Question for previous Themis users

collegewriter
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Joined: Wed Apr 25, 2012 4:01 pm

Question for previous Themis users

Postby collegewriter » Mon May 11, 2015 5:55 pm

I am using Themis this summer and have a few questions:

1. What was the most important/effective part of the program?
2. Is there any reason not to use the lecture handouts? I did not find the MPRE handouts to be that helpful and am considering taking my own notes instead of using the handouts. This is obviously more work but I feel my retention tends to be better when I take notes instead of filling in blanks.
3. Is there anything you used to supplement your Themis review/areas you felt Themis was lacking?
4. How long do the tasks take, especially in the beginning? I am debating starting a day or two early or doubling up on assignments some days because I plan to take some days off for travel during the summer. Is this possible? The first few weeks don't look like an extreme amount of work at first glance.

Any help is appreciated!

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abogadesq
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Re: Question for previous Themis users

Postby abogadesq » Tue May 12, 2015 1:17 am

1. Convenience. Everything is web-based, so I was able to study what I wanted where I wanted all on the same website. In one window I would have my practice problems and answer explanations and in another window I would have my subject outlines. As I studied, I would to back and forth, using the search function in the outlines to find exactly what I wanted.

2. Not really. If taking your own notes improves your learning, do it. I never looked back at my lecture notes because they were simply copy-pasted from the outlines and I relied on the outlines for going over my answers and for general review.

3. I used Adaptibar to supplement the MBE portion. As I said in another post, Adaptibar has a larger bank of MBE practice questions. I also noticed that the prompts in the Adaptibar questions were longer, which prepared me for the god-awful contracts and real property questions. You will most likely pass with just Themis, but it's totally worth the cost to get both study programs if you want that extra security.

4. Themis starts you off kind slow at 8 hours a day and builds up to 10+ hours a day in the final weeks to the exam. Honestly, I never spent more than 8 hours a day studying. On average, I studied probably 6-7 hours a day. Themis doesn't expect you to complete more than 70% of the course, so don't worry if you're lagging behind; just get the fundamentals down and practice, practice, practice, especially in the final two weeks.

My Themis rep recommended that we start a week in advance in anticipation of holiday travel (did Themis over winter). That seems reasonable in your case. I didn't start early and fared alright, but if I had to do it all over again I would have probably started a bit earlier.

EDIT: Regarding tasks, YES, you can start them whenever you want (except the graded essays and exams). Themis has two modes, Directed Study and Flex Study. I did Flex Study most of the time, i.e. did whatever I felt like. However, it's good to keep a track of what the Directed Study assigns you as it will remind you of subject areas that you have either not yet touched upon or have not studied for a while.

numbertwo88
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Re: Question for previous Themis users

Postby numbertwo88 » Tue May 12, 2015 7:49 pm

1. The MBE questions and Essays were the most important to me. Practice really matters the most and Themis provides a lot of that. I definitely recommend finishing *all* of the MBE questions and essays (even if you're just reading the essays and outlining them - it helps!).

2. The first time I took the bar, I used the handouts with the lectures. The second time I actually didn't watch the lectures at all and relied solely on critical pass cards and supplemented with Themis long outlines for clarification. The handouts really aren't that great and they leave out little nuances that the MBE tests you on - I don't recommend studying from them at all but it's really mostly about what works for you. You mentioned being better with note taking - do that!

3. I used critical pass cards & Silverman's MBE book to study the MBE topics faster and start MBE questions sooner. In retrospect when I thought about what I needed to do different after failing - by two amazing points - it was spending more time practicing and less time passively learning. The lectures make up like ~44%ish of the course and they just take so much time. So just be aware of that. And they can be boring as hell. Like your first month is really lecture heavy (& basically all major prep courses are the same in that regard). I also bought the strategies & tactics book but so many questions overlapped with Themis that I stopped doing them (but I did do some the morning before the MBE so my brain was prepared to read from paper and had a jump start) - the strategies and tactics provided are helpful though.

4. The lectures take a lot of time so I'd just be aware of that. Learning the MBE subjects are arguably the most important for the state essay overlaps. The course definitely starts out at a leisure pace in directed study and then almost goes to insanity pending when you start the course and if you're following their plan to a T. I think starting earlier is better if you're able to but if not, then completing more tasks than Themis directs you to.

