If you’re reading this, maybe you’re in 1L and trying to navigate the process of becoming a lawyer, maybe you’re in 2L and are thinking about which courses to take to help you on the bar exam, or maybe you’re in 3L and the reality that the bar exam is coming up is setting in. Wherever you are in your legal education, I hope this blog post gives you some insight and comfort for preparing for the bar exam.
Pre- Bar Exam
If you’re anything like me, there was bar exam stress before I was anywhere close to writing the exams. Which courses should I take? Will they actually help me on the exam? How many people should be in my indexing group? What is an indexing group? What if I have a law school exam that’s on the last day? Will I have enough time to study?
Take a deep breath… everything will be ok.
Some of my peers strategically took courses on topics that we knew would be on the bar exam. This helped them gain some background on the topics, and some comfort going into the study process. Personally, being in a dual degree program (JD/HBA) and going on an exchange semester, didn’t leave me with as much flexibility in choosing my courses. I took another route, and took courses that interested me and in the direction that I hoped my career would lead. I did not feel disadvantaged going into the bar exam whatsoever. Keep in mind, LSUC provides the study materials, which is all you need for the bar exam. While having some background can be helpful in recognizing and understanding some of the questions right away, everything you need to know is in the materials.
Forming an index group is important, but don’t stress over the little things. If you were planning on a group of 15 people, and your group ends up being 13 or 18 people, you will be fine! Having an indexing group will help you divide up the work so that you’re not left to tackle all 1800 pages of study material on your own. In the end, you will have an organized index to help you navigate through the materials.
One thing that kept me calm during my study period was following my schedule. I counted the number of days that I had before each exam, divided up how many page numbers per day I needed to study in order to finish in time, and gave myself some buffer days just in case. This worked really well for me, and knowing I didn’t have to worry about having 300 pages to cram the day before the exam helped relieve some anxiety.
Make sure you find a study space that works for you. Whether it’s locked up in your room, in a corner cubicle at the library, or at a coffee shop, do what is most effective for you.
The Big Day(s)
Well, after weeks of studying and countless highlighters later, the big day has come. The day before the exam check the rules and make sure you have snacks that are permitted. Organize everything the night before so you can wake up, have a healthy breakfast, and not worry about forgetting anything. Plan to arrive at the test center early to avoid any stress of being late or not having enough time to get organized at your desk. During the exam, make sure you don’t spend too much time on one question. I found it very helpful to bring in a time sheet, which is a chart of what question I should be on at what time. If you’re stuck on a question and you’re over your allocated time for that question, circle in an answer and move on.
When the exam’s over- treat yourself! If this was your first exam, take the night off – you deserve it! If it was your second exam – welcome to summer! Go out for dinner, go to the gym, do whatever makes you happy!
While these are some tips that helped me study, everyone’s study techniques are different. Do what is right for you and your individual study style.