Bar Exam Tips, Strategy & More!

Bar Review Tips for the Final Week

bar exam strategy

Dear July Bar Exam Takers,

It’s crunch time! But, there’s no need to panic. We provided some excellent tips and strategy to help you maximize your remaining few days of bar prep!


1. Spend More Time Reviewing the MBE Subjects

For most state bar exams, the MBE subjects are much more heavily tested than the state specific subjects. They are tested both on the multiple choice MBE and on the essay portion of the exam. Therefore, it obviously makes sense that you should spend more time mastering the MBE subjects. Don’t waste 5 days reviewing Wills because you don’t understand the intricacies of ademption! Use your remaining time wisely and focus on the most valuable and highly tested subjects.


2. Outline and Issue-Spot Essay Questions

At this point in the game, don’t waste time writing out beautiful essay responses. If you made it through law school, you already have plenty of practice writing complete sentences! Instead, use the remaining time to issue spot and outline as many essay questions as you can. This will sharpen your issue-spotting skills, and will allow you to review far more essay questions.

Also, it helps to have your notes handy when issue-spotting practice essays. Try your best to spot as many issues as possible on your own, and then look to your notes to make sure you didn’t miss anything. 


3. Ditch the Long Outlines and Bar Review Books

During the late stages of bar prep, your review of black-letter law should be limited to your condensed notes or outlines. Long outlines or comprehensive study guides are fine to study with two or more months to spare. But with so little time left and so many subjects to cover, you need to be as efficient as possible. Whether you create your own or buy them, having a solid set of condensed attack outlines is a must during the final stretch.

(Btw, if you are looking for condensed outlines that thousands of other law grads have used for last minute bar review, we hear Lean Sheets are pretty amazing. 😉 But don’t take our word for it!


4. Practice Your Time Management

Having a firm grasp of the law, and being able to properly apply that law, are essential to passing the bar exam. There is, however, another critical skill required to pass…good time management.

Spend too much time on a few confusing MBE questions early on, and you may be racing to answer easier ones towards the end. Write a novel on the first essay question, and you may not have time to finish the last. Many people fail the bar exam because they simply run out of time. Don’t let that happen to you!

Here are a few time management tips for the exam…

MBE Questions: If you get stumped by a question, make your best educated guess, circle it in the booklet, and move on. If you have time at the end, go back and review any circled questions.

Essay Questions: Read through all the questions before you start typing. Decide which you feel most confident about, and answer those first. Save the one you feel least confident about for last, but try your best to apportion your time evenly between each question.

Performance Tests: These test your organization, focus, and analytical skills in a very short time frame. Don’t just start typing! After reading the memo and library materials, outline your attack plan. Bar graders reward well organized and structured responses. They also reward completeness. If a performance test looks incomplete, it will show a lack of organization and poor time management.

PRO TIP:  Write a brief conclusion BEFORE jumping into the meat of your PT. It doesn’t need to be the first thing you write, but do it asap. Just a few concluding sentences will give your Performance Test the appearance of completeness. If you have time at the end, go back and revise it. 

If you do run out of time, that short conclusion signals that you managed your time well and completed the task assigned. It’s an easy way to earn a few extra points (or at least prevent the grader from docking you for an incomplete PT). We spoke with a grader for the CA bar exam, and she agreed this is a smart strategy given their grading methods. 

Remember, there is no one monitoring how much time you spend on each question. Therefore, YOU are 100% responsible for making sure you manage your time efficiently. It is therefore extremely important to practice under the same time constraints as the real exam.

The more you practice, the better your chance of success!


5. Take Care of Yourself!

The most important tip of all is to be well rested, and stay healthy! It may be tempting to stay up late cramming each night, because you want to learn as much as possible. But, don’t fall into that trap. Your body and mind need proper rest. The last thing you want is to walk into the exam tired or sick.

Start sleeping at a reasonable time, and get into a routine of waking up early. It takes a few days for the body to get into a new sleep pattern. If you think you’ll suddenly be able to sleep early the night before the bar exam, think again!

In addition to proper rest, be sure to eat healthy and make time for daily exercise. Studies have shown that not only does exercise improve your energy and mood, lower stress and anxiety levels, and keep your heart healthy, it also releases chemicals in the brain that help with memory and focus.


Review the important stuff, study efficiently, do a lot of practice questions, and get some sleep!

Good Luck!

Team Lean Sheets