Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Beating the Bar Exam

With the bar exam now less than three weeks away, the Goodson Law Library staff have noticed an increase in questions about additional study resources. In our online catalog, try a subject keyword search for “Bar examinations—United States—Study guides”. This will retrieve some helpful resources for any state’s bar exam, including a 2010 edition of Strategies & Tactics for the MBE (Reserves KF303 .W345 2010) and other titles like The Essential Rules for Bar Exam Success (KF303 .F75 2008).

If you have a hole in your bar exam study outlines from a particularly confusing area of law, check out Part III of our Law School Success guide for an overview of popular law school study aids. Many of these series, like Examples & Explanations and the West Hornbooks, can be found on Reserve. (Tip: Although Reserve Collection items are loaned in 4-hour blocks, arrive at the Circulation/Reserve desk less than 4 hours before our 5:00 p.m. summer closing time to borrow a Reserve Collection item overnight. Arrive less than 4 hours before 5:00 p.m. on a Friday, and you can borrow a Reserve book until we reopen the following Monday morning.)

If you’re interested in seeing past exams from North Carolina, start at the NC Board of Law Examiners site. This site offers past exams from 2005-2007 free for download, for those who would like a peek at the structure of state-specific essay questions. (Even older essay questions are available in the library at the call number KFN7476 .N671, but the latest exam available in print is 2003.) The Young Lawyers Division of the North Carolina Bar Association has also prepared a brief guide to Drafting a Bar Exam Essay Answer (Reserves KFN7476.Z9 D73 2004), with tips and tricks for NC test takers. An updated (2009) version of this pamphlet is available in PDF at http://younglawyers.ncbar.org/media/300925/09draftingexamanswer.pdf.

To view older bar examinations from 31 other states, consult our collection of past exams in the Microforms Room on Level 1 of the library (cabinet # 35, top drawer). Available dates vary by state, although many of the most popular bar exam destinations for Duke Law students (like California and New York) have sent us past exams dating up to February 2010. To see which years are available for a particular state, search the Duke Libraries catalog for the subject heading bar examinations [state]; e.g. bar examinations Maryland; then look for the catalog result labeled “[microfiche]”.

Note that many states also make past exams available for free on their bar exam websites, such as New York’s page of Past Exam Questions, which may be more up-to-date than our microfiche collection. Visit http://www.ncbex.org/bar-admissions/offices/ to locate the Board of Law Examiners site for your state.

Good luck to all of our July 2011 exam-takers!