At Bowen, preparation for the bar exam is a process that begins during the first week of classes and continues through passage of the exam. The Office of Student Affairs provides advice and resources to students throughout the application and bar preparation process. December graduates planning to take the February bar exam should begin their application during the summer between their second and third year; May graduates taking the bar exam in July should begin their application by the beginning of their final semester.
The Office of Student Affairs, and specifically the Director of Bar Success Services, is available throughout students’ time in law school to advise and counsel or answer questions about the bar exam process–applying, preparing and passing.
First year students begin building a strong foundation by completing the first-year required curriculum (Civil Procedure, Criminal Law, Torts, Property, and Contracts). Completion of these courses provide a head start on bar exam preparation because these areas of the law are tested more heavily on the exam than material from courses taken during the second and third years. Through the Bowen Expert Student Training Program structured study groups and workshops students also learn about the process and timing of applying for the bar, including character and fitness qualifications.
Second year students are encouraged to find out which topics are tested on the bar exam in each state where they plan to take the exam and to enroll in as many bar tested courses as possible. Second year students are also encouraged to take the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) during their second year after completion of the Legal Profession course.
Students who matriculated in Fall 2016 or later are now required to take the Introduction to Bar Preparation Skills course. This is a pass/fail course that provides a broad overview of the bar exam and its components including the MPT, MBE, MPRE, and MEE. It also discusses study strategies and ways to begin preparing for the bar exam prior to graduation.
Second year students will also have the opportunity to attend a workshop covering the Multistate Performance Test (MPT). They will also be required to complete a MPT under test conditions as part of the Lawyering Skills I course. Students will receive peer and faculty feedback on their performance in an effort to improve comfort and readiness for this component of the Arkansas bar exam.
Third year students should continue to make course selections with the bar exam in mind. Students sitting for the next February or July bar exam are highly encouraged to register for the Writing for the Bar Exam and Advanced Bar Preparation Skills courses. This course focuses on problem recognition and analysis and enhances critical reading, thinking, and writing skills to maximize student performance on the bar exam.
Third year students should also focus on transitioning their approach to writing in anticipation of the bar exam. The Kaplan Multistate Essay (MEE) Workshop is a one day skills workshop that provides a general overview of bar exam essay writing with live instruction from nationally recognized bar examination expert. The workshop provides a strategic approach to essay writing that will help students increase their score on the MEE portion of the bar exam. This workshop is free to all current Bowen students.
During students’ third year, they will begin evaluating commercial bar preparation programs. Bowen offers an annual commercial bar prep program scholarship to select students based on financial need. The application period for students taking the February Bar Exam normally opens in September; the application period for students taking the July Bar Exam opens in February. Contact the Director of Bar Success Services for more information.
Also during their third year, students should begin to determine whether they will seek accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for the bar exam. Many students succeed in law school while receiving accommodations and it is important to ensure early and comprehensive preparation for making a request to the Arkansas Board of Law Examiners for accommodations on the bar exam. The Director of Bar Success Services can assist with preparing the request and answer questions about the process or refer the student to the Arkansas Board of Law Examiners.
Bowen is committed to the success of its graduates on the bar exam. This commitment continues after graduation and throughout the bar exam preparation process. Our philosophy for post-graduation bar preparation is that it should be based on a combination of a commercial bar review course, a concurrent bar prep program, and structured self-study. Active and regular attendance and commitment with each component are essential to passing the Arkansas bar exam.
The Bowen Concurrent Bar Preparation Program is FREE to all graduates. The program supplements and complements the student’s commercial bar review course by providing extensive practice time with MBE, MEE and MPT materials and collaborative study involving small groups and partners. The program also includes a full simulation of the first day of the Arkansas bar exam.
Please contact Director of Bar Success Services Stella Phillips via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, phone at 501.683.4893 or stop by her office (Room 205E) for more information.