In the summer of 2013, 86 percent of testers taking the New York bar exam for the first time passed. However, when factoring in repeat takers, the passing rate dropped to 69 percent. These numbers clearly illustrate the importance of passing the test on the first try. The exam includes the Multistate Bar Examination, made up of 200 questions in multiple-choice format, and a specific New York section asking five essay prompts, 50 questions from the state board and a Multistate Performance Test query. Preparing carefully for the exam increases your chances of success.
Take courses aimed at material covered on the exam. The multistate questions cover concepts including contracts, criminal law, constitutional law, property, torts and evidence. For the state portion, you may also need to understand New York's constitution, jurisdictional issues, civil and criminal procedures, estate law including wills and trusts, state-specific professional responsibility concerns and business law including the Uniform Commercial Code portions involving goods and general transactions. Taking classes that cover these areas gives you the necessary knowledge base for the exam.
Find an appropriate study space. Choose an area where you can spread out your books and papers. You need good lighting to ease potential eyestrain and a chair you can sit comfortably in for extended periods. Choose a place with no distractions such as windows, televisions and passersby.
Create flashcards. On index cards, write important terms and their definitions, significant rules and exceptions and general standards. Take the cards with you everywhere you go and review them whenever you have a few minutes -- for example, waiting in line or while folding laundry. The action of writing out the ideas also helps put the concepts into your long-term memory.
Create a study schedule and stick to it. Assign yourself certain hours to study particular topics, spending extra time on areas you feel less comfortable about or were unable to take classes for. Take breaks for five or ten minutes every hour so you can remain focused.
Take practice tests. Use multiple-choice and essay questions from past tests and course materials. Check your answers, and closely study the questions you miss. You can find past New York bar exam essay questions from the state Board site.
Sign up for a professional preparation course. Although most schools do not endorse any particular program, well-known programs in New York include the BarBri and Kaplan's preparation courses. These classes typically give information about all portions of the New York state bar exam.
Manage your stress. Get exercise, take breaks when needed and do not obsess about other tasks.
Things You Will Need
- New York law materials
- index cards
- calendar or planner
- Take care of your health by eating regularly and sleeping enough throughout your preparation period to enhance your memory and recall abilities.
- New York State Board of Law Examiners: Press Release
- New York State Board of Law Examiners: The New York State Bar Examination
- Cornell University Law School: Memorandum
- BarWrite: How to Study for the Bar Exam
- Passing the Bar!: Preparing for the Bar: Manage Your Time and Stress
- Passing the Bar!: Preparing for the Bar: Suggested Approach to Studying
- Damien Sweet, J.D.; Attorney; Minnesota
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