Aisha, you just passed the bar exam, what are you going to do now?? SLEEP! And sleep I did, quite well these past few glorious post-bar-exam-result days. Now that I have celebrated as properly as one could given the circumstances its time for me to share what I learned from my experience. This advice is of course just my own personal point of view and what I did may not work for you. I just remember doing a lot of googling for blogs on bar exam advice and so I thought it would be nice to add another to the pool. I hope this is of some use.
BarBri: I used BarBri as my bar prep course. They help you prep for the state portion and the national portion (the multiple choice MBE). BarBri is pretty good, you take their classes and fill in their pre-prepared lecture notes. They provide good outlines for all the essential bar exam topics. If you didn’t take a particular course in law school, the BarBri outlines will cover all you need. At one point in the class you take a full length practice MBE and they give you your ranking as compared to other BarBri students nationwide. BarBri helped me stick to a schedule and I felt comfortable that I learned all the topics covered on the exam. That being said, BarBri is very expensive. If you’re going into the private sector your employer may offer to pay for it but if you’re a public interest route person like me then… not so much. I was not going to take BarBri because of the high cost (my year it was about $2200) but I caved in. I know people who used old Barbri books passed the exam and saved a pretty penny as well. So it can be done… butI wanted peace of mind and I am glad I took BarBri.
PMBR: PMBR helps you with the national MBE portion. Though BarBri preps you for it too, the books for PMBR are a lot more intense. The questions are much more difficult and the sheer number of practice questions is staggering. They offer two separate lecture style classes: A six day course where you take a sample exam on one topic and then review it for three hours each day. They also offer a three day course where they give you a full length practice exam designed to test you with all the hardest questions and then review them with you. In my opinion the books are awesome but their lectures not so much. If I were you, I would skip the six day lectures but make sure I got the books that they give out at the six day lecture. The three day lecture is somewhat useful and under $200. My one caveat is that on the 2007 MBE however was that it was nothing at all like the PMBR sample questions and that threw me off quite a bit, but still it helped to have studied their questions.
Study Schedule: Some say you should study 12 hours a day. Some say make it a work week. I didn’t keep a strict schedule like others had but I did study 40 hours a week. I also made sure to do one 50 question MBE practice exam every day. With studying for the bar exam study like you did in law school and that method will prove to remain successful for you. You took the same courses as the majority of other bar exam takers and so the difference between your knowledge and your seat mates is not going to be significant. Therefore the real difference is the confidence levels and thus the ability to perform better. In my opinion if you study like you always have you will be fine. ***Caveat: I have heard the bar exam in California is atrocious with an abysmal pass rate… they have great blogs out there for California bar exam takers such as here. Perhaps extra study there would not hurt***
An answer to a frequently asked Question: Should I take X class because it will be on the bar exam? My opinion: If you take BarBri: No. BarBri will dumb down all you learned in law school and give you the black letter law and how the bar examiners want to see it. The only two classes in my opinion that would help to take for purposes of the bar exam are: Con Law II and Criminal Procedure. I say those two because the concepts can be a tad complicated so background knowledge in those might be helpful.
When you sit down to study for the bar you will have just graduated law school. You will be tired and burnt out and the last thing you want to do after GRADUATING is STUDY. Just remember it will soon be over and that you will see the light at the end of the long long six week tunnel.