Whether you’re using BARBRI, Kaplan, or Themis, you received a heavy package in the mail with a ton of books in it. Looking at all of those books, coupled with your other resources, can be overwhelming. This post discusses how to use each of your commercial bar preparation books and any other study resources you may have.
All Of Your Resources
Outline Book: Your MBE and MEE subjects outline books are lengthy. They are long for the following reasons: (1) they contain the law, every exception, and explanations about the law; and (2) they contain a lot of examples and hypotheticals. You typically read from this outline prior to beginning a lecture on a particular subject and topic. For example, if you are beginning a Civil Procedure lecture on Jurisdiction and Venue on Friday, you should be reading the Jurisdiction and Venue portion of this outline book on Thursday to prepare. After your lecture is over, if there is a concept you are struggling with or do not understand, you should go back in this book and review/study that section. You should always refer to this book when you do not understand a topic throughout your bar study.
Lecture Handouts: When you’re watching lectures, you either have lecture notes or fill-in-the-blank lecture notes. Review these notes immediately after your lecture (or, of course, after a lunch break). After you finish a lecture for the day, your next step is to always review the material you learned. You do this by looking at both your lecture notes and the longer outline book. For example, you watched a Civil Procedure lecture video today on Jurisdiction and Venue. Before class, you read the Jurisdiction and Venue portion of your outline from your Outline Book. After class, you review your lecture notes, and refer back to your Outline book to fill in any gaps or to solidify your understanding. You may add your own notes from the Outline book into your lecture notes. This is you working actively with the material while participating in a constant review.
Shorter Outline Book: Each program comes with a more condensed outline, whether it is the BARBRI Conviser Mini Review, Kaplan Bar Points, or Themis Final Outlines. After you finish a subject (complete all lectures and review process described above) you should be reviewing the material with the shorter outline book (remembering to refer back to the long outline books when you need more clarification or explanation). These shorter outlines are best for studying throughout bar exam study and memorization. If you’re making your own outlines, you would have already had some good notes by utilizing your lecture handouts and the long outline. Use the shorter outline book to review, to see what’s most important, and to help you structure your organization.
MBE/MEE/MPT Books: Your course has also come with MBE, MEE and MPT practice books. Your course schedules may assign you particular questions from these books. However, you should also be utilizing these books when you are scheduling extra practice for yourself. For example, after I finished all Civil Procedure lectures and review of my materials, and I finished my online quizzes from my course, I may jump into the MBE book and do some Civil Procedure MBE questions. If, beginning June 20, I want to do one essay per day, I will do so from my MEE book, comparing my answers with the model answers in the book. If I want to practice additional MPTs per week, I will do so in my MPT book, comparing my answers to the model answers.
PMBR Multistate Workbook or Other MBE Question Practice Books: Throughout bar preparation, you are tracking your performance. You will know when you need to schedule additional practice. After you’ve finished a subject completely, you can use these additional MBE resources for extra practice. For example, say I started bar preparation reviewing Civil Procedure in week one, and now I’m in week three, and I’ve additionally completed Real Property, Evidence, and Contracts. In week three, I may jump into my Multistate Workbook to do a Civil Procedure question set, so that I am always practicing questions in the areas I’ve studied and reviewed. It’s important to always incorporate the subjects you’re studying every week, and doing additional practice questions in those areas, and reviewing those questions, is the best way to do it.
Flashcards: Flashcards should be utilized for memorization. You should not be using flashcards until you’ve finished a subject in its entirety. For example, say I have finished Civil Procedure, and now I’m onto Real Property. It’s day 3 of Real Property. After I watch my Real Property Lecture and review, and after some questions, I would schedule an hour in the evening to pull out my Civil Procedure flashcards to work on memorization. In about week 3 of bar prep, you should be building in time in your schedule to memorize – and these flashcards come in with memorization.
Bar Exam Tips About Resources
- Use your long outline book to do your first substantive review of the material and to refer back to when you need more clarification or better understanding of a topic/subject.
- Review your lecture notes after you complete a lecture, filling in any gaps you may have using your long outline book.
- Always refer to your shorter outline book throughout your bar study. Remember, you do not need to always be reading from the long outline book – the short outline books are less overwhelming and contain all of the information you need in a shorthand way. That is why these outlines are the best to use throughout your bar study, rather than the long ones.
- In the first few weeks of bar prep, you are going to be spending a lot of time learning new information. As you get going, you are likely to start incorporating a lot of your own practice in Week 3 or Week 4. When you’re ready to do this, use your MEE, MPT, and MBE study books for additional practice and review.
- In about Week 3 of bar preparation, it’s going to be time to start building in time to memorize. You can work on memorizing with your outlines or your flashcards, or whatever works for you.
Finally, always remember that it’s normal to feel overwhelmed – the feeling comes in waves throughout the entirety of bar prep. Try to remember that the feeling is temporary – get out of your own head. If you feel like you do not know what you are doing or which resources to use, take a step back, breathe, and write down a plan of attack for the day. This will make you feel a lot better.
Trust me when I say that although you feel like you are not learning or you do not know what you are doing in Week One, you get into a groove quickly thereafter – stick it out, and you will get there.