Tips for maximizing your home bar prep stretch


The Fourth of July is a focal point while studying for the July Bar Exam. Around this time, bar review programs stop assigning new subject matter, shifting focus to practice and review. It is around this time that preparatory programs for attorneys and law schools schedule a full (or partial) mock exam for attorneys. This timing is ideal because it gives students a reality check of their current performance, stamina, and time management skills leading up to the bar exam, but also leaves plenty of time (two to three weeks) for them to adjust study plans to strategically target areas for improvement.

If you’re heading into the final stretch of your study period for the July Bar Exam, here are some recommendations for making the most of your final weeks of preparation:

First, assess your progress. Whether you are following the recommended study schedule provided by your bar prep program or have created your own study plan, consider these questions:

  • Is your course completion percentage or study plan overall on track with the recommended pace for your bar review program or the plan you created for yourself?
  • Have you done an in-depth objective review of all test-eligible material in the essay and multiple-choice components of the test?

If your answer to each of these questions is “yes”, then continue to move forward with your study plan. Your focus should now be on continuing to practice, reviewing answers and explanations, memorizing and building confidence.

If you’re a little behind schedule or have skipped revising a topic, this is the time to do extra work to get back on track and make sure you have a foundation for all the examable topics. And be sure to leave plenty of time for yourself to do useful exercises, revision and memorization.

If you’ve fallen way behind in your study schedule and haven’t studied all the testable subjects, it’s time to sort out and prioritize your next steps. On exam day, you want to have at least basic knowledge of each test-eligible subject, so take some time in the final weeks to gain basic knowledge of each subject.

  • If you’re feeling overwhelmed because you’ve skipped so many subjects and aren’t sure how to prioritize, consider starting with the test subjects that are guaranteed. For example, the Multi-State Bar Exam (MBE) is taken in nearly every jurisdiction, and the MBE exam contains 25 multiple-choice questions from each of the following topics: Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law and Procedure, Evidence, Property real estate, and damages. And since you’re sure to see these topics in multiple choice (and probably in essays as well), these are smart topics to prioritize.
  • If you fall behind, do so no Complete the study tasks in order to check things off the to-do list. At this point, you don’t have the time to watch every video and read every comprehensive outline, so be strategic about how you spend your time and energy quickly going over different topics. If your program contains key concepts or final revision outlines, use these resources as a starting point. Also, most match applicants find they learn most at home through purposeful practice and thorough review of answers and explanations, so be sure to incorporate as much practice as possible as you gain basic knowledge of each topic.

Next, rate your performance on the practice questions. Honestly answering these questions will help you strategically prioritize your coaching efforts ahead of the exam:

  • Have you completed practice questions on each component of your bar exam – essays, multiple choice and/or exams? If not, what types of questions did you skip and why?
  • Did you practice under exam-like conditions, including filling out a bubble-sheet scantron for the multiple-choice portion and writing complete answers to essays and/or performance tests within the allotted time parameters?
  • Have you received any comments on your essays and/or auditions from a skilled class, whether through the Law School Attorney and Academic Success Program or from a law class as part of your bar review course?
  • Did you score below average in any of the exam components or subjects? If so, which ones)?
  • Have you answered enough practice questions in each area to feel as confident as possible on exam day?

If you skipped training for a portion of the bar exam, now is the time to deal with it. If you haven’t practiced under exam-like conditions, force yourself to do a few rehearsals for each component as if it were the day of the test. If you do not send any written responses to comments, ask your law school or bar preparation program if there is still time to get feedback on at least one writing assignment. Next, determine where you could use some additional practice, focusing on the components or topics in which you score below average and the areas in which you struggle with time management.

And don’t forget that an equally important part of the training is to carefully review the explanations or answers for each question. For multiple choice, review the answers and explanations for all questions, including those you answered correctly, to ensure that you answered them correctly with appropriate reasoning. For essays and performance tests, reviewing sample responses or sample answers will help reinforce grammar data, help discover issues and develop analytics, and provide useful frameworks for organizing and structuring responses.

Finally, understand the logistics and create a game plan for both exam days. When you know what to expect and plan accordingly, you will feel more prepared and in control of your exam day experience.

To make the most of your time in the final weeks of prep, cross these tasks off your list when you need a break from your studies but still want to feel productive:

  • Confirm your test venue and travel logistics (including commute time and parking).
  • Plan your meals each day (whether it’s packing, provided by the law school, or bought near the exam).
  • Make sure you have your admission ticket and identification forms needed to enter the exam.
  • Review the Bar Exam Security Policy to determine which items are allowed and which items are strictly prohibited.
  • Install and test the test software, if your laptop uses components written for testing.
  • Plan your outfit for each day to ensure that your clothing meets testing expectations and safety policies and that you have layers to adapt to varying room conditions.
  • Review any exam day logistics provided by Bar Examiners, such as start times, lunch breaks, and the order of components tested each day.

Your goal is to go into exam day feeling like you’ve done all you can to prepare, and how you approach these final weeks of bar preparation will determine whether or not you achieve that goal. Evaluating the progress of your study plan, evaluating your performance on the practice questions, and understanding the logistics and game plan for both exam days will help you prioritize and maximize your time and energy within the scope of your studies at the bar.

Kimberly Wallenberg He is the Managing Director of Helix Bar Review Engagement. She has nearly 20 years of experience working with law students from around the country in the areas of legal research and writing, succeeding in law school, and preparing for the MPRE and Bar exams.


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