The #1 thing for success with the bar exam is time management.
This is the most important thing. Time management in studying for the bar and time management when actually taking it. Also, you are not trying for an A on the bar exam. All you need to do is pass and for most states that is generally 65% of the total points offered or essentially a D grade. No one cares about your Bar Exam score when you admitted.
First, I highly recommend taking a bar exam course.
Bar exam prep courses offered you all of the relevant law needed to pass the exam. Perhaps they offer too much and Efficient Bar Prep is here to help you sort that out. This is not to say you need to pay the hundreds or thousands of dollars for a bar prep course to pass the bar exam. However, we are preach studying efficiently and simply put, a bar prep course will do that. They offer numerous essay questions, countless MBE sample questions, and a tried and true structure that you cannot generate on your own. We have seen data from various sources (that we cannot divulge but believe highly accurate) that law students who take a bar prep course have a greater percentage of success versus those students that don’t.
We recommend taking the online course of your bar exam prep course. The live version of the course is that you sit in a lecture hall or cafeteria and listen to someone speak for 3-4 hours. Granted, it is dedicated set time everyday, and a significant amount of people enjoy the structure a set time provides. However, you cannot ask questions. Your basically back in law school. You can supposedly ask questions afterwards and maybe on breaks, but this is highly unlikely. The lecturers give you their email (whether you are live or online), so if you really need to ask a question you should do it that way. But most likely you never will.
The benefits of the online course is that you get to study at on your own time and pace. But you lose that dedicated study time where you know you have to be there to study. Also, you get to run the online lecture at increased speed. Most students once they begin studying run the online program at 1.25 and sometimes even 1.5 speed. So if the lecture is 4 hours, you just saved an hour by going at 1.25 speed. Every hour you can save is so critical. You most likely will never feel that it is too fast to write notes and if you do, just simply hit pause. If you’re wondering the difference between the live and the online lecture. There is none. The online course is simply the live course recorded and put up on the website two days later. Actually there are a few lectures in the live course that you will see on a projection screen that were recorded previously. Again, back to time management, the fact you don’t have to drive to the where the live course is being presented saves you even more time.
Second, don’t fall too far behind the schedule.
Bar prep courses provide you a clear way of studying. You can always be a few days behind. But don’t get too much further than that. Let me be clear, the schedule we are talking about is the video lecture subject schedule, not the schedule that says you need to do every essay, Barbri AMP, Kaplan Essay Unlimited or multiple choice question. As Bar Exam passages rates drop, law schools are blaming students who don’t do not complete 100% of the required bar prep course schedule. This is wrong. You will burn out way too quickly by following this murderous schedule. What we teach at Efficient Bar Prep is studying efficiently, focus on where the most points are and are the most readily attainable. This is not to say you just can only do the lectures, you need to put in countless hours doing sample MBE questions, MPT practice and so much more. But the lectures and notes they provide are fundamental to refreshing what you learned in law school or even teaching you new law.
Third, the MBE and its subjects.
The MBE subjects are Contracts and Uniform Commercial Code (Article 2), Torts, Criminal Law and Procedure, Constitutional Law (Liberties/Rights and Powers), Evidence, Civil Procedure, and Property. For most states, the MBE portion of the exam represents at least 50% of your total bar exam grade. However, the MBE only accounts for 35% of California’s Bar Exam grading or 40% of Texas’s Bar Exam. Generally, states that do not use MEE exam questions provided by the NBCE will value the essay portion of the bar exam higher than states that do. Focusing on UBE states, 50% of the total exam grade comes from the MBE, but that is not the complete story. We will get into more on that later.
You need to do is practice multiple choice questions. Prepare to do 2,500 to 3,000 questions which most likely will 90 hours to complete and then an additional 40 hours to review. You need to know why you got a question wrong and often why you got a question right. You also need to learn how read and become familiar with the style and language of the MBE questions. Learn to eliminate the clearly wrong choices and then choose the best answer choice possible. EBP highly recommends taking some form of diagnostic test if offered by your bar prep company. This will tell you what you need to study and also gives you an opportunity to experience what a timed MBE session feels like.
