Questions from a Retaker w/ Themis (Lectures - skip?)

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Questions from a Retaker w/ Themis (Lectures - skip?)

Post by desperate4lawschool » Wed Nov 16, 2016 3:01 am

First time retaker here and I am trying to formulate a new way to study this time around.

I will preface this post by saying that I work full-time and don't necessarily have the time to study as much as a recent law school graduate whose sole job is to study for the bar.

I did buy access for Themis, but honestly never had the time to do the whole program. I watched a few lectures and read some outlines. Did not do any practice questions or essays.

I will definitely do more MBE drills and essays.

My question is how to retain the black letter law. I am the type that learns best by doing my own flashcards. I am also the type that isn't a good BSer and that cannot make up a law on the fly - I either know the law or I freeze. Understanding that I cannot learn every facet of the law, I want to know how best to maximize the amount of relevant information that will be tested.

I found the Themis lectures very inconsistent (some were good, some were bad). I did not watch everything. I hear the lectures are a waste of time and I should focus on making flashcards from the outlines. do you agree? That was going to be my plan of attack: read the outlines and make flashcards out of them, then learn from said flashcards. what would you recommend? Themis obviously recommends skimming the outlines, watching the lecture, and then do your own flashcard/outlines. However, I don't seem to have the comfort that everything I need to know is covered in a watered down lecture.


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Re: Questions from a Retaker w/ Themis (Lectures - skip?)

Post by kishy » Wed Nov 16, 2016 10:05 am

Hello. I passed two bar exams in a row, first time, both with Themis. What state are you in? I can't tell you what kind of studying is going to be best for you, but I can say that not doing any essays or practices and not completing the lectures is probably what did you in. Memorizing black letter law is hard for me, too. The only way I got it to stick was by doing the essays and the m/c practice. And I mean that I did every single essay for both states- except Florida had a bunch of optional essays that I didn't get to. I also did 2000 m/c for both exams - that's what it took for me really get the law in my head. I also have a very stressful full-time job, so I couldn't study full-time. I started Themis as soon as the program opened for early start and stuck with it averaging 2-5 hours a day with that number including weekends when I put in more time. It was a dreadful, awful experience - there were so many times that I wanted to say screw it. But I'm glad I didn't. As far as reading outlines, I started reading the outlines but that lasted about a day - I just didn't have the stamina and I literally did not have time to read them and complete the rest of my task list. So I watched all the lectures, completed all the handouts, and referenced the outline only when I needed it. For my second bar exam (FL), I didn't read any of the outlines, but I did do my first few sets of m/c and my first few essay questions open-book.

I may have overstudied, but that's water under the bridge. My opinion is that the key to passing the bar is just doing the prep and getting through as much material as possible. I didn't necessarily learn anything at a really deep level, but I completed most of the assignments and managed to pass.

Good luck! The next 3 months will suck, but they'll go really fast and then you can be done with this!


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Re: Questions from a Retaker w/ Themis (Lectures - skip?)

Post by ndp1234 » Wed Nov 16, 2016 12:33 pm

I took Themis and passed the NY UBE in July. I LOVED Themis. I finished 100%+ of the program (I asked for additional questions when I ran out). I think its MBE questions were very good, even when some of the answers didn’t make sense. They only give you what you need to know. I think I still would have loved Themis if I had failed because I felt like they gave me all the tools I needed to pass.
I will reiterate the above post and that the process is horrible, filled with self-doubt and never knowing if your performance will be good enough on test day. You don’t need to know every single nook and cranny of the BLL (I left a whole MEE question blank and still passed). But doing the practice MBE questions and MEE questions will help you retain the information better.

Advice on Lectures:
I would say that the lectures are mostly not necessary, especially if strapped for time. The only value I found in the lectures was that they (along with the handouts) helped me better conceptualize and organize the information (some more than others). I focused on doing the practice questions. I actually wrote out all my MEE answers and did all the MBE questions under timed situations. My first weeks of MBE and MEE questions were done open book.

Advice on Memorization:
My strategy was this: Because Themis liked to pull questions from its full outlines, I read through the full outlines and made my own condensed outlines. The act of making the outlines helped me retain information better and prepare to answer MBE questions. Later in the process, I would try to memorize the information how I best did it law school – I continuously recited it out loud and tried to recreate my outline in writing without looking. Your technique may be different. I didn’t start actively memorizing using this method until about 2-3 weeks before game time. At that point I was also doing 50-100 MBE questions a day to build up stamina. During this crucial time, you should take time from work and devote full time to studying. I know some people will disagree with that piece of advice, but I just didn’t have the confidence to not spend so much time on this part of the process.

General Advice:
You’re absolute goal is to not let this test mess with you. Don’t let it freak you out. You’ve made it thus far for a reason. I freaked out on test day and ended up leaving an entire question blank, but luckily I still passed, so you can too!

This was my method, YMMV. Everyone has their own process, so you will get different types of advice on this front.

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Re: Questions from a Retaker w/ Themis (Lectures - skip?)

Post by SilvermanBarPrep » Thu Nov 17, 2016 4:41 pm

I think there is a place for reading outlines but in addition much of the black-letter law for the MBE can be learned by working through practice questions. Every question is designed to test your ability to apply one specific rule and so you can learn a rule of law (black-letter law) from every question that you answer. If you take the time to understand all of your incorrect answers while working through practice questions you will have accumulated quite a lot of black-letter law by working through questions. The outlines still play an essential role though because you'll never encounter all that you might be tested on simply by doing practice questions. The outlines can be a very good gap filler in that respect, but the questions and the outlines combined will provide you with all the law that you need for the exam. And an added benefit of working through questions is that not only will you be learning the law but you'll be learning how to apply it. Just as it is highly unlikely that one would ever become competent at chess just by reading a book about it, competence on the MBE comes both by knowing the rules and playing the game through dedicated practice.


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