If You Were Taking The Exam Again, What Would You Do?

squiggle
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If You Were Taking The Exam Again, What Would You Do?

Postby squiggle » Thu Feb 23, 2017 6:19 pm

Fingers crossed that we're never taking the bar exam again!

But, hypothetically (b/c that's what the bar is all about) and with hindsight, if you were to study for the bar again...

-What would you do differently?
-What were the beneficial things you would do again?
-Would you use the same study materials again?
-Do you wish you had planned things differently on exam day?
-Did you start studying too early or too late? Or take too much time off?
-Did you study too much in the last week or days?
-What other advice would you give?

Just a thread to provide advice to 1st time takers/retakers/2nd jx examinees, to vent, or whatever, while it's all still fresh (with the caveat that you don't know your results and you never know what's going to be tested).

CONGRATS ON SURVIVING THE BAR EXAM!

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ndbigdave
Posts: 162
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Re: If You Were Taking The Exam Again, What Would You Do?

Postby ndbigdave » Thu Feb 23, 2017 7:59 pm

squiggle wrote:Fingers crossed that we're never taking the bar exam again!

But, hypothetically (b/c that's what the bar is all about) and with hindsight, if you were to study for the bar again...

-What would you do differently?
-What were the beneficial things you would do again?
-Would you use the same study materials again?
-Do you wish you had planned things differently on exam day?
-Did you start studying too early or too late? Or take too much time off?
-Did you study too much in the last week or days?
-What other advice would you give?

Just a thread to provide advice to 1st time takers/retakers/2nd jx examinees, to vent, or whatever, while it's all still fresh (with the caveat that you don't know your results and you never know what's going to be tested).

CONGRATS ON SURVIVING THE BAR EXAM!


For me, I took the Michigan Bar in July 2015 (passed) and just sat for the Illinois Bar.
I consider myself an unusual test taker because of my unique background - I was a judicial clerk for nearly 7 years before transitioning to a private firm for roughly 5 months where I was writing all manner of motions/responses (summary judgments, motions in limine and tons of research on issues) so I had a firm practical side of the law and saw it practiced daily. I also worked the entire time I prepped for each bar (litterally worked the day before the bar and I am back the office the day after the bar).

That being said, from speaking to numerous people and witnessing my girlfriend go through the entire Barbri torture process (she had the benefit of being totally off from work before the bar) I think there are a few key principals that will be beneficial.

#1 - MBE. The only way to get "good" at these is to do them. If I had all the time in the world and get create my own proper study schedule I would buy Adaptibar and do their program. Get used to the format, gauge what you know (and more importantly what you dont know). For me, I had BarMax (more on them in a bit) and I found it very, very helpful to review what I got wrong, immediately after finishing a set (usually of 30, sometimes just 24) so that it was fresh in my mind what I was thinking and then what the appropriate answer was. (I am told Adaptibar's explanations are good and I thought BarMax's were good). If you can get into a schedule to get through the 1,500 to 2,500 questions + actually reviewing the answers you really should be set to crush this portion. Start early, build up a tolerance to doing more and more questions, be aware of strengths and weaknesses (not just say "evidence" is my strength but break it down further so that you are studying SMART not just hard).

#2 - Heading off of that point. As someone who definitely averaged way less than an hour a day (that isnt to brag, my schedule didnt really allow for it, I was a bit arrogant and lazy) it is more important to be productive then "busy." Know yourself - what works for you? How long can you really concentrate? If its 2 hours, then do 2 productive hours. Take a break, get away from it and try again later in the day. Dont just sit someplace for 4 hours and think you accomplished something by having a book in front of you. If you start the process early and every day (or close to it) involves worthwhile, productive studying you will have stacked up HOURS AND HOURS of really worthwhile studying and practice.

#3 - Going to lectures/watching lectures and filling in blanks is a waste. From nearly every person I spoke to who had Themis, BarBri, Kaplan the lectures are often at best "OK" but nearly always far too long and not as focused as they should be. Therefore you get WAY too much information over the course of time that is WAY too long. For me, I found the BarMax lectures more versatile, flexible and focused. I believe the entire course consists of 40 hours (thats listening to EVERYTHING at 1x speed) obviously certain lectures are more vital than others and you can listen to most at 2x speed at understand everything comfortably. As I could listen to these while I drove to work, went for walks, on lunch or basically anywhere I had some free time and the lectures were FOCUSED I feel like I got a lot more value from my time spent listening to someone else speak. Again I will say - "Know thyself" if going to a lecture and listening is the only way youll get moving to study and listening is how you best learn - then go for it. However the time spent just sitting and listening combined with travel times could be far better used to listen to focused lectures and quality outlines and actually doing MBE questions.

