Two Weeks to Go — Stay Engaged!

Two weeks from today, right now, you will have finished your first morning of the bar exam! And if you are taking the bar in Georgia, you will be eating the lunch that Emory Law provides at the bar exam site, with your classmates and a number of law school faculty and staff who will come to cheer you on.

But between then and now, you have thirteen days of study left. Remember that marathoners often say that it’s the last leg of the race that is the hardest, and studying for the bar is no exception. You may feel burned out by now, or at least disengaged. That is normal but — like a marathoner — you have to push through the fatigue and keep doing your best until you cross that finish line. Here are some suggestions that may help, based on good advice from Prof. Steven Foster:

  1. Take a break this weekend, at least a half-day completely off from bar study.  You need to take it so that your brain can digest all the studying you’ve been doing and catch up.
  2. Remember to study without distractions, and choose to do practice questions ahead of passively watching more video lectures or reading more outlines. “Multi-tasking” is a cruel myth when it comes to studying intensively and effectively — it doesn’t work. Put your phone on “do not disturb”, silence notifications on your laptop, shut yourself off from social media for prescribed periods of time, using an app like RescueTime or something similar. When you study, focus only on studying.
  3. Take a short, ten-minute study break every 45 minutes to an hour. Doing one thing for too long gets boring and retention decreases.  Get up, stretch, move around. When you resume studying, switch between study methods and/or subjects. The change will help your brain keep learning and retaining information. Use active study methods, such as handwriting your own flashcards and then using them, maybe even out loud.
  4. In these last weeks, focus on memorizing the law and practicing questions.  You will review each subject 2-3 times in the last couple of weeks before the exam.  Test your recollection of as much black-letter law as possible (flashcards or MBE practice questions), study to fill gaps in your memory, and then do practice essay questions, writing out some full answers. You can also do “half-practice” essay questions, i.e. practice your active reading skills on long essay questions and outline what your answer would be, even if you don’t write out a full answer for all questions.  You should do the same exercise as practice on some MPT questions. Keep drilling yourself with practice MBE questions to increase your score between now and the exam.  You want to peak on exam day, so continue to push improvement right up to the exam day.
  5. Last call to establish good sleep habits! If you have been staying up late to study, and getting up late in the morning, STOP! You will take this exam in the morning. You need to train your brain to be alert and ready to get to work in the morning by the same time you will start the bar exam. Start going to bed earlier and getting up at the same time you will have to get up on actual exam days, allowing for 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
  6. Finally, remember that you can do this! The bar exam is hard, but you have an Emory JD, which is a huge accomplishment.  Tell yourself every morning, “I will pass the bar in 2 weeks!”

If you own the book “Pass the Bar!” by Riebe and Schwartz, look at their “action checklist” for this stage of bar preparation; it has excellent suggestions too. Stay engaged — you’re almost there!

Checklist For The Next Five Weeks

Here is a basic checklist you can use to assess your progress to date and make any necessary adjustments to your bar study routine. The bar exam starts five weeks from today. You still have time for self-assessment, feedback on practice questions, and adjustments to your study plan to keep your chances of passing first time as high as possible! Make the most of it!

