ReTaker of PA Bar, Had my First Meltdown Last Night

JoLaw824
Posts: 27
Joined: Mon Nov 27, 2017 9:27 pm

ReTaker of PA Bar, Had my First Meltdown Last Night

Postby JoLaw824 » Thu Jan 25, 2018 10:25 am

Any advice?

Failed the bar by 4 points, put the bar on a shelf for a year, am taking it again in February, and I feel overwhelmed and worried about failing again.

I am working while studying but taking 3 weeks off starting Feb 7 until the test.

Any advice? I get myself so worked up over not staying on-task with Themis but I know I have to better memorize the law as that's the reason I'm not doing better than 60% on MBE questions.

I HATE THIS.

L_William_W
Posts: 207
Joined: Sat Apr 30, 2016 12:20 am

Re: ReTaker of PA Bar, Had my First Meltdown Last Night

Postby L_William_W » Thu Jan 25, 2018 5:37 pm

These books will give you everything you need to increase your MBE score. I went from a 118.6 in July 2014 to a 149.3 in July 2017. First, go over the Emanuel bootcamp books. They will give you techniques on how to attack MBE questions and avoid traps. Then, warm up with Strategies and Tactics. Once you're done with that, move on to Finz and Kaplan- the questions in those books are as hard as the actual exam. Throw away that Themis crap.

https://www.amazon.com/Kaplan-Practice- ... kaplan+mbe

https://www.amazon.com/Strategies-Tacti ... kaplan+mbe

https://www.amazon.com/Strategies-Tacti ... op?ie=UTF8

https://www.amazon.com/MBE-Bootcamp-Pro ... e+bootcamp

https://www.amazon.com/MBE-Bootcamp-Evi ... e+bootcamp

https://www.amazon.com/MBE-Bootcamp-Con ... e+bootcamp

https://www.amazon.com/MBE-Bootcamp-Tor ... e+bootcamp

https://www.amazon.com/MBE-Bootcamp-Cri ... e+bootcamp

https://www.amazon.com/MBE-Bootcamp-Con ... e+bootcamp

hanner22
Posts: 10
Joined: Mon Jul 03, 2017 6:27 pm

Re: ReTaker of PA Bar, Had my First Meltdown Last Night

Postby hanner22 » Thu Jan 25, 2018 6:56 pm

JoLaw824 wrote:Any advice?

Failed the bar by 4 points, put the bar on a shelf for a year, am taking it again in February, and I feel overwhelmed and worried about failing again.

I am working while studying but taking 3 weeks off starting Feb 7 until the test.

Any advice? I get myself so worked up over not staying on-task with Themis but I know I have to better memorize the law as that's the reason I'm not doing better than 60% on MBE questions.

I HATE THIS.


Hi! We are in very similar boats. I failed the VA bar by 4 points. It's heart breaking but we can definitely bounce back!! I also am also working and taking off 3 weeks starting Feb. 5th. I am taking the DC bar this time around instead of VA. I used Themis to prep for the VA bar exam. I am self-studying with the guide of a tutor this time around.

My biggest piece of advice, is to completely ignore the progress bar on Themis. That completely destroyed me the first time around. I felt like I wasn't focusing on areas that needed my attention because I was so consumed with finishing everything Themis wanted me to finish and trying desperately to hit that 80% mark. I ended up being so hyper focused on finishing all the MBE questions that I completely neglected essays. ITS A WASTE OF ENERGY!! Do not worry about hitting that mark. Focus on areas that you are not grasping. Also, if you are still watching lectures, stop. They are a waste of time and don't help you learn anything. You will retain much more with practice vs. lectures.

So here is what I have done this time around:

I got a different commercial outline. I am using the Studicata outlines. DC is UBE so not sure if Studicata is only UBE or if they have PA but there are tons of companies that offer complete outlines that are much more manageable than Themis. The Themis outlines were way too long and I didn't find the condensed versions very helpful (too vague). These are much more manageable, about 12-17 pages per topic. I used these to create flashcards for every topic.