#4 - When it doubt, study the MBE subjects. As I have told many friends who were a year behind me in law school or folks I knew who were re-taking, I am a firm believer of maximizing your time (which is even more true for those of you attempting to work + study) the MBE subjects obviously make up 100% of the MBE and its a near lock that a few of them will make up a part of the essays - why not kill two birds with one stone? The strong odds of Evidence, Con Law, Civ Pro, Contracts/Sales, Criminal Law/Procedure being on the essays is a near lock. If you know these subjects cold and can be an above average MBE test taker + have a mastery of at least some of the essay topics (be it state specific or MEE depending on your jurisdiction) you are bordering on a near lock to pass. Its a numbers game, you obviously need to know at least SOMETHING about all of the topics, but you can start to narrow things down as time goes by (for instance, I learned that there was no way tax or professional responsibility was going to be an essay so I spent zero time on them for my IL test prep).

#5 - There is no rule that the bar prep has to suck. Again, know thyself. What type of student were you in law school, how well do you know the core MBE subjects? If you were a 3.0+ student and had a decent grasp of the core subjects in law school then bar prep should be a review and an opportunity to refine your knowledge and skills. Is it necessary to have 8+ hour days for nearly 3 full months and hate every moment of prep? I am a firm believer that the answer is no. I would say most (not all) people could easily pass if they simply worked productively for a few hours a day (with some cheat "off days") which would make the experience suck 100% less. Now, if you were a poor student, cheated in order to pass or did poorly on the core subjects while raising your GPA with electives and fluff - well then you know you have more work to do.

If I could truly do it the way I would want, I would have had almost 60 days off to prep. I would have set up a schedule that allowed me to remain fresh, put in true productive hours into prep and been fresh for the bar. There is no reason a traditional student (who is not working at all leading up to the bar) could not set up a schedule that allows oneself to sleep-in each day, get a bite to eat, study, go to the gym/get a walk/swim do something to get the blood pumping (its both healthy and there are studies reflecting the benefits to brain function) then get back to another session of studying and still have time to catch a movie, see a significant other/friends and feel like you have a life. If someone did 2 to 4 hours (depending on the person) of actual productive, on-point, focused studying that would be a total of 120 to 240 hours of really good studying and should be plenty of time to have read outlines (good focused outlines not 100+ page outlines), complete that "magic number" of MBE questions (1500 to 2500), review the answers, listen to audio lectures and be ready to crush the bar. Dont over think this, set up a reasonable schedule with productive work when youre doing it and you can head into the bar exam being confident, healthy, happy and knowing youll pass!

MRSP
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Re: If You Were Taking The Exam Again, What Would You Do?

Postby MRSP » Thu Feb 23, 2017 10:25 pm

ndbigdave wrote:
squiggle wrote:Fingers crossed that we're never taking the bar exam again!

But, hypothetically (b/c that's what the bar is all about) and with hindsight, if you were to study for the bar again...

-What would you do differently?
-What were the beneficial things you would do again?
-Would you use the same study materials again?
-Do you wish you had planned things differently on exam day?
-Did you start studying too early or too late? Or take too much time off?
-Did you study too much in the last week or days?
-What other advice would you give?

Just a thread to provide advice to 1st time takers/retakers/2nd jx examinees, to vent, or whatever, while it's all still fresh (with the caveat that you don't know your results and you never know what's going to be tested).

CONGRATS ON SURVIVING THE BAR EXAM!


For me, I took the Michigan Bar in July 2015 (passed) and just sat for the Illinois Bar.
I consider myself an unusual test taker because of my unique background - I was a judicial clerk for nearly 7 years before transitioning to a private firm for roughly 5 months where I was writing all manner of motions/responses (summary judgments, motions in limine and tons of research on issues) so I had a firm practical side of the law and saw it practiced daily. I also worked the entire time I prepped for each bar (litterally worked the day before the bar and I am back the office the day after the bar).

That being said, from speaking to numerous people and witnessing my girlfriend go through the entire Barbri torture process (she had the benefit of being totally off from work before the bar) I think there are a few key principals that will be beneficial.

