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Looking back to when I studied and sat for the bar in ’97, the experience was a positive and fun one. The bar exam is a long-distance race; early and continued preparation is key. I developed a long-range plan which worked very well for me. This piece specifically addresses my short-term preparation 10 days before the bar exam. You can view the entire plan at the Chase College of Law site. When I sat for the July 1997 Ohio Bar Exam, I was an evening student at Chase College of Law, carrying about twelve semester hours, and working full time in Cincinnati, Ohio. I dreaded the prospect of sitting for the bar exam, as I did not believe that there was any way to pack into my brain all of the information I would need. I didn’t believe that the two short months after graduation from law school would be ample time for me to adequately prepare for the exam, given my work schedule. I also worried about the fact that it had been nearly four years since I had taken the major bar exam subjects in law school, like Torts, Contracts, etc. Privately, I feared that the task was insurmountable. Right away, I realized that the bar exam experience was more about time-management, discipline, and perspective. These were things within my ability to control. I developed a long-range study plan for myself, which, in the beginning, felt like “over-kill.” In the end, however, my approach to studying for the bar resulted in success beyond what I had anticipated. I share my approach to preparing for the bar exam as a law student, only as a means of furnishing ideas on how others might want to prepare for the exam. My approach may work for some — as it did for me, but may not work for others. What follows is an outline of how, in the final countdown, I managed my time, studied the law, and eliminated fatal stress factors. If I were being asked how to study for the bar by a family member or friend, the advice I would give is presented below. 5-10 DAYS PRIOR TO THE BAR EXAM Organize for the trip 1. Pack luggage a. Clothing; b. Study materials; c. Food, water, etc.; d. Tylenol, antacids, cough drops, prescription medications, reading glasses, etc.; e. Hotel reservation papers; f. Identification; g. Maps, directions, etc.; h. Any important phone numbers, personal arrangement details; i. Pencils and ink pens. 2. Use discretion in giving out your temporary place of habitation for the bar, but give your location to someone you trust so that you won’t be sitting in the bar exam worrying about emergencies back at home — tell this someone to only call you in the event of dire emergency. 3. Double-check your important arrangements. 4. Make a buzz-word outline: On one to two sheet(s) of paper, list out in columns, all of the bar exam subjects. In each column, from memory, in a couple of words or less, list out the key issues you will need to spot, the sub-issues, the general rules and exceptions, and any nuanced issues. 1-2 DAYS PRIOR TO THE BAR EXAM Get some perspective 1. Enjoyment. In preparing for the bar exam, it was a thrill to occasionally get a glimpse of the ‘big picture.’ Remember, your course work in law school has been over the period of three to four years, and in neat, compartmentalized little pieces. For example, on your Torts I exam in your first year, you were not also expected to spot contract issues, remedies issues, civil procedure issues, etc. — but on the bar exam, you will be. Law school teaches us the particulars about each subject individually; the bar exam experience teaches us how to pull all of those individual puzzle pieces together to form one “big picture.” I found this fascinating. 2. Sense of accomplishment. It was not until the last few days before the exam, that everything finally gelled in my mind. Everything finally made sense to me. I knew I had worked hard; I had completed my plan. 3. Brain power. Never forget — you know more than you think you know. 4. Don’t allow yourself to be intimidated. Honestly, everyone taking the bar exam is just as terrified as you are, and wants their lives back too. 5. Preparation. Thorough preparation will enable you to experience the “real” bar exam more calmly. You will have put yourself through the phases of this exam everyday for the past several weeks. Such thorough, early preparation for the bar will have afforded you the valuable opportunity of catching your weak spots early with ample time for improvement. You’ll have no cause to be nervous during the “real” bar exam. The exam is terribly important, but… As hard as you will have worked to study for the bar exam, as much as you will have riding on successful results, and as important as the bar exam is — the bar exam is not the most important exam of your whole life. Think about it: to even be a candidate for bar membership, you’ve must have survived greater tests in life than the bar exam experience. Give your absolute best during your preparation and during the actual exam, then let the chips fall where they may. THE NIGHT BEFORE THE BAR EXAM AND DAYS TO FOLLOW 1. Visit the exam site, parking lot, and travel various routes to the exam site the day before the exam. 2. Make sure you bring proper ID to the exam site, along with any other required documentation. 3. Check and double-check the exact dates and times for the exam. During the exam, listen for any changes to the timing. 4. Wear comfortable clothing, but make sure there is not a formal dress code. 5. Bring a wristwatch to the exam. 6. Rise early on exam days. Take a little time to glance over your notes for any item(s) you want to be refreshed on. Mentally ‘suit up’ for this. Arrive to the exam site on time! 7. Pack a light lunch — easy on the fluids. 8. Leave all your study materials in the car, hotel, etc. — don’t bring them into the exam site. 9. Anticipate hard, uncomfortable chairs, and arctic-like air conditioning (at least that was my experience). If you need to have accessories, e.g. chair-pillow, back-rest, etc., get permission first. Familiarize yourself with the location for the bathrooms. 10. Review your outlines and any notes in the evening. Terminate all intense cramming (I did not work out any more MBE questions once I arrived in town for the exam). 11. Avoid shopping sprees at malls and stores, and avoid ‘sight-seeing’ adventures: There will be plenty of time for that later. 12. Relax after each exam session: Take a shower or bubble bath, do ‘light’ calisthenics, go for a walk, etc., but don’t discuss the exam with anyone other than ‘yourself.’ Exception: Law School Professors, etc. 13. Avoid looking at eveningorning handout sheets (usually located in hotel lobbies), containing a summary of what certain individuals and organizations believe has already been tested on the exam for that day and what is expected to be tested in the days to follow. These individuals and organizations are relying on the guesses of your fellow law students for this information: if you use it, use it with caution! 14. Ignore chatter about the bar exam in the hotel elevators, parking lots, etc. 15. When the exam is over, take time to unwind. Bar results will take a few months to come back; in the meantime, look ahead to the wonderful practice of law and try not to worry. Barbara Barber graduated from The Salmon P. Chase College of Law in 1997 and successfully passed the 1997 Ohio Bar Exam. She now practices law in Ohio.

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