Advice and Commentary
Here are three pieces of valuable advice--one for each stage of the process--application, studying, and taking the actual bar exam:
- Application: Complete it early! To the bar examiners, a deadline is a deadline. Don't risk being late, or you might not be able to take the exam when you wanted to take it. Some states have multiple deadlines, with higher and higher fees as time goes on. A few other states expect students to register with the state bar in their first or second year of law school. Those who don't register in time end up paying a higher fee to take that state's exam. (States with law student registration of some kind include Alabama, California, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Texas.) Don't end up spending more money than you have to. As soon as you know what state's bar you will likely take, find out when the application (for registration and/or to take the exam) is available. As soon as it is, start in on it.
- Studying: If at all possible, obtain past essay questions (and, if applicable, performance tests) and administer them to yourself under test-taking conditions. Commercial courses will flood students with practice MBE questions, and, to be sure, taking lots of practice MBE questions is very important. However, most comprehensive courses don't offer students enough opportunities to take practice essay questions. In those courses that do, students tend not to take enough advantage of the opportunities. Try also to take practice essay questions before you start your commercial course; even if you don't have an area of law being tested fresh in your mind, you can still gain valuable familiarity with the style, format and other attributes of your state's questions. If your state administers performance tests, which require no recall of law at all, definitely take some practice performance tests before you begin your commercial course. You'll find that you're too busy with MBE preparation once you start the course.
- Taking the Exam: Eliminate as many non-exam stressors from your life as you possibly can for the days of the exam, and don't talk to anyone about the questions during the breaks
Advice and additional information regarding individual states' bar exams is posted as available in the State-by-State Review section.