Bar Readiness; Or, What I Did Over My Winter Break

Dear Class of 2020: Congratulations on finishing the fall semester! As you look ahead to the rest of your time here, you will have much to celebrate even before graduation. Don’t forget to use this time also to make sure you are ready to make the most out of your commercial bar review course after graduation. There is much you can and should do NOW to improve your bar readiness and your chances of first-time success on the bar exam in July!

First, check to make sure you are aware and on top of all bar-related deadlines and requirements for the bar exam in the state where you plan to take it.  Each state has its own rules and processes, even if they use some of the same tests, and the state bar admissions offices put the burden on you to know, understand, and follow their particular requirements. A good place to start is www.ncbex.org, the website of the National Conference of Bar Examiners, but always check directly on the state bar’s own website in case of any changes. You will also find on the state bar’s website information about the subjects that state can test, what kind of performance test it may give, whether there is an additional component that you take separately from the bar exam (e.g., the MPRE, or the online New York law course), and even past essay questions and sample answers. If you plan to seek exam accommodations, start that process now, it can take a long time.

Second, I highly recommend the book “Pass The Bar!” by Riebe and Schwartz. Although it was published before a few changes in the MBE, so you have to update the information about what subjects are tested and how many questions are experimental, for instance, it remains the best comprehensive guide and planning tool I have found, including especially its “Action Plan Checklists.” Also, subscribe to or come back to check out our blog, “Emory Law Bar Readiness” (link is on the Office of Academic Engagement pages on the law school website, www.law.emory.edu); it contains a lot of useful information as well as links to additional resources.

Third, now is the time to confirm your choice of a commercial bar review course, if you haven’t done that already. You should have that in place by the end of your fall semester. This will allow you to start getting familiar with the course materials and figuring out where your individual weaknesses might be, with plenty of time to remedy any gaps in your recall or understanding of bar-tested subjects. You can add bar-tested subjects to your schedule during the drop/add period in the first week of classes in January, if you think that’s necessary.

Fourth, start NOW to plan ahead for your post-graduation study period. Assess your own readiness in a systematic way, and plan to take the MBE diagnostic tests and overview workshops we will offer in the spring semester.  Assess candidly whether you have any particular risk factors (a chart of risks and how to remedy them is available outside the Office of Academic Engagement). Plan how you will use the time between now and July to address those. Make a plan to handle your time, finances, and other needs during the bar study period (May through end of July).

We look forward to working with you on your readiness to take and conquer the bar exam next summer! Best wishes for your holiday season – Dean Brokaw

Leave a Comment