Don't let anyone fool you into believing that you have to spend thousands of dollars on commercial prep courses in order to pass the bar exam. They couldn't be more wrong, the only value obtained from these courses are their outlines, practice questions, and their syllabus; and none are worth the price of the course. You can obtain these materials for cheap or even free from various sources, and a syllabus is easy to build on your own. In fact, making your own syllabus is an advantage over the structured course because you can schedule your time to suit your own strengths and weaknesses while your peers are stuck in a one-size-fits-all prep course. It is pretty simple really, if you can obtain some outlines and are motivated enough to study on your own, you can pass the bar exam for a fraction of the cost charged by exam prep courses.

Obtain Materials:

          To pass the Bar Exam, all you really need are outlines that cover the subjects tested by your state's bar. These outlines do not need to be brand new, and even if published years earlier, they should still be accurate. To be sure, simply ask your professors whether any major changes in the law have occurred since the date of publish and note those changes. You can find such outlines from several different sources:


Friends: Do you know any new lawyers? Ask them if they kept their bar prep materials or know of anyone who did. Many of these people would be glad to sell or lend them to you… usually with compliments for attempting the bar without a commercial course.

Libraries: Bar prep materials can sometimes be found in libraries. Search your local public libraries and your own law library for older copies of these materials. These libraries also make great study areas, so keep your eyes open for comfortable places to study, you will need them.

Online: Search amazon, ebay, and craigslist, and you will usually find bar prep materials for sale, usually for several hundred dollars, but still much cheaper than paying for the bar prep course. 


Build A Syllabus:

          Scheduling alone is enough to scare many students into paying for bar prep courses. Fear of the unknown is powerful, and fear of the bar is stronger yet. Because students have no clue how much preparation is "enough" preparation for the bar, they are willing to pay companies to tell them when and what to read, but this information is not worth thousands of dollars. If you are smart and determined enough to make it through law school, you can definitely figure the timing out on your own:

Look at your outlines: Break the outlines into categories by size. The outlines that are 50 or less pages can usually be tackled within one day, while the bigger outlines may need to be broken up into two or three days.


Look at your calendar: Determine how many weekdays you have until the bar exam, you should have roughly 30-50% more weekdays days than outlines (or parts of outlines) to read. These extra days will be used for practice tests and a week or two of attack outline review before the exam, as well as the occasional day of rest.

Organize the days: If there are subjects that you are already familiar with, alternate these with the more difficult subjects. For example, your torts outline will likely be a three day study, so if you are unsure on torts, schedule two easier one day outlines to fill out that five day week instead of trying to tackle another difficult subject. Plan for about 6-8 hours a day for each outline, and a couple hours at night to review the next days outline and to clean up your notes. Then, Schedule one day on the weekends for some practice essays covering the previous week's subjects and some multiple choice questions.


That's all you have to do, seriously. Your syllabus is done. But, before you build your syllabus, read How To Study For The Bar Exam (to be published soon) for more precise study guidelines so that you will have a better idea of how to schedule your days and weeks.



           Many people will be too scared to attempt what this article suggests, but believe me, anyone can do it if they can obtain outlines and are diligent in their studies. And don't forget, even if you didn't pay for the bar review, many law schools provide services to their graduates who are studying for the bar, such as grading of practice essays and even providing seminars that include tips and tricks on how to attack the exam, so stay in touch with your school.