Tuesday, May 20, 2008
And For Those Of You Taking The New York Bar Exam...
Here are some tips based on my experience last year.
1. Focus on the MBE. It's much easier to get a high score on the the MBE then on the NY essays. It's only 6 subjects vs. the twentysomething on the essays. Every day do 35 questions and review the answers.
2. Don't outline. This isn't law school. The BAR/BRI lectures are already in outline form. Re-outlining them is a waste of time. Instead, get old outlines from the prior year, and just keep reading them over and over again.
3. Don't bother with the practice essays. You don't really "know" the material until the last two weeks. There's no point in writing practice essays when you can't answer the questions properly. Instead, review questions, try to spot the issues, then look at the answers. You'll learn the law a lot better that way.
4. Follow the Paced Program, but modify it to suit your needs. Remember, BAR/BRI is designed for the guy who finished last in his class at CUNY Law School. You're smarter than that. You don't need to spend 3 hours reviewing that day's lecture. You don't need to ever prepare for the next day's class.
5. Attend the lectures. You're paying for them, you might as well use them. It's an easy way to study 3 hours each day.
6. Stop studying at least 2 hours before you go to sleep. I have awful study habits, so I spread out my studying throughout the entire day. I could never study for any extended period of time. Ideally, you should treat studying like a job- 9:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M. of real studying, then take the evening off.
7. Don't talk to your friends about their study habits. Remember, some of your friends are crazy, and it's only going to freak you out when they say that they are studying 14 hours a day.
The dirty little secret is that the whole thing is overrated. You may have to know a ton of material, but you only have to know it on the most superficial level. It's not that hard. Of course, you're only going to realize this after you pass. But try to keep that mind over the next two months.
The bar exam (as much as I was nervous at the time) is overrated.
The MBE is more important. I would recommend the 3 day PMBRE - not so much for the class, but for the books. Their MBE questions are closer than Bar-Bri's to the actual questions on the Bar.
As for studying, I started a little later (around June 24 - but I did go to every Bar-Bri class and take notes). I think the Paced program is overkill. I did not look at an essay question until 3 days before the exam.
One side point - I don't understand why some people do not also sit for New Jersey. It is easy, it is literally a couple of more hours of studying - after the multi-state day. The pressure feels off - because NY is so much harder and I know at least a dozen people who initially said they would never need it - but ended up later working across the river and sitting for a Bar under more difficult circumstances. I recommend to anyone sitting for NY to also sit for NJ. It is simply short-sighted not to.
I also recommend taking NJ- I only studied an extra 15 minutes for it. The exam is a joke. I finished with over an hour left on the clock. Problem is ICLE. What a pain.
Usually you can find someone with the homework from a previous year.
I actually studied for about 20 minutes before falling asleep on the NJ Civil Procedure.