Last week’s post suggested four purchases for new graduates as they prepare to take the bar exam this coming week, but rising 3Ls should also be preparing for the exam…in a different way. The process for applying and taking the exam can cost thousands of dollars, and not all students are aware of these costs. The earlier you begin the bar planning process, the more you can save. Here are a few tips.
1. Lock in a bar exam prep course. Prep courses are a good investment. These courses give you the best study regiment, materials, practice, and skills for passing the exam. Most courses give deals to students (especially 1Ls) who put a deposit on the course early. Many times you can get a discount, lock in the current price, and receive bonus study materials for core classes and the MPRE. If you take a representative position with a prep course, not only do you receive income for working, but you might get better discounts or even a free course.
2. Review your state bar exam requirements. Find out the deadlines to avoid late fees. Also, if you keep track of the costs for each part of the application in advance, it won’t come as such a big surprise to you or your wallet when the time to pay arrives.
3. Miscellaneous costs. There are additional expenses besides the costs to apply for the exam and the prep course. You have to decide whether you will be working or not during bar preparation and possibly until you receive exam results. If you do not work, you have to account for living expenses during the time you do not have income. Also, sometimes the bar exam is not given in a location near you. Therefore, you will also need to consider travel, hotel, and food costs during the exam. You can save money by booking hotel and transportation early.
4. Budget. Create a budget now for these upcoming costs. You can adjust your current earnings and spending during the school year so you can make these payments without financial worry. If you plan ahead, you can avoid taking on additional loans. Most bar exam specific loans are through private lenders, have high interest rates, have demanding repayment schedules, and may not be tax write-offs once you begin to make payments.
Save. Study. Succeed.