#1 - MBE. The only way to get "good" at these is to do them. If I had all the time in the world and get create my own proper study schedule I would buy Adaptibar and do their program. Get used to the format, gauge what you know (and more importantly what you dont know). For me, I had BarMax (more on them in a bit) and I found it very, very helpful to review what I got wrong, immediately after finishing a set (usually of 30, sometimes just 24) so that it was fresh in my mind what I was thinking and then what the appropriate answer was. (I am told Adaptibar's explanations are good and I thought BarMax's were good). If you can get into a schedule to get through the 1,500 to 2,500 questions + actually reviewing the answers you really should be set to crush this portion. Start early, build up a tolerance to doing more and more questions, be aware of strengths and weaknesses (not just say "evidence" is my strength but break it down further so that you are studying SMART not just hard).

#2 - Heading off of that point. As someone who definitely averaged way less than an hour a day (that isnt to brag, my schedule didnt really allow for it, I was a bit arrogant and lazy) it is more important to be productive then "busy." Know yourself - what works for you? How long can you really concentrate? If its 2 hours, then do 2 productive hours. Take a break, get away from it and try again later in the day. Dont just sit someplace for 4 hours and think you accomplished something by having a book in front of you. If you start the process early and every day (or close to it) involves worthwhile, productive studying you will have stacked up HOURS AND HOURS of really worthwhile studying and practice.

#3 - Going to lectures/watching lectures and filling in blanks is a waste. From nearly every person I spoke to who had Themis, BarBri, Kaplan the lectures are often at best "OK" but nearly always far too long and not as focused as they should be. Therefore you get WAY too much information over the course of time that is WAY too long. For me, I found the BarMax lectures more versatile, flexible and focused. I believe the entire course consists of 40 hours (thats listening to EVERYTHING at 1x speed) obviously certain lectures are more vital than others and you can listen to most at 2x speed at understand everything comfortably. As I could listen to these while I drove to work, went for walks, on lunch or basically anywhere I had some free time and the lectures were FOCUSED I feel like I got a lot more value from my time spent listening to someone else speak. Again I will say - "Know thyself" if going to a lecture and listening is the only way youll get moving to study and listening is how you best learn - then go for it. However the time spent just sitting and listening combined with travel times could be far better used to listen to focused lectures and quality outlines and actually doing MBE questions.

#4 - When it doubt, study the MBE subjects. As I have told many friends who were a year behind me in law school or folks I knew who were re-taking, I am a firm believer of maximizing your time (which is even more true for those of you attempting to work + study) the MBE subjects obviously make up 100% of the MBE and its a near lock that a few of them will make up a part of the essays - why not kill two birds with one stone? The strong odds of Evidence, Con Law, Civ Pro, Contracts/Sales, Criminal Law/Procedure being on the essays is a near lock. If you know these subjects cold and can be an above average MBE test taker + have a mastery of at least some of the essay topics (be it state specific or MEE depending on your jurisdiction) you are bordering on a near lock to pass. Its a numbers game, you obviously need to know at least SOMETHING about all of the topics, but you can start to narrow things down as time goes by (for instance, I learned that there was no way tax or professional responsibility was going to be an essay so I spent zero time on them for my IL test prep).

#5 - There is no rule that the bar prep has to suck. Again, know thyself. What type of student were you in law school, how well do you know the core MBE subjects? If you were a 3.0+ student and had a decent grasp of the core subjects in law school then bar prep should be a review and an opportunity to refine your knowledge and skills. Is it necessary to have 8+ hour days for nearly 3 full months and hate every moment of prep? I am a firm believer that the answer is no. I would say most (not all) people could easily pass if they simply worked productively for a few hours a day (with some cheat "off days") which would make the experience suck 100% less. Now, if you were a poor student, cheated in order to pass or did poorly on the core subjects while raising your GPA with electives and fluff - well then you know you have more work to do.

If I could truly do it the way I would want, I would have had almost 60 days off to prep. I would have set up a schedule that allowed me to remain fresh, put in true productive hours into prep and been fresh for the bar. There is no reason a traditional student (who is not working at all leading up to the bar) could not set up a schedule that allows oneself to sleep-in each day, get a bite to eat, study, go to the gym/get a walk/swim do something to get the blood pumping (its both healthy and there are studies reflecting the benefits to brain function) then get back to another session of studying and still have time to catch a movie, see a significant other/friends and feel like you have a life. If someone did 2 to 4 hours (depending on the person) of actual productive, on-point, focused studying that would be a total of 120 to 240 hours of really good studying and should be plenty of time to have read outlines (good focused outlines not 100+ page outlines), complete that "magic number" of MBE questions (1500 to 2500), review the answers, listen to audio lectures and be ready to crush the bar. Dont over think this, set up a reasonable schedule with productive work when youre doing it and you can head into the bar exam being confident, healthy, happy and knowing youll pass!