Next, I created online flashcards for every single topic on Quizlet. This has helped me completely master the black letter law for each topic. Every night before bed, I use the app on my iPad I go through at least 2 topics and I just read through the flashcards. I've been doing this for about 2 weeks now and it's crazy how much I have memorized. Once you master those, answering questions becomes so much easier. Especially with MBE because you'll be able to eliminate wrong answer choice SO much easier. It is very time consuming to make your own set now, but if you search on Quizlet, you may find someone else already created flash cards for PA subject. There are TONS of MBE flashcards that people have created. I am happy to share my MBE topics with you if you need them.

Third is to PRACTICE. Do as many MBE questions as you can. Themis ones are not too bad. I would highly recommended Adaptibar and Emmanuel S&T for MBE. I got these both about a month before the July bar and my God they made a HUGE difference. I ended up passing the MBE portion of the exam in VA and transferring my score to DC so I only have to take the essay exam next month. I attribute my high enough MBE score to those two. What I liked to do on my MBE study days were to review the material then do 25 questions for each subject. Then every couple days I would do a mixed set of 100 questions. I found it super helpful with the MBE.

Since I struggled with the essay portion of the exam, I hired a tutor to help me with essays and to grade them for me. I do about 10 essays a day. I will outline 5 essays and write out 5 essays. My tutor and I Skype every Monday and Thursday and we go over essays that I struggled the most with. The super detailed feedback is crazy helpful for me. I really believe practice makes perfect. I really make sure to take the time to read the model answers and to make note of any missed rules or any incorrect rules. I have a document of missed/incorrect rules for every essay subject. I make sure to read those before doing essays and if I master the rule in another essay, I highlight it on my document to indicate that I remembered it the second time around. The more essays you can do, the better. And make sure you are doing previously tested PA essay questions. If your Themis essay grader (like mine was) doesn't give you a lot of detailed feedback, I would suggest hiring an essay grader. I believe Barmax does this. The more detailed feedback you get, the more you improve.

Make sure you are doing things that help reduce your stress and anxiety. Every day after work, I go to yoga before I go home and study. It really gets me in the right head space. It can be anything from exercising, to walking your dog, to spending time with family. Whatever calms you down, do it. I was not taking care of myself in July and was like a huge ball of anxiety the whole month of July. Starting to get into a habit that relaxes you now will absolutely help before the exam.

Lastly, believe in yourself. I know its so cliche but you are so smart. You got yourself through undergrad, through law school, you are working, all of which is not easy to accomplish. YOU CAN DO THIS. And so can I. We are going to pass this exam! I believe in us :)

Sorry for the novel! I am taking a study break and felt compelled to respond :) Now, back to it! Haha. Wishing you lots of luck!

kc128
Posts: 92
Joined: Tue Oct 17, 2017 4:13 pm

Re: ReTaker of PA Bar, Had my First Meltdown Last Night

Postby kc128 » Sun Jan 28, 2018 2:10 pm

JoLaw824 wrote:Any advice?

Failed the bar by 4 points, put the bar on a shelf for a year, am taking it again in February, and I feel overwhelmed and worried about failing again.

I am working while studying but taking 3 weeks off starting Feb 7 until the test.

Any advice? I get myself so worked up over not staying on-task with Themis but I know I have to better memorize the law as that's the reason I'm not doing better than 60% on MBE questions.

I HATE THIS.


This post coincided w/ my first big meltdown in anticipation of Feb. Try to just get through this week and then you can dedicate yourself 100%! Do NOT worry about staying on task. I'm using Themis too and I'm happy with it, but if you looked at my "completion", you'd laugh. You know what you know and what you don't know. You can be far more productive by outlining and applying your own methods than by following the program.

