Many of you have found out recently that you did not pass the July 2017 bar exam and are wondering what the next step is. This can be a very discouraging and confusing time in a law student’s life. The toll the bar takes on your schedule, as well as your mental and financial well-being, can be daunting the first time around, let alone the second or third. That’s why preparing not just your mind but also your body for success is vital. Here are some helpful tips on how to pass the bar once and for all!
1. Decide When to Re-Enroll
After the dust has settled from the bad news, you may have the impulse to dive right back in and take the immediate next bar exam. However, it is important to take into account whether you will be working this time, living in a calm environment, or any other factors that could affect your overall study quality. Take a couple days to assess how busy the next few months are going to be. Will you have enough time to study as much as you need? Do you have any pivotal life events that could get in the way of your studying (wedding, surgery, long vacation)? Chances are, if you give yourself some time to make this decision, you will go back to studying with less stress and more direction.
2. Study Well
While you may feel like you don’t need to study certain areas of law again because you had them down last time, it is important to review everything to ensure full retention of information. Maybe you felt like you owned Torts. That doesn’t necessarily mean you will next bar exam. 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.
Quality vs Quantity
Feeling as though you haven’t studied a certain subject enough a few days before the bar exam can compel us to cram until the day of. Instead of resisting this urge, remove it altogether by planning ahead. Buy a paper calendar and plan out your daily studying. A sample day might read, “Review my outline on Formation of Contracts and watch a video lecture.” Only you can tell what type of learner you are (e.g., audio vs visual, social vs solitary), so make sure the plan you make is attainable and utilizes forms of studying that work best for you, such as flashcards or study sessions with classmates.
If you felt stressed or pressed for time previously, chances are you took too much time on questions that you struggled with. Having a timer present while quizzing yourself gives you an idea of how long you are taking on each question. AdaptiBar helps you manage your time so you know when you perform at your very best. On the MBE, you have 1.8 minutes to answer each question. AdaptiBar reflects the tension of real-exam conditions and monitors the time it takes you to answer each question, allowing you to develop and refine your internal timing. With AdaptiBar’s Timing Analysis, you can calculate your sweet spot, or time at which you answer questions with the greatest accuracy. We can make this extremely stressful portion of the bar the last thing you need to worry about on the big day.
3. Sound Mind = Sound Body
Eating junk food and watching Game of Thrones until 1 AM every once in a while can be fun and relaxing. However, when we don’t allow our bodies to get used to a regular, healthy routine, we are not setting ourselves up for success. You should allow yourself at least a 30-minute aerobic workout 3-4 times a week. If you can’t make it to the gym, walk around the block or go for a hike. Whatever you have time for will be better for your mind and body than a sedentary lifestyle.
Cooking can be a fun and even meditative task. Preparing meals for yourself containing protein, vegetables and fruits will facilitate focus, stamina and information retention. Avoid foods high in sugars and drink plenty of water. If you live in a city with a particularly gloomy winter, make sure you add supplements to your diet, especially Vitamin D. Using a light box for half an hour a day is also a great way to avoid seasonal depressive symptoms.
The amount of sleep you allow your body to have can affect your entire study day. If you are habitually getting six or fewer hours of sleep per night, it is time to reevaluate your study schedule. There are research-backed reports that show a higher rate of information retention in those that get a full night’s rest. While it seems wrong to stop at 8 or 9 PM, especially when you feel like you are on a roll, stopping may be more beneficial than plowing through. Additionally, if you find yourself spacing out often, studies indicate that it may be more beneficial for you to take a 20-minute nap than to try and force yourself to concentrate. Sleeping for a short duration of time and returning to study immediately afterward is an effortless way to heighten productivity throughout the day. (Be sure not to oversleep or take too many naps – one is sufficient per day!)
Preparing for the bar can be a very solitary struggle, so saying out loud or writing down rather than internalizing what is troubling you can be very liberating. Journal your thoughts and anxieties about the bar exam and talk to your friends or a counselor if you do not feel like you are getting over a certain emotional hurdle. Finding a mentor is also extremely beneficial. A friend from law school, a former professor, or anyone with bar experience that you feel comfortable with can really alleviate stress. They know what you are going through and can help navigate you through this stressful time.
5. Use AdaptiBar
The MBE is a central component of the bar exam, one which AdaptiBar was designed to assist you in mastering. The program contains a database of 1,530 licensed questions from the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE). They are updated frequently to accommodate present-day scenarios and are accompanied by detailed explanations of not only why each answer is correct, but why the other answer choices are incorrect. The program also automatically tracks your performance and timing and gives you questions based on what subjects and subtopics you need the most work in. What better way to prep for the MBE portion of the exam than with a program with actual past test questions that maximizes your study time?
Enroll in AdaptiBar today to improve your chances of passing and get a proven-accurate prediction of how you will score on the MBE.