The First-Year Law Students’ Examination (FYLSE), more commonly known as the Baby Bar, is taken by law students who have completed their first year of study at an unaccredited California law school. Renowned for its high difficulty and low passage rates, the Baby Bar is a one-day, seven-hour exam made up of four essays and 100 multiple-choice questions in Contracts, Criminal Law, and Torts. On an 800 point scale, examinees have to score a minimum of a 560, or 70% accuracy rate, to pass. First-year students must pass the Baby Bar within three attempts in order receive full credit for their law school studies. If a student is unable to pass after three tries, the courses that they take until they do pass the Baby Bar will not count as credit towards their law school career.
As the most recently released Baby Bar results indicate that only 19.2% of total examinees passed in October 2013, it is likely that the Baby Bar is the most challenging exam that numerous California law students will ever have to take (besides the full Bar Exam after graduation). Thus, if you are one of these students who anticipate taking the Baby Bar this fall, it’s important to prepare for other bar-related challenges you may face to further increase your chances of passing. Use these tips, compiled by AdaptiBar, to overcome them and maximize your studying.
Challenge #1: Knowing What to Study
So you already know that you will be tested on Contracts, Criminal Law, and Torts. But with so much information to study on each subject, it can be difficult to determine exactly which concepts the State Bar of California Committee of Bar Examiners will deem important enough to test you on.
Solution: According to the state bar website, “An answer based upon legal theories and principles of general applicability is sufficient; detailed knowledge of California law is not required.” This means that you need to focus on the general premises of legal theories and principles related to Contracts, Criminal Law, and Torts. Rather than memorizing every minute detail about California law, an overview is sufficient. One helpful hint to keep in mind as you study is to look back at the notes you took during your first-year classes. Chances are, if you or your professor made note of any topic or definition as being more important than others, the State Bar will, too.
To get a better idea of what theories and principles will be on the exam, consider AdaptiBar’s Smart Online Flashcards. You’ll get lifetime access to over 950 flashcards that you can use as you study for final exams throughout law school, the bar exam, and of course, the Baby Bar.
Challenge #2: Managing Your Time During the Exam
You have 3 hours to complete the multiple-choice section of the Baby Bar and 4 hours to complete the essay portion, giving you 1.8 minutes to answer each multiple choice question and 1 hour per essay. Pacing yourself on the Baby Bar relies heavily on internal timing, so it’s imperative to perfect it now as an integrated part of your prep.
Solution: Have you ever heard that practice makes perfect? Of course you have, and it’s true. Refining internal timing takes discipline, lots of it, which is why it is one of the most difficult aspects of taking the Baby Bar. To improve your self-timing, practice taking multiple choice questions and essays in one of two ways. The first is to keep a timer or clock by you and glance at it every time you start and finish a question or essay. If you take too long on a question, try to work faster next time, and vice versa. The second way is much simpler and involves AdaptiBar’s Baby Bar Program, which automatically tracks how long it takes for you to answer practice questions and determines your sweet spot, or the time at which you are most likely to answer questions correctly. This study method will almost effortlessly help you perfect your internal timing. Read more about how AdaptiBar can eliminate your timing issues on the Baby Bar here!
Challenge #3: Making Time to Study
After so much studying, test-taking, and writing during your first year of law school, it’s likely that the last thing you feel like doing is studying more for the Baby Bar. Of course, as each day is another day closer to the exam, you may want to start reevaluating how you are spending your time. But how do you balance fun with studying? Or, is one more important than the other?
Solution: Treat the Baby Bar as if you were graduating from law school and about to take the general bar exam. How much time would you spend studying each day? How much effort would you put into your preparation? Because everyone learns information at different rates, there is no one time that AdaptiBar can recommend for everyone to spend studying for the exam each day. However, it is highly suggested that studying consistently remains your top priority. To avoid future scheduling conflicts, explain the importance of studying for the Baby Bar to family and friends and try not to plan ahead for any upcoming events or appointments. Yes, it’s okay to spend a few hours on the couch and go out every once in a while. In fact, it’s important to give your brain and body time to rest. Just be sure that downtime doesn’t overtake study time and that the Baby Bar stays your primary focus.
Challenge #4: Staying Motivated
I’ll do it tomorrow. These words are commonly heard from law students who just can’t seem to find enough motivation to study, especially for the Baby Bar. Perhaps you have even found yourself in the same situation and have been putting off studying for a while now. Because motivation is critical to learning and thus performing to the best of your ability on the bar exam, follow these tips to not only get motivated, but stay motivated until exam day.
Solution: First and foremost, remind yourself of your future goals. Where do you see yourself once you graduate from law school? How important is having a law career to you? No matter how you answered these questions, remember that taking the Baby Bar is an essential component to getting your degree, and thus one step closer to making your dreams a reality.
Once you have done this, choose a quiet and clean environment to study in. Remove all distractions and electronics, including your cell phone, from your designated study area and think of what you would like to accomplish today. Is there a specific section of Criminal Law that you would like to review or a new concept in Torts you need to read about? Whatever it is, setting concrete study goals for yourself will keep you driven until you complete them.
Challenge #5: Applying the Material
So you’ve memorized law concepts and definitions, but can you apply them to a real-life situation? Many people who do not pass the Baby Bar the first time believe that lacking law knowledge is not where they went wrong, but rather lacking knowledge of how to apply it. Avoid this situation now by learning how to properly apply your study material as practice for the upcoming exam.
Solution: After you fully memorize and understand a new law concept or definition, think of a real-life example or situation that relates to it. For example, what is a common example of negligence? Have you seen or read about any cases related to an inchoate crime recently? Write your examples down. This technique will not only help you memorize concepts more efficiently, but give you a practical application of them so that you are not just memorizing information, but actively learning it.
Also, consider enrolling in AdaptiBar’s Baby Bar Program, which includes questions and detailed answer explanations from all subjects tested on the Baby Bar. You’ll get access to the same well-known features that come with AdaptiBar’s MBE prep program, from its adaptive technology that targets your weaknesses and refines your strengths to its 100% licensed MBE questions.
Nobody said that studying would be easy, but it will be worth it. Hard work reaps positive results, so stick to these tips and AdaptiBar guarantees that you will be one step closer to passing the Baby Bar.