For those of you who didn't pass - I am a repeat taker who was successful in July 2015. I have some thoughts (obviously just my opinions) and I feel compelled to share them based on my experience. I want to do this so maybe you, or a prospective first-time taker, can learn from my mistakes because at the end of the day, it truly fucking sucks and I would wish this scenario on nobody.
I passed the MBE but had to retake Florida - here's the kicker. You still have to study MBE - Don't think it's a fluke that the July administration had Contracts/Criminal Procedure/Torts. Take a look at the 12 year graph on the Google machine - that shit is going to keep happening because the past few years the board of bar examiners have done it again and again. Whether you are in a similar scenario to me or have to take both parts, you are going to work the same amount so I think the following suggestions kinda apply equally, though you may have to mentally adjust them to apply them to your situation.
(1) Embrace the failure - if you are like me, this is the first time you will have really put yourself out there, no doubt working just as hard as everyone else (or damn near it) ultimately to come up with disappointment. I was down on myself for about a week; doubting my ability to do much of anything anymore and then at some point it just kinda clicked - why the hell am I being so negative??? It's my performance on a single exam that is notoriously difficult; I didn't get convicted to a life sentence, I'm still in good health.... at the end of the day I didn't pass an exam. Despite this, the reason I say to embrace the failure is because you will need to remember how this feels to push you over the next few months. I read countless articles that kept telling me to, "disregard the failure, it doesn't mean anything..." While I get the sentiment and agree that it doesn't define anything about you, other than how you did on a 2 day exam one time in your life, I think for me it was really important to not disregard the failure. Instead, I remembered how it felt to fail after working so hard to drive me to work as hard as possible and do my very best to not repeat this moment.
(2) Critically examine yourself and what you did - This was probably the hardest part for me; perhaps it's a function of my youth but it's really hard to admit to yourself that you didn't do everything perfectly. I struggled with the mentality that: "there was literally nothing I could have done differently." While this may be comforting to you in the short term, it does nothing for you in the long term. Of course, there's ALWAYS something you can do differently and sometimes it takes really digging internally to realize that's the case. For example, I simply did not use my time wisely. There is more information than you can reasonably absorb - so don't even bother trying to absorb all of it. For me, especially the next time around, I disregarded the lectures and focused primarily on applying the knowledge I pretty much already had and then secondarily on supplementing/correcting errors in my knowledge base - more on this below.
(3) Start NOW - I was super upset when I found out I failed, which is why I started studying again literally 3 days after finding out. You're not going to have some mental clarity in the information by NOT reviewing it. I'm not saying to in to 100% full time-bar study mode. If you do it right, you can pencil in just as many hours as everyone else. For this examination I worked full time (with a full time billing load) and took exactly one month off prior to the exam. Starting July 1 I was a full time bar student but, by that time, I had already completed all MBE lectures and dug deep into Florida materials and practice questions. This will not be a fun ~5 months so resign yourself to that fact & realize, knowing what you know now about how it feels to fail, that it doesn't matter how bad it sucks - you are never going to leave that test room and think, "wow, I wish I wouldn't have studied that much." I worked ~7:30 A.M. to 4:30 or 5:00 P.M and then stayed in my office and studied until around 7:30 or 8:00 P.M. 5 days a week. On the weekends I studied 1 full 8 hour day (starting early in the morning so I wouldn't piss away the entire day and finishing up around 3 or 4. I did this until about May 15th rolled around when I started studying both days 8 hours per day on the weekend in addition to my work schedule. Did it suck... oh yeah. My relationship with my S.O. suffered somewhat as I definitely chose to study rather than attend several events. Was this overkill? Possibly. Do I care? NOPE. When I walked out of the convention center on the 28th I did so with a with a smirk because I was pretty certain I had done it - If you are anything like me, that feeling was worth a whole lot more than going out to get drinks with friends for a few months and some missed romanticism with your S.O. Your family and friends will have to understand how important this moment is to you and honestly, the time flew by. I distinctly remember sitting in my chair a week out from the test in July like HOLY SHIT i just took this test.
(4) Practice Tests - I sucked at Essays - the score report told me what I needed to know, my MC was about average but at the end of the day I scored a 133 and that wasn't lifted enough by my 137 MBE to bring home the proverbial bacon. This time around I bought Barbri. (previously a Kaplan student - though I'm not convinced it matters if you work hard enough I will say, I felt Barbri's materials were better for Florida content specifically. They also gave me a significant discount [half price or less] because I was a repeat taker so don't let them make you pay full price if this isn't your first rodeo. /hailcorporate). Look, whatever your score report says you aren’t good at – WORK ON THAT. As I said, I was bleeding points, somehow, on essays. For $50 you can order an ungraded copy of your essays from the actual examination – if you had trouble with essays – order them. I sat down with an adviser from my school and realized I was missing 15-20 points in the essays just because I didn’t write “A contract is formed when an offer, acceptance, consideration and mutual assent with no defenses are proffered between two or more…” Like seriously, that was my problem. I’d launch straight into the analysis thinking I’d get points for this awesome discussion of whether the issue is really an options contract or has a defense based on unconscionability but would fail to explain what a contract was in the first place. I was doing this on all of my essays and, as soon as I corrected the behavior, started doing MUCH better. Whatever your weakness is, really critically examine it and practice/get help evaluating your shortcomings by someone else if you can.
(5) Take days off when YOU need them, not when society says you need them - The way I looked at it, the average bar taker is going to work 8 hours a day for 60 days, that's roughly 480 hours. We're all graded on a curve so... you should aim to exceed this in whatever way you can. If you don't work a full-time job, obviously you're in a better scenario to make and exceed this goal. Yes, you have prior studying, but that should enhance your preparatory-portfolio, and not serve reduce your total effort. Do the math - figure out what you need to do - and in the words of Mr. LaBeouf - "DO IT."
If you do these things, you will pass - certified by an internet stranger who knows nothing about you. Here's the thing, you pass this test and then you are done. So, go out there and pass it. Remember how it feels now so you will push to read longer and work harder, wake up earlier, take less breaks, return to studying quicker when you get distracted by something infinitely more interesting, and even turn down relaxation time with a S.O. or your friends when you don't absolutely need it for your sanity. From someone who went from feeling completely hopeless to somebody who will be sworn in later this week - the only thing limiting your ability to clear this hurtle is your own ambition. Embrace, Examine, Start, Practice, and Persevere. Anyone who judges your failure is an idiot and doesn't deserve your time/consideration. This isn't the ASVAB... it's the Florida Bar Exam... it's hard as hell, the questions are written by dementors, and it's going to push you hard... I'd venture to say very few of the people sitting for the exam walk out of those two days and don't have at least some empathy for anyone who has ever taken it. The only person you have to prove anything to is yourself. Go out there and make yourself proud - go make yourself a lawyer.