The bar exam is just around the corner! Here are some last-minute bar exam tips to help you. We’ve divided them up into last-minute essay tips, last-minute tips for the multiple choice section, and general tips.
Last Minute Bar Exam Tips for Essays:
Here are some last-minute tips for getting the most points on the essay portion of the bar exam:
- Spell it out for the grader. For example, on a Criminal Procedure question, don’t just say: “it was an impermissible search of the defendant’s car.” Instead, start by talking about the Fourth Amendment. Then talk about how it applies to searches by a government agent. Then talk about the search at hand as well as any exceptions. Doing this will help you with the next point . . .
- Write long essay answers. You cannot get points for something that is not there. Write complete answers that state the rules, apply them to the facts, and conclude. If you write a half-page answer do not expect full points.
- Use paragraph breaks and headings. Make it easy for the grader to see that you know what you are talking about. Do not write one huge long paragraph. No grader will want to filter through. Instead, make it easy for the grader to give you points.
- Underline and bold key words. Graders want it to be easy to find the rule statements, analysis, and conclusion. Bold or underline anything you know is correct. (If you are not sure you are correct, though, don’t bold anything!) This will draw attention to what you know.
- When you are done writing your essays, review the fact pattern again. It is a good idea to always look back to the fact pattern and ask yourself: “Are there any arguments the parties made that I did not address?” and “Are there any important facts in the fact pattern that I did not address?” If a party makes an argument that you did not address, address it! If there is, say, an entire paragraph that you said nothing about, go back and say something about it! This can get you a lot of points!
Here are last-minute multiple choice tips for picking the right answer:
- Stay away from “absolutes.” Statements that are too absolute (with words like “always” or “never”) are usually wrong and can be eliminated if you are unsure of the correct answer.
- If you haven’t heard of it, it is probably wrong. Answer choices that have a word or phrase you have never heard of or studied are usually wrong.
- If you get stuck between two answer choices, stop staring at the answers! Instead, go back to the fact pattern and see if there are any facts that you missed that should make the answer turn out one way or the other. Also remember that if both answer choices say basically the exact same thing, they may both be wrong.
- Fall back on common sense. If the fact pattern tells you that a restaurant fails to call 911 after someone shoots a customer, you do not have to be lawyer (or know what the word “invitee” means) to know that they probably should have done so. Common sense can be a great resource if you forget something!
General Last-Minute Bar Exam Tips:
Here are some last-minute tips for keeping your mental clarity on the bar exam day:
- Eat protein the morning of the exam. This will keep you full throughout the exam day and it will help you stay alert.
- Figure out the logistics. Figure out where you are going, how to get there, how long it will take, where you will park, etc. Leave early for the exam.
- Stay hydrated, but be careful of drinking too much the morning of the exam. Don’t drink too much water (or coffee) in the morning of the exam day. That could backfire.
- Pack early. Pack the night before to ensure you have your admissions certificate, earplugs, pens, pencils, etc and all of your materials with you before you leave to take the exam.
- Control your own stress level and practice positive visualization. Positive visualization is an important and very underrated tool that is at your disposal.
Did we miss any good last-minute bar exam tips? Please let us know in the comments below!
Ashley Heidemann scored over a 180 on the Michigan Bar Exam in February of 2011. She, as well as a team of tutors offer private one-on-one tutoring for law students and bar exam students nationwide as well as small-group courses and seminars for the Michigan bar exam For more information about her Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) or Multistate Essay Exam (MEE) tutoring services, please click here. Please click here to contact her company, with any questions or concerns.