For those of you who have not started studying yet, this weekend is the time to do so. We’re at less than 2 months till the July 2011 bar exam, so this is the time to start.
For all of you taking the Virginia bar exam, I have some tips to share for the essays and short answer section, which is 60% of your overall score. First, the basics. You have approximately 36 minutes per essays, and 36 minutes for 20 short answer questions. Of course, you overall time is 3 hours and you can divide it up however you want, but it breaks out to 36 minutes per question approx. In the morning section you have 5 essay questions, and in the afternoon section you have 4 essay questions and 20 short answers. For the afternoon section I recommend doing the short answers first (they usually take much less than 36 minutes) and then finish off the last 4 essay questions of the day.
Take a look at the past essay questions and model answers (available from GMU and W&M) for years past and look for frequency of subjects tested. (NOTE: The barbri frequency chart is flawed and many of the years/subjects are incorrect, so I recommend looking at the questions yourself and not blindly relying on inaccurate materials.) The VA bar examiners have openly stated that they like testing subjects that a new attorney is likely to encounter. Read into this! This means things like VA procedure, criminal law, domestic relations, property, etc. Practice writing essay answers. This is very important to get comfortable with the VA specific essay material and the vocabulary that is unique to Virginia. If you write enough Virginia essays you will sound like a Virginia lawyer in your answers on the bar exam, and that’s exactly what the graders are looking for. And, if you are going to practice in Virginia, that’s what you want do to when you are actually in practice because judges expect it as well in the Commonwealth.
Good luck and stay focused. Try and study a little bit every day to keep your mind focused on the bar exam subjects.
For those of you interested in tutoring, my roster is full for DC, so I am not accepting any more students. But, I am keeping 1-2 spots open for Virginia if the right candidate(s) comes along as my Virginia program has been highly successful so far and I really enjoy tutoring for the VA exam.