No one is fully prepared for bar prep. Although you’ve heard about it for three to four years, it seems to come out of no where. Think about it. You have just graduated from law school, which is a major accomplishment (cue Marvin Sapp Never would have made it). We celebrate with friends and family with parties and trips, only to be humbled yet again.
The day after the bar, I composed a list of takeaways that would have been helpful.
Tips for the Bar Prep.
- Anticipate the anxiety. The stress of bar prep is real. I physically made myself sick multiple times through out bar prep and have the doctors bills and prescriptions to prove it. If you know you’re a person who normally struggles with anxiety, then get a head start on managing it for the abnormal amount of stress you’ll be under during bar prep. Whether it’s yoga, music or exercise, anticipate the anxiety and have a plan.
- Prepare your bank account. You will discover other prep materials you feel like you need and nothing is free. Plus, you don’t have time to cook and consequently order food all the time. I also recommend staying at the hotel sponsoring the test, I didn’t want to risk an accident or deal with parking. Plus I could go to my room during lunch break and be anti social and prep for the next section.
- Listen to those retaking the Bar! First off, it’s an easy test to fail. It’s not one of those test where if you just try, you’ll pass. There’s a lot of strategy involved and those who previously took it have a lot of insight. If you want to take it once, listen to them. Of course ask people who were successful for advice, but I found that most of them just say they studied. Which isn’t very helpful as there were people who studied and failed. I only completed 60% of my bar prep course, but I used some other resources, in addition to my prep course.
- Look at past model answers for the MEE. The NCBE publishes the top answers. While there is so much material that one could be tested over, it helps to see what was acceptable and what was tested. Also, the MEE predictions were very accurate this year. While you should not depend on the predictions, at least be prepared for them.
- MBE advice. Answer practice questions with a good study group. The explanations provided do not always adequately explain why the answer you selected was not the best answer. Your answer could be right, and NOT be the best answer. Someone in the group may be able to better explain to you why the correct answer is the correct answer. Try to answer as many practice questions as you can under timed conditions. You can know the law, but if you don’t know how to push through when fatigue sets in, then it won’t help. Have a strategy for taking a break and practice taking your breaks so you’re not afraid of losing time.
- The Exam Days. Anticipate not being able to sleep and have a plan. I did not do this. I probably got 2 hours of sleep the night before the MBE, but I had my breaks planned and was accustomed to working thru fatigue. I took a break every 25 questions, approximately every 40 – 45 mins to keep my eyes fresh. However, timing on multiple choice questions was never an issue for me. Do practice test with your planned breaks so you know if this works for you.
- After the test. Get the hell out of dodge. The getaway doesn’t have to be anything fancy. My parents live far away, so I visited them, scheduled a massage and did some wine tasting while visiting home. It is a must to re-calibrate. Try to rest before you start freaking out about not having a job lined up and having to wait months before getting your results.