How to Prepare for the Bar Exam

To prepare for the bar exam, or any intense all-or-nothing test, you need to pay close attention to how you practice for the test. You can’t just spend hours passively studying the material and expect it to perform well when you take the actual exam. Instead, you should make sure to practice.

Get started with mini-tests

After you have studied the bar prep materials for a few weeks, you will have a basic understanding of the material to be tested and how that material will be tested (i.e., essay format, MBE format, etc.). Now is the time to start the practice tests.

To start with, you should use mini-tests. A “mini test” is a short test of your knowledge on a single topic or subtopic. Examples of mini tests include: reviewing cards containing the elements of intentional torts, outlining an answer to an essay question, writing down everything you can remember about the jurisdiction of the subject, asking 20 MBE criminal law questions, or writing an answer complete a single essay question.

You can use mini-tests during your preparation for your barre exam, but they are vitally important during the first few weeks because they allow you to practice for short periods because most of your time during these early stages must be spent studying and memorizing. After each mini-test, review your results and learn from any mistakes you have made.

Complete practice tests

A few weeks before the bar exam, you must take at least one full practice bar exam. The purpose of taking a full-blown practice test is to make sure you can focus for a full test day. This is a difficult task. Since you recently graduated from law school, your attention span should be strong, but taking the bar exam is like having four final exams every day for two or three days in a row. It is qualitatively different from a law school exam.

Many bar prep courses have a comprehensive practice test built into their schedules. If your bar prep course doesn’t, or if you are studying on your own, be sure to make time for a practice test. In most jurisdictions, this means spending a full day writing multiple essays and a performance test under timed conditions and a second day asking 200 MBE questions under timed conditions.

Regardless of how you take a comprehensive practice test, take it seriously. Do your best and see how you respond to the intensity of the bar exam process. This will expose your strengths and weaknesses and allow you to focus your studies during the final weeks leading up to the bar exam.

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