Need Study Pointers and Moral Support for New York Bar Exam
June 23, 2004 10:34 PM   Subscribe

I'm studying for the New York bar exam (law), using BarBri, and I was wondering if there's anyone out there who's passed the bar and can give me any pointers on scrambling to learn all this material? I feel like a candle burning at both ends and I need some moral support. Thanks!
posted by adrober to Law & Government (9 answers total)
Hang in there. It's a finite period of time, and it will be over soon enough. I sat for California one July and New York the following February, and survived. (And passed both.)

Set a routine for yourself that you can live with. Make time for enough sleep and regular exercise. Sounds obvious, but this is critical and often overlooked. Drink lots of water, eat well, etc.

Different systems work for different people. Are you a morning person or an evening person? Do the bulk of your studying when your brain is most receptive, and when your brain isn't at it's best, go for a run/swim/whatever, but break a good sweat. It will make keeping your butt on that chair much easier if your muscles aren't fidgety.

Take all the practice tests, even if they seem silly. IIRC the New York essay questions were much more detailed on NY law than the California essay questions, so that meant more detail-oriented studying.

Try mnemonics. They helped me a lot, I wish I could remember some and pass them on to you, but I think I've repressed those memories.

I didn't take BarBri for New York, I took Pieper, and one of his *things* was basically to dictate the lesson to us. I do think it was useful to write everything out longhand, and by the time the exam rolled around my wrists could easily handle writing for three hours at a stretch. Practice writing three sample essays back to back.

Allow yourself some time, say one evening a week, to relax away from the bar, from law school buddies, from any talk of it, otherwise you'll go completely nuts.

Good luck!
posted by ambrosia at 11:09 PM on June 23, 2004

Damn, you passed CA and NY 6 months apart? Most Impressive!
posted by falconred at 11:41 PM on June 23, 2004

On the assumption that you're not working this summer, my advice is to just treat it like a 9 to 5 job (albeit a seven-day-a-week job). Attend the Bar-Bri classes, go to a library in the afternoon/evening (home is too comfortable/distracting), and then try to take several hours off at night. Maybe recap a little before bed, then get a good night's sleep. Ultimately, you have to do the heavy lifting -- there's a lot to remember. But you're not doing yourself any favors if you truly feel like you're "burning the candle at both ends." That's not an atmosphere that's conducive to information retention.

Ambrosia's recommendation about exercise is good, but I think you can allow yourself more than one night a week off. (Of course, I only had to pass Michigan, not NY and CA).
posted by pardonyou? at 7:01 AM on June 24, 2004

I took and passed the WI bar a couple of years ago. About three weeks before the exam, I decided that I'd either learned what I was going to, or that the constant studying and worrying about studying was making me crazy. So I stopped studying, except for a couple hour review each day. WI's pass rates at the time were above eighty percent and I was convinced that I was a better exam taker than at least twenty percent of the other wannabes. I'm sure that NY has a much lower rate, but my point is that the odds are really for you to pass. Relax, be confident. You know a lot of law already. But it is very important to take as many practice tests as you can and to replicate exam conditions. Its as much of a physical exercise than a mental one. Good luck.
posted by eastlakestandard at 8:06 AM on June 24, 2004

I treated NY Bar prep sort of the way I treated classes I didn't enjoy.

Up until the 4th of July weekend, I went to BarBri every day and just filled in the blanks.

After the first in-class test, which was right around Independence Day, I started typing up the outlines and supplementing them with materials from the other BarBri materials. I wound up with much longer, detailed outlines, from which I made short checklists. I used the checklists to review for the exam, but didn't bother with most of the practice tests except for the multistate questions.

I didn't really bother with the NY Multiple Choice -- I've been practicing for 2 years and use a fancy thing called "Westlaw" to find stuff in the CPLR -- but I would recommend prioritizing the multistate sections and working on your writing skills for the NY Essays. If you do well on the multistate and don't freak out on the essays you'll be fine.

Oh, one other thing: I found it much easier to prepare for subjects I'd never studied (e.g., sales and wills) than subjects I'd aced in law school (e.g., crim-pro and evidence). Don't be too confident that you already know a subject because you studied it in law school, especially if you went to an out-of-state school!
posted by subgenius at 8:21 AM on June 24, 2004

When I was studying for the Texas Bar, I relied on notecards. Hundreds of note cards we wrote up while studying. Then my friends and I would quiz each other using them. Just make up questions and try to trip each other up. It makes a tedious task a little more interesting.

Also, we spent about 2 hours a day playing pick-up basketball games. While it does take time out of your day, the physical release seemed to make heading back to the library more bearable.

Oh yeah, we all passed on the first try. Good luck.
posted by CRS at 8:50 AM on June 24, 2004

I'll second CRS's suggestion about notecards. I found it helpful making my own notecards and using some PMBR ones I got off of ebay.
I did BarBri last year for the Ohio bar, and while they're generally good at giving you lots of materials, I think the weak spot of the program is the lack of focus on some raw memorization. The notecards really helped me get to the point where I'd see a word/phrase and it would mentally trigger definitions, elements, etc. That was really important (at least on the Ohio essays) because if you can spot everything and get the right law down, you'll be in pretty good shape.
posted by dicaxpuella at 9:13 AM on June 24, 2004

I found it much easier to prepare for subjects I'd never studied (e.g., sales and wills) than subjects I'd aced in law school (e.g., crim-pro and evidence).

I'm finding the same thing studying for the Massachusetts exam.
posted by anathema at 9:41 AM on June 24, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks everyone, I appreciate it!
posted by adrober at 3:27 PM on June 25, 2004

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