A Personal Goodbye to Bar Exams

by Jamison Koehler on May 2, 2013

I passed the Maryland Out-of-State Lawyers’ Bar Exam.  It was not a slam dunk.

I probably over-prepared the last time I sat for a bar – that was the full, two-day Virginia bar exam I took in 2010.  So confident was I of passing that exam that I walked out an hour early on the second day for both the morning and afternoon sessions.  I was confident I had already accumulated enough points to pass.

This exam was different.  I had the same feeling after taking this one as I did walking out of the Multi-State Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE) a couple of years ago.  With all of the multiple choice questions on the MPRE, you could usually narrow your choice down to two or three of the answers but, although you might have an inkling as to which you thought was the best answer, you could never be 100% sure you were right. As a result, you walked out of that exam unsure of whether or not you had passed.  That is the way I felt after finishing the Maryland out-of-state bar.

To be fair, I felt like I got a lucky break with this exam.

Looking back at exams from previous years, it was clear that there were certain topics they always tested:  professional ethics, evidence (particularly privilege), civil and criminal procedure, and so on. To make sure you don’t just prepare those topics, however, they also seem to test in one new area for each exam.

The new topic tested for this exam was juvenile delinquency. Having done a lot of juvenile work in my career, I felt like Cliff the Mailman on the old T.V. show Cheers. Cliff makes it onto Jeopardy only to find that every question on the board has to do with the U.S. postal service.

My disappointment was that this year’s exam was light on Evidence. Usually there is at least one meaty question on prior inconsistent statements or character evidence or something like that in which you are asked to rule on an objection.  I figured I could score some serious points on that type of question. This year, if I recall correctly, the only evidentiary questions had to do with privilege.

Having taken three bar exams over the last seven years, I am thinking this will be my last one.  Or at least that is what I tell myself. Filling out the application for the character evaluation alone was difficult enough to discourage me from ever wanting to do it again.

Update:  Although my wife got her notice a day after I, she also passed.  And she hardly studied at all — just a couple of hours leafing through the code books on flights to and from California.

More like this:

Applying for the Maryland Out-of-State Lawyers’ Bar Exam

Preparing for the Virginia Bar Exam

The Virginia Bar Exam:  How Much Studying Is Enough?

Surviving the Virginia Bar Exam:  Reflections After Day One

38 Comments on “A Personal Goodbye to Bar Exams

  1. Interested in selling your books for the Maryland attonrney’s bar? If you passed, they must be “lucky” books.

  2. Thank you but I will need them for my practice.

  3. Did you take a bar review class? I am having trouble finding one.

  4. I don’t think you need to take a bar review course.

    Someone did tell me she hired a tutor. But, again, I don’t think that is necessary.

    The key thing, I think, is to completely familiarize yourself with the 5-volumes of the Maryland Code that you are allowed to bring into the exam with you. And the best way to do that is to go through the old exam questions and sample answers that are posted on the Maryland Bar website.

    It is tough-going with the first couple of exams. But after a while, you begin to figure out where things are. You also begin to see patterns. I found, for example, that they tend to test on the same things, with a new topic thrown in for each exam.

  5. Jamison,

    So, did your prep exclusively consist of reviewing old exams and familiarizing yourself with the code? I just got all of my books in today and plan on studying now until 2/25/13.

    You are Google favored on searches for Maryland Bar Exam.

  6. Justin:

    Yes. Although at least one other person told me she hired a private tutor, that is the only preparation I did. It is also what was recommended to me by friends who have taken (and passed) the Maryland bar.

    The first one or two practice exams are pretty tough-going. But it gets much easier from there as you begin to become more familiar with the Code.

  7. Jamison:

    I just printed and bound the previous bar exams to use and start preparing.

    Thanks for the tips. I’ll let you know.

  8. I see in the model answers that they some times refer to common law or actual case cites. did you try to quote case law or stick to the code sections? did you get any advice on quoting case law or expectations of knowing it?

  9. I noticed that, in the model answers, some people cited case law. I myself never did, and I passed.

  10. I’m an attorney from Puerto Rico. I been practicing law for 6 years now and I’m a collage professor. Do I have to take the full bar examination or do I qualified for the out of state Lawyers Bar Exam of 3 hours.

  11. Sorry, sir, but you will have to check the rules yourself.

  12. Did you or anyone you know make an outline or anything?

    I’d really love to have a little more than the model answers.


  13. The outline, I think, would be the table of contents for the 5-volume set. And you already have that.

  14. Hell0 –

    I found out last week that I passed July 2014’s MD Attorneys’ exam. I know quite a few people on this blog have stated that you you don’t need a prep course or a tutor. I hired a tutor and we met for about 4 hours. He gave me an outline of the most tested areas on the exam, reviewed the popular Court rules and laws and showed me how to write the essays. He also tabbed the books.

    Meeting with the tutor doesn’t sound like a big deal and some would say over the top. Honestly, you can tab the books yourself and study for this on your own, but I wanted to pass this test the first time around. I took a bar exam nearly 20 years ago and was admitted to another jurisdiction by motion a few years later. I did not attend law school in MD and definitely needed some guidance. Also, I have met a few lawyers who failed the the first time and I was not about to me one of them. I was in it to win it.

    Meeting with the tutor definitely put me in the right direction. After the meeting, however, I completed 1 to 2 exams per week and memorized the most frequently tested rules and statutes.

    I felt well prepared for the test, but I have to tell you, there were some tricky questions on it. I walked out of there not knowing if I had passed the test. I failed a bar exam when I first graduated and so I don’t think any of these tests are a slam dunk.

