Five Critical Tips for First-Time Bar Exam Takers

Studying for the bar exam the first time can be intimidating. Not only do you need to learn a huge amount of material in a short period of time, you need to apply it under pressure on test day! If you’re wondering how to maximize your bar prep, you’re in luck! These five tips for first-time bar exam takers will put you on the path to success.  

  1. Create a Plan

Studying for the bar is a marathon, not a sprint. To pass the bar on your first attempt, you’ll need a solid study plan that carries you from day one to test day. Your bar review course should provide a general schedule for you. However, you will want to plan out how you will spend each day – e.g., when and where you study, as well as what you will do when you sit down to study. We recommend carving out some time once a week—for example, Sunday night—to plan out the week ahead. 

  1. Narrow Your Focus

Studying for the bar is all about maximizing your efficiency. The bar will test a myriad of different legal topics, but those topics aren’t tested equally. To make the most out of your limited prep time, focus on the topics that the bar exam tests most frequently. 

  1. Eliminate Distractions

Studying for the bar exam requires hour after hour of intense focus. If at all possible, try to minimize any potential distractions in advance. For example, you may want to consider taking time off of work or rearranging your work schedule to accommodate your bar prep. If you live with roommates, you might plan to spend your study time at the library. Anticipating distractions beforehand can help you avoid disruptions to your study. 

  1. Use Bullet Points to Practice Essays

Many first-time bar exam takers struggle with preparing for the essay section. To mix things up, practice your bar essays by writing a bullet point outline for your answer instead of writing out a full response. A good outline will include the rule, important facts, and your conclusion. Then, check your answer against the model answer. Once you feel comfortable with the general structure of a bar exam essay, make sure to incorporate writing full essay answers in your practice. 

  1. Take Care of Yourself

Yes, you’ll need to put in long hours to successfully prepare for the bar exam. No, you shouldn’t sacrifice your physical and mental health to do so. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, eating well, and occasionally taking breaks. In the long run, it’s the quality, not quantity, of the hours you put in that will lead to success the first time you take the bar. Plus, taking care of yourself will help increase your focus, energy, and motivation to pass the bar exam.

Preparing for the bar exam will require hard work, but it doesn’t need to be overwhelming. Follow these five tips to put yourself in the best position to pass the first time you take the bar exam.