Also, and I know this seems crazy, but take a few hours to yourself. I freaked the f*ck out on Friday (literally cried over 65% on one of my better topics, heart pounding, brainstorming alternative careers, you get the idea)... took yesterday off, and felt so much more productive and focused this morning. I get this may not seem practical if you're working, but do it. Good luck :)

JoLaw824
Posts: 27
Joined: Mon Nov 27, 2017 9:27 pm

Re: ReTaker of PA Bar, Had my First Meltdown Last Night

Postby JoLaw824 » Sun Jan 28, 2018 3:05 pm

kc128 wrote:
JoLaw824 wrote:Any advice?

Failed the bar by 4 points, put the bar on a shelf for a year, am taking it again in February, and I feel overwhelmed and worried about failing again.

I am working while studying but taking 3 weeks off starting Feb 7 until the test.

Any advice? I get myself so worked up over not staying on-task with Themis but I know I have to better memorize the law as that's the reason I'm not doing better than 60% on MBE questions.

I HATE THIS.


This post coincided w/ my first big meltdown in anticipation of Feb. Try to just get through this week and then you can dedicate yourself 100%! Do NOT worry about staying on task. I'm using Themis too and I'm happy with it, but if you looked at my "completion", you'd laugh. You know what you know and what you don't know. You can be far more productive by outlining and applying your own methods than by following the program.

Also, and I know this seems crazy, but take a few hours to yourself. I freaked the f*ck out on Friday (literally cried over 65% on one of my better topics, heart pounding, brainstorming alternative careers, you get the idea)... took yesterday off, and felt so much more productive and focused this morning. I get this may not seem practical if you're working, but do it. Good luck :)


Thank you! I basically have been using my poor Themis rep as my therapist, and he talked me off the ledge. I know I still have a month, and that's a lot of time, but once you fail you NEVER FORGET THAT FEELING!

Thank you and good luck!

CanadianWolf
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Re: ReTaker of PA Bar, Had my First Meltdown Last Night

Postby CanadianWolf » Sun Jan 28, 2018 6:27 pm

You will pass this time. You have already done the hard part = graduated law school & passed C&F. Sitting for the bar exam is your reward.

If not tied to Pennsylvania & open to relocation, then consider taking the UBE (Uniform Bar Exam) which is like sitting for about 25 jurisdictions during a single exam. These jurisdictions have varying required scores so that you might not pass in 5 or 6 jurisdictions, but would have a passing bar exam score in the other 19 or 20 jurisdictions.

ilikemanipedis
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Re: ReTaker of PA Bar, Had my First Meltdown Last Night

Postby ilikemanipedis » Sun Jan 28, 2018 7:06 pm

Don't worry you aren't alone. I also had a meltdown recently because I've been bombing the MBE m/c and have been using themis. The percentage bar on themis is really killing me and making me think i'm going to fail this exam.

I am thinking that i really need to restrategize or else I'm not going to pass.

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RCinDNA
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Re: ReTaker of PA Bar, Had my First Meltdown Last Night

Postby RCinDNA » Sun Jan 28, 2018 8:51 pm

I remember that exact feeling going into the last month this summer. Just keep in mind that there is still time to restrategize. We are a week from the practice BarBri midterm and I think it is a perfect time to do a massive re-review of all major subjects, go through a few minor subjects, and re-do my study schedule. Just have to focus on being productive each day, making steps towards covering all subjects meaningfully, and preparing your mnemonics.

Part of the bar is a massive mental game where you could psych yourself out.
Last edited by RCinDNA on Sun Jan 28, 2018 9:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.

kc128
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Re: ReTaker of PA Bar, Had my First Meltdown Last Night

Postby kc128 » Sun Jan 28, 2018 9:11 pm

ilikemanipedis wrote:Don't worry you aren't alone. I also had a meltdown recently because I've been bombing the MBE m/c and have been using themis. The percentage bar on themis is really killing me and making me think i'm going to fail this exam.

I am thinking that i really need to restrategize or else I'm not going to pass.


