Earlier this month, AdaptiBar conducted a survey of more than 900 law students and recent graduates. We asked these students about technology, the bar exam and their law school experience.
Some answers were what we expected. For instance, 91 percent of students use a laptop to study. Other findings surprised us – more than 20 percent of you don’t drink any caffeine while studying!
But here’s what shocked us the most – more than one-third of the surveyed students gave their law schools a “D” or “F” in bar exam prep. But it isn’t the Ivy League or top-tier schools that are dominating in bar exam prep. Students at fourth-tier schools feel the most prepared and confident heading into the bar exam. We think these findings reflect the extra steps lower-tiered law schools take to improve bar exam passage rates.
We’ve been arguing for years that every school should start preparing their students for the bar, beginning in their first year. We’re not advocating for teaching to the bar. We’re advocating for better evaluation earlier, and less bar prep panic in the 11th hour.
Here are some options for evaluating bar prep metrics from day one:
Evaluate students based on which professors they have
When we mention this option, professors often hide in fear. It’s not meant to scare them, but instead adjust students’ study plans depending on which topics their professors covered. Even the best professors may be better at teaching one portion of the law than others. By evaluating how students’ professors have affected their education, law schools can ensure their students are all receiving the knowledge they need to pass the bar.
Modify curriculum to overcome weaknesses
When law schools begin evaluating students, they detect flaws in their program early in students’ education. Otherwise, law schools aren’t aware of the topics students are struggling with until they begin bar prep – when it’s too late to help.
Create break-out groups for students
Starting in their first year, students could start out in a study or prep course together. Similar to a conference, students are broken out into subclasses of about 20 people. For instance, if a group of students is weak in torts, they would meet separately to focus on that area. With group learning, students can help each feel more confident in their weakest areas and have a well-rounded exam prep.
With these strategies, schools will improve their bar passage rates. Students at fourth-tier law schools already feel the most prepared and confident heading into the bar exam. Hopefully other law schools can emphasize bar exam prep and boost their students’ confidence levels as well.
Check back with us soon for more of our findings from the survey!