All in all the key is really figuring out what works best for you within maybe the first 2 weeks and then carrying that throughout the summer.

Best of luck :)

stendhal
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Re: Question for previous Themis users

Postby stendhal » Wed May 13, 2015 5:52 pm

1. What was the most important/effective part of the program?
MBE practice question (PQ) sessions--and more importantly, reviewing answers.

2. Is there any reason not to use the lecture handouts? I did not find the MPRE handouts to be that helpful and am considering taking my own notes instead of using the handouts. This is obviously more work but I feel my retention tends to be better when I take notes instead of filling in blanks.
I wasn't a huge fan. I wish I'd taken my own notes.

3. Is there anything you used to supplement your Themis review/areas you felt Themis was lacking?
YES. I used Anki (mnemonic software using spaced repetition) for up to a couple of hours every day. As for what to put into Anki, I used a combination of three systems. First, as I made my way through the lectures I put in what looked like the most important rules. After every MBE PQ session, for wrong answers I would pick rule statement(s) that would have avoided the wrong answers and put them in. Finally, I reviewed model essays for what canned statements keep showing up (e.g. "summary judgment is appropriate when..." or "hearsay evidence, which is generally inadmissible, is defined as...") and put those in. Oh, and Themis was severely lacking in one of the always-tested state subjects (auto insurance) for one of my jurisdictions.

4. How long do the tasks take, especially in the beginning? I am debating starting a day or two early or doubling up on assignments some days because I plan to take some days off for travel during the summer. Is this possible? The first few weeks don't look like an extreme amount of work at first glance.
It depends on the task. Lectures are divided into chunks of about 20-30 minutes but then they schedule several per day along with other tasks. There are irritating quizzes between some of them but they don't take long. PQ sessions allow you to do fewer than the number available for that session, so it depends on how many you do (and how many answers you got wrong because those take longer to review). Depending on the subject I spent two to five minutes reading each page of outline. Practice essays depend on your jurisdiction and how much you want to review any model answer(s) they provide. Throughout the course I felt like the workload seemed manageable for the first few weeks but then got impossible, even though I had worked ahead. I ended up skipping a lot of the practice essays and the PQ sessions for my stronger MBE subjects because I found spaced repetition a much more efficient use of my time and because doing everything seemed completely impossible. Then again, taking two states probably had something to do with that.

... for what it's worth, I regret having studied so much. Because I left about 30% of the course unfinished and was getting embarrassingly low scores on my graded essays I went in thinking I had maybe a 60% chance of passing each state. One of my jurisdictions releases MBE scores regardless of pass/fail. Although I don't know what my essays scores were (I passed both states), my MBE was so high that I'm nearly certain I wasted an extra hundred hours getting substantially above a passing score. And I could have done with less worrying for a few months, too.

Good luck.

2bars
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Re: Question for previous Themis users

Postby 2bars » Thu May 14, 2015 9:45 am

collegewriter wrote:I am using Themis this summer and have a few questions:


1. What was the most important/effective part of the program?
The practice questions and associated review that comes with reading the answer explanations.

2. Is there any reason not to use the lecture handouts? I did not find the MPRE handouts to be that helpful and am considering taking my own notes instead of using the handouts. This is obviously more work but I feel my retention tends to be better when I take notes instead of filling in blanks.
Not per se. The handouts are designed to be something less in-depth than the full printed outlines, but more in-depth than the final review outline. I thought they hit a nice middle ground of conveying key concepts while keeping the amount of text you have to read at a minimum.
If you want to take your own notes, then do that. I'm pretty sure every bar prep company says if you have a system that works, don't change it now. If you like mnemonics or want their bullet-pointed parts to various legal tests, then you might find the handouts useful.

3. Is there anything you used to supplement your Themis review/areas you felt Themis was lacking?
No. There is a ton of content and I didn't come close to completing the course. If you actually completed every task, including the review tasks which can take a lot of time if done correctly, you should have no need to learn the law from the outside.

