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How to study for the bar exam

Here are some tricks to hack your brain to get it to help you pass the bar exam. This same technique works on other types of tests too, but this is how I studied for the bar exam several years ago and it worked very well for me. I wish I knew about these studying and test-taking techniques. before starting law school.

  1. Buy outlines and practice tests for the bar exam in your jurisdiction, usually available on Craigslist.
  2. Enter the outlines into Anki – powerful, intelligent flashcards.
  3. Study the black-letter law using Anki. It will make sure you spend your time studying what you need to study.
  4. Take practice tests.

How to take practice tests

  1. Calculate how long you can spend on each question to finish the exam in 1/4 of the allotted time. For example, if you have 50 questions to complete in one hour, then you have 15 min/50 questions or .3 minutes (about 20 seconds) to complete each question.
  2. Take the exam using only the allotted time you calculated on each question by skimming the questions first, then reading the prompt, then picking the best answer (MBE) or writing down a brief summary of the issues and law (essay).
  3. Repeat step 2 but at a comfortable pace. If multiple choice, make a note of each question where you are still not sure of the answer and leave a little time at the end to go back a third time.
  4. Repeat step 2 a third time if necessary, but only for those questions you made a note of as unsure.
  5. Repeat 1–4 but slow down your first pass a little to see if that works better for you. In general, you should not spend more than half of your time on the first pass – understanding that the purpose of the first pass is not to get all the questions right, but to make the second pass easier.

How to take the real test

Take the real exam the way you learned works the best for you when taking the practice exams.

Why this works

  1. Your brain will keep processing questions in the background while you are working on the following questions. You want to give your brain the best chance to find the answer while you are still in the exam room instead of giving it to you after you get outside.
  2. It ensures that you have something down for each question. Every blank answer is an unnecessary lost opportunity for points.

Good luck!

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