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Thursday, June 7, 2012

How to Pass the Bar Exam: Virginia and Massachusetts edition

This post is the second edition on my "How to Pass the Bar" series. Here's the first edition on the Maryland, New Jersey and New York bar examsHere's the third edition on the Georgia and Illinois bar exams and Here's the fourth edition on the Pennsylvania bar exam. I'd love to hear your feedback. Hope the tips prove helpful.

Ritu N., Esq./ Passed the Virginia Bar Exam

        The Key to Passing the Bar…...is staying positive. Everyone who takes the bar will, at some point, have a moment of doubt; for some it’s after a five hour Barbri lecture, for others (the unlucky ones like me) it’s in the middle of the exam, 50 questions into the MBE. A fear of failure is typical and probably healthy. But the key to passing the bar, at least for me, was staying as positive as possible during this process – and that meant completely eliminating this dreaded “F” word from my vocabulary (to be fair, I did use other F-words to make up for it). 
So, I wasn’t just taking the bar on July 27th and 28th, I was passing the bar on those days, and each moment before then was just preparation for a known outcome.
This may seem like simple and obvious advice, but it’s surprising how many bar takers allowed fear to distract them last summer. Thankfully, I was told early on that the exam was not merely testing my knowledge of the law, but my mental endurance as well. For two long months I had to find ways to stay focused for 10-12 hour study days, without having a nervous breakdown because I couldn’t remember the Rule Against Perpetuities or the tort liability of a landowner for child-trespassers. 

I maintained my focus by surrounding myself with other positive people, and I strongly encourage all bar takers to do the same. The Bar is a minimum competency exam – each of you is more than capable of passing it because otherwise, you wouldn’t be where you are today. Remind yourself of that every day this summer and YOU WILL PASS.

Sparrow X.B, Esq./ Passed the Virginia Bar Exam

I would almost argue that studying for the bar is fun—it’s like going to work every day, learning something new, and returning home in the evening to relax.  I took the Virginia bar exam, and there was a lot to learn, but if you stay optimistic, upbeat, and realize that passing the bar is well within your ability, there is no doubt that you will pass.  I have three primary tips that helped me get through the summer.

            First, keep a tight schedule, and stick to it.  For me, I got up at 7:00 AM every morning, and read for the day’s Barbri class.  I biked to class at 9:10, stayed until class was over, had my lunch, and then studied until 6:00.  I made flashcards because that’s how I studied throughout law school.  I exercised from 6:00-8:00 (I either went for a bike ride or played basketball), had dinner with my wife, and went to bed.   I stuck to this schedule for twelve weeks, and it worked.

            Second, treat studying like the bar as a job.  As I mentioned previously, if you stick to your schedule, you will pass.  There was absolutely no way that I was going to take this test again if I could avoid it, so I treated the summer as if my career depended on passing.  Some subjects were easier than others, and required less time for me to study.  I never blew a day off because the only person I would’ve hurt was myself.

            Third, if you need time for yourself, you should take it.  My exercise time became my reprieve—riding my bike was time for me to forget the trouble I was having with torts questions.  It helped me recharge.  I stopped studying after six because I did not want to burn out, and it helped keep me sane through twelve weeks of study.
            In closing, the Virginia Bar Exam is no joke, but if you keep to your schedule and treat studying like a job, you will pass.  
The Bar Exam is much like legal writing—all you need is a sufficient amount of repetitions.  Keep doing practice exams and questions and stay upbeat.  If you do all this, you’ll be a sworn attorney before you even know it.

Kareine D., Esq.- Passed the Massachusetts Bar Exam

I took and passed the Massachusetts Bar in July 2011. I have three basic pieces of advice I would give to anyone taking any Bar Examination anywhere in the country which I believe will be effective tools for passing your first time around.

First and most importantly, eliminate any distracting elements from your life. Whether it’s that you live in or study in an environment which is disruptive, or that there are certain people, situations, or factors in your life which are very likely to divert your attention away from putting every bit of concentration that you feel will be necessary for you to pass the exam, by two months before the Bar it’s time to get rid of as many of them as you can. In essence, place yourself in the environment you think will provide you with the ability to obtain preparation for optimum academic performance on those two or three crucial exam days.

            Secondly, practice many, many MBE questions. Sitting down and learning the law is very important, but make sure that the entire time you practice as many MBE questions as you possibly can. If you are following a Bar prep course and they are assigning a certain set of questions, do an extra 10 or 15 questions per day on top of those assigned. More particularly, when classes end try to increase the number of MBE questions you do per day. I can’t stress this point enough. Practice, practice, practice those questions, and you will not only get a feel for the law, but you will also improve your speed as well as get to know the different types of questions which will be on the test. Repetition is critical here. 

            Thirdly, know your distinctions and practice writing out pieces of essays. Although you need to make sure that you write entire essays so that you can work on timing, also work on issue spotting and tackling different issues within the various subjects for your state. Also, be sure to know the distinctions in your state from the MBE subjects. This is something that many states like to test, and distinctions are very likely to come up in the state portion of your exam. Have a game plan for analyzing and redacting as many issues as you can within the most-likely subjects to be tested.

            Be prepared to study more than you’ve ever studied in your life. Also, determine where your strengths and weaknesses are early on, and focus on addressing your weaknesses as quickly as possible. Persevere through and don’t give up in that moment (or those moments) during Bar Prep where you feel that preparation for this exam is extremely overwhelming—and believe me, it will happen at some point. Give preparation for this exam all that you can. 

Best of luck!
Stay Inspired....

1 comment:

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