Law Bar Exam: 5 Tips for Test Success

The law bar exam is a dreaded part of becoming a lawyer—there’s just no way around that. But don’t despair! Once you’re done reading these five tips for success, you’ll be ready to crush the bar exam. And after a few more months of studying, you’ll be done with studying forever. Doesn’t that sound nice? Let’s go.

Set your study schedule and stick to it.

Let’s talk about the best way to study for the bar exam. Your study schedule is crucial to passing the law bar exam. You will need to set aside at least two months—maybe three if your state administers one of the harder bar exams. During these months of studying, you should be prepared to study for 8-10 hours a day, 6 days a week. This means that if you have children, or pets, or other obligations, you’ll need to ask for help during these months. Figure out now how you are doing to handle the hours and hours of dedicated study time the bar exam requires.

Let’s look at the second part of this tip for success—sticking to a study schedule. Life happens. You may get sick or a best friend may decide to get married. And while you’ll want to be a little flexible when studying for the bar, please don’t try to study for the law bar exam while you have the flu. Stressed out bar exam preppers do not respond well to someone sneezing during a bar review class. On the flip side, stick to your study schedule as best you can. An invite to the pool? That’ll have to wait. There’s not a day to lose when you are studying for the bar exam.

And a quick note—do not try to study for the bar in one month or study while working. You’ve spent three years studying law to become a lawyer. Do you really think you can learn all of the bar exam topics in one month? Don’t end up having to take the bar exam again. Block off 8-10 weeks of full days to study and you’ll only have to take the bar once.

Choose your study aids early.

You need to decide well in advance of your studying for the bar exam exactly how and with what materials you will use to study.  Find it easy to motivate yourself and stay on task? A self-study method make work perfectly for you. However, if you get distracted easily or prefer studying with others, you may want to sign up for a course.

Either way, be sure to decide months in advance how you will best study for and pass the bar exam.

Study hard and smart.

You should be familiar with this concept from law school, but it bears repeating. Don’t just study hard, study smart as well.

So what exactly does this mean for the bar exam? When you’re fresh, focus on those topics that you don’t know as well or didn’t quite understand during law school and save the topics you know well for the end of your study days when you’re tired. It may be tempting to allocate the same amount of time across all the topics, but you need to pinpoint early which topics you need to spend more time on.

You may know your strengths and weaknesses ahead of time, or you may not know until after you take a practice exam. Either way, recognize the topics that you want to spend more time on early and adjust your study schedule accordingly. And remember, no matter how hard a topic seems, everyone has easier and harder subjects. Just stay the course, study hard, and you’ll be just fine.

Stay calm.

Maintaining a sense of calm is critical not only to studying for the bar exam, but also, to the days you’ll spend taking the bar exam. You have to plan ahead to minimize your bar exam stress.

For the months spent studying for the bar exam, balance will be crucial. You still need to exercise, eat well, and sleep during these months. You should still plan fun things and plan on seeing friends and family during this time. Remember that recharging allows your brain to process everything you’ve asked it to learn in a day and be fresh for another day of intense studying.

For the days of the bar exam, staying calm will be critical. You’ll be in a room with hundreds of other stressed test takers trying to remember materials from months of studying and apply what you can remember to different fact scenarios. That is a very stressful situation. So, you need to prepare ahead of time for what that’s going to feel like. Use visualization, like Olympic athletes do, to picture yourself doing well in the stressful situation. Then, on the day of the bar exam, you’ll be relaxed and calm and ready to conquer the bar.

Be prepared for the day of the law bar exam.

You don’t want to let your months of studying go to waste just because you’re unprepared for the logistics of the bar exam. Plan ahead of time how you are going to get to the bar exam—and plan down to the last detail.

Where will you park? What will you eat for lunch? Have all of these details worked out ahead of time, so on the day of the bar exam you can focus on the task at hand. And while others are driving around looking for parking, you can get comfortably settled into your seat and ready to rock the bar exam.


While the law bar exam is a much-feared part of becoming a lawyer, being prepared will allow you to pass the bar exam like so many have done before you. Remember to choose your study materials and set your study schedule well in advance of the bar exam. Once you’re studying, study in the most effective way for you based on your years of studying. And finally, work on staying calm under pressure and think about all the bar exam day logistics ahead of time.

Now that you’ve got a solid plan to conquer the bar exam, check out our Bar Test 101 to learn everything you need to get started studying.

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