Feb 2018 Texas Bar Exam

dtjustice
Posts: 63
Joined: Wed Dec 28, 2016 8:15 am

Feb 2018 Texas Bar Exam

Postby dtjustice » Sat Oct 07, 2017 10:03 am

Woohoo...starting this thread for our treacherous journey through studying for the February 2018 Texas Bar Exam. Bring all your support, tips, study discussions, venting...LOL.... Here for support, LET'S DO THIS!!!!!!!!!!!

I will be starting a Feb 2018 Bar Exam WhatsApp study group. Send me (or post) your name and phone number to join!!

Debbie

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Leprechaun
Posts: 142
Joined: Sun Jan 01, 2012 1:00 pm

Re: Feb 2018 Texas Bar Exam

Postby Leprechaun » Sun Oct 08, 2017 4:04 pm

I was a Feb 2017 TX taker & passer. I posted this in my school's facebook group and will post here for the Feb 2018 takers as well.

For my friends that are about to graduate, congratulations, you did it! If you are like me, it became “real” pretty quickly that now you have another major hurdle to clear, the bar exam. I realize that everyone learns differently, and that everyone requires different motivation and strategies, but I know when I graduated, I really did not know what to expect concerning the bar exam, and I searched all over the web reading things about people that had been there and done that. Therefore, I thought I’d put my experience here, in the hope that it would help some of my friends to know what to expect and how to approach this endeavor. 

First things first, I did not take “Prepping for the Bar”, (a course offered at my school) so I can’t speak as to how that might change your experience. I learn best from lectures, not notes. If you knew me in law school, you probably know that I’d have writers cramp if I took more than 3 to 5 pages of notes the whole semester for a course, many courses I’d have maybe 1 or 2 pages as I was much better at just paying attention to the professor and learning from their lecture, not from reading notes or outlines. 

My exam prep style in school was typically one of cramming. I’d hit each exam really hard right before it came up (the days leading up to it) and would only prep for one subject at a time when possible. I never really experienced test anxiety as I viewed exams as “opportunities to compete”, and there is not a whole lot of things I love on this planet more than the joy of competing. Quite frequently, on exam days, my only prep would consist of listening to old school rap music, eating out, and doing things like go cart riding or shooting, things that would basically get me mentally “pumped up” to compete that night on exams. 

I write all of that to let you know that is NOT a good approach to the bar exam. It will not work. I had to commit myself to a significant change to be successful in this journey. I began my prep 2-3 days after graduation, and I probably averaged 3 .5 hours per day of prepping up through the final day of the bar exam. I took Barbri, as I knew I had to have some structure and some accountability in my study plan, or else I would have not done well. After taking their course, I highly recommend it, and no, I’m not a Barbri rep.

Since I had not taken Prepping for the Bar, I really did not even know what the bar exam encompassed, so I’ll cover that first in case you were like me. Day one begins with the MPT and is 10% of your bar exam score. The MPT is basically a closed universe, performance task, in a short time window (90 minutes). The great thing about the MPT is that everything you need is provided, you just show up, synthesize the material, and roll with it. You don’t need to memorize, you just read, apply, and produce a written work product. It could be anything from a will to a brief to a memorandum, but they will include a basic template or instructions that will give you an idea of what they expect as output, so you don’t have to be an expert at creating wills or briefs, or demand letters or memorandums, etc.

Day one ends with a 90 minute session that is ½ Texas Civil Procedure and Evidence (5% of your bar exam grade) short answer 20 questions, and ½ Texas Criminal Procedure and Evidence (5% of your bar exam grade) short answer 20 questions. When I say short answer, that is exactly what I mean. You literally only have a few hundred characters to answer the questions. It basically covers a walkthrough of a civil case and a criminal case from beginning to the end based on a fact set it will give you.

Day 2 of the bar exam is a 200 question, multiple choice beast that accounts for 40% of your bar exam score. 100 questions in the AM, and 100 questions in the PM. Covers Evidence, Torts, Criminal Procedure & Criminal Law, Property, Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law and Contracts. You get 3 hours for each set of 100 questions and a break for lunch in between. 

