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Bar Prep - What to do in Last Two+ Weeks

Posted: Thu Feb 08, 2018 4:53 pm
by bvest
Okay gang, you're 2.5 weeks out. No matter what state you're sitting in, in just 3 weeks, you'll have taken the bar. Odds are that you'll pass, but you may not. That's not the end of the world either; plenty of smart and prepared people have failed the bar, and often they can point to one or two things -- not watching the clock and therefore not finishing their MPT/MBE/essays; totally blanking on _______; not studying the non-MBE subjects well enough; etc.

In studying, you know by now where you're in good shape and you know what you still have to work on. This thread is not (entirely) about that. This is about the other shit you need to do between now and then.


(1) Go the fuck to sleep. No more studying until 3 AM, even if you feel like you're more productive at that time. Guess what time the bar examiners don't let you take the exam: 3 AM. So if you're still sleepy at 6:30 or 7 AM when you need to be getting out of bed on test days, you're going to have trouble focusing. Start fixing your schedule now.

(2) Review your strongpoints. Look, of course you still need to learn all of family law or trust law or whatever other subject hasn't clicked or you've been putting off, but don't forget to do some mixed MBE sets that cover all subjects every now and then to keep your strong subjects fresh. For strong essay subjects, read some old/sample questions and spend 5-10 minutes outlining your answer, even if only in your head. And maybe do one timed MPT to make sure you've got your timing down.

(3) Review how to answer question. Obviously, you know how to answer an MBE question, but look at some of your recent practice essay answers. Are you following the proper CRAC/CIRAC form that you want to be following, or has your technique slacked off a bit lately. Exam graders are reading a lot of essays and they want to see that you've coherently answered the question asked; unlike law school exams, they don't want to wade through your outline dump about the question that wasn't asked to find the answer they're looking for. Likewise, review various past MPT sample answers to see how to format/organize different types of tasks.

(4) Don't leave points on the table. You may be ignoring some small state section or the MPT entirely because it's only 10% or 20% of the exam. That's a mistake. 10% is equal to 2 or 3 essay questions. It's equal to 1.5 to 2 entire MBE subjects. My math may be off slightly, but you get the point. You wouldn't say "Well, I don't need to study Torts and Crim Law, because that's only 10%."

(5) Know how to BS an essay. You may already know how to do this, or you may have found that you have time to muddle through. You won't have time to muddle through on the bar exam, and wasting too much time on a question you don't know the answer to is bar exam death; you don't get many points for all the time you spend on it, and you take away time from questions where you could be getting good points. So have a plan going in. Here was my plan for BSing bar exam essays:
If a question on the exam is outside your ken, well that's the luck of the draw, but a lot of people are in the same boat you are so just take 5-10 seconds to relax and not panic, make up the law, and answer the question using that.

How to make up the law: (1) Decide what the fairest result would be. (2) Make up a general rule that sounds good. If your general rule would result in the case coming out in favor of your pre-determined fairest result (3a) make up an exception to the general rule that will not be applicable in this case. If your general rule would prevent your fairest result, (3b) make up an exception to the general rule that applies to these facts. (4) State and apply your made up law and exception to the case in proper CRAC/CIRAC form.

Being cool and calm about making up the law is critical. There will be at least one question where you have no clue. Maybe more. You're not alone. Whatever you do, don't spend more time on that question than the exam has allotted. That is, if you're taking the MEE, don't spend more than 30 minutes on a question you don't actually know the answer to and are just BSing. That takes away time you could be spending on questions you DO know the answer to, and even though BSing will get you points, you're going to get a lot more points answering the questions you do know than you are answering the questions you don't


(1) Plan your meals. Don't waste any brain power during the week of the exam trying to decide what to eat. Decide now what you're going to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus snacks, on exam days and be sure you have it in your house/apartment/hotel. And make your breakfast and lunch the night before each day.

(2) Plan your attire. I'm serious. Set your clothes out in two stacks (or three if you're in a three-day state) so that you can just go to the Tuesday stack that morning without any thought whatsoever.