4. How long do the tasks take, especially in the beginning? I am debating starting a day or two early or doubling up on assignments some days because I plan to take some days off for travel during the summer. Is this possible? The first few weeks don't look like an extreme amount of work at first glance.
Videos are only 15-30 minutes but I found myself pausing and rewinding several of the videos if the speakers spoke too fast or I lost their outline flow. Reading is up to you. I read outlines closely and highlighted/made notes as I went, so reading was by far the most time-consuming task for me.
Also, if you review MBE q's and essay explanations properly e.g. read every explanation and make notes so that those explanations turn into rules you learn, then progress will be slow and take several hours. You can makeup time by spending less than 40 minutes taking practice essays, but don't skip out on reviewing the essay answers.
As for breaks: yes and no. I started late (due to holidays and travel) and felt that I struggled to complete all of the tasks, especially at the end. I also had many off days where I spent several hours taking care of non-bar related issues which put me behind. So I would say start as early as you can (not more than a week or two early) to buy time for travel later on. But, you definitely can take breaks, whether planned or not. Focus on the pass rates of those who complete 75% of the course and hit that mark yourself. There are no extra points for overworking.

kraeton
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Joined: Wed May 02, 2012 2:48 am

Re: Question for previous Themis users

Postby kraeton » Fri May 15, 2015 2:04 am

I feel like all you need are the Outlines + AdaptiBar. That's already more information than you need right there. You can probably ebay the books.

The lectures are mostly god awful... I mean, it's just a human being orally reciting the outline for the most part. If you're going to have a visual aid, why didn't they at least use a whiteboard to help organize and categorize some key concepts? Nope, screw that, it's just a person reciting the outline; it's basically a video you'd expect from the 90's, not that BarBri's any better. Some of the handouts were helpful in the sense that I felt it was better organized than the Outline. I felt this to be true with my Contracts and Criminal Law Handouts, but then again, I also pretty much memorized the MBE outlines eventually anyway, so didn't really matter all that much at the end of the day.

For your MEE and most other essays, check out this book: http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/5 ... 3,200_.jpg

It's for the California Bar Examination, but it's just so damn good, you should give it a shot imho no matter what Bar you're taking.

All in all, I think the Bar courses are a joke taking into account the cost, and the outlines, handouts, lectures, etc... could've been WAY better.

Remember the LSAT's and the two dominant companies, Testmaster & Powerscore? Their products were sheer class, and I definitely wouldn't be able to claim that I could make a better product.

The Bar exam outlines on the other hand? Some are strangely organized, ambiguity is rife, and far too much is either overexplained or underexplained... or I'm just a nimrod.

Not sure what jurisdiction you're taking the exam, but seriously, if you study the outlines, go through the vast majority of AdaptiBar, go through the essays on Adachi's book, and just practice a ton, I'd think that would be a much better strategy than going through hours and hours of inane lectures barring a few standouts.

Then again, don't listen to me, I tend to get annoyed very easily by what I consider inaccuracies or a less than complete explanation.
I'm just looking at the Contracts Handout right now, one of the handouts i actually said was quite good relatively. The first page I look at defines the beneficiary as: "the 3rd party beneficiary is the outsider suing the promisor," which frankly, I don't think is right. If a 3rd party beneficiary is the intentional beneficiary of money owed to him (a.k.a. creditor beneficiary in 1st Restatement Terms), he can sue either/or the promisor/promisee or even sue both at the same time. It's minor stuff like this which frankly irritates me, and it happens seemingly every 5 pages. I've spent thousands of $$$, and some of the outlines are rife with spelling errors, inaccuracies, etc...

Hell, look at the Themis MPT book Intro. There were 3 spelling errors in less than 2 pages, and more when you count the full 18+ pages (?). You couldn't have put this shit in microsoft word and turn on spell check? lolol

Once again, don't listen to me, this is after all a test of minimum competence, but I am a bit salty over how unprofessional the package is.

atlien
Posts: 25
Joined: Tue Jun 03, 2014 4:36 pm

Re: Question for previous Themis users

Postby atlien » Fri May 15, 2015 1:29 pm

collegewriter wrote:I am using Themis this summer and have a few questions:

1. What was the most important/effective part of the program?
2. Is there any reason not to use the lecture handouts? I did not find the MPRE handouts to be that helpful and am considering taking my own notes instead of using the handouts. This is obviously more work but I feel my retention tends to be better when I take notes instead of filling in blanks.
3. Is there anything you used to supplement your Themis review/areas you felt Themis was lacking?
4. How long do the tasks take, especially in the beginning? I am debating starting a day or two early or doubling up on assignments some days because I plan to take some days off for travel during the summer. Is this possible? The first few weeks don't look like an extreme amount of work at first glance.

