If you plan to take the Georgia bar exam in the summer of 2022, you must prepare now to file your application for Certification of Fitness. That is always due at the start of December, though the actual date can vary so make sure you confirm it on the official website of the Office of Bar Admissions.
The Director of Bar Admissions visited Emory Law this past week, as that office does every fall, to explain the process. You will find his presentation on Canvas, on The Fourth Floor, under Bar Readiness. Please review it carefully and follow up by reading the more detailed information on the Office of Bar Admissions website!
Reminder: if you plan to take the Georgia bar exam in July 2022, make sure to attend today’s annual session for Emory Law students with the Director of Bar Admissions for Georgia, John Earles, who will explain the character and fitness process. He’ll be back in the spring for the annual visit to talk about the bar exam itself, but before you can take the bar exam in Georgia (and a number of other states), you have to clear character and fitness. Rm. 1C, 12:15 pm.
If you haven’t yet reviewed these requirements and the process, we recommend you do that before today’s meeting if possible: Certification of Fitness. Although every state bar jurisdiction has its own rules and deadlines, the presentation will be useful even if you plan to take the bar in a state other than Georgia, to get a feel for what kind of information character and fitness committees are seeking and how they respond to it.
The AccessLex Institute has announced that its new, at-cost bar review course, Helix, which was developed over the last few years, will launch in October 2021. In the meantime, there are several free Helix webinars about various aspects of the bar exam, including the Uniform Bar Exam and its three components: the Multistate Bar Exam, the Multistate Performance Test, and the Multistate Essay Exam. For details, go here: Helix Bar Review Webinars.
Helix will also offer a free MPRE course, beginning in October 2021.
Well, it’s finally here. Tomorrow, thousands of law graduates around the USA will sit for the first day of the bar exam. You’ve prepared for this for months, if not years (counting your entire law school education). You’re ready!
Now is the time to do your final non-academic readiness check. Do you have all your materials and equipment ready and in good working order? If you will take a remote exam at home, have you prepared your test space in compliance with your jurisdiction’s instructions? If you will take the exam elsewhere, have you planned your route, parking, meals and snacks? Do you have a mask, if required by your test location or your own health? If you will be allowed any materials for some parts of the bar, have you checked those specific instructions and organized your allowed materials? Will you be able to get access to them easily when appropriate, and put them away when required? Have you set your alarm to wake you up in plenty of time each morning?
Aside from logistics, here are some day-before tips adapted from Profs. Riebe and Schwartz:
1. Get plenty of sleep the night before each day of the bar exam. A well-rested brain will help you in the inevitable situation where you encounter something unfamiliar on the bar; you’ll still be able to make an intelligent guess, or craft a coherent analysis, even if you don’t know or remember much about a particular topic. If eatings carbs at night helps you sleep, consider doing that. Avoid alcohol.
2. Stay focused, persistent, and resilient. Use your healthy stress management strategies. If talking to friends or family members causes you stress right now, ask them to give you some space and reconnect after the last day of the exam.
3. Turn off text and social media notifications on your phone, and avoid social media this week.
4. Carefully review all instructions from your jurisdiction, including any published on the website of your bar admissions office and all emails from your jurisdiction.
5. On the day of the exam, If taking the bar outside your home, arrive early. It’s better to wait and have plenty of time to settle in than to rush in at the last minute.
6. Remind yourself to use your time wisely during exam sessions.
7. Make yourself forget each question after you finish each answer; every question and every exam session are fresh opportunities to do well.
8. Avoid talking with other bar-takers about the exam, or comparing notes, after each session ends. It won’t help you, and it might sap your confidence during the exam — even if it turns out your answers were right and someone else’s were wrong.
9. Remember that you CAN pass the bar exam!
We wish you all the best of luck tomorrow and on Wednesday!
Bar studiers, as you know, the bar exam starts two weeks from today. A recent research report from AccessLex confirms some of the advice you’ve been hearing for a while now, so here’s a summary. To maximize your odds of passing the bar on your first attempt, try these in these last two weeks.
Sleep about 8 hours/night. The bar exam requires endurance and persistence, which are fatiguing. Your brain is part of your body — treat them both well so they can both support your success! Adequate nightly sleep in the next two weeks is essential. Taper back your caffeine intake so you can sleep soundly on a regular schedule.
Put in full study days, up to 10 hours daily (now including on weekends), taking 30 minute breaks between study sessions of at least two hours. Breaks allow your brain to process what you’ve been learning or fine-tuning, as well as to switch between subjects in ways that support learning and retention. Getting some exercise during one of your breaks will also help!
