Preparing for one bar exam can be stressful but preparing for multiple bar exams is a brand new beast! We at JIOP understand that lawyers have large goals and even bigger dreams that may require multistate practice. Whether your job is requiring you to take more than one bar exam or it’s a personal goal, here’s some advice from a lawyer with a few bars under his belt.
JIOP alum Erika GLenn had an opportunity to ask California-based attorney, Gabe Ozel, about his experience in taking three bar exams. Read on as Ozel shares what worked best for him along with a few tips on what may work for you.
Which bar exams have you taken?
California, New York, and Texas.
What do you feel contributed to your success on all three bar exams:
Three things: (1) consistency, (2) confidence; and (3) knowing my learning style.
Consistency is key. I did extremely well on the MBE for each bar exam and I used the same study technique for each exam. Next, I recommend being confident. Confidence, however, comes with preparation. I know it’s corny, but the exam taker needs to believe in himself or herself. Last but not least, know yourself and your learning style. Every exam taker needs to know how they learn. The key question is, “How do you retain information?” This is a question that can only be answered by each individual. I asked myself this exact question before studying for the bar exam in order to set myself up for success.
Are there any specific strategies you used to study for each bar exam?
Yes, I knew that I could not study one subject for two weeks straight and leave it alone for another three to four weeks while studying another subject. I believe some bar prep companies use this method. However, I knew that I could not follow that schedule based on my learning style. Therefore, I set a schedule for myself by studying one pair of subjects every three days. Specifically, I paired two MBE and two essay subjects together for the day. I then studied the law for those subjects and did practice questions for the same subjects.
For example: When studying for the Texas bar exam I paired criminal law, criminal procedure, and constitutional law because they were related to each other. When organizing my schedule for the day, I studied the black letter law during the first half of the morning, and I did practice questions during the second half of the morning.
Another example of subject pairing that I used was wills, estates and trusts with consumer law. For pairs such as these where there were no corresponding MBE questions, I organized my study schedule by studying black letter law for the first half of the afternoon, and doing practice essays during the second half of the afternoon.
Lastly, once I developed my subject pairings, I rotated the pairs (subjects) every two or three days.
Many students have issues with timing when taking an exam. Did you ever time yourself during bar prep?
Yes, I did time myself every once in a while however I focused on knowing the law more than anything else.
Did you develop your own study aides?
Yes, I created my own outlines for the black letter law. I also created a separate “nuance” set of rules that I picked from questions I did. These were rules that I was not familiar with but those that appeared frequently. I ended each day of bar study by reading and familiarizing myself with the nuances from the fact patterns (MBE) and practice questions.