The Week Before the Bar Exam: Top 8 Tips

In the last 10 days before the bar exam, you are going to be spending your time reviewing, practicing, and memorizing. At this point if you’ve done the work, you know more of the law than you realize. Try to stay calm. Stressing out for more than 10 minutes is unproductive. If you feel nervous allow yourself 10 minutes to be nervous, then refocus and go back to studying. Studying will help you pass the exam, freaking out will not. The last 10 days is when all of your hard work during the summer or winter comes to fruition. Kaplan provides you with a precise plan to follow during those last 10 days before the bar exam based on how you have done on practice questions and exams. The adaptive syllabus will make your strengths stronger while still remediating your weaknesses.

But let’s look at some general advise and tips for the countdown to test day. When practicing essays; make sure that you review all of the answers from the practice questions. Spend 10-15 minutes issue spotting and outlining essays. At this stage, there’s no need to spend 30 minutes writing practice essays. If you have been writing essays and submitting them for grading all along, you will have the timing down.

  • Be Healthy

    Eat well. Simply put, eat the way your parents would feed you. This means well-balanced meals with protein, vegetables and carbs. This is not the time to lose weight on some crazy fad diet or consume massive amounts of caffeine. Exercise. If you normally exercise, this is not the time to forgo exercise for study. Exercise produces endorphins, relieves stress, and a less stressed bar exam taker is a more effective bar exam taker. If you don’t regularly exercise, taking a 30 minute walk will also do the trick. Sleep. The Sunday before the bar exam is the most important night to get good sleep! Why? Science tells us that we retain sleep for 48 hours. As the nights before the bar exam are stressful, your sleep pattern may change a bit, so get some great sleep tonight!

  • Get In the Right Mindset

    Be Mentally Strong. This is key to passing the exam. By this time you should have completed hundreds if not thousands of multiple choice questions, reviewed numerous outlines, and written and reviewed numerous essays/MPTs either by submitting, self grading or a combination of both. You have taken a full length bar exam which gives you an advantage over other bar exam takers. You have already run the marathon, when so many others will run their first next week…Been there, done that! Practice does not mean perfect. Practice means passing. That is a huge advantage. YOU ARE READY! YOU ARE PREPARED! YOU WILL PASS!

  • The Weekend Before

    The weekend before is not the time to learn new materials – If you don’t know it, it’s not worth your time at this point trying to learn it. There is always more to learn. Studying for the bar exam is like a pinata grab. When that pinata breaks, you grab what you can. You won’t be able to grab all the goodies, but if you see a bill or a shiny coin, you go for that first. The big-ticket items are the bills and the shiny coins, go for them first, and don’t worry so much about the little caramel swirls!  

  • The Last 24 Hours

    On the day before the exam (usually the Monday or Tuesday depending on whether your state’s exam starts on Tuesday or Wednesday, many students take the day off, which is perfectly fine! If you will be studying, my suggestion is to do very passive tasks instead of very active tasks. You want to flip through your outlines, flashcards, and Bar Points book. You don’t want to be writing full essays or doing very long MBE exams. Completing 33 questions is a great idea. If you do work on that Monday, it is recommended to not work more than 5 or 6 hours that day. Give your brain time to relax.
    Do questions on the morning of the MBE when you wake up before the MBE exam. On this day do 5 practice questions BEFORE you go to the exam! DO NOT look at the answers. What makes this so important is looking at the question BEFORE you go to the exam site. Get your brain moving before Question 1. This activity WILL create more points on MBE day.

  • State Specific Portions

    After you have completed the local essay day of your bar exam, before the MBE day, my suggestion is to review the Final MBE examination and your notes from that exam. Year in and year out, that Final MBE covers 20-30 direct issues you will see on the MBE exam. It might also help for the essays if you’d like to review this on Sunday or Monday evening.
    If your state has a Performance Test component, my advice here is to be sure to follow the directions given and finish (or make it look like you finished)! You do this and you will be ahead of 10% of students immediately!

  • Avoid Others

    Around the bar exam, avoid others. Before the exam, during breaks, and after the exam, don’t talk to others about the test. This leads to nothing but regrets about the little issue you didn’t write about, or the multiple-choice question you are now “certain” you got wrong. You don’t know whether that “chatty-cathy” you are talking to is correct either. Do not let someone else create stress for you, let them create it for someone else.

  • It’s Okay to Be Wrong

    Speaking of getting things wrong on the bar exam, IT WILL HAPPEN! And that’s ok. Remember, like I said earlier, practice will make passing; it doesn’t need to make perfect! Nobody is ever perfect on this exam. At some point after each portion of this exam, you will have that “D’oh” moment. “D’oh,” I forgot to write about…, “D’oh,” I forgot about using this strategy for that MBE question dealing with… Trust me, you can have many of those and still pass this exam. Don’t worry about that D’oh moment.

  • Make It Up

    On the essays, if you don’t know it, make it up. Here’s why. You won’t lose points for making an argument and sometimes when you start writing, one of two things will happen. 1. You thinking and writing about it will help you remember what the correct answer is, or 2. What you are writing will in fact be correct.

Like the boy or girl scouts, “be prepared.” Dress in layers just in case, leave early, have medicines ready, eat a good breakfast, pack a good lunch, prepare snacks if they are allowed into the exam. Walk into the exam with confidence. Take the exam with confidence. Walk out of the exam with confidence! At that stage you ARE ready, and you will do great!