Three Things I Would Have Done Differently for Bar Prep

Three things I would have done differently during bar prepPlease welcome back guest writer Christen Morgan, an attorney, to discuss her bar preparation and some changes she might make reflecting back on the experience.

I can’t believe it has almost been two years since I sat for the bar exam. It’s unbelievable that an experience that was so intensive in my life is beginning to become a little vague. However, as the exam date pulls closer for February exam-takers, I can’t help but reflect on my bar prep experience. Although I’m grateful for my success on the exam, there are still so many things that I wish I had done differently. These “what ifs” run the gamut from stressing less, exercising more and discovering Emmanuel’s MBE questions a lot earlier in the process. Now I know you would be reading all day if I ran through every single thing that I would change about my bar prep process. However, I did want to run through at least three of these things to hopefully lend a helping hand to any preppers currently in bar prep land.

1. I would have Enrolled in more Law School Classes that Covered Bar Exam Topics

I think the main thing I would have done differently would be to enroll in more law school classes that covered bar exam topics. During bar prep, I found myself struggling to understand topic areas that I never covered in law school. This led to me spending more time trying to understand the background of material that I could have already committed to memory during law school. This really frustrated me during bar prep as I saw a stark difference in my performance in courses that I never took such as Wills and Trusts as opposed to courses that I did take such as Real Estate Transactions, which helped a lot on the Advanced Real Property questions on the exam.

Now I hope you don’t read this as a need to aggressively begin preparing for the bar during your 1L or 2L year but instead as a way to subliminally prepare without even noticing it. Thankfully, many of our 1L course topics appear on the MBE portion of the exam. While you may initially think there’s no way you will remember that subject material, sooner than you know, it will all come flooding back. Therefore, I recommend taking the advanced portion of all your 1L classes if your school offers it and even courses covered on the essays such as: Secured Transactions, Wills and Trusts etc. Trust me, enrolling in these courses during law school will save you a lot of time during bar prep.

2. I would have Relied less on Speculated Exam Questions

During bar prep, my friends and I spent a lot of time trying to predict what essay topics would be on the exam. We literally reviewed the topic areas that were covered over the past ten years and tried to determine a trend that would give us an accurate prediction for the exam. We also paired this speculation with predictions from our professors, who swore that certain questions would likely not appear on the MBE and who even suggested that certain essay topics would be a no show. Boy were we all wrong. The exam was by no means what we predicted. Questions that we pushed to the side because “this just showed up on the last bar exam,” were there in full sight and also topic areas that we were told would very unlikely show up as a full essay question, were there in full sight.

Please use this as a lesson that EVERYTHING is fair game! It’s unrealistic to cover the nooks and crannies of every topic area, but just glancing it over at least once or twice may be sufficient for you to complete an essay question or even successfully guess your way through a few MBE questions.

3. I would have had more Faith in my Abilities

Lastly, I would have had more faith in my abilities during the bar prep process. During preparation I spent a lot of time doubting the possibility that I would pass the exam. I even started formulating back up plans in the event I did fail. This doubt certainly weighed on me and gave me more anxiety than I could have imagined. This doubt also transitioned into post bar exam life as I waited for my results which was an anxiety ridden experience in and of itself. Fortunately, I used prayer and motivational books/videos as a means to get my faith in check. Having more faith in myself definitely helped me through that grueling time, but I only wish I instituted that mindset during the preparation process.

As you prepare for the exam each day, telling yourself that you will pass and actually believing it will make a world of a difference. Also, if you’re re-sitting for this exam just remember this quote: “doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.” In other words, it’s essential that you have faith in yourself, or you will continue to perpetuate a cycle of not achieving that dream you’ve hoped for.

To all my current bar-preppers, good luck!


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About Christen Morgan

Christen Morgan graduated magna cum laude from the University of Tampa where she received her B.S. in Criminology. She earned her J.D. from Emory Law School where she competed and served as an executive board member for the Emory Law Moot Court Society. Christen also served as a student representative for LexisNexis and also as a mentor for several 1L students offering them advice and a variety of resources to help them through their law school journey.

Christen previously practiced as a Foreclosure Attorney for a Real Estate law firm but has since then transitioned into a Real Estate Specialist role at a wireless infrastructure company.

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