In sports, those athletes who can recognize where and how they are falling short in execution, and then focus relentlessly to build upon the necessary skills, most often rise to an elite level of performance. Like the old saying says, “practice makes perfect.” Yet what happens when you practice the same way without adapting your approach to learn from your mistakes? Well, in the case of the bar exam, you could fall short of passing.
It’s human nature to study for an exam with the goal of correctly answering as many practice questions as possible. A high percentage correct affirms your grasp of the material. This way of preparing for a major test is ingrained in our psyche ever since elementary school. Step back from that mindset for a moment and reverse it – look to embrace the practice questions you got wrong instead. These moments are not judgments on you. Rather, they are opportunities to dig deep into learning what you don’t know.
After three years of law school, unless you have a photographic memory, you aren’t likely to quickly recall many specific 1L rules and elements. And you probably didn’t take every subject that will show up on the bar exam. No matter, you still need to learn all the subjects tested on the bar exam. Working practice questions and learning from the explanatory answers, regardless of whether you got the questions right or wrong, will help build a solid foundation of knowledge.
If you are not confident in one area of the bar exam, don’t hesitate to dive into practice questions from that area. Sometimes you can learn as much or more from the explanatory answers as you would from a lecture. Therefore, start bar review as early as possible, answer practice questions, and be persistent in taking the time to focus on any problem areas. Study this way, repeat this approach and you’ll increase your scores on the bar exam.
Here’s the bottom line: If you practice right, on game day, you will play like you practiced!