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The Baby Bar Some Helpful Tips

If you attend a law school that is not accredited by the American Bar Association, after your first year of law school you will have to take the First-Year Law Students’ Examination commonly referred to as the “Baby Bar.”  In order to get credit for your law school course work, you must pass the Baby Bar.  You initially are allotted three attempts to pass the Baby Bar.  You can continue with law school while you are trying to pass the Baby Bar.  However, if you end up having to take it 4 or more times, you will not get credit for any course work after your first year until you pass the Baby Bar.  For example, if you pass the Baby Bar on your fourth try, and you pass it after you completed your second year of law school, you will receive credit for your first year coursework, but not your second year course work.  In other words, you would have to repeat your second year.  Clearly, the stakes are high.

Format of the Baby Bar
The Baby Bar covers three substantive areas of law:  torts, contracts, criminal law.  There are 4 essays and 100 multiple-choice questions.  You will have 4 hours to complete the 4 essays and 3 hours for the multiple choice questions.  The pass rate for the Baby Bar is around 20%.

Preparation Tips
In many ways the Baby Bar is just like any other standardized exam.  The key to doing well is proper preparation, with strong emphasis on “proper.”

Take enough time to prepare properly.  The Baby Bar is not an exam for which you can cram.  You cannot learn what you need to know in a matter of a few weeks, even if you have just finished your first year of law school.  Law school focuses primarily on legal theory, while the Baby Bar tests substantive law.  Thus, you need to enough time to memorize the law related to torts, contracts, and criminal.  A reasonable time to start preparing is about 6 months prior to the exam, devoting a few hours each day.

Find the correct resources to help you study.  The Baby Bar is not a traditional bar exam.  You should not attempt to prepare for the Baby Bar in the way that a law school graduate would prepare for the California Bar or any other bar exam.  Thus, just because someone successfully teaches  a course on bar exam prep does not mean that that person can be just as effective in teaching a Baby Bar prep course.  Whether you take a Baby Bar class or work with a private tutor, make sure that the instructor has experience taking the Baby Bar and truly understands what it takes to pass it.

Work on exam writing skills.  Understanding how to write a Baby Bar essay is just as critical as knowing and understanding the law.  So much of being a successful law student and a successful lawyer is knowing how write well and with purpose.  The same is true for passing the Baby Bar.  You will need to understand the law and how to put your thoughts and analyses in a cohesive, effective essay.

Some say that the First-Year Law Students’ Examination is more difficult than any state bar exam.  While this is certainly debatable, ultimately it does not really matter.   For any exam, if you properly prepare, you have a good chance of being successful.

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