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Bar Exam Home Stretch – Tips for Success

As I write this, thousands of aspiring attorneys are staring at the most important test of our careers. Failing the bar exam isn’t fatal, but nobody wants it to happen. You can retake it, but that delays your license, costs more money, requires more studying, and might even cost your job.

My exam (and other Virginia examinees) is less than four days away. So what should I be doing right now? What should you do? How are these final days best spent?

1. Review the big picture

Now is not the time to try to study tiny exceptions for every rule. If you don’t know it by now, it’s likely a write-off.

But you can try to get the big picture in your head. Review the broad strokes of each subject. Recall the primary rules that govern.

2. Study your best subject

You still have a little time for studying, but you have to be selective. You likely have a strong subject, where you usually do well. Study that.

You may think this is crazy, but you might improve performance in this area and pick up a few extra points. Your brain obviously retains a lot of it, so maybe you can remember a couple more exceptions or examples.

3. Focus on your worst subject

On the flip side, maybe you can spend a few minutes on the most treacherous subject. If several are equally difficult for you, pick one.

Don’t try to master the entire subject at this point. But try to retain some of the important points. Perhaps one subtopic is weak for you; study that. Again, you’re just trying to pick up a few extra points on the exam, not to master this material.

4. Make a packing list

If you’re traveling to take the exam, you’ll need to pack appropriately. Now is the time to reflect on your needs. Start making a list with all the essentials.

You’ll need clothes for the test – if you’re in Virginia, pick out your most comfortable suits. For you slackers elsewhere, dress comfortably, but in layers so you can adjust to the room’s temperature.

Don’t forget some items to help you be comfortable outside the test. Maybe even pack a swimming suit, so you can take a dip in the evening. Or bring your exercise clothes for a relaxing jog.

5. Confirm travel arrangements

If you have a hotel room or rental car booked, be sure it’s confirmed and ready for your arrival. The last thing you need is a travel screw-up before the big day. A simple phone call will help ease your arrival and check-in.

6. Have a fun weekend

Yes, you should study some this weekend. And you shouldn’t get drunk. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have fun.

I think my wife and I are going to see the new Harry Potter film (yeah, we’re dull). But it will be a temporary escape from the books. That’s what you need. Your brain needs some rest to perform well next week.

Any other ideas?

These are just my thoughts on our final days here. If I fail the bar, I’ll rename this post “what NOT to do.” Hopefully that won’t be necessary.

Do you have specific plans for the weekend? How are you going to spend these last few days? Let’s talk about it in the comments!
[tags]bar exam, study[/tags]

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6 Responses to “Bar Exam Home Stretch – Tips for Success”

  1. Ann K. Levine
    July 20th, 2007

    My husband and I took the CA bar together in 2001. He had a great thing he did where he memorized the first sentence he would write about any essay subject. For example “A corporation is an entity distinct from its owners…” or something to that effect. That way, he would never get writers block because he always had a first sentence ready to go.
    And, my tip for the bar exam, BRING EARPLUGS.

  2. Andrew Flusche
    July 20th, 2007

    Hi Ann,

    Thanks for your great comment. I like the method your husband used – that’s pretty slick. And I’ve definitely got my earplugs. I can’t imagine taking the bar without them!

    Congrats on your newly-launched blog, and I hope your webinar with Brett’s readers goes well!


  3. [...] Legal Andrew: Bar Exam Home Stretch – Tips for Success [...]

  4. Diana
    July 23rd, 2007

    First and foremost, best of luck.

    I was a freak about planning ahead and trying to think about every possible factor that might help me do well when I took the bar in 2003.

    One thing I did that you didn’t mention was to bring all my own food. I did a big shopping trip for things like nuts, cheese & crackers, hummus, veggies, fruit, and other healthy brain food. I packed it all in tons of ice and kept it in my hotel room.

    It helped a lot to have my energy needs addressed without resorting to fast food or other choices that might not have worked well in my already stressed body.

  5. Diana
    July 23rd, 2007

    Oh, this is funny, but I also had a little “kick ass” mantra. I psyched myself up by running The Eye of the Tiger from Rocky through my head on breaks and while waiting for the test to start. Silly, but it really helped!

  6. Andrew Flusche
    July 23rd, 2007

    Hi Diana,

    Bringing food is a great idea! Too bad I’m already at my hotel and didn’t think of that ahead of time. And it would’ve been even easier for me, since I have a kitchenette!

    Isn’t a Big Mac brain food? I guess that’s more like “death food.” Which is why I ate a bit healthier for dinner. :)

    Thanks for the comment and the kind wishes. We can all do it!!

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