The Right Way to Study for the Bar Exam

People who pass the bar exam usually share common traits, particularly certain studying strategies and habits. While knowing yourself and what works best for you is important, some habits don't serve you as well as you think.

With that in mind, understanding how bar passers achieved their success can help you think about what habits and strategies you want to develop or reinforce.

If you adopt the below strategies, you're on a great start to bar exam success.

Challenge Yourself

You may be logging the hours, but that doesn’t mean much if you're taking the easy route. Learning elements and definitions alone isn’t enough. You need to know how to apply rules, how they differ from one another, and when to apply them. In short, you gotta know the ins and outs of key bar exam concepts, so when you are presented with a new fact pattern you are able to determine when to apply them.

This means staying away from screens (laptop, tablet, and phone), even if you can do practice questions on a screen. There’s no research that’s ever said screen learning is better than paper, and paper has fewer distractions. It means focusing intensely for at least 30 minute chunks with only short breaks in between (i.e., two to three minutes).

Remember, on the bar exam you’ll be time-pressed and you’ll go for hours without breaks. So train that way. In short, if you’re patting yourself on the back for mediocre studying, you’ll find yourself woefully unprepared come exam day.

 

Don’t be a bystander

Reading and watching videos for hours on end will not suffice for the bar exam. You cannot sit back and rely on passive studying, even if it worked for you in the past. The bar exam rewards those who interact with the material and actively attack questions.

Work through difficult subjects and unfamiliar questions. When reviewing practice tests, don’t just read the correct answer and move on. It’s important to sit in your mistakes, analyze what led you astray, and get comfortable and confident with the material you got wrong.

 

No pain, no gain

You must learn the minimum required for every subject if you want to pass. That means putting in the time with subjects that bewilder you the most. Think about which subject you feel the strongest in, then put in the time to lift up all the subjects that aren’t there yet. You need to ensure that you have the same level of comfort in every subject that may appear on the exam. If you aren’t actively struggling through these subjects, you won’t gain the points you need to pass.

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