Tuesday

Advice for Bar Exam Repeaters

I just discovered a great series of videos posted on YouTube by Jessie Zaylia, who passed the July 2011 California bar exam on her third attempt

This first video discusses her approach to MBEs and PT.  She mentions her techniques and some study aids.



Mentioned in the video:
The second video is all about essays.  Again, she discuss her techniques and study aids. She also discusses her awesome "Don't Talk to Me" T-shirt.


Mentioned in the video:
The final video is about bar exam test anxiety.  She discusses her decision to use anti-anxiety medication to help her study for and pass the bar exam.


Here is a link to Jessie's blog.

Performance Test Help


If you are having trouble with the performance test portion of the bar exam, you might want to check out this sample PT (PDF) that has been annotated by the tutors over at Bar Exam Doctor.

The PT was written for the 2009 California Bar Exam and received a below passing score of 55.  The comments generally suggest more incorporation of "buzz words" and remembering to cover all prongs and elements.  This is good advice for all jurisdictions that have a performance test element to the bar exam.

If you happen to be studying for the California bar, why not download a copy of the 2009 PT B question and practice a complete response.  Then, compare your answer with the model answer provided by the California bar and the 55 answer from Bar Exam Doctor.  You will then see more clearly what you need to work on.

Bar Exam Doctor provides some other same PTs on its home page.  Click this link and scroll down a bit.

[Photo]

Monday

February 2012 Bar Exam -- Quick Start Guide


 At the beginning of each bar exam cycle, I like to re-post a revised and updated version of my Quick Start Guide.  This post provides a summary of what I believe are the most important and helpful posts on this blog.

In my opinion, the bar examination is a test that is as much about your state of mind as it is about how much and how well you have studied black letter law. It is my belief that you need to understand yourself and figure out how to remain calm during the preparation and test-taking process. You need to understand the process of diligent preparation for the act of taking the test before you can study appropriately to learn the information needed to pass the bar examination.

Recommended Reading:

I recommend that you read my posts about general mental preparation before you read the posts about studying for particular segments of the bar exam.





First, read my posts on (1) diligence, (2) anticipation of conditions, and (3) stress reduction. I suggest that you digest the contents of these posts for a week or so before reading anything else.





Second, once you have begun to implement the ideas and suggestions contained in these three posts on mental preparedness, read the posts about studying for the discrete segments of the bar examination: (1) MBE study and test tips, (2) essay writing tips, and (3) performance test tips. (Also, if you are taking the Oregon bar exam or the California bar exam, you might want to check out my Oregon bar exam outlines or my California bar exam outlines.)

Third, be sure to read my posts about why practice tests matter and lessons learned from analyzing the reasons someone failed the bar exam.  If you are feeling overwhelmed just by reading this "quick start" guide or because you have just started studying for the bar exam, you should read my post about how the feeling of being overwhelmed will subside as you work your way through your bar exam preparations.

Fourth, consider purchasing my strategy guide for how to deal with bar exam stress, anxiety and fear.

Finally, a few weeks before the start date of the bar exam (and before you make your hotel reservations), I suggest you read my post about how to make the actual test-taking experience a successful one.

Thank you for reading and good luck!




[Photos by ricardo.martins and DAEllis.]

Thursday

Wills and Trusts Checklist

I have posted my bar exam checklists before (scroll down a bit after clicking the link), but thought it might be helpful for people googling for specific checklists to post them individually.

Here is the wills and trusts checklist I prepared when I took the Oregon bar exam.



Torts Checklist

I have posted my bar exam checklists before (scroll down a bit after clicking the link), but thought it might be helpful for people googling for specific checklists to post them individually.

Here is the torts checklist I prepared when I took the Oregon bar exam.



Real Property Checklist

I have posted my bar exam checklists before (scroll down a bit after clicking the link), but thought it might be helpful for people googling for specific checklists to post them individually.

Here is the real property checklist I prepared when I took the Oregon bar exam.



Federal Taxation Checklist

I have posted my bar exam checklists before (scroll down a bit after clicking the link), but thought it might be helpful for people googling for specific checklists to post them individually.

Here is the federal taxation (income tax) checklist I prepared when I took the Oregon bar exam.



Evidence Checklist

I have posted my bar exam checklists before (scroll down a bit after clicking the link), but thought it might be helpful for people googling for specific checklists to post them individually.

Here is the evidence checklist I prepared when I took the Oregon bar exam.



Legal Ethics Checklist

I have posted my bar exam checklists before (scroll down a bit after clicking the link), but thought it might be helpful for people googling for specific checklists to post them individually.

Here is the legal ethics checklist I prepared when I took the Oregon bar exam.  (Note:  Legal ethics is referred to as professional responsibility in some jurisdictions.)

Criminal Law Checklist

I have posted my bar exam checklists before (scroll down a bit after clicking the link), but thought it might be helpful for people googling for specific checklists to post them individually.

Here is the criminal law checklist I prepared when I took the Oregon bar exam.



Criminal Procedure Checklist

I have posted my bar exam checklists before (scroll down a bit after clicking the link), but thought it might be helpful for people googling for specific checklists to post them individually.

Here is the criminal procedure checklist I prepared when I took the Oregon bar exam.



Corporations Checklist

I have posted my bar exam checklists before (scroll down a bit after clicking the link), but thought it might be helpful for people googling for specific checklists to post them individually.

Here is the corporations checklist I prepared when I took the Oregon bar exam.



Contract Law Checklist

I have posted my bar exam checklists before (scroll down a bit after clicking the link), but thought it might be helpful for people googling for specific checklists to post them individually.

