Saturday, January 22, 2011

Know the Black Letter Law and Test Your Way to Success on the Bar Exam

In addition to putting in the study time, you need to learn how to maximize your study time. How do you go about getting the biggest bang out of your study time?

First, build a good, solid foundation of the black letter law. In order to have a good foundation, you must review each bar exam subject. Go through each subject, one by one and absorb each subject as best you can. As you go through the subject, make sure you understand the basic law before you move on.

To build a foundation of the law, you need to break the subject areas into more manageable components. Break your subject into topics. And go through the elements of the topics of each subject.

What I mean by that is to take a subject, like Torts. Then break the Tort subject down to topics, i.e. Negligence. Do you know all the elements of negligence? Do you know the elements of battery? You can outline it and/or make sure you know it by heart before you move on. You can do that memorization by reciting it or writing it down without looking at your notes or outlines.

Once you feel you know that topic, do a few essay questions and some MBE on that topic just so you know you have it.

Don’t scatter-shoot your studying. Learn the topic thoroughly before you move on to your next topic in the subject area. Don’t go through the topics of the subject areas all at once, i.e. don’t go through battery, assault, false imprisonment and not know each one by heart. Stop at battery, recite it, do some MBE and then move to assault, and false imprisonment and the other topics of Torts. Do this for every topic in every subject. You do not want to read your subject outlines like a novel.

Read, learn, recite, memorize, test yourself and move on.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The First Week of January – Do You Know Where Your Bar Exam Books Are?

It’s time for you to start studying for the February Bar Exam now. There are 7 weeks left to the start of the bar. In 7 weeks you will be sitting for the first day of the bar exam – and, as you know, the first day is the state portion of the bar which consists of essays, short answers, multiple choice or performance tests.
In order to pass the bar, you need two things: time-management and discipline. Sticking to a study plan will conquer both requirements. Thorough preparation is the key to passing the exam and having a plan in place will allow you to manage your time and using your discipline to stick to the study schedule. For a plan to work, you have to address your learning style as well as the substantive areas you will be tested on.

What do I mean by learning style? Ask yourself, how do you learn? What worked for you in law school? Some people like reading outlines, some like to do practice questions and then read the answer explanations, some like to do their own outlines, or make up flashcards. You should know the answer to this question by now. How do you best learn or memorize the substantive law? Also, ask yourself, when do you best learn? Know all of that before you write your study plan.

For your study plan, you should first start with relearning and reviewing the outlines with some practice questions thrown in and as you pick up the pace, you’ll reverse it and do more practice questions and essays and only use your outlines for clarification on questions you get wrong or confused about.

In the beginning, you are going to struggle with the voluminous materials, but keep at it and keep pushing the pace. It’s like training for a race. You first have to struggle through the repetition until it starts feeling right and you start performing at your optimal level.

Be realistic with your goals and your study habits. For example, you can’t go throughout the entire day with no lunch or no exercise or no breaks because you were unrealistic in the time aspect of your plan. You have to write a study plan that suits you and your personality without slacking off.

Don’t ignore your weak areas or your strong areas. You may not need to schedule as much time in your stronger subjects, but review them as consistently as you do all the other subjects. You may not need to read or reread the outlines of your strong subjects, but during those time periods, practice your questions. You may need those extra points on the bar. For your weaker subjects, don’t spend too much time obsessing on your lack of knowledge or take away from other subjects you also need to study; and do not ignore your weak subjects. All bar examinees have weak subjects. Again, spend time on those subjects as you would other subjects and just keep practicing. You’ll be surprised at how much you really do know in those weak subjects.

Where should you study? Make sure wherever you go that it is quiet. Turn off the phone, the text messaging, and the internet. This is too important for you and your career to be easily distracted. Let’s face it – none of us what to spend the next 7 weeks in constant study – it’s torture. Just remember this is your career you are talking about. You sacrificed to go to law school, you can sacrifice for the next 7 weeks and you’ll be a lawyer for the rest of your career.

If this is your second or multiple time taking the bar, get a bar tutor now. Don’t fool around hoping you’ll do better the next time. Hire a bar tutor and pass the bar.

Please note that BarProfessors provides private tutorial for the Florida, California, Texas and New York February 2011 bar exams. Please go to or send an e-mail to