The Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) is a three-part, 12-hour test, that for most law school graduates, requires upward of 400 hours of rigorous study to pass. Yes, the weeks leading up to the bar exam can be dizzying. With the right preparation, however, taking the UBE could be an exceptionally rewarding experience.
Here are six tips to help students improve their odds of passing the UBE:
1. Trust the Process
You’ve survived at least seven years of higher learning to arrive right here, ready to begin preparing for the UBE—the exam that will take you from law student to lawyer. All you have to do (in New York) is collect 266 of 400 possible points. But you’re not just beginning, not really. Your professors have been grooming you for success on this exam and in your career since you were just a wide-eyed L1. It would be a real shame to abandon the tried-and-true path to victory at this pivotal stage of the game. So don’t. Research and sign up for a review course. Set a study schedule. Then follow it.
2. Avoid Burnout by Starting Early
Procrastination is the enemy of success, or so they say. Far too often, law students become the villains in their own stories due to unwillingness to make the necessary sacrifices ahead of this all-important exam. So be frank when you speak to your friends and family about the rearrangement of your priorities, and remember: It’s only temporary. Typically, seven to 10 weeks (400 hours) of structured, test-specific study is advisable for adequate UBE preparation. If you are not able to devote 40+ hours per week to studying the law because you have to supplement your income or have family obligations, start sooner—but don’t skimp on hours, or try to fit 400 hours into two weeks. Hint: The math doesn’t check out.
3. Remain Calm
High-stakes scenarios tend to manifest heightened levels of anxiety. Even though sitting for the UBE is pretty low on the Imminent Danger Scale, it’s likely you’ll be nervous on test day. And that’s okay. It means you care. In fact, it’s probably more disconcerting not to be the least bit nervous. That said, you should spend some time thinking about how you’ll handle those nerves so they don’t negatively impact your score.
Good news: You don’t need to be a meditation guru to take advantage of certain Jedi mind tricks. Take visualization, for example. This is a popular technique used to familiarize situations otherwise foreign. It only takes a few minutes, and is worth a try.
Just close your eyes and picture yourself on the morning of test day. You eat a nutritious, brain-fueling breakfast, and you’re calm, because you know you’ve done all you can to prepare. You arrive to the test center early to get settled in comfortably, on your own clock. You cruise through the MPT section, no sweat. But in the afternoon, maybe you come upon a Multistate Essay Examination (MEE) fact-pattern that you don’t quite know how to handle. In your mind’s eye, watch yourself use whatever you do know about the rule of law at hand to work through the essay the best you can.
Do this enough and come test day, you’ll be hard-fought to be thrown off your groove by nerves, as you’ve now trained your mind to deal with common issues that could arise.
4. Maintain Optimal Health
Your overall health is determined not only by your physical fitness, but your mental well-being. It can be tough for anyone to sustain beneficial diet and exercise habits, never mind stressed-out law students in the weeks leading up to the biggest exam of their lives. Unfortunately, the added stress of the law student’s life only serves to increase the necessity for healthy routines.
Stress alone can deplete your health. Sleeplessness, malnutrition, inactivity, and stress together could take a serious toll on your ability to stay the course, focus, and pass the UBE. To protect your health, stay hydrated and properly fueled; incorporate some movement into your days; get plenty of sleep; and pick a favorite stress management activity to turn to when the pressures of the test start to hit home.
5. Maximize the Allotted Time
The UBE is a three-part exam consisting of 12 total testing hours that are broken up over two days. The Multistate Performance Test (MPT) and the Multistate Essay Exam (MEE) will be administered on the first day, the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) on the second. Testing tendencies will vary person to person, but history tells us you’re more likely to work up to the buzzer on the MPT and MEE (three hours each). For faster test-takers especially, that may not be true on multiple-choice day—when you’ll have a total of six hours to answer 200 questions. That’s a rate of 15 questions every 30 minutes, or two minutes per question.
Assuming you’ve done your due diligence answering hundreds of practice questions, some will include familiar scenarios and solutions, and therefore, may require less time to answer. Be careful that you don’t get overconfident, though. If after answering all 200 questions, you still have a half hour of allotted time, use it to review, rather than running out the door. You've already spent seven-plus years in school, and 400+ hours just studying for this one exam... What's another 30 minutes?!
6. Answer Practice Questions
About 200 of your 400 hours of study should be devoted to learning the law and getting so familiar with your outlines that you can recite sections in your sleep. The other 200 hours are for practice questions. They’re that important. Fortunately, there's this really neat service offered by Pieper Bar Review to help you stay on track with completing your practice questions: the Question of the Day. Sign up, now.
The Pieper Difference
With the Pieper family's more than 40 years of expertise, the most lecture hours of any bar review course, and more than 1,500 pages of outlines, Pieper’s Full Bar Review Course delivers all the substantive law you’ll need to pass the UBE, along with the strategies for mastering multiple-choice questions and maximizing your scores on the MEE and the MPT. Register Today to begin your journey toward bar exam success!