Many Methods Part of Bar Exam Prep
By Csaba Sukosd | July 30, 2019
In July, you typically see more birds than students around the University of Akron's School of Law. For the few you see inside the C. Blake McDowell Law Center, most - if not all - are hard at work during the day as the biggest test of their lives is on the horizon.
"This is probably the most disciplined I've had to be for such a long period of time." said bar exam applicant Hilary DeSaussure.
Of the 887 people taking the bar exam in downtown Columbus this week, 98 will be representing Akron. Among them, no two test-takers will have the exact same approach to their studies.
Many of the prospective attorneys opt for a solo approach as the simplest way to dictate their schedules and study habits.
"I go through my essays. I do extra essays. I review notes and flash cards," DeSaussure said.
Those supplement her main guide, which is a study plan provided by a bar exam preparation vendor. These companies provide services that construct an agenda for what each applicant should focus on each day as a way to condense content and help filter countless subjects from the books and other materials at accumulated during law school. Akron implemented one such program into its curriculum in the spring.
"It's just having all your assignments laid out for you, just to give you a clear picture of what it is you need to do on a daily basis," Daniel Shisler, another bar exam applicant.
On top of the seemingly endless reading, analyzing, and writing, the burgeoning legal minds simulate real-life scenarios, like studying in louder environments in anticipation of typing keyboards and flipping pages when they're on the clock. The most typical re-creation is a full, three-day mock bar exam.
"We did it not only to gauge your knowledge of the subject matter, but also to just subject your body and your mind to those kind of conditions," Shisler said.
While administrators and instructors recommend that test-takers continue doing what's given them academic success throughout law school, they also stress the importance of mixing in some group study.
Allesan Armstrong, Akron's assistant director of academic success, can speak to its merits - both as an instructor and law school graduate who passed the bar exams in Oklahoma and Ohio. She's been conducting essay think tanks almost daily for weeks leading up to the test.
"Other people's brains don't work the same. So, you get a lot of insight into things you might not even have considered," Armstrong said.
Along with potentially cultivating new ideas and approaches, group sessions can be a welcome break for individuals from months of monotony and solitude.
"It's also very helpful just to have some human interaction, because that's been rare this summer," Shisler said.