UBE Exam Prep Tips

UBE Exam Prep Tips

So we’ve gone over study tips, both for the UBE generally and for specific portions such as the MBE and MEE. But what should you do as the actual exam approaches? Say, three days out? After the heavy studying is behind you and the test looms in the immediate future, what should you focus on? This is one of those areas that will be somewhat different for everyone, but here I’ve got a few ideas and tips for how to spend the final days and hours before exam day.

1. Review heavily condensed outlines

One tool I’ve found indispensable during my bar exam preparation, particularly in the final days, are heavily condensed outlines called one sheets or cheat sheets. These are an attempt to condense an entire testable subject into a one-to-three page outline. Some people highly recommend that you create your own. There are advantages to this, such as making sure rules or issues you have particular difficulty with are emphasized, but I don’t consider it a requirement. One method I used during my bar preparation was to print pre-prepared, commercially available cheat sheets, and then to mark them up and make them my own. I would write in distinctions that I felt were important, highlight rules that I found myself forgetting, or jot down exceptions that I wanted to make sure I remembered.

Whether you make them completely from scratch or mark up commercial outlines, these condensed tools can be a go-to resource in the final days and hours of bar preparation. They help drill-down key points and quickly refresh your memory (Ha – get it?) on rules you may not have thought about for a few weeks. Perhaps most importantly, they are manageably sized. Nothing will make panic set in like trying to review from hundreds of pages of outlines 36 hours before the UBE. Cheat sheets give you the option to continue reviewing material while avoiding that sense of insurmountable dread that can set in when staring down hundreds of pages in the final hours.

2. Don’t go at it too hard during the final hours

This can be a difficult tip to keep in mind for some people, myself included. For some folks the instinct is to cram and cram and cram until it’s time for pen to hit paper. For nearly every law school test I would wake at 5 a.m., drive to school, walk to the nearby fancy hotel with complimentary coffee and a roaring fireplace in the giant lobby, and cram for three hours before walking back and taking the exam. I’ll even confess that, by and large, I did the same thing for my bar exams. But what I also did, and what I recommend you do, is to take it a bit easier during these final hours.

Look, by now, 48 hours or less until the bar exam begins, you’ve done your time. You’ve put in the hours. You’ve studied the subjects, done the questions, and prepared hard to sharpen your legal knowledge to handle this test. Some of us lack the ability to set studying completely aside and resign ourselves to our fate, and that’s okay, but at the very least the studying needs to be at a leisurely pace in the final hours. The likelihood of finally grasping some hugely integral legal principle in the last moment is small compared to the risk of either burning yourself out, or worrying yourself for no reason. Consider taking it easy the last day or two before the exam, and if you must study, do it at a relaxed pace.

3. Get a decent night of sleep

I’m using the word “decent” on purpose! If I say “good,” there’s too much pressure to fall asleep right at 11 p.m., such that when you turn your restless head and see 1 a.m. on the nightstand clock, panic will set in and you won’t fall asleep for another three hours….I mean. Hypothetically, of course.

We both know you’ve gotten plenty accomplished on little sleep in the past, and if you don’t have the greatest night of sleep before the stressful beast that is the bar exam, you’re certainly not doomed. Still, it would be better if you try to sleep at least decently. Whatever that requires, whether it be winding down with a glass of wine and watching a favorite movie, or going on a three-mile run hours before bedtime to deplete some energy, try to set yourself up for a chance of a night of rest.

Here’s another confession I want you to think back on, particularly if you think sleep might be an issue. I’ve taken two bar exams, and I always get miserable sleep the night before the first day. I generally slept okay the second night, whether from calmed nerves or just exhaustion, but that first day I’m a walking zombie filled with caffeine and Tylenol. And you know what? I passed them both, and survived my day of bleary-eyed zombieness. Bottomline – try to get a decent bit of sleep, but don’t let the pressure be another point of stress. It will only keep you up longer.

In sum…

And those are my UBE Exam prep tips, particularly for the final hours! In sum, most of these tips point to a larger, overarching theme – manage your stress. Relaxation may not come easily, but it’s important in these last days and hours to keep a level head. You’ve studied for this. You’ve prepared for this. Is it difficult? Sure. Is it stressful? Certainly. Is it insurmountable? Absolutely not. You’ve got this.

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