THANK YOU for this! May I ask if you have any specific advice for the MEE & MPT portions of the exam? Did you memorize the law using flash cards or a study course or did you do practice essays and submit them for grades or just practiced using past actual MEEs from the NCBE? I'm thinking the MPT was a cakewalk for you with all of your job experience.

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ndbigdave
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Re: If You Were Taking The Exam Again, What Would You Do?

Postby ndbigdave » Fri Feb 24, 2017 11:47 am

For the MEE.

I really didnt do much for the MEE or the "essay portion" for Michigan (or the "IEE" for Illinois). Yes, I potentially give up a point or two with truly nuanced Michigan/Illinois specific answers but I felt that was well worth the risk for two reasons:

#1 - No one needs a perfect score on the essays. The scores for the MEE are scored on a 5 point scale (Michigan was a 10 point scale) I was able to score well above the necessary score in Michigan (not a crazy high score, but comfortably about the necessary "135" in Michigan).

#2 - The time necessary to master and know all the possible state distinctions was a waste in my mind.

As for other thoughts on essays:

#3 - When I was in law school my school offered an "Bar essay class" which basically consisted of one lecture a week on a topic to be covered that was "essay testable" for Michigan and then a homework assignment consisting of an old Michigan Essay question. Both the midterm and final were sets of essays timed to the Michigan standards. (Michigan standards were 20/min per essay) Having gone through that class (and being a pretty strong writer) I felt over prepared to do the MEE because the MEE actually gives you 30/min per essay without (In my opinion) being any more fact intensive or involved with their questions.

#4 - How would I suggest someone "prep" for the essays? (This is coming from someone who, other than the Bar Essay Course in law school did a total of ZERO essays in preparation for the exam). It starts again with "know thyself." Are you a strong or weak writer? How quickly do you read fact patterns, recognize issues and then formulate thoughts? I know plenty of people who would prefer to read, re-read and then outline an answer before they felt comfortable actually typing something out - the problem with the MEE is that 30 minutes will start to get tight. You will often times have a page to two pages of facts followed by a call of the question (or a call of the question with multiple sub parts) which doesn't give a ton of time to drafting. Timing with the essays becomes as important on the MEE as it is for the MBE and the only way to know your timing is to do it. If you have never seen an MEE and tried writing an answer, give yourself a test. Do something simple like 4 of them in 2 hours (I am a big proponent of not making the process suck so no need to dive into a 3 hour practice test at the beginning, but it is likely better than sitting down to just do 1 in 30 min. Do it under "test conditions" throw away the phone, be somewhere where you wont be interrupted, then fire through the 4 previous MEE questions noting the time you took with each one. At the end of the two hours you can walk away, go to the gym or be done for the day so far as I am concerned. Come back later/next day and check your answers against the model answers, dont look to give yourself a "grade" but just see how many of the issues you hit and if you caught sub-issues, you'll have a clue if you were in the ballpark or not. Then just think to yourself - how did it feel to read and write the answers? Did you get them all done within the 2 hours? If you felt comfortable on this first set, timely go them done and you were in the ballpark on the answers then you now know what it is like to write for the MEE. Would it be worth while to do a whole MEE later on as a way to break up the studying a bit? Probably not a bad idea (there is value in knowing EXACTLY what it is like to sit in place for 3 hours and type/write). If you have a program that will grade your essays that is awesome (as it can help build confidence and give you pointers on how to write a proper bar essay) I didn't have that luxury. However, in my opinion there is no "magic" to writing the bar essay other than to: 1) actually answer the call of the question, 2) use the "buzz words" associated with the topic being tested, 3) using IRAC or CRAC (for bar essays I personally thought CRAC felt more natural to use.

#5 - Between doing prep essays or studying, I thought it more beneficial to spend my time reading/listening to lectures as that was time I felt was productive actually learning the law that I would need to spit back at the bar examiners. As I had no way to predict what topic of law would be tested let alone the potential subtopics I thought being in front of outlines was far more beneficial then continuing to hone a writing skill tat I already thought was "pass worthy."

