Planning to Take a Bar Exam? Remember Fall Deadlines!

If you plan to take a bar exam the summer after you graduate, there may be a number of important deadlines you must meet in this fall semester, depending on each state. For instance, in Georgia, graduating students are supposed to complete their Character and Fitness paperwork and applications by early December. The specific date of that deadline varies from year to year, so you must check here: Georgia Fitness Application Deadlines.

The National Conference of Bar Examiners publishes a digest of all the states’ different bar admissions and exam requirements, updated annually: Comprehensive Guide to Bar Admissions Requirements. As they note on their webpage: “The information in this publication is correct as submitted to NCBE by contributing jurisdictions at the time of publication. It should be used only as a general guide. Since jurisdiction rules and policies change, NCBE strongly advises consulting the jurisdiction’s bar admission agency directly for the most current information.” Always double-check bar-related information directly with your bar state’s admissions office, through their website.

Most states require that you take the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE). That is offered nationally three times a year, in November, March, and August. The National Conference of Bar Examiners writes and oversees that exam too, and provides much information here: MPRE.

Now is a really good time to enter all the upcoming deadlines and dates into your calendar or planner, to make sure you stay on top of them. Bar admissions offices are very strict about their deadlines, so you don’t want to miss them!

Information session with bar officials TOMORROW, 9/6/17

If you will graduate this year and expect to take the bar exam in Georgia, come learn about the “character and fitness” application process directly from the Director of Admissions for the State Bar of Georgia, Mr. John Sammon. He and other bar staff will explain the process, which you do for Georgia in your fall semester and submit by the start of December. The information is generally relevant to most states’ character and fitness processes, so come even if you plan to sit for the bar in another state. The program starts at 12:15 pm in Rm. 1E; pizza and soft drinks will be served and you are welcome to bring your own lunch too if you wish.

Bar Readiness Starts NOW

This post is meant for those of you who will graduate in the coming academic year (2017-18) and plan to take a bar exam. Many, but not all, of you are 2Ls going into your 3L year; some of you are LLM students.

As I wrote this last week, most of your friends and colleagues in the Class of 2017 were just finishing up their bar exams, finding out whether they were as ready as they had hoped and planned and worked to be. Sooner than you think, that will be you! Now is a great time for you to start thinking ahead to what you can do over the coming academic year to maximize your probability of success when you take a bar exam for the first time.

The book I highly recommend you buy and start reading NOW for overall bar readiness is “Pass The Bar!” by Denise Riebe and Michael Hunter Schwartz. One of its first chapters is a set of “Action Plan Checklists” that begin 6-12 months before your post-graduation commercial bar review course starts. That window of time is now. Since many of you will file “character and fitness” applications to bar authorities this fall (they are due by early December in Georgia for those who will take the Georgia bar in July 2018), this is a great time to start getting familiar with the requirements for the jurisdiction where you will take the bar. More than half of all states now administer the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE), but each state still has its own requirements and deadlines. Save yourself some stress and start getting to know them now. You may need to gather your own records to answer the detailed character and fitness questionnaires, so getting an early start on that is also helpful.

We will be doing a series of programs to support and inform you all year as you get closer to the bar exam. The first is usually the annual September visit of the Director of Bar Admissions for Georgia, who will explain the character and fitness process and answer questions in person. In the meantime, I hope you will read through the information here: http://law.emory.edu/academics/academic-engagement/index.html (scroll down to see Bar Readiness).

Enjoy the rest of your summer! We look forward to seeing you back here later this month.

Alert re Windows 10 Creator on the Bar Exam; Other Restrictions

If you plan to use a PC running Microsoft when you take the bar exam, there is important information about the recent update to Windows 10 Creator. IT IS NOT CURRENTLY SUPPORTED BY THE EXAMSOFT SOFTWARE you will use on the bar exam and does not meet ExamSoft’s minimum system requirements for the Georgia bar exam. Other states may have a different position on it. From the ExamSoft website  for the Georgia bar exam, together with other reminders:

IMPORTANT

    • Windows Devices such as Surface Pro, IPAD, and any other Tablet Devices ARE NOT ALLOWED. 
    • Microsoft Windows 10 Creator does not meet ExamSoft’s minimum system requirements and is not supported by ExamSoft.  DO NOT upgrade to Windows 10 Creator if you intend to use your laptop for the Bar Examination.
  • MacBook Pro with Touch Bar computers ARE NOT ALLOWED. 
  • External keyboards (wired or wireless), Mouse devices (wired or wireless), USB keys, CDs, or any other storage devices ARE NOT ALLOWED.

Bar officials in Georgia may require you to handwrite the bar exam if you bring a laptop with Windows 10 Creator on it, so please take care of this ahead of time. If you will take the bar exam in another state, check directly with that state for their instructions for laptop use.

Please make sure to check back on your state’s bar examination website and the appropriate ExamSoft website for any updated information, such as the Georgia Bar webpage on laptop use  and minimum system requirements.  And while you are on your bar’s website, make sure to review ALL rules, restrictions and requirements. If you breach one of those, even accidentally, you risk not being allowed to sit for the exam. That problem is easy to avoid if you double-check the requirements!

Countdown Game Plan for the Bar!

