Sorry in advance for the long post about my bar results and my experience through the bar. Reading through threads like these from earlier exam administrations have helped me gauge where I stood and provided some comfort. It helped even if there really might not have been a rhyme or reason to it. Now I feel I should do my part and contribute.
TL;DR if you don’t care to read a looooong description of my experience:
I took two bar exams this past July and passed both.
My scaled MBE score was a 157.
My written score for one of those exams, my primary bar, was a 140.6.
My BARBRI midterm was a 133.
Both my half day and refreshers were a 67/100.
I took Barbri and "completed" a little over 80% of the course. However, I basically checked off a bunch of assignments on Barbri such as writing out fully essays (I mainly read them), and those reading assignments on the long outlines. I don’t think I opened up any of the long outlines — Looking back I wish I did because I could have probably remembered a lot of more obscure nuances that didn’t come up in the practice problems, which I also didn’t do a great deal of, discussed below. If I had to retake, I would have taken a week to study primarily the long outlines).
I focused primarily on the MBE, but towards the end of the program with like a week before the exam, I finally learned of the Barbri statistic counter on the homepage, and it showed me having done less than 1,000 questions (not including maybe a few problem sets I did on paper, and those uhm remedial questions through their StudySmart (?)-- maybe not called that but similar where you answer a short question and if you get it wrong they then try to ask it a different way). At this point I had no choice but to just hope that was enough. If you are reading this for bar prep advice… that is NOT enough.
I studied essays by reading all the model answers in the Barbri book. I wrote out a few to be graded, but I basically cheated by reading the model answer beforehand, and learning the rules, then typing it out and submitting it.
First day, Essays (MPT/MEE):
The first half of the first day consisted of the MPT. I’ve always enjoyed legal writing and did not feel like I struggled during the MPT. I thought my organization and use of the facts and law were correct, albeit probably not completely as afterwards I noticed there were some minor things I missed or that I might have been able to organize slightly better. However, as I have not even looked at an MPT before the morning of the first day, I felt like I did a good job surviving (I shit you not, that morning while sitting in my car having arrived early I looked at some sample MPT model answers for the first time and they were from like a few years ago in a different state).
For lunch I ate in the hotel bar and generally felt OK, watched some news and was pretty calm about whole exam — thinking I could do this.
The second half of the day consisted of the MEE. As soon as I read the first call of the first question I knew I was in trouble. It had asked about whether the company in question was a member-managed or manager-managed company. I don’t remember ever running across those terms before (they were in the long outline), and basically read the fact pattern and decided I couldn’t do it, and skipped it until later (and when later came, just guessed on that and then BS’d the remainder subparts as well). I also struggled with the torts question (liability of the doctor/supplement store/supplement producers), and the contracts question (third party incidental beneficiary…). I thought the Civ Pro essay was my best one, but I knew it was a softball and everybody would have done well on that so my grade might not have reflected upon it. I understood and properly identified the purchase money security interest (PMSI) on the Secured Transactions essay, but really made up a few laws I think on my analysis. I noticed the mentions of Miranda on the Evidence/Crim Pro(?) question, but made no mention of it on my actual response, which in hindsight I regret not doing. I’m still not sure if that was actually a Crim Pro question or not.
Basically, 5 out of the 6 essays I was not confident in, and I was expecting everyone to also be confident in the the 1 essay that I was confident in.
I walked out of the first day feeling not great, but was hopeful that it wasn’t my important bar state and that I had the MBE coming up tomorrow which I had actually studied for and was doing reasonably well on in practice.
Second Day - MBE: I had form 6 on the MBE. The first half of the MBE was the hardest exam I have ever taken in my life (that I’ve studied for anyway). I walked out of that exam room having barely remembered any questions and felt like my brain was congested (it didn’t help that I had trouble sleeping the night before). Even though I had never had any timing issues in the mock exams before, I had to rush the last 5 questions of the first half because I was running out of time.
I walked out that exam room probably pale, with zero desire to talk to anyone or smile. I think at one point my legs were shaking. I went to the same bar restaurant that I went to the day before, but could barely eat my food as I was absolutely shell shocked and thought I just completely bombed the first part, and inevitably the MBE altogether. It didn’t help that I saw a few friends who were upbeat and didn’t think it was so bad, so I thought I was simply outmatched on an otherwise easy exam (I didn’t know that forms were switched which could have been a possibility for the variance in difficulty). After food, before the second half began, I found a quiet corner and just sat there and stared off in silence.
The second half of the MBE was easier, but at that point anything could have been easier than what I just experienced so I’m not sure by how much it was really easier. I definitely didn’t think it was a cakewalk either, and by that point my head was straight up hurting.
I walked out of the exam room wondering if there was even a point in going to my essays on the third day (which I probably spent 20% of my time studying). It was that bad. At that point if someone offered me a 135 on the MBE I would have taken it. Offer me a 140 and I would’ve thought it was a dream come true. No way did I think I could have possibly scored above a 150. Zero chance.
I slept even less that night. If I had to guess, probably less than 30 minutes all together.
Third day - Essays in second bar state. Felt the best that day afterwards but knew I also probably made a mistake or two on each question… but still, after what I had just gone through the past two days I’ll take what I could get. After the exam, I figured if it was just going by that day, I probably passed… not by a lot, but I felt confident I did enough to at least put forth a passing effort.
However, I had zero confidence that I passed the bar exam. I felt terrible about the experience.
The aftermath of the bar was probably some of the worst times of my life. I’d go as far as saying it was even worse after the bar than it was before it. I went on a huge post-bar trip in August, but wasn’t close to 100% happiness because of the belief that I had failed.
September was not much better, and was probably even worse because I didn’t have any trips to distract me. My relationships with my parents, my girlfriend, my relatives all suffered during this time period because I was just not a pleasant person to be around. I might have had mild depression.
Then I found out I had passed both exams.
If I could have done it all over again:
1. I would have put EVERYTHING I got into bar prep to at least hope for a chance to feel better post-bar exam. I tried my best to enjoy bar prep, taking occasional weekends off even into late June early July. I was cursing myself for doing so after I took the bar exam. In hindsight if I had known that I put all I had into it, even if I walked out of there feeling like I bombed it I probably would have at least not felt the guilt afterwards.
2. I would have done more than 2,000 practice questions. As many have said, this gives you a much better chance of having come across familiar questions. I wasn’t aware of how little I had actually done until it was already late in the game.
3. Would have read the long outline and focused a lot on the nuances, which seemed to be all the MBE was testing.
4. Some people may learn from lectures, but throughout law school I’ve learned that I don’t really benefit from lectures. I put too much emphasis this go-around on the lectures and lecture notes (a lot of which I didn’t even go back and look at once I filled it in). On retake I would have skipped them all together. If I could go back in time, I would have maybe listened to them before bed or something, and simply view it as an ancillary study tool rather than a primary.
5. I had the Critical Pass and Lean Sheets. I didn’t spend that much time with either. I basically rewrote all of the critical pass flash cards onto a word document, and then barely used the cards afterwards. The Lean Sheets I also spent a negligible amount of time with. I probably would have gotten Adaptibar, the Kaplan MBE practice question book, and the Multistate Goat book instead or in addition to what I had.
6. My main gripe with Barbri is that I got too used to the way they asked their questions, and quite frankly I didn’t think it was similar to the writing style of the actual MBE, at all. I heard good things about the Adaptibar, Kaplan book, and Multistate Goat book, so I probably would have put more eggs in those baskets.
Thanks for reading. Not sure if I put this essay in the best location for visibility for future bar takers… but if you are anything like me you would have found this thread in years to come from how much you thought/panicked about the bar.