    My advice to anyone who wants to take the test: If you have the money, work with a tutor. Take many practice tests and know the rules inside and out. Tab your book well. Do not over tab and make sure you cite the laws and rules correctly during the exam. You will lose points if you do not. The truth is that this is a very manageable test to prep for. I was working 5o hours per week and still managed to study for it and pass it the first time around.

    Thank you and Good luck.

  15. Hello there,

    Barbara, not sure if you live in the area or not but Im also going to take the out-of state bar and now live in MD, let me know if you already have a study group on which to rely for support or if not and yould like to meet up a few times before the exam once weve started studying for moral and study support, let me know, Just trying to reach out!.

    Also SR I looked into that link, did they charge you $900 for 4hrs? Just want to confirm before trying to give them a call, once I decide that it might be worth a grand :-0

    Warm Regards!

  16. I’m going to be taking the Out of State Attorney’s Exam in February. Does anyone know if you’re allowed to write cross-references in the Code books themselves or just on the tabs you put in the books? In other words, can you write in the Code books as long as what you write is just a cross-reference and not a substantive annotation?

  17. Aisha – Sorry for the late response. Yes, I did pay that much. It’s big bucks for sure. But, I passed. So……

  18. SR: When did you start studying? That is, about how many weeks did you study for this exam while working?

  19. I have all the books required for the MD Out of State Attorney’s Exam and they’re already tabbed (as is allowed for the exam). In addition, I have the outlines and materials from Barrister’s Maryland Bar Review, a course specifically designed for the MD Out of State Attorney’s Exam. If anyone would like to purchase these materials, please email me at: richardstephan@yahoo.com


  20. I plan to sit for the Maryland Out of State Attorney Exam in July 2015. I would like to identify a couple of other people to participate in a virtual “study group” over the upcoming 8 weeks. Please text me at (202) 329-3645 if you might be interested as well. Thanks! –Julie

  21. The MD Out of State Attorney’s Exam materials I had for sale (see my May 20 comment) have been sold. Thanks.

  22. For those who already took the exam and passed, did you find out your results the same day that the General Bar Exam takers get their results or did you get them earlier or later?

  23. I passed the MD bar exam in 2015 and have all the materials from Shemer Bar Review. If anyone is interested in buying them, please email me at: sumumu13@126.com


  24. Has anyone heard of Commonwealth Bar Review? They are apparently working on an online bar review course for the Out of State Test (http://www.commonwealthbarreview.com). Their facebook page says they will be ready in time for the February Bar.

    I would love to avoid shelling out a thousand dollars or needing to attend lectures in person.

  25. I took the prep course from Commonwealth. It was excellent. Lots of great videos explaining the substantive areas of the law, helpful strategies for how to answer the questions, a good written materials. It had been many years since my last bar exam and there was no way I was going to take the bar exam again. I have to say, the Lawyer’s exam was pretty easy after the review course. Not sure what I would have done without it.

  26. I passed the July 2015 Out of State Attorney’s Exam. However, I can’t find the answer key on the bar website. Does anyone have access to the answers to that particular exam?

  27. +1 for CommonwealthBarReview.com It’s definitely worth it if you want to pass the first time.

  28. Hi I am an attorney admitted in NY and move to MD with family. Can anyone give few tips how to mark or code the books for the out of state attorney exam. What is the best way? How many hours of study per day is good amount for February 2017 exam. Does anyone have their study plan to share?

  29. Hello Sandy,

    I took the July 2015 MD out of state attorney exam. For some reason, they did not post the answer key to my exam, so I could not compare my answers. But I passed! Lol.

    I purchased my books from Lexus Nexus. I did not buy them used, so my books were around $500.00. I wanted to make sure I had the most recent volumes. I started studying sometime in May 2015. I was working a full time and a part time job. I studied a few hours each day for like 4 days a week, then I hit it hard a week before the exam.

    First, I went to the MD bar website and printed off the most recent exams. I think I went back to 2012 to present. I briefly skimmed some of the exam questions. I even went back to the older exams and did some of those questions as well.

    Then, I pretty much started with one book and skimmed through it tabbing and highlighting what I thought was important. Familiarize yourself with all 5 books. In between familiarizing myself, I took practice exams under testing conditions. It was rough at first! But as I familiarized myself with the books and common questions tested on, I felt I was prepared for the exam.

    Do not be afraid to start doing practice exams early in your study schedule! That is how I learned the type of questions tested on.

    I also had a study group, and we met or phone conferenced once a week to compare essay answers. That helped alot as well.

    There is no need for a tutor… in my opinion. It is not an easy test, but if you familiarize yourself with the books and do the past exams, you should be fine!

    I wish you luck!

  30. I recently passed Maryland out of state lawyers exam which I took in July of 2017. I am interested in selling the books that I used to study for the exam. Contact me by email at jnelson10@cfl.rr.com if you are interested. Thank you.

  31. Hi — I have all the books required for the MD Out of State Attorney’s Exam and they’re already tabbed (as is allowed for the exam). All books were purchased new from Lexis for the July 2017 exam, with the exception of the Maryland Rule volumes 1 and 2 which are the 2016 edition and purchased from another attorney. If anyone would like to buy these materials, please email me at: ecenteno@stanfordalumni.org. Thanks.

  32. All I can say is I used Commonwealth Bar Review (for the Feb 2018).

    I can’t image studying without it. Highly recommended.

  33. I’m planning to take the Feb 2018 Attorney’s exam. Which books should I purchase to prepare for it?

  34. Pingback: Applying To Take The Maryland Out-of-State Lawyer’s Bar Exam

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