The end is in sight! Most of you are done with your course lectures by now and are working on completing assignments, reviewing, etc. This week, the Law School Academic Support blog posted this helpful advice for the last two weeks of bar preparation: A Game Plan: Last Minute Bar Preparation.

The book “Pass The Bar!” also has a great checklist for these last two weeks, on page 14. We will put copies of that page outside the Office of Academic Engagement and Student Success offices, with the other handouts, so you can help yourselves.

It can be hard to stay motivated and focused now, and you’re probably tired, so just stick to a daily schedule and take good care of yourselves. When you walk into that exam, you want to know that you’ve done everything you could to succeed — that will give you a great sense of prepared confidence, and that too will help you. If you’re taking the Georgia bar in Atlanta, we’ll see you there when we offer you lunch on both days of the exam.

Good luck on the MPRE this Saturday!

If you are taking the MPRE on Saturday, March 18, we wish you the best of luck and success! Please note: you CAN take the Georgia bar exam before you take the MPRE but you MUST take the MPRE and achieve the cut-off score on that, in addition to passing the bar exam, before you will be admitted to practice in Georgia. After this Saturday’s administration (for which all registration deadlines have passed), the next MPRE administration will be on Saturday, August 12, 2017. The regular registration deadline for that is June 22; the late registration deadline, which doubles the fee, is June 29.

The August MPRE is the last date that will likely allow you to receive those results by the end of October, when you should also get your results from the actual bar exam. If you plan to be sworn in to the Georgia bar this fall, and you have not yet taken the MPRE or achieved the required score, make sure you know those dates and register in time for August.

If you don’t have it already, now is a great time to buy yourself a copy of “Pass The Bar!” by Riebe and Schwartz, so you can refer to their terrific action plan checklists for readiness before you start your commercial bar review course.

What You Can Do Over Spring Break …

to keep getting ready for the July bar exam. If you have the book “Pass the Bar!”, which I highly recommend, it has action checklists, including one for 4-6 months before your commercial bar review course starts. If you haven’t done the things on that checklist yet, spring break is a good time to catch up! If you haven’t decided where to take the bar, consider taking it in a UBE state, as those scores are portable. Both New York and DC are now UBE states, although Georgia is not. It is most important by now to have signed up for a course and started doing any preliminary work they offer. Most commercial courses will also let you switch between states where they offer a course, so ask about that.

Have a great spring break!

What I Did During Winter Vacation — To Get Ready For the Bar

Dear graduating students: I like the sound of that, don’t you? I hope you are all enjoying a well-earned break and the holidays! One thing you can do over the winter break that will relieve stress for you when you return is to start your personal “bar readiness” planning.
If you haven’t yet signed up for a bar review course, you should do that ASAP. A great guide to choosing which course, and getting ready generally, is “Pass the Bar!”, by Riebe and Schwartz; they have created helpful “action checklists” and the first one is relevant right now, as it suggests actions to take 6-12 months before your commercial bar review course starts. If you are unsure about which state to choose because of job uncertainty and therefore delayed choosing a course and getting ready, I advise choosing a UBE jurisdiction. The Uniform Bar Examination is now required in more than half of all US jurisdictions, including two of our top four job markets, DC and New York, and the score is portable. You can find out more about that and the subjects tested at www.ncbex.org. If you commit to a course soon, you can start using review and practice materials now, before time pressure kicks in. Check with the course provider to make sure you can switch to a different state course if you need to.
If you haven’t yet subscribed to this blog, Emory Law Bar Readiness, I encourage you to do that now. We will be doing a lot of bar readiness programs for you in the spring semester, including MBE diagnostic exams, MBE Overview sessions, etc. Watch for details here, as well as in On The Docket as soon as you return in January. Please don’t be swayed by lawyer friends who took the bar more than a couple of years ago! Many will tell you that you don’t need to work that hard. The MBE has gotten harder and has added topics since most current lawyers took the bar exam. It has been changed in some ways that I think are unpredictable; the only safe way to give yourself the best chance to pass first time is to over-study and start early.
Enjoy your break — and give yourself a break, by thinking about the bar now instead of later!

Deadline For Regular Registration for November MPRE is 9/15

If you are planning to take the MPRE in November 2016 (it is offered three times/year), the deadline for regular registration is this Thursday, September 15. Detailed information about how and when to register, fees, deadlines, etc. is on the National Conference of Bar Examiners website. From that website:

The Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) is a two-hour, 60-question multiple-choice examination developed by NCBE that is administered three times per year. It is required for admission to the bars of all but three U.S. jurisdictions (Maryland, Wisconsin, and Puerto Rico). (In addition, Connecticut and New Jersey accept successful completion of a law school course on professional responsibility in lieu of a passing score on the MPRE.) Because MPRE requirements vary from one jurisdiction to another, examinees are advised to check with the bar admission agency in the jurisdiction to which they seek admission before registering for the MPRE. Passing scores are established by each jurisdiction.

Remember that from now on, you will have various deadlines and requirements to meet for purposes of registering for, preparing for and taking a bar exam. It is your responsibility to research and keep up with those requirements, including by getting information directly from official sources. The only authoritative official source of information about the bar exam and bar admission in a given jurisdiction is that jurisdiction’s own Office of Bar Admissions or Board of Examiners website. Please make sure to bookmark the one for the state where you plan to take a bar exam, create an online account if that is available, and check both regularly. If you’re taking the November MPRE, good luck!

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!