How To Approach Your Bar Review Course


Forget the people who use bar review class time to socialize or surf the web. Maybe they know the material already and maybe they are on law review and can afford to do this. Or maybe they just don't care. It doesn't matter. They have their strategy. You use yours. Stick to it.

Pay close attention in bar class and take notes according to their system. Barbri has you fill out key words and sentences, other courses dictacte all of the rules to you. Pay close attention to the lectures and take good notes because those will be your study base. Not those giant books bar review give you. There isn't enough time to do much more than crack them open. Stick to the stuff covered in lecture. You'll stay saner that way.

Don't Get Bogged Down

I found that bar review courses are extremely clear and straightforward in the way they present information. You will likely understand most of it and whatever you don't understand, feel free to ask questions from the bar course staff attorneys or look it up in the bar course text books. If you don't understand it the first day you hear it, get it resolved THAT DAY. Don't wait weeks to clear up your questions. Once you get it, make a note to review it again when you review your notes over. But once you have it - move on. Don't get bogged down.

This isn't law school. Don't get caught up in the finer points. You just need to hammer this stuff in so that you can take the test. As long as you have an understanding sufficient to successfully answer multiple choice questions or write a good essay - that's what you need.

Always Review Your Notes

Always, always re-read or otherwise review your class notes the day you took them (it should not take more than an hour). Review all your week's notes again on weekends. Save your regular days for going to class and doing practice questions.

Stick to a schedule

Know what you are doing each day and what material you will cover each day. If you need to modify your approach or your schedule, do so, but don't keep changing your strategy too much. It's not necessary to follow Barbri's schedule to the letter - in fact it is far too much. Customize it to your needs. For the bar exam, practice is supreme. If you are confused as to what to cut out of their overstuffed schedule - cut out the reading assignments (such as reading the Conviser for the next day). If there is still too much, cut out reducing your notes. That helps some people, but if you are a very slow studier (as I was) that is not always the best way to spend your time.

Practice Questions are Supreme

When your bar course assigns an essay or practice questions - DO THEM. If you have a block of time you don't know what to do with - or if like me you are confused or overwhelmed as to how to use non-class time - use it to practice the assigned questions. Very, very mindfully. Do it with your notes (or Conviser) open at first if you have to. If you do multiple choice questions - check and carefully review every single answer whether you got it right or wrong. Make some sort of study document from the rules in the essays or multiple choice that you didn't know. Make that study document short. One rule per question or per essay paragraph. By the end of each day, you should have a list of rules you learned that day, including that day's lecture notes. Re read them or quiz yourself on them daily.

Have a base from which to memorize

As you proceed, see if you can make a very short study document for every subject (maybe an outline of a max of 5-7 pages or maybe about 50-75 flashcards covering the most basic rules of law). If this takes you too much time (it did for me), buy one from any former bar review student on Ebay or find one online and use them to follow along as you study. This is an important step because you need a base from which to memorize the most important law and it is too much to try to memorize every single note you took in lecture.

By the end, you should have quite a pile of lecture notes and practice question notes or flashcards. But you should also have that reduced study document. The basic rules of law on that document are what you have to master before you walk into that exam. Barbri's schedule tells you to take the last couple of weeks to memorize law. This is where you memorize that shortened document, be it outline, pile of flashcards, mind map, reduced Barbri notes, or whatever. Test yourself and retest yourself. Do a few practice questions and a practice essay each day. Check your answers and see where your weak points are.

Work it until you finish it

Just because you are done with bar classes: DO NOT SLACK OFF. This was my biggest mistake and my biggest regret about my first time taking the exam. In fact this should be your most intense time studying. This is when you are in dress rehearsal mode. You should be memorizing and practicing during the hours you will be taking the exam (9-5 or so). You are off limits to the world while you do. Then, break for the evening and cool down.

Don't make yourself crazy. Stay away from people who stress you or who try to psych you out somehow. Now is not the time to be polite to people who don't deserve it. Just do what you have to do and keep doing it until you get to the exam, then release it all into God's hands.

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