Dear Bar Takers, if you’re sitting for the Bar Exam soon, please, receive my best wishes and all my support. You can and you WILL be successful in it! I’d like to highlight the things that helped me along my own journey for it.
First and foremost, focus. This is FOR YOU. No one can do this for you (I mean, really. It’s illegal!). So, whatever time you choose to dedicate to it, my advice is: F O C U S!
Long before I actually started studying for it, the bar exam was already in the back of my mind and I would set myself up for it in smalls ways: choosing a bar prep, deciding when I would start studying, listening to people and their successful approaches etc.
However, once I entered “Bar Prep Mode”, my life revolved around it! I still had to work, I went to the gym, I had days off, I took self-development classes, etc… however the bar exam was my focus. It was ALL for the Bar and all my choices were made with that in mind and focusing on the things that would help me achieve this goal. I was living, breathing and dreaming the Bar Exam.
Align everything in your life towards your goal. Let it be what underlies everything in your life. Make it easy on you!
2. STICK WITH WHAT WORKS FOR YOU
Assuming you’ve been through law school, you’d know what style of studying works for you. You know how you learn and what keeps you engaged. If you don’t know that yet, take time to find that out. Try out different study techniques: Practice. Flashcards. Outlining. Watching lectures. How do YOU retain information? Don’t be afraid to switch and change until you find your study flow! People learn differently and you have to know what will work for you. Don’t let how others do thing interfere with this.
3. HAVE A STUDY PLAN
This is SUCH a time saver! Knowing what to do will help you get on it right away. I personally followed the Barbri course study plan and I trusted they would provide me with a winning approach. I fully completed their course and, although I followed their schedule most of the time, I also made sure it was the right activity for me at that time. If I didn’t feel like doing something, I would look into the future and do something else. Having a study plan kept me focused, productive and efficient!
On the weekends, which were my longest study days, I would take a moment to contemplate the overall study plan and look ahead what was to come. At the end of the day, I would also make a “Game Plan” for the next day. Doing this kept me motivated – whether because I was looking forward to something specific or because I had to push myself and I knew exactly what to do.
3. FOLLOW THE STRUCTURE
Long before I started studying for the bar, I heard from different people how important it was to follow a specific structure in the Essay portion. I focused on that. IRAC all the way, baby.
Barbri had a lot of lectures about this and a very specific approach that I was really aligned with. (I’m biased because Barbri and I was a match made in heaven. I love all about it!) I’m sure your Bar Prep Course will have its own twist to it and I recommend you find a source that speaks to you.
Once I had that as a framework, knowing what I had to work and focus one became easy. The organized and structured approach kept me calmed and fast on the bar exam day. I made sure to practice it SEVERAL times during my study sessions. And that takes us to the next step…
4. DIAGNOSE YOUR WEAKNESSES AND STRENGHTS
Know thyself will ALWAYS be the first step to winning anything, in my opinion. One thing that really changed the game for me was when I diagnosed exactly what I needed to improve.
Because of my background, my weakest point was just knowing the rules. From there, it was easy to formulate a plan that would actually improve my performance and boost my confidence.
At first, I dedicated time to just reading rules or watching lectures. I would also read flashcards on my way to work or at the Stairmaster. Once I moved my focus to practice, I would do essays with open book (which was a precious tip one of my colleagues gave me) and made sure I spent time reviewing the model answers and explanations to the MBE questions.
The analysis part was easier, however, as I compared my answers to the models, I noticed I wasn’t so thorough and wouldn’t include every fact I could have included. What helped me improve this the most was reading the grading outlines from the Barbri material!
Edit: another tip that was really helpful for my essay came from one my friends who passed the July bar. She told me to focus on headlines. Graders don’t spend a lot of time on essays so make sure you put a headline for each issue you identify so that they know every element of the issue is accounted for! This was very, very helpful in my case because an organized approach allows me to thrive. It also made the world of difference on my Evidence essay, which had a lot of nuances and issues to tackle.
5. CHOOSE A BAR PREP THAT EXCITES YOU
I heard a lot of things about bar prep and different courses. I knew all along I wanted Babri. Can it be because that was the one I saw Kim Kardashian doing? MAYBE. Very likely! However, I did try another great one named Themis, which many people used successfully. Did not work for me!
That told me two things: that wasn’t the best bar prep for me and I needed more time than just 6-8 weeks. Once I signed up for Barbri and started watching their lectures, I was in bar prep heaven. I loved their approach, their structure and their materials! That made me feel confident and supported. I know of people who took Barbri and hated it. So, you just have to go to the one that you’ll like and that matches your vibe! No matter which one you choose, you can succeed!
6. LEARN ABOUT THE BAR EXAM
One of the first lectures of Babri was about the Bar Exam and I think that is SO important. Read about it, check the latest exams, do past exam essays/questions, look at the subjects and the number of questions… get familiar with it!
Once I got to the Bar Exam, I had done all of that so many times that it felt easy. It was familiar and I felt SUPER prepared. That made me feel SO HAPPY. Even if I didn’t pass, I was so proud of what I accomplished and being prepared was a big part of it!
6. BUILD UP SKILL AND DO IT LIKE THE EXAM DAY
At the day of the exam, I had been practice for a while so going through it was not difficult. It was still exhausting, but manageable. This was because I started gradually focusing and increasing the number of essays/questions I did every day. I also had several full simulated weekends! Now… at first. I was so hard. I could barely focus for 10 questions straight when I started bar prep. I would get tired, miss important key facts, try to skim through questions. The brain got super tired! So, please, allow yourself practice as if you’re exercising your body. Take half a day and simulate 100 questions in 3h. Simulate a full day of essays! That was so, so important to me! It also allowed me to identify what I needed to work on!
Know that you WILL succeed! You got this. You have what it takes. Put in the work and it will reward you with success!