Monday, June 29, 2009

Help for the Bar Exam Countdown

With just one month until the July bar exams, test-takers often seek additional reinforcement of the materials learned in prep courses. Whether you need to brush up on only a few key subjects, or want an overview of the entire bar exam experience, the Goodson Law Library is here to help.

Day 1: State-Specific

Generally, the first day of the bar exam is devoted to state-specific essays and multiple-choice questions. The most useful resource for North Carolina exam takers is the North Carolina Board of Law Examiners site. This site offers past exams back to 2005 free for download, for those who would like a peek at the structure of state-specific essay questions. (Older essay questions are available in the library at the call number KFN7476 .N671; the latest exam available in print is 2003.) The North Carolina Bar Association has also prepared a brief guide to Drafting a Bar Exam Essay Answer (KFN7476.Z9 D73 2004), with tips and tricks for NC test takers. An updated version of this pamphlet is also available in PDF.

For bar examinations in other states, there is a collection of past exams in the Microforms Collection on Level 1 of the library (cabinet # 35, top drawer). Available dates vary widely by state, although many of the most popular bar exam destinations for Duke Law (such as California, Georgia and Massachusetts) have received past exams up to February 2008. To see what years are available for a particular state, search the Duke Libraries catalog for the subject keywords bar examinations and [state]; e.g. bar examinations and Maryland. Many states also make past exams available for free on their bar exam websites, such as New York’s page of Past Exam Questions. Visit to locate the Board of Law Examiners site for your state.

Day 2: MBE & The Bar Exam Experience

To help prepare for the Multistate Bar Examination portion of the exam, consult Walton, Strategies and Tactics for the MBE (Reserves). Some basic information about the MBE structure and subject matter is also available from the National Conference of Bar Examiners, although this site does not provide free past exams or sample questions.

Just need a review of your “problem” subjects? Several book series in the library can help fill in your outline gaps (presented in order from least to most descriptive):

Examples & Explanations

iPhone users can also purchase the popular “Law in a Flash” flash card series as apps. See review at the iPhone J.D. blog.

Other general study guides applicable to any state’s bar exam include: Darrow-Kleinhaus, The Bar Exam in a Nutshell (Reserves); Friedland, Essential Rules for Bar Exam Success (KF303 .F75 2008); and Riebe & Schwartz, Pass the Bar (KF303 .R54 2006). To find more, search the Duke Libraries catalog for the subject keywords bar examinations—united states.

Good luck!