Preparing for and taking the bar exam can be a difficult, time-consuming and stressful process. Each year, many law graduates decide to take both the New York and New Jersey bar exams concurrently. Choosing to take more than one bar exam increases the difficulty, stress and time needed to prepare for the exam. However, with careful planning and preparation, bar examinees can establish a plan for taking and passing both the New York State and New Jersey exams.
Research what days the New York State and New Jersey bar exams will be given. Historically, taking the New York and New Jersey bar exam is a three-day process. On the first day, the New York State essay portion is taken. On the second day, the Multi-state Bar Exam (MBE) is taken, and on the third day, the New Jersey essay portion is taken.
Register early for both state exams. Most students will want to take the exam in New York City, to minimize travel time to New Jersey. Early registration helps ensure that you get the testing center of your choice.
Sign up for a bar review course or obtain bar review study materials at least eight weeks in advance. Consider signing up for a New York bar review course, as the New Jersey essay portion tests multi-state topics, as well as civil procedure. The New York essay portion is much more inclusive; it tests many different areas of law. By studying for the New York exam, you will be studying for the New Jersey exam as well.
Obtain study materials for the state in which you are not taking the bar review course. You should be able to find New Jersey or New York bar review books for sale online.
Attend every bar review course. If you miss one, make it up. It is important that you receive all substantive material that you will need.
Create a study schedule. In addition to your time spent in the bar review course, you need to plan time each day to take practice MBE multiple-choice questions, as well as practice writing essays.
Study the other state's bar review material in addition to the state materials in your bar review course. Use these materials to create a chart in each subject area for distinctions between New Jersey and New York law. This will help you to learn the differences between the two state's laws for the essay portions of the exam.
Create study outlines for each of the topic areas covered on the bar exam after you have covered each topic in your bar review class. You will want to include any mnemonic devices you have learned or developed, as well as any elements that you need to memorize, plus New Jersey/New York distinctions.
Plan for stress relief. Bar review can be physically and mentally exhausting. Take one day off each week, and make time to exercise and relax each day. Consider purchasing some fun bar review materials, such as crossword puzzle review games or bar review board games.
- Make sure that the New York State essay exam day does not fall on the same day as the New Jersey essay exam day. If the exams are scheduled this way, you will not be able to take them concurrently.
- Many bar exam course providers offer online or distance learning options. Consider these if you are far away from a course location.
- It is helpful to think of bar exam preparation as a full-time job. You should study at least six hours a day for approximately eight weeks prior to the exam.
- Do not attempt to cram for the bar exam. By creating and sticking to a study schedule, you ensure your best chance of succeeding.
Nicole Leigh has been writing professionally since 2009. She is an attorney and teacher whose research has been published in print education journals. Leigh holds a Juris Doctor degree, a Masters degree in curriculum and instruction, a Bachelor of Science in education and a Bachelor of Arts in psychology.