Fourth, the MBE subjects.
We cannot overstate the importance of the MBE subjects, especially for UBE states. In our MEE predictions, we determined the July 2015 Bar Exam had 67% of its points from MBE subjects. In essence, the seven subjects of the MBE represented 70% of the total bar exam score for UBE states. Based our review of individual testing guidelines, if your state uses NCBE questions for its written exam, we can reliably state that at least 60% of your total grade will come from the seven subjects of the MBE. Combine this with acing the MPT and you are well on your way to a passing score.
Fifth, the MPT.
The MPT is used currently in 38 states. However, it is not used in some big jurisdictions such as California, Florida, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania. The points available in the MPT section of the Bar Exam we believe are the easiest to obtain but unfortunately are often overlooked by law students when preparing for the exam. The MPT represents 20% of your total score in UBE jurisdictions. Most states do have at least one MPT question. With a little preparation, the points they can often makeup any shortfall on the MBE portion of the exam. UBE jurisdictions offer 2 MPT questions over 3 hours, or 90 minutes each. You should prepare to do at least five to six MPT questions completely and review them. Most students we have observed do not do this, and it is a big mistake.
Again, the MPT is another example of why time management is so important.
YOU CANNOT GO OVER 90 MINUTES on each of these questions. Most people, who have practiced these exam questions countless times cannot finish a question in 90 minutes. You must stop yourself from going over the allowed time or you will cost yourself far more points on a subsequent essay or MPT questions over the fractional points you may gain by going over time. You do not have to know any law for the MPT. You are given a packet which contains the facts of the question, law (usually case briefs and some relevant statutes), and some type of example of the form. The MPT may ask you to write jury instructions, demand letters with supporting case law, memo of law and so forth. But the answer to the question is in the packet, you do not need to previous knowledge for it.
Our advice, as soon as you start writing your MPT answer, get the required answer form down.
An example of a previous MPT question was a demand letter. Before you did any writing of substance for this question, you should put the address of the person, the greeting, stated it was a demand letter, and then a closing. Just getting the form right is worth substantial points. You may be saying “I am a summer associate of a major law firm, I know how to write this stuff so no need to study or look at any examples in the packet.”. This is the wrong answer. Law students that have gotten 175 points on the MBE have failed the bar exam because they got zero points on the MPT when they did not follow the required form. Even if your big law format is better, you must write your answer in the form provided or you lose significant points. Also you may recognize the law being tested, maybe even the specific cases you are being asked to read. Forget that you know them. The MPT is not designed for you to know the law in the case, but how you can read law, interpret it correctly based on what is given, and put it in the format required. This is not a memory test like the rest of the bar, but a skills test of how you follow directions and interpret law to a given set of circumstances and fact.
Each MPT question has a packet of cases and laws.
They are there for a reason. You should include a reference to each brief or law at least once in your answer. The examiners grading your exam are using a checklist and failure to list a relevant case costs you a checkmark. Often people will reference the headlined case, but not the one line in the headline case referencing another case it is based on. This may not make sense until you look at a MPT, but here is an example. Let’s say you are reading the case of ABC vs ACME. You are reading the decision and the judge in the case references how this case’s logic follows the law of Marbury vs Madision. You need to reference ABC vs ACME and Marbury vs Madison in your answer. Failing to do so costs you points.
Time Management and Efficient Studying are the keys to the methods offered by EBP to help you pass the bar exam.
These five general tips should allow you to achieve bar exam success. Efficient Bar Prep will offer numerous other tips, tricks, and other forms of advice in the forum, newsletter, and Facebook page. Please check back often and we hope to see you in the forum. We will do our best to answer every question you have and to help you pass the Bar Exam. As always, Good Luck.