Day 3 is the Texas Essays and accounts for 40% of your bar exam score. You have 12 essays (with multiple parts) and you have 6 essays in the 3 hour AM session, and 6 essays in the 3 hour PM session and a lunch break in between. Topics that are fair game include Trusts & Guardianships, Wills & Estate Administration, Family Law, Uniform Commercial Code, Consumer Rights including DTPA & Insurance, Business Associations, and Real Property including Oil and Gas. This also includes crossover from the MBE topics and can include additional topics such as Income Tax, bankruptcy and estate and gift taxes. 

You can use your laptop for the MPT, and for the Texas Essays. On the MBE, you use scantron. One nice thing about using your laptop, unlike on our law school exams, you can copy and not just cut and paste. That can save you tremendously valuable time when doing rule statements. 

Now that you know what all the exam encompasses, it can help you figure out your gameplan of attacking it. Barbri can absolutely consume you if you let it. They have a step by step schedule for every day of the week and if you follow that, you could literally put in 8 to 10 hours a day, which if you work full time like I do, that is not a possibility. I had to study more efficiently than that. What you choose to do or not to do, again will depend largely on your study style and learning methods. 

Barbri has lecture books which contain fill in the blanks that correspond to their lectures. I listened to every lecture and I filled out every blank in that book. I would do the lectures on 1.0x to 2.00x speed, depending on the professor, and depending on how much I was understanding. Many times, I would find myself going back and “rewinding” to cover concepts again if I found myself daydreaming or otherwise interrupted. I followed their schedule religiously when it came to the lectures. I did not skip around, and I took them in the order they presented them. 

The other major things I did with Barbri, was the practice multiple choice questions. I did over 1100 questions, and when I say I “did” them, I didn’t simply answer them and move on. I would go through and read the explanations whether or not I got the question right or not, this was probably the most valuable thing I did. I really do feel that if you have time for nothing else, do all the multiple choice questions and review them to find out why you got them right and why you got them wrong. 

The great thing about Barbri is the questions have timers so it helps you figure out the proper pace, also, at the end of the question modules, it will break it down within topic and category so you can see what areas you are strong in and what areas you are weak in. You can use this to brush up on learning the law of weak areas by using Barbri Amps which are short, interactive questions that teach you the law, rather than trying to trick you with hypotheticals. They served me well as memorization drills that really helped me learn the black letter law. 

Things that I did not do in Barbri - I did not skim the sections, outlines, etc, in advance like they recommended. I did not have time for that and I didn’t want to reinforce and teach myself the wrong stuff or interpretations by reading it in advance, I don’t learn well that way. Also, I did not read the outlines after the lectures, like Barbri recommends, again, I am an auditory learner and learner through interactive questions, not through reading. I like to see the law being applied, not just reading the law.

I did not write out the essay questions that Barbri would assign, other than the few that were graded. I’m fairly good at producing a coherent essay if I know the law so I thought that would be a waste of valuable time, but you know your own learning style.

I did not do any of the practice MPT’s other than the graded ones. Everything is included that you will need for the MPT on gameday, and I’m not one that makes outlines, drafts, etc, and I’m good at processing things within time deadlines, so I didn’t feel necessary to waste limited study time on MPT practice. However, that being said, when you do practice them, put yourself under time constraints so you figure out whether or not you can do it. If you can’t, you will need to work heavily on producing a product under timed, stressed conditions. That is an area you should be able to nail down if you practice and manage time well. 

There is simply no substitute for putting in the time. The nice thing about Barbri is it shows you how you are doing against your peers percentage wise. Use this to tailor your study plan. Don’t be concerned if you are literally getting only 20% to 40% of the questions right in the beginning, that’s all I was getting and it scared the hell out of me, but again, I hadn’t taken Prepping for the Bar, so some of the material I literally had not seen since 1L year. 

Barbri gives you short question sets, 18 at a time, so it’s not overwhelming and if you just learn the concepts that questions are presenting, you will do fine. Their multiple choice question sets are very difficult and a “good” score is 9 to 12 of the 18 correct generally. That will get you where you need to be. Keep in mind for the bar, you don’t have to know EVERYTHING, you only have to know ENOUGH. 

