Friday, July 20, 2012

The Final Few Days.....

A common question I receive from my students is how they should spend the final few days before the exam. I have worked with enough students to know that there simply is not one answer that applies to all students. But I can say with confidence that for the most part, I advise the following:

At this point, your goal of learning new law by reading lengthy subject matter outlines should be coming to a close. There is law to be learned in the final few days, but learning that law should be a by-product of practicing MBE questions, and reading over essays released by your state, rather than a direct result of reading through outlines. I don't deny that it's difficult to put down the outlines. Nobody feels as though they've sufficiently covered all the law so that there is nothing else to be learned. That's the nature of the bar exam. There comes a point at which you have to be confident in the work you've put in over the last few months, and decide that rather than attempting to stuff your head with new knowledge, you will focus on solidifying the knowledge already learned by memorizing as much as you can, and applying the knowledge you've already learned to the types of questions you are most likely going to see on the exam. As such, your goals over the final few days should be memorizing, and practicing.

In regards to memorizing, hopefully you have concise outlines available for the subjects tested on the exam. In reading them over the next few days, your goal should not be learning new content or trying to figure out legal concepts that are causing you difficulty. That is far too time consuming, when every hour counts. Rather, you should be memorizing the black letter law so that you can state the rules on your essays, and not get tripped up on MBE questions that are testing fine distinctions.

Don't let up over the final few days. Try to get through at least 75-100 MBE questions every day up until your final day of studying, and read through as many released essays as time permits. You will end up learning some new law, and it will all be very fresh in your mind next week.

As to when to close the book (so to speak) on studying completely, again, that's a personal decision. Many choose not to study the day before the exam, or perhaps do some light reviewing. Others prefer to sprint to the finish line, putting in a full day of heavy studying the day before the exam. Do what will make you feel most confident going into the exam. That last day probably won't make or break you, anyway. But psychologically, you want to end on a note that resonates well with you.

Don't study the morning of the exam, though. At that point it's game time, and preparation should be a thing of the past.



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