I received alot of good advice when I was prepping for the July 2014 CBX, and I think it had alot to do with my success. I think this test is very passable if you effectively study the substantive law and use a clear system to relay your knowledge to the graders.Bar Prep Program
I took BarBri. For a few weeks I weighed my options between Themis and BarBri: BarBri is much more expensive, however, Themis only offers an online program. The majority of my classmates seemed to be taking BarBri, so I decided to go with the crowd. For about the first two weeks I attended the live sessions. Classes started around 8am, but there were so many people trying to get seats in the live room (there were other lecture halls that were just streaming a live feed from the main lecture hall) that people would arrive an hour early to get a seat with the lecturer for that day. I wasn't motivated to get to class that early, so I ended up getting stuck in one of the live streaming rooms. Occasionally there would be a technical problem, for instance, the audio cut out one day, but for the most part it seemed fine. But as I was sitting in the room watching a large projection of the live feed, it dawned on me that I could be watching the online lectures at home, in my pajamas, without having to deal with 300 stressed out bar preppers every morning. So for the rest of the summer (probably 8 out of 10 weeks) I watched the live lectures at home.
Not having to leave my apartment was nice, but it does have its drawbacks. If you are the type of person that will surf the web while listening to a lecture, or put the lecture on 1.5x or 2.0x speed and turn your brain off, then it might not be for you. This happened to me a couple times a weeks, and I would realize what I was doing and would have to re-watch a lecture or parts of a lecture.
I think where BarBri really excels are its materials. Listening to lectures is passive learning at best, and I honestly didn't feel like it played a big part in my success. I think the difference between someone that passes and someone that doesn't pass the exam is whether or not they took active responsibility of their own study program. YOU have to decide what you will do everyday, and what will help YOU learn the material. There is no way around it, you MUST learn the black letter law for each subject. You graduated law school, so you can definitely do it, its just a matter of making your own program and sticking to it.MBE
I strongly recommend AdaptiBar. I did the BarBri MBE questions that were recommended each day; the questions were tough, but helpful. About 4 or 5 weeks into the summer I purchased AdaptiBar because I felt like my MBE scores were not improving and that I needed more practice. The great thing about AdaptiBar is its simple user interface. Unlike BarBri, which has a sort of clunky system for getting through MBE questions, AdaptiBar just lets you log on, pick the subjects you want to study in, and go. You can track how many you are getting right as you go, what you are averaging, what the state/national averages are. It's great.
The July MBE was tough, and I honestly came out of the MBE day feeling like I guessed on 90% of the questions. But your bar prep will get you to the point where you can grab the easy points, and make educated guesses on the hard ones to get you above the threshold. The week before the exam I was getting roughly 70-73% right on AdaptiBar, and between BarBri and AdaptiBar I did about 1500 questions.Subject Matter Essays
The Conviser SME Outline book became my bible for 10 weeks. Alot of people complain that it is too long, too dense, and that the language is inaccessible. I disagree. It has everything you need, in one place. I never made my own outlines in law school, and I wasn't about to reinvent the wheel for bar prep. I highlighted, tabbed, and memorized as much as I could of each outline. It got to the point where I could remember the order of the outlines, and I could picture the black letter law almost exactly how it looked on the page. This level of memorization is probably more than you need to meet the CBX threshold, but its what I became comfortable with.
Buy a http://www.baressays.com
account. You've heard this from everyone else, and you'll hear it from me: you MUST do practice essays. That being said, before the exam I probably did fewer than 10 full blown, timed, actual essay answers. HOWEVER, I outlined every essay I could get a hold of. I did every essay in the BarBri books, and I did at least half of the essays offered on Baressays.com. You will start to notice patterns in how subjects are tested. You will learn how and when to use certain issues. You will develop a structure for answer certain questions (evidence and contracts come to mind) for which you need to have prepared essay structure.
Have a general essay structure. I was reading TLS while I was bar prepping, and someone posted a small essay structure on the July CBX 2014 forum. It's awesome, simple, and easy to memorize. This is the original thread post - [url]viewtopic.php?f=3&t=213457&start=1375[/url] It goes like this:
The first issue is whether x
Generally, the rule about x is blah
Here, this happened and that happened, and the rule applies such that whatever.
I had a minor panic attack when we started the first subject matter essay. This is what got me through it. I had a simple system, its easy to start, and its what got me going. If you panic, have no idea what the law is, or don't know what to do, just start writing this and try to grab some points. Bold and underline your headings. Keep the same IRAC structure for each issue. Make the bar examiners job as easy as possible.Performance Test
I did two performance tests before the exam. If this is a weak area for you, certainly do more, but this felt like enough for me. My system was to read the cases first, jot down notes on what each case was about. Then I read the file, wrote down some notes about each document in the file. Wrote out a structure in my exam software, and started writing.
One thing that is critical (as I'm sure you've heard) is to FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS. On my first practice PT, I didn't realize that the instructor memo told the examinee exactly what the issue headings should be. I made my own. They were wrong. Don't be like me, read the instructions, highlight them, burn them into your memory. They will be your saving grace.Conclusion
Good luck, you can do it. If you graduated from law school, you can pass this test. It's only a matter of taking responsibility of you own bar prep program.
*edit for typo