Bar Exam Study 101: Study Tips for Passing the Bar

By Gabriella Khorasanee, JD on November 25, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

If you took the bar exam this past summer, then you have probably found out if you passed the bar exam. And, while others are jumping for joy, there are invariably some, who are not celebrating. It's time to break old study habits and change the game plan, because clearly (and I don't mean to be harsh), the current strategy did not work.

So, here are five tried and true tips that worked for me (ahem, I passed the bar in three states first time around). Sure, everyone is different, but I truly believe anyone can pass the bar exam. It's all in the approach ...

1. It's Your Life

The bar exam, that is. For 1-2 months leading up to the exam, you should be breathing, eating and sleeping the bar exam. While you may not have the luxury of a work-less summer to study, all of that studying you did the first time around has provided a foundation for you. Any minute you are not at work, you should be studying. Tell your family and friends that you will see them after the exam. Period. No exceptions.

2. Take a Class

"But, I took a class and that didn't work." Fine. Take another one. Every company that provides bar exam study classes has different methods. Maybe the class you took didn't work for you, and maybe another class will.

3. Take Exams

A lot of them. The best way to learn how to pass the bar exam is by practicing -- with exams. Make sure you time yourself and limit distractions. Try to recreate exam conditions to best prepare yourself for the real deal. The last 2-3 weeks of preparation should be devoted solely to taking old exams. You should aim to take part one in the morning, and part two in the afternoon (just like the actual exam). The time in between should be left for reviewing your answers.

4. Review All Answers

Even, for the questions you got correct. Why? Because the bar exam is a giant mind f$#k and each question has two correct answers, one happens to be more correct. The only way you will master finding the more correct answer is by reading the explanations for each question. If you take one tip away from this post, let it be this one.

5. Stay Healthy

This is common sense but you are a studying machine and you need to be nice to your body. This is not the time to start some crazy diet or exercise routine. Eat healthy, if you exercise, continue to do so, and most importantly -- get enough sleep. The days of all-nighters are over. You may have thought you were functioning at optimum levels when you stumbled into your college exams hung over, but that's not the case anymore. Welcome to adulthood.

It's easy to get discouraged when you don't pass the bar exam on the first try. Take the time you need to deal with it, and then move on. Don't dwell on the past exam, but start building a plan for passing the next one. Remember the late JFK Jr. took the NY bar multiple times before passing -- you are not alone. And now, you have the benefit of having been through it before so you know exactly what to expect, and what areas to work on. Good luck the next time around!

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