#6 - I am a big proponent of taking in information in different ways. One of my strongest classes in law school was conflicts of laws, not because I had a great professor (I didnt) or because I did all the readings (I did not) but because I found a tremendous set of audio lectures with great outlines. I was able to read and re-read the outlines and then listen to the lectures when I went on walks. Being able to read it, hear it and then even write out some of my own notes was super beneficial. Now, once again, "know thyself" how do you learn best? I cant help but think that the "multiple input" method would be beneficial for everyone. In a perfect world? I understand that "Lean Sheets" are particularly good - I can imagine a situation where someone pays for Adaptibar, Lean Sheets, tracks down a mini-convisor (or simply adds adaptibar/lean sheets to a traditional bar course). Use these outlines to not only read/review/learn but also orally read these outlines into a recorder so that you can LISTEN to them as well. This allows you to read them, hear them. I have literally NEVER used flash cards, but plenty of people swear by them. If you have experience using cards for law school classes and it works, definitely keep doing it, if youve never used them but are curious, buy them on Amazon, check them out for a few days, if you dont find them helpful or you cant think of a way to really incorporate them into your studying - send them back.

#7 - For the MPT. You dont need to "learn" anything in order to do this because it is a closed universe. The MPT is not a part of the Michigan Bar so it was a totally new thing for me in Illinois. How did I prep? I looked at one previous MPT to get an idea for what it looked like. It seemed like a cake walk. My actual MPT wasnt bad, but I surprised that I ended up using basically the entire time allotted. I have heard from many people (on these boards and from word of mouth) that the MPT DOES test your writing ability (obviously) but it also is a test of time management. There is a decent (though not daunting) amount of material to read, digest, organize and then formulate into whatever the call of the question (so to speak) is. I had a memo to write. I used up the ENTIRE 9200 characters (the limit for laptop writers in IL). I wouldn't want to suggest someone pull themselves too far away from substantive learning/MBE questions to prep for the MPT but like I said before, the only way to KNOW you are comfortable with the MPT is to actually do a couple of them. There are a few available online through the NCBE's website for free. I watched a YouTube video discussing a general MPT strategy, which was to read actively (underlying/jotting down notes/ideas) for approximately half of your time (45 min) so that the other half is your writing and referencing your notes/highlights. I can see the MPT being a bit more difficult for people who: 1) are poor writers generally, 2) have no practical experience outside of a first-year writing course, 3) never actually briefed a case in law school, 4) never wrote a memo (or some equivalent). If that DOESN'T describe you, then you are already well on your way to doing fine on the MPT. In Illinois July 2016 the average score on the MPT was a 7.68 - which basically tells me that everyone can score well on such a test.

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Leprechaun
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Re: If You Were Taking The Exam Again, What Would You Do?

Postby Leprechaun » Sat Feb 25, 2017 9:54 pm

Nevermind, I passed by a wide margin so I wouldnt change a thing
Last edited by Leprechaun on Sun Apr 30, 2017 7:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

HiOCEAN
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Re: If You Were Taking The Exam Again, What Would You Do?

Postby HiOCEAN » Tue Feb 28, 2017 10:56 am

I would also recommend going through the posts here and gathering mnemonics. I did this too late in the game and regretted it. Do this toward the beginning of your prep, and you'll know elements of rules cold by the time the exam rolls around. Even if you think you aren't a mnemonics person, give it a try.

squiggle
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Re: If You Were Taking The Exam Again, What Would You Do?

Postby squiggle » Tue Feb 28, 2017 3:38 pm

HiOCEAN wrote:I would also recommend going through the posts here and gathering mnemonics. I did this too late in the game and regretted it. Do this toward the beginning of your prep, and you'll know elements of rules cold by the time the exam rolls around. Even if you think you aren't a mnemonics person, give it a try.


I agree that mnemonics can be a helpful way to manage the large amount of info required for the bar exam, especially on the MBE when one specific element of a crime is being tested. Here's one thread where people have listed mnemonics: http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=41&t=249358

Bimmerfan
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Re: If You Were Taking The Exam Again, What Would You Do?

Postby Bimmerfan » Tue Feb 28, 2017 7:59 pm

-What would you do differently?: Made sure I could speak intelligently about every potential issue that could come up on the essay portion.

-What were the beneficial things you would do again?: Make my own outlines

-Would you use the same study materials again?: Hard to tell since we don't know if we passed or not yet

-Do you wish you had planned things differently on exam day?: Yes, on day 2 (MBE). I had a terrible headache in the morning from not getting enough sleep and should have taken more caffeine before the AM session.

-Did you start studying too early or too late? Or take too much time off?: Started exactly when barbri started.

