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It's Bar Study Time! 5 Tips to Make Your First Time Your Last Time

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By Mark Wilson, Esq. on May 18, 2015 3:56 PM

Congratulations; you've graduated from law school! Three years of hard work and dedication have finally paid off. At long last, you'll be able to take a break from late-night studying sessions.

Just kidding! You have one more teensy-weensy hurdle to overcome before you become a lawyer: THE BAR EXAM. With any luck, you'll only have to take this thing once and then it will be smooth sailing. Here are some tips to make sure your first time is your last time.

1. Do what your test prep company tells you

At this point, you're not interested in learning the finer points of the law. Really, you're studying to pass a test. It's not really important why Congress can't assist in appointing cabinet officers; if you didn't learn that by now, this isn't the time to start. Just learn all the picayune nuances your bar prep course tells you to.

2. But why did you get those questions right?

After going through a battery of MBE questions, you'll be tempted to skip the explanations for the questions you got right. Don't do it! It's just as important to learn why you got a question right as it to know why you got one wrong. If you got a question right for the wrong reason, you might as well have been guessing.

3. Don't burn yourself out

Studying for the bar exam is like a job -- but an eight-hour-a-day job. Don't feel that you have to study property flashcards from 8 am until midnight. Studying too much can burn you out, and at some point, you're not going to learn anything anymore. Take breaks, and stop at some point during the day.

4. There's no magic bullet

In much the same way you shouldn't trust an old woman selling you magic beans, you shouldn't listen to anyone who tells you that you can pass the bar exam using This One Simple Trick. There are no tricks, and there's no right way to study for the bar exam. Some people love flash cards; I personally never got any use out of them. Study based on how you learn best.

5. Don't skimp on the essays

Essays are just as important as the MBE -- sometimes more so in some states (ahem, California). The only way to prepare for essays (note how I'm violating tip #4) is to actually sit down and write previous years' essays. If your bar prep course doesn't offer essay grading, find someone trained in bar grading to look over your essays. Bar essays need to be written in a fairly specific way, so don't rely on your friends and neighbors to be able to accurately gauge your bar essay-writing abilities.

And above all, remain calm. Having a nervous breakdown in the middle of preparing for the bar is the least helpful thing you can do. The test isn't hard; just do what your prep course tells you, and everything will be fine.

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