Ed. note: Have a question for next week? Send it in to [email protected].
Dear ATL -
I enjoyed last week’s column! Here’s another question for you. Bar class starts next week (I am in NY). Do I really have to study every day until the bar exam or is that just an urban legend?
School’s Out For Summer
Dear School’s Out For Summer,
Law students who believed that you have to study every day until the bar exam are the same people who spent their entire first semester of law school holed up in the library, clutching oily copies of One L and fearing failure: Nerds. They’re a delicious candy, but they’re completely ridiculous. Why study a little bit every day of law school and thereby ruin every day when you can save the studying and only ruin the last two weeks before exams? Similarly, why ruin May, June and July studying for the bar when you can just ruin July?
So no, you don’t have to start studying on the first day of bar class, but there will be nerds who do. The classic nerd strategy is studying + intimidation, seen in its purest form at SAT testing sites, where students roll up to the testing center carrying Princeton Review pencils and wearing Harvard sweatpants. At bar review class, this translates to students loudly complaining about carrying around 13 pounds of homemade index cards and taking every practice exam released since the blessed Council of Nicaea. You’ll have to ignore their transparent bragging as the panic rises within you and have faith in the procrastination process.
I didn’t start studying till after July 4th weekend and I passed the bar by
four points a comfortable margin. It did involve me making a sizable donation to Temple Beth El in South Orange, NJ for prayers to be said in perpetuity for no commercial credit essays, but it was a small price to pay for what might have been a lifetime of “retaker” ignominy. But then again maybe you should start studying early; with Prof. Charles Whitbread sadly no longer with us, the people in Tapeland will have to pick up the slack.
Elie makes a wager about his bar score, after the jump.
I’d go so far as to say that it doesn’t even make sense to start studying like your life depended on it right out of the gate. I, too, didn’t really kick it into gear until after July 4th weekend, and I passed with enough room that I bet the “smartest guy I know” $100 that I’d end up with a higher raw score than he would when he took it the next year.
I lost that bet, but the point holds.
You shouldn’t do anything more than a light survey of the structure and balance of the test until July. Or else you’ll burn out. You’ll try to memorize everything instead of simply what you need to know.
Study the test, not the specifics. When you take the mid-review test in late June and fail miserably, your abject fear of embarrassing failure will take care of the rest.
Not a Bar/Bri lecturer,
Just a guy who refuses to be afraid of a freakin’ standardized test
But maybe Elie and I are missing the bigger point, which is: if a bar exam taker fails in a jobless forest, do law firms even hear his anguished sound?