Study in the morning for 3-4 hours (not counting breaks). In the research study, bar-takers who studied in the morning had significantly higher odds of bar success. This may be because they have “trained their brains” to be alert and focused on bar topics and questions at the time of day when they will actually take the exam. If you haven’t done this yet, now is a good time to shift your sleep and study schedule so you are getting up at the same time every day when you’ll have to get up for the actual exam, and studying during the same hours when you will take it. If you’ve been working, now is the time to cut back on work and focus on bar readiness. Ask your employer to give you this week and the next off so you can study in this final stretch, during normal work hours.
Take more practice exams under test conditions, both timed and sitting still in a specific location. Endurance matters when you take the bar exam — both mental and physical. You’ll want to practice answering every kind of question (MBE, essay, MPT) under the same time and space restrictions you’ll have on the real bar exam. Emory Law grads this year have access to the full set of practice materials from the National Conference of Bar Examiners, including several practice MBE exams that provide explanations once you finish the full simulations. Practicing with real, released MBE questions from NCBE is the best preparation at this stage. Not all bar courses provide those, so make sure you practice with questions made available by NCBE, and thoroughly assess your own performance so you can keep improving.
Practice actually writing and producing the kind of written work product on essays and the MPT that bar examiners expect to see. Attention to instructions and details matters a lot and can affect your grade — both are entirely within your control. Use a clear format like IRAC for essays, and closely follow the instructions for content and format on the MPT questions. Review released MPT questions and point sheets.
Eat nutritious food and stay hydrated. Again, your brain is part of your body, and both need good nutrition for peak performance! They also need hydration and it’s easy to forget that in the heat of summer and the final days of bar study. Staying hydrated is known to actually improve academic performance, so why not give yourself that edge?
You’ve come a long way since May! By now, if you’ve been working steadily, actively, and constructively, you should feel very confident that the work you have done will serve you well during the real bar exam. That confidence will give you a boost too!
I attended a conference this week on bar success, and some research presented showed that bar studiers who consistently did 80% or more of their bar course’s assignments, week-by-week, dramatically improved their odds of passing the bar exam on their first attempt. They did better than the bar studiers who had completed 80% or more by the time of the bar exam but had not done so consistently over the weeks. Slow and steady wins the race!
So here we are: six weeks from today, the July bar exam will be over. Your goal between now and then should be to make sure you are completing, every week, at least 80% of your weekly assignments from your bar course. To do that, if you have to choose among bar course assignments, ALWAYS choose the most active option, which in most cases means doing practice questions. Watching videos is more passive and it’s easy to lose focus on them. So while they’re helpful, all the research shows that doing as many practice questions as possible, including practice essays and MPT questions, is by far the most productive use of your time. This is especially true if you work up to doing them under timed conditions.
Bar studiers who didn’t do any timed practice questions in this study failed the bar at a much higher rate than those who did timed practice. This is totally within your control! You can ease into it by doing essays with open notes, but holding yourself to 50% more time than your bar will allow per essay. See what you’re able to produce. Compare your work product to the model answer, and review any gaps in your knowledge. Next time you do a practice essay in the same subject area, do it in the same time you will get on the actual bar exam, still with open notes. Review any gaps. Finally, start doing closed-book practice essays and comparing your answers to the model answers. Keep reviewing any gaps in your knowledge while you also practice your timing.
What if you feel as if you’re already behind the 80% or more target? Prof. Melissa Hale suggests aiming to do 80% or more of your weekly assignments from NOW forward, taking this approach:
First, stop thinking of it as “catching up” and realize that it’s about making progress. … It wasn’t just 80% that did the trick, but rather a CONSTANT 80% over the weeks. So, no cramming at the end! But don’t give yourself the pressure of “catching up “ – work forward and do what you can!
Second, prioritize practice. Practice essays. Practice MBE. Practice MPT. Make sure you are doing something active. Yes, you need to learn the law – so videos, and taking notes, IS important – but you should really make active practice your number 1 priority. This means making perfect flashcards, or outlines, or “reviewing” pre-made outlines over and over again, are not as effective as writing essays. I even suggest that you write some essays as open note, because THAT is active review. You can also turn multiple choice questions into “mini essays” by taking off the answer choices, and writing a paragraph long “essay.” Do this with open notes and it will help you remember the law, work on your essay skills, AND help you with multiple choice questions in general. So, even though they aren’t “assigned”, they are a great way to review law in an active way.
