The Legal Beat
How To Make This Bar Exam Your Last Bar Exam
Posted on Monday May 20, 2019
Gearing up to retake the bar exam is a daunting task. You already know the time and effort that goes into bar prep, and thinking about getting started again can feel completely overwhelming. Having a solid plan in place can help to ease some of the stress and anxiety you feel. Use these tips to put your best foot forward in preparing for the upcoming bar exam.
1. Adopt the right mindset
Mindset matters a lot when it comes to bar exam success. You need to find the right balance between “this is my last time taking this test and I’m going all in” and getting yourself so overwhelmed that you let your anxiety and fear take over, which can really hold you back. It is important for you to make the decision to give this test your all. I have seen a student’s failure to commit result in failing the bar exam. One example of this is when students refuse to write in their books “just in case they need them next exam.” Thinking like this is defeatist and can keep you from giving the exam your best effort. You need to balance these thoughts against building up the importance of the exam so much that it creates an inability for you to focus and move forward with studying.
2. Equip yourself with the right tools
A frequent misstep I see repeat takers make is trying to cut corners when spending money on necessary resources. Look, I completely understand that studying for the bar exam is an investment, but prolonging this experience also has its costs, particularly when you have to take leave from work to study, continue to pay for resources, and perhaps have your earning potential limited until you are able to be admitted to practice. In order to give yourself the best chance of passing, you have to equip yourself with the tools you need to pass, specifically high-quality practice questions. Pro tip: Before purchasing materials, contact your school to see if they have discounts or special deals on the products you are considering.
3. Get really specific as to what you focus on
Remember, this isn’t your first rodeo… errrr… bar exam, so don’t forget about everything you learned from your previous experience studying. One frequent trap that students fall into is trying to do re-do their bar prep from scratch, meaning they re-watch every video, fill out every outline again, and do all the essays in the same order (among other things). This is a trap because clearly, that system didn’t work the first time. A better use of your time is to go through your prior study plan in as much detail as possible and figure out what worked, what didn’t, and what needs to be changed. Then, get really specific on what things you need to focus on this time around.
4. Get expert feedback
If evaluating your prior scores and study habits on your own is overwhelming or confusing, you may decide to seek some expert help. You want someone who can go through your score reports, gather information on how you studied last time, and help you determine what changes you need to implement this time. A word of caution here, not all advice is created equally. You want to vet the source from where you are getting feedback. A great place to start is the Academic Support office at your law school or your prior bar prep company. You could also consult with bar exam coaches or tutors. Finally, if you have friends or co-workers who took the bar more than once, ask them for feedback and to share the changes they made that helped them pass.
5. Maximize your time
Often, students who are retaking the bar exam are also working. First, it is important to understand that working does not have to be a barrier to success. It is absolutely possible for you to work and pass the bar exam. However, it is critically important that you maximize your time. That means you must figure out when you will study and then fiercely protect that time. You need to have a laser-focused tunnel vision on your goal of passing the bar exam and not let any outside distractions interfere.
I hope that you use these tips to create a plan to make this bar exam your last bar exam and wish you the very best of luck on your journey to bar exam success!
Kerriann Stout is a millennial law school professor and founder of Vinco (a bar exam coaching company) who is generationally trapped between her students and colleagues. Kerriann has helped hundreds of students survive law school and the bar exam with less stress and more confidence. She lives, works, and writes in the northeast. You can reach her by email at [email protected].