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Monday, July 29, 2013

Top Ten Tips for the Bar

No, not that kind of bar!

As the calendar turns to the last week of July, many of our former students are about to sit for the bar exam.  For any of the students lurking out there, here are my top ten tips for success.

1.  Stop studying.  Seriously.  It's the day before the bar exam.  Cramming won't do you much good at this point. Sure, it's a good idea to brush up on the Rule Against Perpetuities or the specific deadlines for filing a document if your state tests you on these items, but there's no need to spend these final hours stressing out with long study sessions.

2.  Eat a good meal tonight.  And tomorrow morning.  This might seem obvious, but don't forget to take care of yourself.

3.  Sleep well tonight.  This is another variation of #1.  Don't stay up late trying to study too much.  You've (hopefully) put in the necessary hard work over the past few months, not to mention the past three years.  Now is the time to let your body and mind rest up for the big day(s).

4.  But don't fall asleep during the exam itself!  I know a guy who actually fell asleep while taking the exam.  He called it "bar-colespy."  He passed, but don't take the risk!

5.  Watch this.  Or something else amusing.  For that matter, watch a ballgame or go to the movies to clear your mind.

6.  Thank your wife.  Or husband.  Or boyfriend, girlfriend, Mom, Dad, brother, sister, best friend, pet iguana, creepy neighbor, or whoever else has helped you through these past few months.  Let's face it:  you haven't been the most fun person to be around.  Thank those who have supported you during this time.

7.  If you have absolutely no clue about a particular area of the law that is at issue, make up a rule, and then apply it faithfully.  For me, it was something about materialman's liens.  I had no idea what that even meant.  But I soldiered on:  "In Texas, the three-part test for materialman's liens is _____."  I sure sounded like I knew what I was talking about!  I later learned that I was woefully incorrect in the rule I had made up.  But I bet I earned some points for a strong application of the rule I did use.

8.  Answer all of the questions.  This may sound obvious, but the graders (in all states, as far as I know) do not take off points for wrong answers -- so put an answer for everything!  If you are running out of time on the multiple choice problems, answer C for the remaining questions during your last minute.  (I like C because, well, C is for cookie, and that's good enough for me!  But you could use any letter.  The point is to have an answer so you receive credit when you happen to hit one correctly.)  If you are running out of time on an essay, at least put the rule or the conclusion.  Don't leave anything blank.  You never know if you'll earn extra points.

9.  Smile.  This may be hard to do during the rigors of the bar exam -- and others might think you are crazy.  But research suggests that even a fake smile will improve your mood and lower your stress.

10.  Relax.  Most of you will pass.  And even if you don't, at least you'll have something in common with Hillary Clinton!  And then you can have some fun with how you tell people.  Because whatever happens, I suspect I'll see many of you at the bar on Wednesday night!

Good luck!

Posted by Josh Douglas on July 29, 2013 at 09:01 AM | Permalink


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Good luck to all of your students. Funny and well written!

Posted by: Irma | Jul 29, 2013 1:11:54 PM

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