With the February bar exam just around the corner and the July bar exam six months away, I thought I’d do a post on the things I did that helped me pass the bar exam the first time.
Start Early. My Kaplan bar prep course officially started in June. I began it on May 15th. It was PAINFUL having only a few days between graduation and the beginning of bar prep (and literally crazy because I packed up my entire apartment and took my bachelorette trip during that week). But, staying ahead of the schedule was PRICELESS. It allowed me to take a day off, when I was feeling overwhelmed. I was able to spend extra days reviewing material I didn’t fully grasp. It gave me the freedom to dedicate a full week to practice essays when I was struggling. And embarrassingly enough it made me feel secure knowing that I was “ahead” of everyone else. So my most important advice has to be start early, you’ll thank yourself for it later.
Set A Schedule and Stick To It. During my bar prep I woke up every morning at 7:30, started bar prep at 8:30, took an hour break to each lunch at noon (while watching Real Housewives of New York), and stopped every day around 6:30 pm. Minus the real housewives, this was very similar to schedule I would have on the day of the bar exam. Keeping the same schedule throughout my bar exam preparation allowed me to practice mental endurance I would need on test day.
Study The Way You Know How. By now, you’ve successfully completed 12 years of primary education, 4 years of undergraduate education, and 3 years of law school. You know how you learn best. Now is not the time to switch it up. If you can only study at a library, go to the library every day. If flash cards don’t help you, don’t start using them now! Do what ever you’ve been doing that got you this far. (As an aside, if like me you are someone who likes to study with flash cards I highly recommend the Critical Pass flashcards. They are on the expensive side but but worth every penny, and you can use my link here for 10% off).
Practice Your Essays. And make sure you read the sample answers! When I sat for the bar one of the test questions was the same question as a practice question I had done just days before. Same exact topic, same exact format, different fake names. I knocked that question out of the park because I had already done it! There are certain topics on the bar exam that can only be tested so many different ways. If you do as many practice essays as you can you’ll have a good understanding about the different ways a subject can be tested and you’ll know that to expect on exam day. Plus it feels pretty amazing to see a question that you know the answer to during the bar.
Practice Under Test Day Conditions. As an aside I only did 2 full tests leading up to test day. While I do think it’s important to experience what a full day of testing will be like, doing too many full tests will probably lead to burn out.
Stay Positive. I know, I know, easier said then done. During bar prep I did whatever I could to stay positive. I envisioned how it would feel seeing my name on the list of people who passed the bar. I wrote a list of the 3 reasons why I was going to pass the bar, and said them out loud every morning. I prayed every single night, on the bar topics I was succeeding in and the areas I was struggling. I even set my Kaplan password to “IWillPassTheBar” so I had to think it and type it every single morning.
Bar prep has its ups and downs. There were days when I felt like I was killing it and days when when I thought there was no way in hell I could pass. The only things that kept me going, were prayers and positive mantras. Do what you have to do to stay positive, and if you need words of encouragement (or have any questions) drop me an email (at firstname.lastname@example.org), I’m here for you.