-Did you study too much in the last week or days?: Probably not enough? I've read different things from various people about not studying too much on the few days leading up to the exam due to exhaustion and burn out. I would probably make sure to study much more on the few days leading up to the exam to make sure I get enough law memorized in my head.

-What other advice would you give?: Make sure you FULLY understand each topic. I wasted so much time rereading barbri's lecture handout notes and CMR outlines and should've made sure I really understood some of the topics I wasn't the best at (e.g., Con Law, Sales). Also, I probably should have done more practice MBE questions (outside of barbri). The questions were not very similar.

Spartan_Alum_12
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Re: If You Were Taking The Exam Again, What Would You Do?

Postby Spartan_Alum_12 » Tue Feb 28, 2017 8:35 pm

1. Practice more early and often. I practiced a lot but mostly the second half of prep, forcing me to somewhat cram in July.

2. Skip the "in person" lectures and watch them at 2x online. Wasted too much time with the lectures the first half of prep. Learned the law better by practicing and flash carding.

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virgoyum
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Re: If You Were Taking The Exam Again, What Would You Do?

Postby virgoyum » Wed Mar 01, 2017 3:22 pm

squiggle wrote:Fingers crossed that we're never taking the bar exam again!

But, hypothetically (b/c that's what the bar is all about) and with hindsight, if you were to study for the bar again...

-What would you do differently?
-What were the beneficial things you would do again?
-Would you use the same study materials again?
-Do you wish you had planned things differently on exam day?
-Did you start studying too early or too late? Or take too much time off?
-Did you study too much in the last week or days?
-What other advice would you give?

Just a thread to provide advice to 1st time takers/retakers/2nd jx examinees, to vent, or whatever, while it's all still fresh (with the caveat that you don't know your results and you never know what's going to be tested).

CONGRATS ON SURVIVING THE BAR EXAM!



Cri everytiem :cry:

happyhour1122
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Re: If You Were Taking The Exam Again, What Would You Do?

Postby happyhour1122 » Sat Mar 04, 2017 9:11 am

I agree to all the posts above. But if I may add (as a non native English speaker), I think its very wise to write at least 2 essays and MPTs every week. One of the biggest reason why I failed was because of my writing. Sometimes even if we know the rules, its difficult to express them in a logical and readable way. Also practicing MPT will help you outline and organize answers faster. Trust me, this shit is very much necessary.

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a male human
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Re: If You Were Taking The Exam Again, What Would You Do?

Postby a male human » Tue Mar 21, 2017 5:37 pm

Here are 5 things I did differently to pass the bar exam the second time, which I wrote in a guest article for Bar Exam Toolbox: http://barexamtoolbox.com/5-things-diff ... -bar-exam/

In sum (TLDR):

1. Break the chain: I got into a habit of consistent study.
2. Practice real MBE questions: I practiced real MBE questions and targeted my weaknesses.
3. Lectures are worthless: I eschewed lectures in favor of practice.
4. “Issue checking” and issue statements: I realized there is a finite set of issues to know within the bar universe. Instead of creating and spotting issues, I checked for issues.
5. Get a room: I stayed at a hotel during the bar.

SFSpartan
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Re: If You Were Taking The Exam Again, What Would You Do?

Postby SFSpartan » Tue Mar 21, 2017 6:19 pm

I would have done the following:

1. Not been so afraid to break with my Bar program - I found that I worked better when I did active things (reviewing and reciting flashcards, writing essays, doing practice MBE qs) in the morning and afternoon, and reserving the more passive activities (lecture and making flashcards) for the evening.

2. Essay Practice - I only wrote out a couple essays in long-form, as I found this unhelpful in law school. If I could do it over, I would have written out more essays in long-form, as this would have helped me solve timing issues I ran into in the (relatively short) hour that California gave us to write each essay.

3. Speed Up the Lectures - Most of the lecturers speak extremely slowly. Cranking the speed up to at least 1.5x (figure out what the fastest you can do while still retaining the info is and do that) will save you tons of time.

4. Use The Facts - The examiners give you all the facts you need to know. Rather than trying to spot issues based on facts, I probably would have focused on matching the facts with specific issues. This has the added benefit of forcing you to use all the issues.

5. Don't Forget to Take a Break - I really wish I would have taken more breaks, in retrospect. By doing nothing but study, I really stressed myself out and put myself in a fould mood when it was not necessary.

LockBox
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Re: If You Were Taking The Exam Again, What Would You Do?