(3) Plan your day. Make a separate list of all the things you need to take with you for each day. This includes your test supplies (pencils/pens), laptop, admission ticket, ID, and food. Put each list under that day's pile of clothes, so when you get fully dressed your list is staring back at you.

(4) Plan your route. This consists of two things: (i) follow the route to the exam location at any point in the day (but preferably early morning); and (ii) look up the route on google maps putting in your desired arrival time so you have some sense of how long the route will take during morning traffic.

(5) Schedule your sleep. Work backwards from what time you have to wake up to get to the exam center in a timely fashion. Allow no less than 7-8 hours in bed, so even if you have a hard time falling asleep you should get a decent rest. At this point rest has a much higher marginal value than additional studying. If this means you have to be in bed by 11, then go to bed at 11.


(1) Aim to Arrive 30-45 Minutes Early. This gives you cushion, but doesn’t get you there too ridiculously early. This may vary, so if there are folks on this forum (or elsewhere) who have taken an exam at your site before, you might try to find out what time they arrived and if they thought it was enough time or too much.

(2) Watch the Clock. You don’t get points for questions you never get to, so have a plan to pace yourself. Personally, when the essays started, I went through the question book and marked on each page the time by which I should be moving on to the next question, and I never let myself get more than 5 minutes past that. That way, every question I touched got at least 25 minutes and most got 30 or a hint more. For the MBE on my scratch paper, I wrote down the 45 minute marks with 50/100/150/finished beside them so that I could tell if I was falling behind. For the MPT, I used the 45 minute mark for my “start writing now” point.

(3) Don't Panic. Panic is counterproductive. Yeah, I know "That's easy to say but not to do." But if you plan how to deal with panic, then you just go to your plan -- Even if you're completely stumped, just remember your BSing plan, then start typing something that makes sense to you and move on. And always watch the clock.[/quote]

(4) Decompress and Follow Your Sleep Schedule. It's okay to study some during the week of the exam, but be sure to take some at least an hour or two after a day's testing to decompress before you start studying and be sure to stick to your sleep schedule.

Good Luck!

P.S. Past bar takers feel free to chime in with your suggestions as well.

Re: Bar Prep - What to do in Last Two+ Weeks

Posted: Thu Feb 08, 2018 5:29 pm
by notlegaladvice
Excellent post. I will emphasize/add a few things:

1. If you've been neglecting the MPT, now is the time to lean into it. If you are in a UBE jurisdiction, plan to take at least 2 or 3 practice MPTs before test day, preferably with at least one back-to-back (2x MPT) session. Set a day, wake up, go to your study space, and commit to taking the timed MPT(s). Especially for the UBE, the MPT can easily be the difference between passing and failing.

2. Don't forget to give yourself time to recharge. It's easy to get in the "cramming" mindset and think that you have to study 24/7. As bvest mentioned above, this is hugely counterproductive. Watch a 20-30 minute episode of something while you eat lunch (Parks & Rec was great for this). Take mini-breaks in between practice problem sets. Get fresh air and walk around. I bought a lavender roll-on fragrance (Whole Foods has a really nice one; the CVS one was not so great, imo) that helped me relax in the evening and when I got stressed during the day.

3. If you are a retaker: you are NOT taking the same exam that you took before. It's the same format, yes, but it is a DIFFERENT TEST. The essays will be different; the multiple choice questions will be different; the MPTs will be different. You have never failed this test, and it is yours to conquer.

Re: Bar Prep - What to do in Last Two+ Weeks

Posted: Tue Feb 20, 2018 1:29 pm
by bvest
Bumping for the final week.

Re: Bar Prep - What to do in Last Two+ Weeks

Posted: Fri Jul 12, 2019 10:30 am
by bvest

Re: Bar Prep - What to do in Last Two+ Weeks

Posted: Mon Aug 17, 2020 10:02 pm
by bvest
Bump for September examinees.