Also using Themis. Are you finding your essay scores are below average? I've only come close w/ Civ Pro and I personally thought my answer deviated the most from the sample answer on that one. Not exactly reassuring.

ilikemanipedis
Posts: 12
Joined: Wed Dec 20, 2017 6:34 pm

Re: ReTaker of PA Bar, Had my First Meltdown Last Night

Postby ilikemanipedis » Sun Jan 28, 2018 9:28 pm

kc128 wrote:
ilikemanipedis wrote:Don't worry you aren't alone. I also had a meltdown recently because I've been bombing the MBE m/c and have been using themis. The percentage bar on themis is really killing me and making me think i'm going to fail this exam.

I am thinking that i really need to restrategize or else I'm not going to pass.


Also using Themis. Are you finding your essay scores are below average? I've only come close w/ Civ Pro and I personally thought my answer deviated the most from the sample answer on that one. Not exactly reassuring.


Actually scoring fine on essays. Not scoring so well on MBE multiple choice questions which is extremely concerning.

kc128
Posts: 92
Joined: Tue Oct 17, 2017 4:13 pm

Re: ReTaker of PA Bar, Had my First Meltdown Last Night

Postby kc128 » Sun Jan 28, 2018 10:52 pm

ilikemanipedis wrote:
kc128 wrote:
ilikemanipedis wrote:Don't worry you aren't alone. I also had a meltdown recently because I've been bombing the MBE m/c and have been using themis. The percentage bar on themis is really killing me and making me think i'm going to fail this exam.

I am thinking that i really need to restrategize or else I'm not going to pass.


Also using Themis. Are you finding your essay scores are below average? I've only come close w/ Civ Pro and I personally thought my answer deviated the most from the sample answer on that one. Not exactly reassuring.


Actually scoring fine on essays. Not scoring so well on MBE multiple choice questions which is extremely concerning.


I'm sorry to hear that. I'm sure you'll improve, lots of time to go. The Emmanuel book is extremely helpful!

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RCinDNA
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Re: ReTaker of PA Bar, Had my First Meltdown Last Night

Postby RCinDNA » Sun Jan 28, 2018 11:54 pm

hanner22 wrote:
JoLaw824 wrote:Any advice?

Failed the bar by 4 points, put the bar on a shelf for a year, am taking it again in February, and I feel overwhelmed and worried about failing again.

I am working while studying but taking 3 weeks off starting Feb 7 until the test.

Any advice? I get myself so worked up over not staying on-task with Themis but I know I have to better memorize the law as that's the reason I'm not doing better than 60% on MBE questions.

I HATE THIS.


Hi! We are in very similar boats. I failed the VA bar by 4 points. It's heart breaking but we can definitely bounce back!! I also am also working and taking off 3 weeks starting Feb. 5th. I am taking the DC bar this time around instead of VA. I used Themis to prep for the VA bar exam. I am self-studying with the guide of a tutor this time around.

My biggest piece of advice, is to completely ignore the progress bar on Themis. That completely destroyed me the first time around. I felt like I wasn't focusing on areas that needed my attention because I was so consumed with finishing everything Themis wanted me to finish and trying desperately to hit that 80% mark. I ended up being so hyper focused on finishing all the MBE questions that I completely neglected essays. ITS A WASTE OF ENERGY!! Do not worry about hitting that mark. Focus on areas that you are not grasping. Also, if you are still watching lectures, stop. They are a waste of time and don't help you learn anything. You will retain much more with practice vs. lectures.

So here is what I have done this time around:

I got a different commercial outline. I am using the Studicata outlines. DC is UBE so not sure if Studicata is only UBE or if they have PA but there are tons of companies that offer complete outlines that are much more manageable than Themis. The Themis outlines were way too long and I didn't find the condensed versions very helpful (too vague). These are much more manageable, about 12-17 pages per topic. I used these to create flashcards for every topic.