Postby LockBox » Tue Mar 21, 2017 6:57 pm

The first thing you need to do is be honest with yourself. Any retakers, whether its your first retake or more, is at a serious disadvantage in terms of passing. Therefore, if you fail, you need to start early and change up your tactics. Here is what I did after I failed.

1. Open an excel sheet and keep track of everything you do that day. Similar to billing when you're at a firm, write down how many MBE's you did, how many essays you wrote, scores, percentages etc.

2. Assuming 10 weeks left, I wrote 2 essays PER DAY, 50 MBE's PER DAY, and 1 PT PER WEEK. By the end I had fully written out over 120 essays, outlined 40 essays and took over 2,250 real MBE's and met my goal of >70% accuracy. I never struggled with PT's so I did less on that front, but still practiced.

3. I used less materials. Yes less. I found outlines on the stanford law website that I referred to, I had one word doc that I wrote any rule that I came across and used adaptibar for MBE's. I had a tutor that only graded essays and gave me feedback (very important). I recorded her scores in my excel sheet and my daily MBE score from adaptibar.

4. I kept to a schedule of 9-5, M-F. I took every weekend off to relax. In my down-time (about 10 minutes every hour or so), I read 'retaker' blogs and advice that I found on the web. GOAT and A Male Human's come to mind as particularly good.

You don't hear about them, but there are people that either stop taking the bar after 2-3 fails, or just keep going and are 5, 6 or 8 fails deep. Some will find other jobs and occasionally try again, some just keep grinding away. Just because you don't hear about them, doesn't mean they aren't there. In order to get off of the cycle, you need to start fresh, be really focused and determined and get it done.

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Re: If You Were Taking The Exam Again, What Would You Do?

Postby a male human » Tue Mar 21, 2017 7:14 pm

LockBox wrote:The first thing you need to do is be honest with yourself. Any retakers, whether its your first retake or more, is at a serious disadvantage in terms of passing. Therefore, if you fail, you need to start early and change up your tactics. Here is what I did after I failed.

1. Open an excel sheet and keep track of everything you do that day. Similar to billing when you're at a firm, write down how many MBE's you did, how many essays you wrote, scores, percentages etc.

2. Assuming 10 weeks left, I wrote 2 essays PER DAY, 50 MBE's PER DAY, and 1 PT PER WEEK. By the end I had fully written out over 120 essays, outlined 40 essays and took over 2,250 real MBE's and met my goal of >70% accuracy. I never struggled with PT's so I did less on that front, but still practiced.

3. I used less materials. Yes less. I found outlines on the stanford law website that I referred to, I had one word doc that I wrote any rule that I came across and used adaptibar for MBE's. I had a tutor that only graded essays and gave me feedback (very important). I recorded her scores in my excel sheet and my daily MBE score from adaptibar.

4. I kept to a schedule of 9-5, M-F. I took every weekend off to relax. In my down-time (about 10 minutes every hour or so), I read 'retaker' blogs and advice that I found on the web. GOAT and A Male Human's come to mind as particularly good.

You don't hear about them, but there are people that either stop taking the bar after 2-3 fails, or just keep going and are 5, 6 or 8 fails deep. Some will find other jobs and occasionally try again, some just keep grinding away. Just because you don't hear about them, doesn't mean they aren't there. In order to get off of the cycle, you need to start fresh, be really focused and determined and get it done.

I agree with the first sentence and the last sentence so much. Don't be a "professional student," or else it becomes your default identity.

I was fucking fired up the second time (yeah, I shed like 1-2 tears and that was that; the pity party was over), ready to do whatever it takes, trying different things, making it a priority. The word "priority" comes from the Latin word "prior," meaning "first." Is proper bar preparation first on your list? It's easy to daydream about passing, but it's not easy to sacrifice your time and family, consistently, in order to put in the work. It's not just about brute forcing it, though... think about what you're doing so that you can get it over with and enjoy the rest of your days bar-free.

Thanks for the shoutout, LockBox! It's a very serious exam that commands respect, and I know what it feels like to have reality shove its ass in your face.

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Re: If You Were Taking The Exam Again, What Would You Do?

Postby HonestAdvice » Tue Mar 21, 2017 7:52 pm

I would study. You can pass without knowing the laws, but you're banking on things you're confident of but never certain of. This makes it impossible to enjoy the off time between the test and the results, which is really the only relaxing time left in your lifetime. There's retirement but by that point you've probably had a heart attack or two, and have to reflect on death and the off chance you're going to burn in hell. That time b/w bar and the bar results is the best part of the next 60 years so it stinks to not fully enjoy it because you are worried about failing.

