Pass the Bar Exam: Bar Prep Tips and Tricks


  • One of the best things you can do for yourself is questions, questions, questions. But focus on quality over quantity. Be sure to set aside enough time to review those questions, looking at both correct and incorrect answers. During the review, you’ll notice all the different ways in which the examiners can test you on a particular topic. The more you do the questions, the better you’ll get at detecting the patterns.
  • Reading Bar Exam tips and tricks from people who have already taken the exam is super helpful. Different things work for different people.
  • Use a whiteboard for better data retention.
  • Think about the policy reasons for the law — it’s not foolproof but it can often help when you’re deliberating between two answer choices.
  • Bar prep is a marathon, not a sprint.
  • Take breaks to ensure you don’t get burnt out. If you need to take the entire day off, do it. It’ll actually help your productivity.
  • Don’t just read the material; engage with it. Test yourself.
  • Get on a healthy sleep schedule so your body is trained for game day. Don’t underestimate the power of rest, eating healthy, and sleep.
  • Remember the Bar Exam is not an intelligence exam. It boils down to how much can you memorize and can you regurgitate the information in the way the examiners want you to. There’s a method, so take some time learning what they’re looking for beforehand. On that same note, realize it’s not the end of the world if you have to take it again — plenty of very competent attorneys that you’re probably familiar with (i.e., Michelle Obama, Pete Wilson, Hillary Clinton, etc.) failed their first time.
  • Review your notes every night right before you go to sleep. Studies have shown that retention rates are higher when you read material right before bed.
  • Use as many mnemonics as your brain can keep straight.
  • If you request concurrent reporting to two or more jurisdictions, be sure to contact each state beforehand to let them know.
  • If you’re low on time, focus on the MBE subjects.
  • Adopt and maintain a gratitude mindset. Positive thinking is key.
  • Distill your information into outlines, flash cards, or both. Purchase them or create your own. This is one of the best ways to efficiently and effectively process the obscene amount of information. Check out Bar Exam Playbook if you want a set of outlines that are the perfect length — they are neither too short nor too long.
  • If you’re a list-maker, every night, create a daily to-do list for the next day. Make sure the tasks are ambitious but doable. If you cram too much for the day and you don’t end up crossing everything off, you’ll end up feeling terrible, which is counterproductive. Remember, half the battle of this exam is mental — keep your spirits, mental health, and confidence as high as possible.
  • Use charts and other visuals for hard-to-understand topics such as hearsay, character evidence, etc.
  • Find your medium of choice, whether it’s reading, watching, or listening to the lectures.
  • Use whatever supplemental tools work for you — check out the clever Study Songs app if you learn best by memorizing lyrics.
  • Find out in advance exactly when and where you need to report on the day of the exam to minimize any unnecessary stress.
  • Read the directions on what you can and cannot bring into the test center thoroughly.
  • Bring your own lunch or check out the test site beforehand to see if there’s any quick cafes or eateries around.
  • Consider staying at a hotel near the test site — getting stuck in traffic on the day of the exam is absolutely the last thing you need.
  • Don’t forget your computer charger!
  • Take a jacket into the test center no matter how warm it is outside. The test center will likely be freezing!
  • Download the exam software before you get to the test center. The test center often doesn’t have WiFi.
  • Read these Bar Exam tips over and over again until they’re second nature.


  • Check your scantron every few questions to make sure you’re filling in the appropriate bubbles. The last thing you want to realize at the end of the exam is that you skipped a question or two and that your numbering is all off.
  • On a scratch paper in the back of the booklet, make note of the questions that you want to come back to, even if it’s just to double check it.
  • When being tested on topics that overlap in torts and criminal law (e.g. assault, battery, etc.), learn the different keywords that trigger each subject (e.g. plaintiff vs. prosecution, civil vs. criminal, etc.). It should be clear to you what subject is being tested.
  • Practice as many real MBE questions as possible — purchase past questions at the NCBE Study Aids Store, try the online AdaptiBar program, or get the Strategies and Tactics for the MBE book.
  • Look at the most commonly tested topics and subtopics on the MBE.
  • If you didn’t take Evidence in law school, spend some extra time learning the exceptions and exemptions.


  • Do not forget to include the conclusion.
  • List every relevant definition and rule, no matter how basic you think it is. Pretend the examiner has no legal knowledge at all. Include them even if it’s in the fact pattern or question. Your goal is to accumulate as many points as possible.
  • Don’t get caught up with the essay grading of your test prep program. They’re not always accurate.
  • Review how frequently each subject is tested. It’s not fool-proof, but it provides a good roadmap on where you should spend your time. Take a look at the predictions by JD Advising.
  • Practice, practice, practice. Be sure to practice questions that combine multiple subjects together (e.g. criminal law/procedure and evidence, wills and trusts, civil procedure and conflict of laws, etc.).
  • Every sentence serves some purpose, even if the purpose is to distract you.
  • Be sure to type your answers on the appropriate pages; don’t answer all the questions on one page.
  • Use headings and buzzwords.
  • Remember that the grader is probably spending no more than 30 seconds on your answer, so make their job easier with an easy-to-read format.


  • Isolate the task, tone (e.g. persuasive, objective, etc.), and reader (e.g. layperson, judge, supervising attorney, etc.) immediately.
  • Memorize the formats of the most common tasks.
  • Double and triple check that all the tasks are completed as requested.
  • Spend about 30-45 minutes reviewing the material and outlining before writing. It may sound like a lot of time, but it’ll go by super quickly. Also, you’ll thank yourself for organizing your thoughts and structure beforehand.

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