Now is also a good time to make sure you are training your brain to be alert and in top form during the hours when you will actually take the bar exam. This means getting up daily at the time when you will get up on bar exam days, and starting your active study at the same time you will take the exam. You can see the daily schedule for the two days of the Georgia Bar Exam here, and time your daily study sessions accordingly: July 2021 Georgia Bar Exam Schedule. For more information about the July 2021 bar exam in Georgia, go here: July 2021 Georgia Bar Exam FAQs.
If you’ve just graduated from Emory Law, congratulations! Most of you will have started your commercial bar review course by now. For some years, young alumni of Emory Law have volunteered to be “bar mentors” for individual new graduates of Emory Law who are studying for a July bar exam. Each graduate who wants a mentor is matched as closely as possible with a young alum (most have graduated in the preceding ten years) in terms of the state bar jurisdiction and House. The mentors are asked to stay in weekly contact with their mentees, to offer proven guidance at various stages of bar study, meet for coffee if feasible and if both parties want to do so, and generally be a sympathetic and knowledgeable resource for this year’s bar studiers.
Sign-ups for Emory Law’s Class of 2021 to request a bar mentor opened a week ago and are open through this Friday, 5/28. More details are on this flyer:
… for bar readiness, I suggest you do the shortest one I’ve described to you in recent emails: the new Kaplan self-assessment/diagnostic tool. Other than that, if you are able to take at least part of this week off for some rest and relaxation, I hope you will!
Look in your Emory inbox for an email with the subject line “Welcome to Kaptest.com!”; if you don’t see it, please check your spam folder. The diagnostic is open for a total of two weeks, which started on May 7 for May 2021 graduates (see earlier emails) if you graduated this month. For rising 2Ls and continuing LLM students, access to the diagnostic opened today and is open through May 31. It will take a total of three hours, but you can use the pause feature to break it into shorter chunks. All Emory Law students who complete the diagnostic within those time frames will be entered into a drawing for prizes from the Office of Academic Engagement & Student Success!
Prizes include sets of Critical Pass MBE flashcards, copies of “Pass The Bar!” by Riebe and Schwartz, and Starbucks gift cards. The biggest prize, however, is the ability to improve your own chances of passing the bar exam on your first try by using this and all other self-assessment and improvement resources available to you.
Remember that all graduating JD and LLM students also now have access to the full suite of review materials and diagnostic tests from the National Conference of Bar Examiners; see prior communications for specifics on logging in.
You still have access this summer, using your Emory email address, to the West Academic Assessment review materials that cover bar-tested subjects. Instructions for using those are on Canvas, on The Fourth Floor page.
Congratulations on making it to the end of this semester and this challenging academic year!
If you plan to take the Georgia bar exam in July 2021 and you believe you qualify for ADA-related test accommodations, you must apply separately for those by May 1, 2021. Information and application forms are here: Georgia Office of Bar Admissions ADA Testing Accommodations. You should contact that office directly with any questions.
If you will graduate this May (2021), you have probably been planning your summer of bar study since last summer, or at least last fall. However, please make sure you are doing or have done all the paperwork related to actually signing up for the bar exam. State jurisdictions have different deadlines and requirements. For example in Georgia, you must clear the character and fitness review before you can apply to take the exam itself, it’s a two-step process. Once you get that certification, you file your application to take the exam, starting in early April. In New York, you are reviewed for character and fitness for admission to the bar after you take and pass the exam and meet New York’s other requirements.
Many state deadlines to sign up for the bar exam range from the spring to the summer; a few have rolling late deadlines with increasing late fees, until the final late deadline is reached. Make sure you know the deadlines for your bar jurisdiction! NCBE publishes this helpful chart of states and deadlines in its annual Comprehensive Guide to State Bar Requirements.
If you don’t yet know where you will be working after graduation, i.e. a specific employer, don’t let that stop you or delay you from signing up for a bar exam — you can and should sign up to take it in a Uniform Bar Exam (“UBE”) jurisdiction and earn a transferable score, unless you are sure you will be in a specific non-UBE state for reasons other than a particular job (for instance, your family or your partner’s job is located here in Georgia). If you are sure of your future location, regardless of employer, sign up for that state’s bar. It is simpler to find a job after graduation if you have already taken and passed a bar exam, even if you end up seeking employment in a different jurisdiction.