Any help is appreciated!


1. Practice MBEs and essays. Do all the MBEs you can. Read the explanations of why you're wrong. If you guessed correctly, hammer down the rule so that you know it cold and aren't guessing. You'll have more than enough opportunity to second guess yourself on the actual exam day and feel shitty about it on the ride back home. So get to the point in your practice where you're guessing less (and not crying for 3 hours afterwards thinking you failed the exam). Do the simulated MBE in testing environment. Getting through 200 questions is harder than you might think. I found out my brain is much less alert in the afternoon. I wouldn't have fully realized that without the simulated MBE. So I could then plan ahead to make sure I had my caffeine and protein in the break before the PM MBE session.

Outline essays as often as you can. By outline, just write rule statements. You don't even need to get into application for most of you study. If your jurisdiction requires you to state the issue, include that in your practice outlines.

2. There are reasons to not use the lecture handouts. But I don't think those reasons outweigh why you should. You don't have a lot of time. You don't want to cram your head with info you don't need. If you could memorize everything in the long outlines you would pass easily. But that's not going to happen. So filling out the lecture handouts are a more efficient way of grasping the basic understanding. The nuances are not gonna sink in anyway until you do tons of questions. So breeze through the lectures at 1.5/2x speed just to get the basic notes down, unless of course you really don't understand the topic and need to hear the lecturer explain stuff. Then do MBEs every. damn. day.

And do what works for you. That's one of the biggest takeaways from bar studying. If writing out all the lecture notes works for you, do it.

If I had Barbri or were self-studying, I'd never watch a lecture and I'd just make acronyms and succinct rule statements for the MBE from the Conviser they always rave about. I would've just bought the Conviser and some MBE practice books off of craigslist. But you already paid for Themis. So make the Themis lecture handouts your Conviser and get to practicing ASAP.

3. YES. First of all, I don't know how people did well on the essays using Themis alone. Themis sucked ass for me in that respect. My graders did not offer specific enough feedback. The essay workshops were so very basic. And no one had real advice on how to got damn memorize all this shit. So it was a lot of trial and error. I failed the first time because I didn't know what the hell I was doing. But lots of people pass using Themis alone and no supplements. So again, I had to do what worked for me, which was to use two main things for essays: 1) Mary Gallagher's bar essay writing book and 2) Seperac (a NY course) for my NY rule statements. I did remarkably well on the essays thanks to those two the second time around and passed.

For the MBE, the PMBR red book and the Kaplan Q bank were great for my first sets of subject-specific questions because I could test subtopics as I went along and not be tested on stuff I hadn't studied. Themis is useful in the final weeks for doing mixed sets. But for learning, I used PMBR and the Qbank. Also Emmanuel Strategies and Tactics, but more for the S&T (super handy!) than the actual questions since the questions often overlapped with ones I'd already seen. And I also liked the PMBR's charts/graphs in their red book. This was a GODSEND for understanding evidence because the Themis evidence lecturer was horrid. Character evidence became so much simpler using PMBR's charts. I literally wanted to punch the Themis lecturer's face every time he started he was just so bad.

4. If you're trying to do *everything* in the daily schedule, including additional practice questions that aren't scheduled (which you should do in Flex mode), each subject may take 4 days. But I found reading the long outline to be unnecessary, at least in the beginning when you just need enough proficiency to get 50% on the MBEs starting out. Though it is helpful for filling in gaps later when you're synthesizing info for essays or need clarity on some MBEs. You could probably get through one subject, including writing the lecture notes and doing practice questions in 2-3 days. Maybe 4 if it was longer, like crim or torts. I'd rather spend my time on more practice questions than more outline reading.

kraeton
Posts: 40
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Re: Question for previous Themis users

Postby kraeton » Fri May 15, 2015 10:01 pm

Yeah, I forgot to mention. Although I'm the guy who said he's essentially memorizing (or trying to anyway) the MBE outlines, it's because I'm confident at memorizing, and I wouldn't necessarily recommend this approach as it's usually overkill. Like the above poster said, you need to do a LOT of MBE questions to even see HOW the material in the outline is being tested, and what kind of "language" the answer choices use for specific concepts, since it's not going to perfectly accord with what's on your outline. The outline by itself can be a bit too abstract to really stick.