Next, I created online flashcards for every single topic on Quizlet. This has helped me completely master the black letter law for each topic. Every night before bed, I use the app on my iPad I go through at least 2 topics and I just read through the flashcards. I've been doing this for about 2 weeks now and it's crazy how much I have memorized. Once you master those, answering questions becomes so much easier. Especially with MBE because you'll be able to eliminate wrong answer choice SO much easier. It is very time consuming to make your own set now, but if you search on Quizlet, you may find someone else already created flash cards for PA subject. There are TONS of MBE flashcards that people have created. I am happy to share my MBE topics with you if you need them.

Third is to PRACTICE. Do as many MBE questions as you can. Themis ones are not too bad. I would highly recommended Adaptibar and Emmanuel S&T for MBE. I got these both about a month before the July bar and my God they made a HUGE difference. I ended up passing the MBE portion of the exam in VA and transferring my score to DC so I only have to take the essay exam next month. I attribute my high enough MBE score to those two. What I liked to do on my MBE study days were to review the material then do 25 questions for each subject. Then every couple days I would do a mixed set of 100 questions. I found it super helpful with the MBE.

Since I struggled with the essay portion of the exam, I hired a tutor to help me with essays and to grade them for me. I do about 10 essays a day. I will outline 5 essays and write out 5 essays. My tutor and I Skype every Monday and Thursday and we go over essays that I struggled the most with. The super detailed feedback is crazy helpful for me. I really believe practice makes perfect. I really make sure to take the time to read the model answers and to make note of any missed rules or any incorrect rules. I have a document of missed/incorrect rules for every essay subject. I make sure to read those before doing essays and if I master the rule in another essay, I highlight it on my document to indicate that I remembered it the second time around. The more essays you can do, the better. And make sure you are doing previously tested PA essay questions. If your Themis essay grader (like mine was) doesn't give you a lot of detailed feedback, I would suggest hiring an essay grader. I believe Barmax does this. The more detailed feedback you get, the more you improve.

Make sure you are doing things that help reduce your stress and anxiety. Every day after work, I go to yoga before I go home and study. It really gets me in the right head space. It can be anything from exercising, to walking your dog, to spending time with family. Whatever calms you down, do it. I was not taking care of myself in July and was like a huge ball of anxiety the whole month of July. Starting to get into a habit that relaxes you now will absolutely help before the exam.

Lastly, believe in yourself. I know its so cliche but you are so smart. You got yourself through undergrad, through law school, you are working, all of which is not easy to accomplish. YOU CAN DO THIS. And so can I. We are going to pass this exam! I believe in us :)

Sorry for the novel! I am taking a study break and felt compelled to respond :) Now, back to it! Haha. Wishing you lots of luck!


I am so impressed by that work ethic!

JoLaw824
Posts: 27
Joined: Mon Nov 27, 2017 9:27 pm

Re: ReTaker of PA Bar, Had my First Meltdown Last Night

Postby JoLaw824 » Mon Jan 29, 2018 10:56 am

RCinDNA wrote:I remember that exact feeling going into the last month this summer. Just keep in mind that there is still time to restrategize. We are a week from the practice BarBri midterm and I think it is a perfect time to do a massive re-review of all major subjects, go through a few minor subjects, and re-do my study schedule. Just have to focus on being productive each day, making steps towards covering all subjects meaningfully, and preparing your mnemonics.

Part of the bar is a massive mental game where you could psych yourself out.


Thank you! Great advice.

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ndbigdave
Posts: 247
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Re: ReTaker of PA Bar, Had my First Meltdown Last Night

Postby ndbigdave » Mon Jan 29, 2018 2:44 pm

Ill chime in to offer encouragement (I have a close friend going through this now and my live-in girlfriend is going through the process again as well so I am living it even though I am not sitting myself).

In a way I look at this last month as an absolute blessing. There are 30 days left to prep, that scares many because time is winding down, but I think 30 days is a great deal of time to put A LOT of lead on the target while also knowing the end is near. For me, it was always easier to throw that extra hour into studying the closer I got to a test (undergrad, grad school and law school) because I knew Id get a break very soon and could be done with it (guilt likely kicked in too when I knew I could afford to study more and would only be angry at myself later if I didnt do it).