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Re: If You Were Taking The Exam Again, What Would You Do?

Postby MultiStateLawyer » Thu Mar 23, 2017 9:45 am

I have a couple tips, as I am licensed in different states and I have taken multiple bar exams.

1. Focus on MBE. Practice MBE. Get your Hand on as Many MBE Q's as possible. After you take practice exams, you MUST read the explanations (even for answers you got right). These explanations will train your brain to read these MBEs in a more efficient and practical manner.
(A) Best MBE Prep -- Buy the NCBE Practice Tests. There are 4 for $50.00 each. Yea, it's $200, but it's a sunk cost. They are the best representatives of the actual Bar Exam because they are actual legit Questions. There are explanations for each answer and after you take a test, you can get a "scaled score." The "scaled score" isn't perfect, but it gives you an idea what to strive for as you study.
(B) Use Other MBE Sources -- If you can buy them on Amazon (people selling previously used MBE books) or look for programs that you can buy MBEs with explanations.
(C) Final MBE Thought -- MBE is the backbone of not only the MBE Day, but also, it will help you greatly when you do your essays. Many jurisdictions base their MEEs on the subject matters within the MBE subjects. If you are well rehearsed in MBE, it will help you throughout all of the Bar Exam.

2. Essays. Practice makes the Difference. Many people think they need to memorize the Black Letter Law and no actually practice the essays. Some people just read the Essay prompts then outline their hypothetical argument and think that is enough. But, the people that tend to do the best on essays often (not always) are the ones that have written out full essays throughout the program. Usually, when starting try to do 1-2 per week and increase your amount every couple of weeks until you're able to knock out 1-2 essays per day. This will help with timing, confidence, and you'll often see similar essays on the actual exam.

3. Schedule. Earlier you Start the Better. If you know you're going to be taking an exam, start preparing a schedule as earlier as possible. Make sure you do a schedule that works for you. Yes, you need to spend a lot of time on preparing for the Bar Exam. But every person studies different. Quality is more important than Quantity. You don't want to be that person bragging about doing 50000 MBE Questions and never once reading an explanation. Or reading 400 essay questions and never writing one out in full. You can do More with Less if you use the quality over quantity method. Make a schedule that is fair for you. The last exam I took was when I moved to a new state with my wife (she got an awesome, once in a lifetime job). So, I wasn't working and studying for the new Bar Exam. I made a schedule that worked for me, included working out, including time with my wife, and included some fun.

4. Programs. Everyone studies differently. There's more than one way to take a Bar. Some people thrive on a Barbri/Themis/Kaplan program. Other people are better are just buying materials for themselves. Some even get a private tutor. You must do what works best for you. I did Barbri for one jurisdiction and the program wasn't a fit for me. I took their materials and created my own study routine/schedule/style. The best thing I did was break up with the BarBri program (Failed Once Sticking with Barbri, Quit it and Passed with flying colors the next exam). For my latest exam, given the uniqueness of the jurisdiction and unfamiliar I was with its bar exams, I took on a private tutor (results are coming out soon). I never felt more prepared going into a bar exam than with this private tutor. Though the exam was extremely difficult and stressful (and NO, i don't think I aced it -- I am just hoping i passed). But, that's what worked for me to feel confident and prepared, it may not work for you.

5. Don't Let Failure Define You. Remember some of the best legal minds and most famous Americans failed a Bar Exam at least once. We've all seen the list, we've all been impressed by what they did after failing the Bar Exam. Remember, passing/failing a Bar Exam doesn't define the quality of attorney you are or will be. Stay confident. Stay surrounded by those willing to understand/support you. Know that eventually your time will come. You spent 3 years in law school, don't let 2 days (or 3 for some) of testing define 3 years of school/internships/job opportunities. Believe in yourself. Then, as you prepare to sign up for another round do a Self-Evaluation. Determine what/where things went wrong, determine where you can improve, determine what you think will help you succeed, and determine how you plan to succeed moving forward.

I remember all the pains/stresses of failing. I remember all the relief/joy of passing. Opening those scores is an emotion you'll never forget. If you passed, Congratulations. If you failed, don't give up.

Good luck to all those (including myself) awaiting February 2017 results. For those who fail, take some time to decompress and get ready to start up studying again for July. For those who pass, take some time to celebrate and get ready to work hard!




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