What I did was, I'd read through the outline twice, then I started doing MBE questions on AdaptiBar right away. Get a decent sample size (maybe 20), then go to the "Past Questions" portion of the Adapti-Bar review. They'll also give you the option to review only those questions that are under a specific category. I do around 10 per day, so by the time you're done with the outline/flashcard/review, you have a sample size of nearly a 100 questions.

Literally what I'm doing RIGHT NOW: So, I'm flashcarding Contracts right now, and I'm on "Parol Evidence Rule." I'm checking out all the "Parol Evidence" questions I've done on AdaptiBar up to that point. I'm currently 8/9 on them, wow, did much better than I thought. Maybe it's not even worth reviewing? Nope, you can always learn even from questions that you got right. I got the answer right for Question xyz, because I KNEW C was right, but I honestly didn't know why A was WRONG, and I probably wasted 10-20 solid seconds on mulling it over.

"A" had language I wasn't really too familiar with. Your long outline literally has a single sentence on "Condition Precedent: When the parol Evidence Rule is NOT Applicable," so it's super helpful when you have an entire MBE question, an explanation, and some real context to the nebulous theories to help you memorize.

The key point is to just DO IT. Don't be a perfectionist, memorize everything, THEN do the questions as the questions/explanations are way more helpful in actually explaining key concepts than the outlines or handouts are imo.

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Evaly
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Re: Question for previous Themis users

Postby Evaly » Tue May 19, 2015 3:11 am

1. What was the most important/effective part of the program?
Short videos, lecture handouts that focus you on the areas that you really need to know, and lots of practice MBE and essay questions. The essay graders are hit or miss. If you get one that really takes the time to grade your essay then you have a leg up. If you get a bad one, complain bitterly to your advisor and he will likely assign you a better grader. Note the essay grader who is good will not be kind to you. A good grader is one who rips your essay apart and puts in a ton of comments, even when your essay is relatively good. A bad grader might gives you a high score but you will see little or no commentary.

2. Is there any reason not to use the lecture handouts? I did not find the MPRE handouts to be that helpful and am considering taking my own notes instead of using the handouts. This is obviously more work but I feel my retention tends to be better when I take notes instead of filling in blanks.
I used the lecture handouts extensively. Filling in the blanks generally makes me pay attention to the videos and I find that the areas covered by the handouts get you 80% of the material. Sure there will be areas that the lecture handouts did not cover and I had to refer to the long outline. But that's the exception and not the norm. I basically browsed the long outlines and only went back to them went I needed more information. When I encountered something that wasn't in the lecture handouts I added it to the appropriate section of the lecture handout so that by the end the handout is a combination of Themis material and things that I previously missed.

3. Is there anything you used to supplement your Themis review/areas you felt Themis was lacking?
I didn't supplement at all. I did 90+% of Themis. The Themis model essay answers are really long and extensive, at times they frustrated me because I felt I could never write answers like that on a real exam. So I went to one of the websites that had free real answers from previous exams and looked at those to make myself feel better. Otherwise, I pretty much did only Themis. My friend gave me a conviser from Barbri but I never even opened it.

4. How long do the tasks take, especially in the beginning? I am debating starting a day or two early or doubling up on assignments some days because I plan to take some days off for travel during the summer. Is this possible? The first few weeks don't look like an extreme amount of work at first glance.
The tasks don't take very long if you just do the basic stuff. What does take a long time is going back and reviewing your answers for each MBE and each essay. You should spend a lot of time on practice and review, definitely more than on reading outlines / watching videos. The review process is really important and will show you where you need to improve and what areas you may think you know but actually you are misstating / misunderstanding the law. However I never studied more than 6-7 hours a day and always took breaks to spend time with my kid and I only study during the weekend during the last month.

good luck!




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