Thinking of registering for a bar exam preparation course but not sure which one to choose and whether it will be worth it? Below are six tips that will help you get the best bang for your buck.
Do Your Research
Not all bar exam preparation courses are created equal. There are a variety of options out there, and it is important to select a provider that is reputable, qualified, and trustworthy. Avoid companies that do not have contact names or a phone number listed on their website, and those that operate behind a veil of anonymity (i.e., emails are signed “The Prep Team” rather than with an actual name). Other red flags include spelling or grammatical errors on the website, lack of details about the instructor(s), syllabus, and course management, and slow email response times. Anyone can claim to offer a “Preparation Course,” so it is important to avoid fraudsters who offer poor quality materials, and outright scam artists who offer nothing in exchange for your money.
Consider Your Learning Style
Beyond the reputability of the provider, you should consider the course format, length, and price to select the option that will suit your learning style and study plan. Do you learn better in an interactive course environment, or through independent online study? Is it more important to be able to ask questions and network with other students, or to be able to access the course materials online at your leisure? Do you want an intensive and in-depth course, or a brief overview of the topics? Select your course accordingly. Some providers offer course options that combine the best of both worlds, but the cost is typically going to be higher. Most importantly, you want to choose a program that will keep you engaged in the material and help you understand challenging content.
Sit in the Front and Don’t Be Shy
A sure way to stay engaged for the entirety of the prep course is to grab a seat front and centre in the room. From that vantage point, distractions are minimized and it feels as though the instructor is speaking directly to you, which will help you pay attention. Your instructor will also get to know you more quickly. A bar exam preparation course offers a unique opportunity to develop personal relationships with a team of highly qualified instructors, some of whom are partners at prominent law firms, Crown counsel, justices of the peace, or law school professors. A benefit of taking an in-class course is that you have the chance to ask questions and discuss topics with instructors face to face.
Even if your preparation course provides printed handouts for each class, you should still come equipped with a pen and paper or a fully charged laptop. Making your own notes during class will help you absorb and make sense of the information as you receive it, and synthesizing those notes afterward will reinforce the information and give you a chance to think it over at your own pace. Your course notes can also be a valuable addition to the reference materials that you bring into the exam. Sometimes instructors will suggest shortcuts for calculations, or tips and tricks to remember important facts. If you opt to bring a laptop to class, just be sure to log out of your social media accounts in the morning so that you don’t find yourself getting distracted and missing large chunks of the lecture as you peruse the never-ending social media feeds.
Bring Snacks and Water
When the afternoon stretches on and you find it difficult to stay focused, it is helpful to have a bottle of cold water and a few healthy snacks on hand to help you refuel. Bring nuts, fruits, and raw veggies to replenish your energy, and some popcorn or munchies as a treat. Pack conscientiously by avoiding noisy wrappers, and try to eat quietly to avoid distracting those around you.
Review and Reinforce
Looking over your notes after class or an online session is a great way to reinforce what you just learned. Reviewing on a daily basis will help you learn at a much faster rate. Do you find that your mind wanders off before you can get to the end of the first page? If so, try reading your notes out loud. Saying the words out loud forces you to focus. The process of hearing, processing, writing, reviewing, and practising will help you fully absorb the information that you have received.