Barbri offers practice tests and these are key to understanding where you stand. Take these tests as scheduled, and use them to figure out what areas you are weak in and watch the videos in the couple of days afterward explaining why each question is right or wrong. If you are doing exceptionally well in some topics, don’t waste time studying that topic, that is not efficient, move to a weak area instead. Redo the Barbri Amps if necessary to learn the law, you have to learn the law, period, and there is a lot of law to learn. 

Towards the exam date, Barbri offered additional workshops on the Procedure and Evidence Portions. They were worth it even if for nothing more than getting the handouts. The handouts if I remember correctly were only 40 to 60 pages each and they are "memorizable" as some of the questions are used over and over and over again, just worded slightly differently

. If you can kill the MPT and the P&E, that’s 20% of the test you will have done well in and you can give yourself some breathing room on the rest. 

Now, the Texas Essays. The absolutely best thing I did for the Texas Essays was not to even look at the questions that Barbri had, but to memorize the Barbri suggested answers. The examiners tend to ask the same types of questions over and over with different facts, so if you memorize the answers, you will be well ahead of the game and can apply the answers to many different fact sets just by changing the names. 

Additionally, this will show you the areas they test out of the broad categories, so you won’t spend valuable time learning crap that has a small probability of being tested

. Now, the hardest part for me was mental management. I’m not one that feels anxiety usually, but the weight of this exam can do that to you. Bar prep will beat you down, it will piss you off, it will make you feel STUPID and feel that you have wasted the last few years of your life. 

Admittedly, there were a couple nights of prep where I did little more than sit in my office and cry, literally. That might make me sound weak, but I did. 

You will be scared that you are only getting 60% of the questions right. Don’t let that get you down. If necessary, take a day off, refresh, and then get back to it. Get some accountability partners. I’m not one that used study groups in law school, and I didn’t either for the bar, but I did use mental help partners from my classmates that I could talk to, share thoughts with, share fears with, and share strategy with. Don’t be afraid to talk to your classmates and be there for them if they need you too, it’s a two way street. 

A lot of people say don’t study the week of the exam, I wouldn’t do that if I were you. I got down to Austin on the day before the exam. I studied that day for a couple hours on the P&E portion memorizing those Barbri handouts. The next day, I used the “one sheets” and “leansheets” to brush up one last time for the MBE rules. You have to know the rules or you won’t do well. I found the MBE to be much easier than the Barbri questions, not nearly as long, and not nearly as many “twists”, therefore if you were on track with Barbri time management, there was plenty of time on the real exam. The next night I studied the essay answers hard to get the patterns down for the next day’s essays. I got up at 4:30 AM that morning and spent two more hours getting those patterns down. After the morning session, I then spent a few minutes at lunch going over the topics I still knew where upcoming in the afternoon session. It helped me greatly in my opinion. 

My biggest problems were lack of time due to work along the way, and in feeling grossly inadequate by missing so many questions along the way. However, that kept me going and motivated and made me work harder, and again, you don’t have to know everything. Good luck to y’all, I hope that helps some and hope it gives you an expectation of what lies ahead, you CAN do it. If you have any questions or just need someone to holler at, feel free to holler, people were there for me, and I plan to be here for other people. 

A couple more things, make sure you do the practice tests under exam conditions, I was quite surprised by how exhausted I got doing that. I would always do a lot better on the first half then I would the 2nd half. Sometimes toward the end, I would even miss 10-15 questions in a row as I lost focus. Deshun made a great suggestion to me and it worked, after every 20 to 25 questions, I’d take a few minutes off and would just sit there and go to my “happy place” in my mind, it gave me the stamina to power through. I’m not one that typically has text anxiety, this was different, I was literally throwing up the 1st day of the exam before it started. This test will mess with your psyche like no other. Just realize that’s normal and that you aren’t weak and that you can do it. Good luck!!

dtjustice
Posts: 63
Joined: Wed Dec 28, 2016 8:15 am

Re: Feb 2018 Texas Bar Exam

Postby dtjustice » Tue Oct 10, 2017 5:24 pm

AWESOME POST!!! Thanks for sharing and congrats!!!


Deb




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