Keeping Things in Perspective

Sometimes, in the midst of a trying time in one’s life, it is important to step back and take in the big picture. Here is a poem called “River Run” by Charles Wright from his collection, A Short History of the Shadow: Poems:


In spite of armchair and omelette,
In spite of the daily paradise and quid pro quo,
Like Lorca, I wait for
the things of the other side,
A little river of come and go,
A heartbeat of sorts, a watch tick, a splash in the night.

Wherever I turn, everything looks unworldly
the stars in their empty boxes, the lights
Of the high houses glowing like stones
Through the thrones of the trees,
the river hushed in a brown study.

What isn’t available is always what’s longed for,
It’s written, erased, then written again.
Thus Lost and Unknown,
Thus Master of the Undeciphered Parchment, thus Hail and Farewell.
It’s not the bullet that kills you, as the song goes,
it’s the hole.
It’s not the water you’ve got to cross, it’s the river.


Anonymous said...

I just wanted to let you know that I have really found your blog helpful and I appreciate that you have taken the time to do this to help all of us struggling with the bar exam.

I do have a quesiton for you. We have about two weeks left and I'm behind on the whole BarBri program. I've finished the lectures, but have outlined about half of the subjects and done minimal questions and minimal essays (I have limited time, 2 young kids, working husband). On the practice exam I scored slightly below average on the MBE and on the essays I didn't do that well because I couldn't get the rules down and pick up the points. My question is how do I get this right in the next 2 weeks? My husband has taken time off so I can put in about 10-12 hours a day, but how do I memorize this stuff (I'm taking the OR bar by the way)? I have made some flashcards, but I haven't. Do you think I't really had time to use them should I make flashcards for everything instead of wasting time on outlines at this point? People say, do what you know works for you to memorize...that is a bunch of crap for me because I didn't memeorize rules in law school like this. Anyway, I'm starting to panic, and I'm just looking for some advice on how you would handle these last two weeks...outline? flashcards? writing the rules over and over? Any help would be appreciated. Thank you again for your blog it has been really helpful.

Anonymous said...

I must apologize for the jumbled mess in the middle of the prior post, something got moved around when I was typing. I was trying to say in that paragraph that I have made some flashcards but have not had time to use them and was wondering if you think my time is better spent at this point making flashcards and doing practice MBE's or should I spend the time making the outlines and flashcards and doing the MBE's?

Admin said...


I got your comments on my lunch break, so thought I'd respond now.

First, take comfort that you are taking the Oregon bar and the pass rate is normally in the 70-80% range. This means that you are more likely to pass the bar even if your preparation is not as thorough as you might hope.

Next, I give you the following advice with the caveat that I took the Oregon bar exam in 2006, so things may have changed somewhat.

I recall that the essays were limited to a single typed page (assuming you are using laptop). Therefore, what seemed to matter for the Oregon bar graders was getting the rules out, since you had very little space for analysis. I would concentrate on memorizing the rules as much as possible. I would also advise using flash cards for this. Ideally, you would write out all flashcards yourself, but if you don't have time, maybe you can recruit someone to write them out for you. Just go through your barBri book and highlight the rules you want put on a flashcard and have the person write them out for you. (Buy them dinner or wine or whatever as a thank you.)

It is probably too late to do your own outlines now, so forget about it and just use what is in the barBri book or what you can get from other sources. In case you didn't see, I have posted my Oregon bar outlines and checklists on this site, just click on the link on the black bar at the top of the blog that says "Oregon Outlines."

I would do as many practice essays as possible in order to solidfy your knowledge of the rules. but don't just plow through them. After you write each one, make sure you fully understand what you did that worked and was correct and what you did that was wrong or incomplete. Be self-critical and learn from that criticism. You can't know everything, but you surely can know enough to pass.

You indicated that you scored slightly below average on the MBE and essay practice test. That is good. I scored well below average on the BarBri sample test (especially the MBE), but managed to pass. In fact, I felt like I did very well on the essay and PT portion of the exam. If you scored at the bottom of the curve, it might be cause for worry, but you are in a good position.

Since you only have two weeks left, I am assuming the BarBri course is over? This is when you will learn the most. You will not be disctracted by the various lectures; your husband is nice enough to give you plenty of time to study and really learn this stuff.

Finally, when I took the Oregon bar, it was 50% MBE and 50% written. If this is still the case, then you should weight your final studies accordingly. Unlike in California where a sub par MBE score can be saved by above average essays, a low MBE in Oregon or a low set of essays will probably be fatal. So, balance is called for.

If you are going to study 10 hours per day, probably put at least 4 into practice MBE questions. Make sure you do some practice questions in random order under timed conditions (e.g., do 33 questions in one hours, then go back and correct and analyze).

That's all I can think of now. I hope it helps.

Really, these last two weeks are when it should all come together. I remember I felt ready to take the test about a week before the exam. Then I started to worry that I woudl forget stuff!! You want to peak at the right time. I am sure you will.

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