Beginning the bar exam study process can be daunting. You know you have a lot of work cut out for you, but maybe not exactly what to expect. You're about to get hit with a wall of information, much of which you feel like you're learning for the first time. And then you have to memorize it.
This whole experience can be overwhelming. But it's important to remember that the process is long. So you'll be best served by thinking about the bar exam study process as a marathon rather than a sprint. If you start sprinting from the beginning, you're going to burn out mid-race.
So how should you start? Well, for the first couple of weeks, don't put more on your plate than you can handle. Specifically, take one subject at a time. This seems simple, but it can be a big problem for many students.
The pace of bar study can make it seem like you'll never return to a subject once your bar class moves past it. So many students get apprehensive and try to start studying multiple subjects at a time. This is a bad strategy for the first few weeks.
Trust that you'll have time before the bar exam to cover all the subjects you'll need to know. For now, go one at a time, making sure you're understanding the key concepts. Think of it as laying a solid foundation for all of the additional information you'll take in during the weeks ahead.
Breaking the bar study process into manageable chunks will help you stay organized, keep calm, and most importantly, help you cross the finish line successfully in July.
For more information on studying techniques, check our our Tips page.
For now, stay relaxed and get yourself in a good frame of mind. And once you get started, make sure that you maintain a reasonable studying pace. Good luck!
- The Critical Pass Team
So you’ve graduated, or are about to graduate, from law school. That’s the good part. The not-so-good part is that now you have to take the bar exam.
Recent grads across the country getting ready to settle in to a long process of preparing for the bar exam. Some have already begun. Many approach this process with dread and intimidation. Some experience frustration at how little they remember all those 1L subjects they will soon re-encounter.
But it’s not that bad. Seriously. At times it will seem terrible, but at the end of this process, you'll get through it and you'll be fine, especially if you put in the work and follow instructions. If you're taking a comprehensive bar review course, do what they tell you. Don't try to do more, and definitely don't take shortcuts. And find the bar exam study aids that can help you get over the trickiest parts of the bar exam.
For now, relax and find a plan you can stick to. If you’re taking a comprehensive bar review course, do the homework, but don’t try to do go above and beyond. Just develop a healthy routine and you’ll be fine.
So, congrats on graduation, and get ready for a long haul in front of you. You’re gonna be tired, you’re gonna be stressed, and it will be painful at times. But you’ll get through it and you’ll look back on it smiling having passed the bar exam.
– The Critical Pass Team
So, you're about to start studying for the bar exam. The next several weeks can be arduous for those sitting for the July bar exam. It's important not only that you're mentally prepared, but that those around you are prepared for what you'll be going through.
Friends and family members who have no legal background may not understand that the bar exam isn't just a test. It's probably the biggest exam of your life, and it will occupy most of the waking hours you have over the following two months or more.
If your friends, family, and/or significant other aren't familiar with the bar exam, make sure to talk with them about it -- not just the exam itself, but also the studying process leading up to it. It's important that they know what to expect, especially in terms of the long study hours, limited free time, and reduced availability that you'll surely experience. You can even show them a movie - the 2007 documentary, "A Lawyer Walks Into a Bar," follows several individuals through the process of studying for the California bar exam.
Overall, make sure your friends and family understand what you're going through so they can be supportive and to avoid creating strained relationships that distract you from the task at hand.
Good luck studying!
- The Critical Pass Team
Around the country, most 3Ls are in the midst of the last final exam period of their law school career, with an eye towards graduation. So maybe the bar exam is the last thing you want to think about. But if you have just a few minutes before graduation, there’s some easy work you can do now to give yourself a head start for when bar prep begins in earnest.
Review old notes: Look over your old 1L and 2L class outlines. Just review them. That’s it. Why? Those old outlines contain the bulk of the material you’re going to need for the bar exam. Remember, the MBE only tests Contracts, Civil Procedure, Criminal Law & Procedure, Constitutional Law, Evidence, Torts, and Property - the bulk of your first year curriculum.
But these topics also show up on essays - usually at least 2-3 per exam, often more. That means these subjects are your moneymakers. They could account for 50% or more of your total bar exam score, depending on the state. If you know them inside and out, it will be hard for you to fail the bar exam.
Think about your bar exam mindset: Studying for the bar exam is a long, arduous process. You want to hit the ground running, but also make sure you're not grinding yourself towards a burnout. Start getting yourself mentally prepared for this process now. Think about how you want to schedule your time, what routines you can develop to keep you going, and how you are going to take care of your mind and body during the bar study process.
Get into a routine: Studying for finals is a good time to experiment with perhaps the most undervalued component of the bar exam study grind: your routine. Developing consistent, repeatable habits and a manageable schedule is huge. Start getting used to this now. Try going to bed and waking up at the same time consistently, schedule regular meal times, figure out some standard times for extracurriculars. Overall, figure out what works for you. This doesn't have to be like military boot camp, but eliminating little things like figuring out your plan each day can pay dividends in a couple months when you're sitting for the bar exam.
So, get through finals and enjoy graduation. But think about what you have ahead of you, and just take a little time to look over those old 1L and 2L outlines you made so long ago. It could pay off big in late July.
Good luck studying.
– The Critical Pass Team