  1. Review the bar study schedule you put in place at the start of your review course. Are you able to stick to it and stay on track? Does it include enough time for review AND doing practice questions? If not, consider revising it.
  2. Start shifting time from reading material to answering practice questions, both MBE and essays. Do what your course recommends for MPT questions.
  3. Acclimate yourself to the bar exam’s schedule by getting up and studying at the time of day when you will take the exam.
  4. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep and managing wellness/stress by eating right, taking reasonable study breaks and getting some exercise, even if just a 30-minute daily walk. Mens sana in corpore sano.
  5. Identify areas of strength and weakness among subjects, using all the tools your course provides. Target your weaker subject areas with more review and practice questions. Don’t avoid doing questions in your weaker subjects, that’s where you need the most practice.
  6. Increase the number of practice questions you do daily, with the goal of having done at least 2000 MBE practice questions and 5 or more released essay questions from the jurisdiction where you will take the bar, in addition to essay and MPT questions offered by your course, by the date of the bar exam.
  7. Check directions, instructions, technology and logistics for the bar exam site where you will be tested. Remember that in Georgia, Emory Law provides lunch on both days for all bar-takers at the GICC. Check especially to understand what you can and cannot take into the bar exam; enforcement is very strict and every year, there are examinees who are not allowed to take the bar or are disqualified because they overlooked instructions.
  8. If you will use a laptop, check now to make sure it is up to date and in top working order, with no viruses or bootleg software that could cause problems during the bar exam. Make sure it will get charged and stay charged during the exam and be sure to bring all necessary/allowed items such as chargers.
  9. Keep calm and carry on!

Deadline for Georgia’s SEPARATE BAR EXAM APPLICATION is June 1

From the Georgia Office of Bar Admissions website:

In order to sit for the Georgia Bar Examination, you must submit a Bar Examination Application to the Board of Bar Examiners. All Bar Examination Applications must be submitted online and the appropriate filing fees must be received in the Office of Bar Admissions before 4:00 p.m. on the posted Bar Examination Application Filing Deadline. ALL POSTED TIMES ARE EASTERN TIME. U.S. Postal Service postmarking by the posted deadline IS NOT accepted as timely receipt. In order to apply for the Bar Examination you must first log in to the Office of Bar Admissions website at www.gabaradmissions.org. If you have not previously done so, you should click on the Register link at the top of the page and provide the requested information. You should log in to your User Home Page, click on Application Forms tab, then click on Apply under the Bar Exam Application heading. You should answer the six (6) Exam Eligibility questions and click Submit. Your eligibility request will be forwarded to the Office of Bar Admissions. Within 2 business days, a staff member will review your request and you will receive an email with instructions on how to complete the Bar Examination Application process and pay the appropriate filing fee. Keep in mind that you WILL NOT be considered registered for the Bar Exam until you complete all of the steps outlined in the instructions that will be emailed to you.

You can still file that application between June 2 and July 1 but you will pay a large late filing fee. Remember, this is separate from and in addition to your application to be certified through the Character and Fitness process. When you received that certification, you should have gotten instructions about the next step, to apply to take the actual examination, which is described above.

Important Bar Exam Information Session, February 29

Three bar officials (and Emory Law alumni) will go over the logistics of the bar exam, and Essay I from the July 2015 Georgia bar exam, with all graduating students who plan to take any bar exam, on Monday, February 29, from 12:15 to 1:45 p.m., in Room 1E. Lunch will be provided. The information is relevant to success on bar examinations generally, so students should attend even if they plan to take the bar in a state other than Georgia.

Essays and sample answers from July 2015 are at Georgia Bar Exam Essays and MPT Questions and Answers. Students should review Essay I in advance, to be familiar with the question and sample answers, so the bar examiners’ explanations will be more meaningful.

Students should also read the following on the Georgia Bar website (scroll down to find them):

Message on Preparing for the Georgia Bar Exam
Tips for Taking the Georgia Bar Examination
How I Successfully Prepared for the Bar Exam

Welcome to Emory Law Bar Readiness

Passing the bar exam after you graduate is more than a rite of passage. It is the final challenge before you can do what you came to law school for: to practice law. Bar readiness begins long before you graduate or take a bar review course. Each semester that you spend in law school teaches you more of the vocabulary, the analytical writing and critical reading skills, the persistence and the doctrinal law you need to achieve success on a bar exam. Bar review courses are just that: a concentrated review of material you have seen before, with intensive coaching on the strategies you need to succeed on these high-stakes, standardized tests and essays.

This blog will help you explore the ways that you can make yourself ready to pass the bar before and during your final semesters of law school. It’s in your hands!