Academic and Bar Exam Success Program (ABES)
Christina Chong, Director
ABES offers comprehensive academic and bar support services because we are committed to our students’ academic success.
First Year: During orientation week, ABES faculty introduce learning-style and note-taking techniques to help students prepare for the first week of classes. Throughout the first-year, all students attend Success Strategies workshops, which focus on academic skills like case briefing, outlining, rule deconstruction, and analysis. Success Strategies takes a holistic approach to law school and bar readiness by also focusing on critical non-cognitive skills for lawyers like grit, growth mindset, stress management, identifying implicit biases, and developing professional identity.
A consulting tutor is available to all students for each substantive class. The tutor holds office hours to answer questions and works with the ABES director to offer special sessions on problem solving and legal analysis. Individual counseling is also available for all first-year students.
Upper Division: After the first year, upper division students who have been identified as needing extra assistance after their first year of study can contact an ABES faculty member to develop a plan for academic improvement. Consulting tutors are also available for specific bar classes.
Second Year: Although bar preparation services are not officially available until the second year in law school, ABES encourages students to understand that mastering the skills learned in the first-year Success Strategies workshops is essential to passing the bar examination. By starting bar preparation early, students gradually review the law and strengthen their study and test-taking strategies while in law school rather than cramming and experimenting with learning preferences after graduation.
The ABES upper-division bar preparation program begins with a workshop focusing on the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE), connecting the Success Strategies lessons to the skills tested by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE), and introducing students to the major bar preparation companies.
As 2Ls, students are also eligible to take bar preparation classes to improve their substantive knowledge and performance test (PT), multiple-choice, and essay exam-taking skills. The bar preparation classes include Legal Drafting, Logic for Lawyers, and Advanced Classes.
Third and Fourth Year: During the third and fourth years of law school, ABES offers two programs for first-time bar exam takers. The first program, Early Bar Prep, covers different testing formats, the goals of the drafters, how to study for the bar exam, and challenges encountered by graduates preparing for the exam, including time and stress management, maintaining stamina and confidence, and reducing the effect of stereotype threat. Early Bar Prep also introduces students to the actual components of the bar examination with PT, essay, and Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) in-class simulations. Each simulation normally includes a subsequent review of the sample answers, individual feedback, and self-assessment homework.
The second program, Bar REPS (Review, Endurance, Practice, Self-Assessment), supplements the bar review courses during the bar preparation season by providing additional materials, practice exams, and insights. Bar REPS does not replace a bar review course, but offers ample opportunities for students to write practice essays under exam conditions, practice self-assessing their work, and receive individual feedback on essays and PTs.
Individual Meetings: All upper-division students can arrange individual meetings with ABES faculty members to discuss their bar preparation plans anytime during the second, third, and fourth years. If a graduate does not pass the exam on their first attempt, ABES provides support to repeaters through intake counseling sessions that help students identify their strengths and weakness and focus their study strategies.