Nashville School of Law graduates performed very well on the July 2023 bar exam. The 78% success rate of our first-time takers is the highest it has been in recent years. We congratulate our successful graduates and applaud their hard work and tenacity.
With the hope of helping other students and graduates, we asked two of our alumni to share how they prepared for the bar exam.
NSL alumnus Matthew Fiser ’23 continued to work while he studied for the bar exam. He is thankful his employer provided flexibility with his schedule. Since it was his first time to take the exam he studied early in the mornings, on his lunch break and every evening, attempting to put in eight hours of studying each day.
“I primarily used Barbri, and focused on listening to the lectures first, while handwriting my outlines based on the Barbri lectures. I then converted my outlines into handwritten note cards and tried to answer at least 50 practice questions per day, making a log of principles that I missed. At least three times a week I would complete an essay under game conditions. I started studying right after graduation and didn’t stop until lunch the day before the exam. It was tough sledding, but two months of struggle seems a fair exchange for a lifetime of opportunity,” said Fiser.
NSL alumna Amber Schlatter ‘23 took a different approach.
“I quit my job and studied full time. I tried to stay consistent by starting at eight every morning and ending at five with an hour lunch break around noon. I think making myself stick to the same hours every day made it easier to manage and it allowed me to enjoy my evenings without feeling an overwhelming sense of guilt for not studying,” Schlatter said.
Both graduates said the Bar Exam Workshop class and Advanced Legal Studies course, taken during their fourth year at NSL, helped them succeed.
“(NSL Advanced Legal Studies Professor) Chuck Shonholtz’s class really helped me when it came to multiple choice questions. I struggled a lot with multiple-choice questions because I would overthink and read facts into a question that weren’t there. Chuck teaches you how to break down the question, and then teaches you how to answer it. Learn the game and you’ll be a multiple-choice master,” Schlatter said.
Fiser said the Bar Exam Workshop allowed him to enhance his writing skills.
“The Bar Exam Workshop class (required for 4L’s) is likely the reason I passed the bar. The class was designed to mimic the writing portion of the bar exam. It quickly became evident to me that writing under pressure could be problematic for me. The class itself was painful at times, but served the ultimate purpose of exposing my weaknesses and preparing me for what I would soon be faced with as I sat for the Bar. After taking the writing portion of the Bar on the first day, I remember thinking to myself, ‘that was easier than Bar Exam Workshop class.’ I truly believe had it not been for that class, and the bruised ego that came along with it, I would be drafting a study schedule to retake the exam in February,” Fiser said.
For those taking the bar exam in 2024, Schlatter and Fiser offer encouragement and support.
“Trust yourself, and what got you this far. You already know what works best for you and there is no need to re-invent the wheel. Additionally, focus on your progress and understanding of the subjects tested. What other people are doing, or how far along in bar prep they are generally isn’t helpful to you if you have a plan and you are sticking to it,” Fiser said.
“Do your personal study plan (PSP) on Barbri. Do what’s assigned to you each day. If you finish early (and there will be days you do), get a little ahead of the game, do extra multiple-choice questions or read through the extra essays in the essay book. Reading the extra essays, quickly answering in my head and then reading the Barbri model answer was super helpful in learning how to apply certain concepts,” Schlatter said.
“Also, don’t get upset or get down on yourself when you write out an essay and you get a poor score when self-grading on the Barbri checklist. Sometimes you’re going to fall on the other side of the issue and you’re not going to get those points according to Barbri. But if you fall on the other side of the issue on the Bar Exam, as long as you have a rule statement, apply it and give an analysis you’re going to get the points,” she added.
“Last but not least, be kind to yourself, believe in yourself, and do it right this summer so you never have to do it again. Good Luck!!”
Tennessee Law Schools July 2023 TN Bar Exam Statistics
1st Time Bar Exam Takers
School Pass Rate%
All Bar Exam Test Takers