I wont try to repeat any other advice other than be reasonable with yourself and your schedule. Set up a plan that is both deep enough to be effective while short enough to be repeatedable until you officially stop studying.

I am a firm believer that the #1, best thing you can do is use real past MBE questions and reviewing every single question (right or wrong) to appreciate what the rule of law is that was tested and how it was applied. Doing even basic math if you could commit to 30 questions a day of such review you could get done 900 more questions! 30 a day, to me would put you just over an hour or so of time commitment, meaning there is still plenty of time to study in whatever way works best for you. If it is listening to lectures, then fine, I personally felt that most standard bar program lectures are too long and not focused enough, I used (and loved) BarMax because the lectures are shorter, focused with great examples to help you understand the rule of law, otherwise I have heard good things about Adaptibar's lectures that you can purchase for $15 per subject area (expensive if you buy them all, but cheap if you only need a few). Otherwise "do you" you have been through undergrad and law school, you know how you retain information and what helps things click. If you need flashcards, outlines, writing things out, listening/watching or perhaps using a significant other, friend or parent as someone that you can "teach" a concept to are all ways of helping learn and master a concept.

Look at it as an opportunity - the end is near and that is exciting, youre almost done with this, youll get your life back soon enough and the best part is there is enough time to really put "lead on the target" and be better prepared for this test than you were the first time around.

Good luck

JoLaw824
Posts: 27
Joined: Mon Nov 27, 2017 9:27 pm

Re: ReTaker of PA Bar, Had my First Meltdown Last Night

Postby JoLaw824 » Mon Jan 29, 2018 9:04 pm

ndbigdave wrote:Ill chime in to offer encouragement (I have a close friend going through this now and my live-in girlfriend is going through the process again as well so I am living it even though I am not sitting myself).

In a way I look at this last month as an absolute blessing. There are 30 days left to prep, that scares many because time is winding down, but I think 30 days is a great deal of time to put A LOT of lead on the target while also knowing the end is near. For me, it was always easier to throw that extra hour into studying the closer I got to a test (undergrad, grad school and law school) because I knew Id get a break very soon and could be done with it (guilt likely kicked in too when I knew I could afford to study more and would only be angry at myself later if I didnt do it).

I wont try to repeat any other advice other than be reasonable with yourself and your schedule. Set up a plan that is both deep enough to be effective while short enough to be repeatedable until you officially stop studying.

I am a firm believer that the #1, best thing you can do is use real past MBE questions and reviewing every single question (right or wrong) to appreciate what the rule of law is that was tested and how it was applied. Doing even basic math if you could commit to 30 questions a day of such review you could get done 900 more questions! 30 a day, to me would put you just over an hour or so of time commitment, meaning there is still plenty of time to study in whatever way works best for you. If it is listening to lectures, then fine, I personally felt that most standard bar program lectures are too long and not focused enough, I used (and loved) BarMax because the lectures are shorter, focused with great examples to help you understand the rule of law, otherwise I have heard good things about Adaptibar's lectures that you can purchase for $15 per subject area (expensive if you buy them all, but cheap if you only need a few). Otherwise "do you" you have been through undergrad and law school, you know how you retain information and what helps things click. If you need flashcards, outlines, writing things out, listening/watching or perhaps using a significant other, friend or parent as someone that you can "teach" a concept to are all ways of helping learn and master a concept.

Look at it as an opportunity - the end is near and that is exciting, youre almost done with this, youll get your life back soon enough and the best part is there is enough time to really put "lead on the target" and be better prepared for this test than you were the first time around.

Good luck


This. Great advice. I am going to hammer out the rest of my Themis MBE requirements this week (a little behind on the mixed set that was slated for today, then we have a practice MBE next week), but this weekend I may toss in some Kaplan to see how I do with those. I appreciate the advice. A month is enough time if I keep it moving and keep pushing.

Thank you!!




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