Friday, February 13, 2015

How to Maximize Your Home Stretch of Studying

Well, it's that time of year again. With the February 2015 bar exam a little less than two weeks away, I encourage you to keep a few pointers in mind. These tips should help to maximize your home stretch of studying.

Review Smart 

If you’re comfortable with all of the major issues for each subject, then move onto the details. If you’re still trying to nail down all of the major issues, focus on them—and forget the details.

Think small at this point. Ditch the big outlines and books. Rifle through your index cards instead, three or four subjects per day. A week from now, all of your cards should be second nature to you.

Do 25 MBE practice questions per day—but review every explanation! If you don't review the answer explanations, don't bother doing any practice questions. Waste of time. Also, although this priority is secondary, try to complete two run throughs of the short answer questions before the exam.

Do 7-10 practice essays per day. If you went through Barbri’s Virginia Essay book cover to cover, switch over to William & Mary’s collection of previous Virginia Bar Exams. Do the four or five preceding bar exams. The VBBE love to recycle previous essays. If bar examinees bombed a particular essay on the previous exam, don’t be surprised if you see the same or similar issue on the forthcoming exam. The VBBE test on what they think is important.

Please note that when you read through previous bar exams on the William & Mary website, you will recognize that you read the same essays in Barbri’s book. Re-read them anyway, as it is good practice. Also, some of William & Mary’s model answers will be different from Barbri’s model answers. That’s fine, too. Some essays will have several acceptable answers. The point is, just do as many essays as possible. You want to be in essay-mode from this point forward.

Recharge Your Body

You can’t afford to get strung out or sick now. Now is the time to begin physically preparing for your exam days. Get sufficient rest (minimum 7 hours per night, preferably 8 hours), eat healthy foods and drink lots of fluids. Your body needs to be physically prepared for two grueling exam days.

Recharge Your Brain and Psyche

Avoid emotional meltdowns. Avoid crying in a stupor about your preparation or progress, or lack thereof. At this point, those issues cannot be completely addressed. Also, avoid crying in a stupor about the bar exam, which lies dead ahead. Fretting over it won’t make it come sooner and go away or get any easier. What is the best defense against emotional meltdowns? Confidence and effective studying, in that order. Which leads me to the next point. . . .

Keep Up Your Confidence

This one’s crucial! You have to keep your head up. You must be confident in your abilities, even if you don’t quite feel that way. The bar exam beats you by finding your weaknesses and exploiting them. Don’t let that happen. Build an impenetrable wall around yourself. When you feel an urge of anxiety or fear rushing upon you, reject it with a pep talk.

Again, I cannot stress confidence enough. No matter how well you know the law, if you walk into the bar exam feeling under-confident, chances are you’re not going to pass. Keep calm and hold fast. You can do it!

You’re on the Home Stretch

You’re almost there! Take a minute to appreciate just how much effort you gave this winter, how you put your mind to it, how badly you wanted this, and just how much law you now know. Honestly, you know more law right now than you might ever know in your entire career. That’s impressive!

In short, you’re rounding the turn for the final 100 meters. Don’t let up know, finish strong, but finish smart. Don’t be a dummy in these last two weeks. They can make or break you. GOOD LUCK!

1 comment:

  1. I currently have a friend filling out a bar examination application. I know how hard she has had to study all three years, because I rarely can see my best friend anymore. Looking at just the practice review study idea of writing 7-10 essays a day to prepare for the exam blows my mind. Also I know how important it is for her to be reminded to take care of her body and to avoid emotional meltdowns. Seeing everything firsthand the whole time I definitely agree that taking care of yourself is one of the biggest things you can do when studying for the bar. family law attorney