Passing the Bar Exam: 4 Easy Steps

Four Steps to Achieving Your Goal

You’ve survived law school and graduation is right around the corner. Soon you’ll be a juris doctor. There is one more hurdle before you can achieve the ultimate goal of putting “esquire” after your name. You must prepare for and pass the bar exam.

The bar exam is a bit intimidating. You’ve heard the myths, legends, and horror stories. You’ve seen your friends morph from confident law students into unkempt, irrational, unsure bar studiers. The bar exam does not seem like fun at all. You may not be sure you are up for it. Trust me, you are. The bar exam will not defeat you. You will take it one step at a time and you will achieve your goal of becoming a lawyer.

Step One: Break it into steps. When you first set the goal of becoming a lawyer you knew there were smaller goals you had to achieve: First you had to graduate high school and be accepted into college. Next you had to earn good grades in college and get a strong LSAT score in order to be accepted into law school. Now you are facing the final goal of passing the bar exam. The distance between where you are now and where you want to be probably seems very far. This is why you need to take steps towards the goal. Studying for the bar exam has been analogized to running a marathon. Just as you wouldn’t attempt to run 26.2 miles on day one, you don’t tackle the bar exam all at once. Identify the steps you need to take in order to pass the exam. Sometimes the steps will be too big but that doesn’t mean you quit. It means that you break it down a bit more. Some days you might not feel like you’ve moved forward at all but looking back over a week or month you’ll see how far you’ve progressed.

Step Two: Make a plan. Once you’ve identified the steps, you have to plan how you will do it. Identify the tools you need from the very basic “signing up for a commercial bar prep course,” to creating a detailed daily and weekly study plan. Create a plan that is comprehensive and flexible. Write it in pencil, not permanent marker. So many students have these grand plans of 12-hour study days, 7 days a week, for 10 weeks. They will complete 100% of the commercial bar prep course and be on-task all of the time. I tend to see these students about a week or two into bar prep and they are a bit of a mess because, surprise, their plan isn’t working. On paper it looked great but they forgot to account for this thing called life. Don’t be discouraged if your initial plan doesn’t work. Instead, adjust the plan and keep going.

Step Three: Do it. This seems obvious  but oftentimes people are so afraid of a mis-step path-to-successthat they take no action at all. However, inaction is a sure way to fail. Taking action is imperfect but it is movement and it will get you to your goal.Having a goal, steps, and a plan takes away a lot of the scary unknown. You will not be perfect but you will have a sense of where to go and how to get there.  Imperfection is not failure. Quitting is failure.

Step Four: Repeat steps 1-3 as needed.  If you look back at the journey that got you to this point, you will see that you did not travel a perfectly paved straight, flat road. You will see a foot path with twists and turns, mud puddles, a few uphills and downhills. But you traveled this path and you will continue to do so. The goal is close and you can and will achieve it.

-KSK, juris doctor, esquire.


Preparing for the MPRE

Less than two weeks until the March 2017 MPRE which means you need to start studying now. In a previous post I talked about the MPRE in general so today I’ll focus more on how to make the most out of practice questions.

Doing practice questions should be a key part of your MPRE study plan. You need to see what material is tested and how it is tested. You want to know what questions you get right and what questions you miss. However, you have to do more than look at the results. Knowing that you got 55% or 75% correct isn’t enough. A number is not feedback.

  • You have to know how you got that score: Did you know it or did you guess? Did you answer questions immediately after reviewing material?
  • You have to know why you got questions wrong: Did you not understand the topic? Did you miss the issue? Did you miss important facts? Did you misread the question?
  • You have to know why you missed some questions but got others correct: Did you miss tough questions and get easier ones right? Did you consistently miss/get correct questions on a particular topic? Did you miss more at the beginning? End?


In order to change the outcome, you must change the input. You must analyze the process- what you did and why you did it- to determine how you achieved the outcome. The good news is that this doesn’t require doing hundreds of practice questions. It does require focused effort and a little patience. The best part about doing self-assessment is that it’s really good practice for the MBE. More on that in a future post…