How to Prepare for the New York Bar Exam

Passing the bar exam is a prerequisite to practice law in the state of New York. The exam is held twice a year in February and July on the last Tuesday and Wednesday of those months at various test centers in New York. It is a difficult exam that requires immense preparation, discipline and mental endurance. The exam's duration is two days with two three-hour sessions each day. The first day of the exam tests New York law while the second day is devoted to the multistate bar examination (MBE). Additionally, on the first day you will also be tested on the multistate performance test (MPT).

Things You'll Need

  • Law degree
  • Bar preparation materials


    • 1

      Visit the New York State Board of Law Examiners website and apply for the exam. If you received your law degree outside the United States, you can request that the board evaluate your eligibility to sit the exam by completing the Foreign Evaluation of Academic Credentials form on the New York State Board of Law Examiners website.

    • 2

      Familiarize yourself with the content outline of the exam, which is available at the New York State Board of Law Examiners' website. This part of the bar examination tests 13 New York law subjects in essay format and multiple choice questions. Also familiarize yourself with the content outline for the MBE available at the National Conference of Bar Examiners' website. This will give you an overview of the topics on which you should be focusing during your preparation.

    • 3
      Include some physical exercise in your schedule.
      Include some physical exercise in your schedule.

      Make a study plan. Aim for approximately 10 hours of study per weekday for the eight weeks preceding the examination. If you are taking a bar review course, spend three to four hours attending review lectures and three hours reviewing your study notes. Spend two to three hours taking practice essay questions and MBE questions. Aim for 10 hours of study per weekend. Maintain some free time to relax.

    • 4

      Consider taking a bar review course. These courses can be expensive but they can equip you with the necessary knowledge and exam technique to succeed in the exam. If you decide to study for the exam on your own, make sure you focus your studies on the subjects tested in the examination by reviewing the most tested topics in past exam questions, which are available on the New York State Board of Law Examiners website.

    • 5

      Prepare a set of notes for each topic you study. Then summarize these notes so you can memorize them closer to the exam date.

    • 6

      If you are taking a bar review course, take as many practice essay questions as possible and review the model answers provided by your bar review course provider. There is no need to write out the entire answer. For essay questions, spend 10 minutes reading the question and another 10 minutes outlining the answer. Make sure you cover all issues of fact and law in your outline. You can access actual past essay questions from the New York State Board of Law Examiners' website to get an idea of how the exam questions are drafted.

    • 7

      Take MBE questions in units of 18 to 36 questions per day and review the answers even if you get them correct. Aim to complete 36 questions in 45 minutes. Spend another 45 minutes reviewing the answers.

    • 8

      Download past MPT case studies from the National Conference of Law Examiners website. Practice four to five MPT case studies. Spend 30 minutes reading the material and another 15 minutes outlining the answer.

    • 9

      Start the memorization process of your notes as early as possible. Memorize your study notes for all New York topics and MBE topics. Thoroughly know the differences between New York law and MBE law.

Tips & Warnings

  • Keep checking the New York Board of Law Examiners website for updates.
  • Be realistic about your study plan schedule.
  • If you’re running out of time, focus on the most tested topics.
  • Use flashcards to help you memorize key points of law.
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  • Photo Credit Study image by FattaT from christmas is coming image by Pix by Marti from

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