Early Bar Prep: What 3L’s Should Do Before Study Begins

Early bar prep will allow you to study effectively and efficiently when it comes time for the dreaded months of bar exam studying. Follow the tips below to make the most out of your time leading up to the bar exam, and help make studying (a little) less painful.

Sign up for the bar exam

If you haven’t already, register for the bar exam! Some jurisdictions have very specific deadlines and registration requirements, so review your jurisdiction’s requirements and register ASAP. There are quite a few steps to registration, and testing locations can fill up, so don’t delay.

If you’re still not sure when you’re going to take the bar exam, decide now. If you are having trouble choosing when to take the exam, talk to the academic counselors at your law school. While the majority of law students take the bar right after they graduate, your circumstances may differ so be sure to choose the exam administration that’s right for you.

Decide on your bar prep plan

Once you’ve decided when you’re going to test, choose how you’re going to prepare for—and pass!—the bar exam. Most students choose a bar prep course so they get a structured bar study schedule, lectures, and study materials in one fell swoop.

The bar exam is a long, complex exam that determines when you can start practicing law and earning a living. Be sure to weigh your study options accordingly!

Find early bar prep materials

If you choose to take a bar prep course, your whole study plan will be laid out for you. If you’re going to try and self-study for the bar, make sure to find and follow a solid daily study plan of your own.

No matter which option you choose, you should start reviewing substantive law during your final semester of law school. This doesn’t mean you should dive head first into hours and hours of memorization—I would definitely not advise that. Instead, take advantage of your time now to simply start refreshing yourself on the core legal topics that will be tested (and that you probably haven’t seen since your 1L year).

There are many ways to start reviewing the substantive law that will be tested on the bar exam. Some law schools will offer review courses with your 1L professors—definitely take advantage of any of these refresher courses. If your law school doesn’t offer these classes, then start reviewing on your own using bar prep materials.

One final note: Do not use your 1L outlines to study! While the bar exam is difficult, it likely won’t test a lot of the areas you were tested on during your first year exams. Only study the materials that will be tested on the bar exam. Your time is precious—use it wisely!

Relax

Finally, the most important part of your early bar prep is going to be finding a way to relax and recharge. If you can, try to take a week off after you graduate before you start studying for the bar exam. Your stress levels are going to be high and everyone around you is going to be freaking out about the bar, so this won’t be an easy task.

However, only by adequately recharging can you ensure you are ready for weeks and weeks of intense studying. Remember, you just finished an intensive three years of school—you need a little break to make sure you only have to study for the bar one time. Finding a way to relax now will be essential to managing your stress while studying for the bar exam.

Early Bar Prep: Takeaway

Be sure to make the most of the months leading up to your bar studying. Even if you’re finishing your last semester of law school, take some time to get everything lined up to pass the bar exam—including some much needed rest time. By adequately preparing ahead of time, you’ll get the most out of your months of studying. And even though this is going to be challenging, remember: if you do this right, this will likely be the last exam you ever have to take!

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