Wake up, study, eat, and sleep.
This is the universal routine for law students prepping to take the bar exam. For you, someone who has already taken the bar, it’s a routine that you’ve become all too familiar with. In fact, it seems little has changed from the position you were in just a few months ago – stressing about the future, making daily trips to the library, spending each day with your face hidden in law books.
In just a matter of days, you will be taking the bar exam…again. But no matter how many times you’ve failed before, you can always improve your score and pass the next time around. However, the truth of the matter is this: You won’t pass the bar again if you prep the same way you did in the past. In other words, if it didn’t work last time, it won’t work this time.
That’s why AdaptiBar compiled a list of 10 ways that you can refine your exam-taking skills, evaluate where you need improvement and boost your confidence. Use them to increase your chances of passing, so that you never have to take the bar exam again.
There’s more to passing the bar exam than knowing the law. In fact, self-timing can be the deciding factor between whether you pass or fail, as rushing through or taking too long on just one question can greatly throw off the pace at which you take the rest of the exam. Thus, a timer or bar prep program that tracks your timing performance should be your closest companion while studying for the bar exam.
If you choose to use a timer, time yourself as you answer practice questions or essays. Increase efficiency while studying for the MBE by noting how long it takes you to answer every set of 10 questions. You are given 1.8 seconds to answer each question during the MBE, therefore you must complete each set within 18 minutes.
When studying so much information for a long duration of time, you may become tempted to rush through law definitions and concept explanations simply to “get through them,” especially those which do not interest you. As grueling it may be, however, it’s important to thoroughly cover all concepts and definitions for as long it takes you to fully understand them.
Even if it takes you a few more days than expected to get through the material, the long-term benefits will outweigh the short-term benefits of cramming. How can you tell if you fully understand a specific law topic? Pretend you must explain it to a fifth-grader. If you are able to fully elaborate on the concept using simple detailed terms and examples, you can rest assured that you have not simply covered the concept, but learned it.
While it’s important to look ahead as to how you can best utilize your time before the bar exam, it’s just as important to look back at past information that you have studied. Knowing something now doesn’t guarantee that you will know it just as well in the future. Don’t forget to regularly review past topics and bar prep materials to maximize the amount of information that gets stored in your brain as long-term memory.
Stress can significantly inhibit exam performance, as it naturally heightens feelings of anxiety and restlessness. Perhaps you found yourself experiencing similar stress-related feelings the first time you took the bar exam and consequently left the testing room feeling as if you did not perform to the best of your ability. Luckily, if you begin practicing stress-managing tactics now, you will be more capable of managing your stress during the exam. Accomplishing this requires consistent dedication to good study habits, healthy eating, adequate sleep and making time to relax despite your overwhelmingly busy schedule. Realizing that only you are in control of your performance can trigger feelings of empowerment and relaxation during the exam as well.
Simply put, regular exercise improves memory, so whether it’s taking a neighborhood walk, lifting weights at the gym, or attending a yoga class, make sure to get a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise 3 days a week.
Study Like a Pro
Believe it or not, how you study can be just as important as what you study. One benefit of having previously taken the bar is that you already have a general understanding of what the testing environment will be like. Work this to your advantage by studying in a room with a similar atmosphere to the one you experienced the first time you took the bar, such as a library or quiet room. Studies indicate that mocking exam conditions while you study will generally improve exam performance.
Similarly, if you chew gum while you study, you will be more inclined to recall previously studied information by chewing gum during the bar exam. Be sure that you are making bar prep your main priority in order to give yourself adequate time to study all the information that will appear on the exam. You can test like a pro, too! Can’t pick an answer for a question on the MBE? Instead of finding the right answer, try to find the wrong answers first. For each wrong answer you eliminate, you increase your chances of correctly answering the question by 25%!
Take a Nap
If you find yourself spacing out as you study, studies indicate that it may be more beneficial for you to take a 20-minute nap than to try and force yourself to concentrate. Why? Napping has been proven to improve cognitive function, boost memory retention and increase stamina. Thus, sleeping for a short duration of time and returning to study immediately afterward is an effortless way to heighten productivity throughout the day. However, be sure not to oversleep or take too many naps – one is sufficient per day.
Find a Mentor
Seeking a mentor doesn’t require you to seek out well-known attorneys and ask them to guide you step-by-step through the bar exam process. A mentor could be anyone – a friend from law school, a former professor, or anyone else with bar exam experience – who you feel comfortable enough going to for advice or answers. This way, you are not only expanding your support system but receiving support from someone who knows exactly what you are going through and can give you applicable tips for success.
Use AdaptiBar MBE Simulator for Retakers
The MBE is a central component of the bar exam, one which AdaptiBar was designed to assist you in mastering. The program contains nearly every licensed MBE question from the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE), including all recently released questions. Each MBE question is accompanied by detailed explanations of not only why each answer is correct, but why the other answer choices are incorrect.
Plus, Adaptibar MBE Simulator for Retakers also includes a level-setting diagnostic exam plus an array of expert, coach-led videos created specifically for bar exam retakers. Let’s make your next attempt your last.
Mentally answer the following questions before reading ahead: What’s your strategy for the bar exam? What are you going to do differently this time to ensure that you pass? It’s important to know the answers to these two questions before you proceed. Identifying what went wrong the last time you took the bar exam can dramatically increase your chances of passing this time, consequently saving you time, money, and energy in the long term. Did you not study enough? Or, were you so preoccupied with studying that you never gave yourself a break? Whatever the setback, plan how you will change it to improve your performance on the next one. This is the ultimate way to ensure bar exam success.