Every year, I field many questions from those preparing for the Florida bar exam. In most cases, the questions concern (1) how to study and (2) what subjects will be tested.
How to study:
Most frequently, someone will ask me about shortcuts in their studies. Simply put: most people want to study as little as possible to pass the bar exam. After all, the bar exam is a test of minimal competency.
However you can achieve the average of 136 or above for both days of testing is dependent on your intellect, work ethic (commitment), and aptitude and numerous other potential factors. Some people are naturally gifted and/or possess a keen legal mind. For those people, studying a mere hour or two maybe 4-5 days per week for a month could theoretically lead to passing the bar exam. Unfortunately, most of us need to spend much more time hitting the books.
I believe that the last 1.5 to 2 months should involve 5-6 days of studying of 4-8 hours daily. If you work or have a family, 4 to 5 hours might be an absolute maximum. In those circumstances, one must study intensely.
Ultimately, I must state again that I believe everyone learns in unique ways that impede a 'one size fits all' assessment. That said: you will have a good idea of your true work output for the bar exam. This is where you need to be honest with yourself. If you're a repeater and you just got a new boyfriend or spend more than 1 night a week at the bars or clubs and you only manage to study 2-3 hours for 3 to 4 days a week, you have to ask yourself whether you are maximizing your efforts. A true honest assessment of one's self is critical to success.
The Florida Board of Bar Examiner's website does an excellent job of preparing anyone to take the Florida bar exam. In particular, the virtual tour of the Florida Bar Examination document is extremely informative for those unfamiliar with the Tampa Convention Center experience. There is no need for me to rehash what the Florida bar's website does so well.
What subjects are tested:
Inevitably, I receive at least 5 e-mails prior to every Florida bar exam asking me for predictions on the Florida exam. Specifically, people want to know what subjects will be tested on the essays.
I always seem to disappoint these people because I refuse to predict the essay subjects. However, I can safely assure you that at least one essay will ask you a question concerning professional responsibility and/or ethics.
The morning of Part A of the Florida bar exam consists of 3 one hour essays concerning any combination of the following subjects (pay particular attention to those marked red:
Unlike the California bar exam where a essay score of 50-60 is likely to damage your chances to pass overall, in Florida, an essay score of 50 or 60 is much closer to the mean. Issue-spotting is key as well as typing or writing as accurately and fast as possible.
Know that the grader looking at your Florida essays is likely tired from working 60-80 hours as a lawyer and underpaid for the task of reading 100-200 essays. First impressions matter, so start each essay with language that demonstrates your ability to write "lawyerly". Your grader may only spend a few precious minutes reading your work so make it count.
Also, pace yourself accordingly. I recently spoke to someone who spent so much time on essays one and two that he wrote a very brief paragraph for essay 3. This gentlemen received a very very low score for that third essay that sealed his fate on Part A.
Remember that your grader is starting with a clean rubric and his/her job is to award you points based on keywords indicating discussion of relevant issues. The goal is to collect as many points as you can. For example, if you get a torts products liability essay question, be sure to discuss EVERY possible cause of action: i.e. strict products liability, breach of fitness for a particular purpose, express & implied warranties, negligence, etc.. The more possibilities you can point out, the more points you will collect.
The afternoon session of Part A of the Florida bar exam consists of 100 multiple choice questions concerning Florida civil & criminal procedure and two of the following subjects: