News and information useful to Cleveland-Marshall College of Law students, faculty and staff.


Bar Exam Tip: Keep Breathing

Image of e-reader displaying words "Don't Panic" The bar exam is next week and you have been studying hard all summer, well actually for your entire law school career. With all the studying and pressure, it’s still important to be aware of and to manage your stress level. Most people experience some nervousness when faced with a big exam, but for some, those nerves can be overwhelming.

If you are having feelings of dread, and physical symptoms such as a racing heartbeat, nausea, shortness of breath, sweating and dizziness, then you may be experiencing a more serious form of stress called test anxiety. For people with test anxiety, the mind sees an exam as a threat and that triggers the body to produce the hormones and physical reactions usually seen when your “fight or flight” response activates. Don’t worry, there are many strategies you can practice to help reduce these effects. For example, while studying make sure you are still getting plenty of rest, staying hydrated, and taking breaks. You can also find a few breathing and meditation techniques that help calm your mind. Those breathing techniques will be useful during the exam.

Breathing exercises are actually beneficial for everyone. Regardless of your stress level, the bar exam is lengthy and you may find yourself becoming fatigued, or freezing on a question. It’s important not to panic when that happens, and take a few deep breaths instead. This will help slow everything down and reset yourself. It won’t take up much time, and may actually save you time in the long run by helping you unfreeze and move on. You can try the 4-7-8 Breathing Exercise, or some Belly Breathing. Use your lunch break to walk around and try some stretches to release the tension from your neck, shoulders, and back.

Check out our Work-Life Balance Pinterest board for more tips on stress management, easy and healthy meals, and short exercise routines that fit into your busy schedule.

Good luck! You’ve got this!

Regarding the Ohio Bar

In the immortal words of one of my old profs, “What are we doin’ today, folks? We’re passin’ the bar today!” He would exclaim this at the beginning of every class, while simultaneously slamming his briefcase down, leaning back in his chair, and propping his cowboy-boot-clad feet up on the table. He wasn’t wrong. I include this little story to remind you that you have been passing the bar, every day, in class, for the last three years.

This is the time for review and for practicing strategies for the types of questions that appear on each portion of the exam. For the Ohio Bar, these portions are:

The Multistate Performance Test – two closed universe writing problems that you will knock out of the way Tuesday morning

The Multistate Bar Exam – multiple choice questions that you will crush on Wednesday

The Ohio-specific essays – six on Tuesday afternoon, and six on Thursday morning

Then you are free to cruise up the road to Cedar Point and cut loose. That’s what I did the day after my exam in 2012. Worth it.

The Law Library has a guide all about the Ohio Bar Exam. One particularly useful resource in the Law Library is the set of Ohio Bar essay questions, with published answers, covering 1992 to the present. Use these for extra practice with issue spotting, outlining, and getting an even better grasp of the Ohio examiners’ style.  You can also check out sample essay questions on the Supreme Court’s website, which include samples of the MPT. For tips on the essay questions and MPT, and a breakdown of the grading, see our Logistics page.

A few more tips:

Go to the Essay Advantage workshop.

Take a sweater or jacket with you every day. At my exam, it was uncomfortably hot and stuffy on the first day, then freezing the second day. Coincidence?

Bring extra pencils with good erasers.

Keep up with your review program.

And remember …

Picture of a puppy

Bar Exam Materials

scalesEven when you are taking Barbri, you still may want additional materials to help studying for the bar exam.  No matter what individual subject you are interested in delving into, the law library has plenty of study aids: books (in print and ebooks), flashcards, and CALI lessons.  Along with those, I thought it might also be helpful to point out to our readers specific titles related to the bar exam that may be of use:

The Bar Exam in a Nutshell

Multistate Bar Exam Questions

Bar Exam Survival Kit

If I Don’t Pass the Bar I’ll die : 73 Ways to Keep Stress and Worry From Affecting Your Performance on the Bar Exam

Scoring High on Bar Exam Essays

Congratulations Graduates! Study Rooms and Other Assistance for Grads

capEven after you have completed your studies at Cleveland-Marshall, there are many ways in which you can continue to benefit from the law school and library.

Most importantly, you can continue to use the library’s resources if you apply for an alumni borrower’s card. The application can be found here.

Graduates will also be able to access Bloomberg Law, Lexis Advance and WestlawNext for 6 months after graduation.  If you have any questions on this, please direct them to Brian Cassidy, at b.e.cassidy@csuohio.edu or 216-523-7364.  You will also still be able to access important databases, such as HeinOnline, and others from the public computers in the library.

In addition, when you do come back to visit the law library you will be able to access our wireless using the free unsecured CSUGUEST network.

You will still be able to ask library staff for help with any reference questions you may have in person, by email (research.services@law.csuohio.edu), or by phone (216 687-6877).

Finally, we will do all that we can to help you prepare for the bar exam. CALI lessons will be available to you for up to six months after graduation to help you perfect your legal knowledge. While studying for the bar, you are also welcome to use the student lounge or any of our study rooms.

Best of luck in the future.

Tips for Bar Prep

barAs someone who passed the Ohio State Bar exam, here are some tips that I used and found helpful when studying:

  1. Free time/downtime: Although you obviously need to be studying a lot, it’s important to still get exercise (even just a walk to clear your mind).  Also, try to set aside a period of time (30 mins to an hour) to do something you like that is non-law related.  Suggestions would be a hobby, a tv show, sports, music, talking to loved ones.  Keeping this in mind I feel helps you to decompress and stay connected to non-law related things in your life.
  2. Stay positive: Keep working hard and try not to let negative thoughts creep into your mindset.  Also, try to be around positive people—it is infectious!
  3. Study: Most of you are using a Bar prep class (in fact all C|M|Law students get Barbri as part of their tuition—whoo hoo!), so stick as close as you can to their schedule.  I felt planning each day of studying in advance to be a helpful way to stay on track.  If you get behind plan out a way to catch up.
  4. Places to study: I found it was good to change up the places I did studying to keep things fresh.  However, be prepared to move if you find the place chosen is too noisy or distracting.
  5. MBE: The Multi-State part of the bar can make or break your exam.  I suggest doing as many practice questions as possible and review the answers you get incorrect.

While the above are my personal suggestions, I thought the read might also find a few extra bar exam advice articles of use:

5 Tips on Passing the Bar Exam

22 Awesome Bar Exam Tips

5 Things I Did Differently the Second Time to Pass the Bar Exam

How I Prepared for the Bar Exam