, and updated. It’s a crucial roadmap, and you don’t want to just start driving down this long road without a map.
Be nice to yourself. You need free time. Life doesn’t stop. From this day on, you will face many challenges, many late nights, and many time crunches in your career as a lawyer. You cannot put your entire life on hold to deal with every pressing situation or task.
You need to be you. You have to walk your dog, sing to your plants, talk to your fish, exercise, have dinner with friends, relax and remember the ones you love and who love you. Free time is healthy and should be scheduled in your schedule just like everything else.
Different People Need Different Amounts of Structure and Different Learning Structure
You have to be realistic with your schedule- which means you have to take into account your reality. Have an outside person sit down with you and really get to know your habits, needs, and general schedule. Work with someone who will take into account how you work and what needs to be done. It is crucial to combine what works for you with what it takes to pass the Bar Exam.
You Must Have a Third-Party Review Your Answers
It is great if you think your essays are fabulous, but what if no one else in the position of assessing your essays thinks they cut it for a passing answer? Or what if you keep telling yourself that you are just not getting it and it turns out your answers really do make the grade? Have a third person look at your answers.
Repeat takers: you MUST get a copy of your essays to have someone look at- this is crucial in assessing what went wrong.
?I did over 2,000 practice MBE questions, but I still did not pass.?
Do you read all of your questions, even the ones you got right? Are you tracking the areas of your weaknesses and strengths? I don’t just mean criminal law, torts, etc. I mean what specifically in criminal law is giving you trouble? Property crimes? Okay, what about it? The distinctions between Larceny and Embezzlement? Okay, you know the distinction but you are having problems identifying and applying it. Bingo- you need to be doing this with all your subjects and all your questions.
Develop a tracking system. LawTutors uses a great one that we simply created on an Excel spreadsheet that alphabetizes in as much detail your weak areas in each subject.
Also, re-do the questions you not only did and got wrong but that you didn’t understand in the first place [including ones you got right]. Re-do them, and this is why you shouldn?t circle your answers in your book.
Best of Luck On Your Upcoming Exam!