Here is the contracts and UCC checklist I prepared when I took the Oregon bar exam.



Constitutional Law Checklist

I have posted my bar exam checklists before (scroll down a bit after clicking the link), but thought it might be helpful for people googling for specific checklists to post them individually.

Here is the constitutional law checklist I prepared when I took the Oregon bar exam.



Civil Procedure Checklist

I have posted my bar exam checklists before (scroll down a bit after clicking the link), but thought it might be helpful for people googling for specific checklists to post them individually.

Here is the civil procedure checklist I prepared when I took the Oregon bar exam.



Agency Checklist

I have posted my bar exam checklists before (scroll down a bit after clicking the link), but thought it might be helpful for people googling for specific checklists to post them individually.

Here is the agency checklist I prepared when I took the Oregon bar exam.

Administrative Law Checklist

I have posted my bar exam checklists before (scroll down a bit after clicking the link), but thought it might be helpful for people googling for specific checklists to post them individually.

Here is the administrative law checklist I prepared when I took the Oregon bar exam.





Secured Transactions Checklist

I have posted my bar exam checklists before (scroll down a bit after clicking the link), but thought it might be helpful for people googling for specific checklists to post them individually.

Here is the secured transactions checklist I prepared when I took the Oregon bar exam.




Sunday

How to cram for the bar exam

 
Two week bar exam cramming schedule:

[CAVEAT:  You should not put off studying for the bar exam until the last minute.  If you do, the odds of passing plummet to very low levels.  However, if you do need to cram, try the following techniques; they will probably help.  This schedule assumes you have only 14 days to study for the bar exam.

Cramming for the bar exam will be very stressful.  Be sure to incorporate positive visualization and affirmations at the beginning and end of each day.  Try to stop studying at least two hours before your bedtime so that you can “turn off” your bar exam brain and get some good, restorative sleep.]

Day One: get copies of subject outlines for your jurisdiction’s bar exam.  These can be outlines prepared by a professional bar prep service (such as BarBri) or outlines made by a sympathetic friend who has been studying for the bar exam for the past few weeks.  Skim all of the outlines in 2 hours or less.  You have just reviewed all the subject matter in 2 hours.  Next, go back through each outline with a yellow highlighter.  Highlight all tests, elements or torts and crimes, and multi-part definitions.  The idea is that you are highlighting what you will put on your flashcards.

Day Two: enlist someone to make flashcards for you.  You may have to pay them.  Show them how to translate your highlighting into flashcards.  While this person is making flashcards, read through the outlines for the subjects you find most confusing.  Try to understand them as well as possible by the end of the day.

Day Three:  if your flashcards are ready, review them all day long.  Review by subject  If they are not ready, start writing flashcards.  They must be completed by the end of the day.

Day Four: get copies of practice essay exams and at least some sample answers.  Read at least three questions and answers for each subject area.  If you can’t get enough samples from your own jurisdiction, go to the California bar’s website and read through past sample questions and answers.  The idea with step four is simply to see what issues and fact patterns can get tested.  Make note of anything that you see tested repeatedly and be sure to learn those areas well.

Day Five: get copies of practice performance tests.  Read though at least three performance test packages and answers.  Again, if you can’t find these for your jurisdiction, read those available on the California bar site.  Just be aware that most jurisdictions only have a 90 minute performance test, whereas California has 3 hours.  So if you are outside of California, your answers won’t have to be quite as detailed.  Practice writing one performance test. 

Day Six: spend a day reviewing flashcards.  Review by subject.  Give you brain a chance to learn related topics.

Day Seven: get a hold of MBE questions.  If you can’t find a used PMBR or BarBri book, pay the $400 to use Adaptibar [click here for $50 off Adaptibar's regular price] or something similar.  You could also buy BarMax’s MBE App if you have an iPhone or an iPod.   Spend three hours doing a simulated test, and then three hours understanding all the answers you got wrong.

Day Eight:  review all flashcards for non-MBE subjects.  Review all day long.  Consult outlines if you need clarification or additional information about any issue.  Stop after 10 hours.

Day Nine:  pick four non-MBE essay topics at random; make sure you have sample answers to the questions you choose.  Write practice essays under timed conditions.  Compare your answers to the samples.  Figure out why you left out what you did.  Take the rest of the day off.

Day Ten:  review MBE subject flashcards all morning.  After lunch, do 25 MBE questions for each subject as follows:  Do 25 questions, review answers, understand what you missed.  Move on to next subject.  After you have gone through all 6 subjects, quit for the day.

Day Eleven:  read through all outlines again.  Try to pick up on any nuances you missed when reading through them on Day One.  Review flashcards if you have any extra time.

Day Twelve:  do a practice MBE test of 100 questions under timed conditions (i.e., complete the test in 3 hours or less).  Review any missed answers.  Review MBE flashcards for the rest of the day.

Day Thirteen:  review flashcards for all subjects for half the day.  Read through essay questions and outline, but don’t write answers.  Compare outlines with sample answers to see if you failed to spot any issues.  Figure out why you didn’t spot the issues; don’t miss them anymore.

Day Fourteen:  determine the 5 main sub-areas that are the most difficult for you (e.g., subject matter jurisdiction, specific intent crimes, hearsay exceptions, etc) and focus on learning those areas.  Stop studying at 5:00pm and try to relax.

Day Fifteen:  Take the Bar Exam.

[Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kev_ksquared/5571696875/]

Tuesday

More Bar Exam Test Day Tips

Elsewhere on this blog, I wrote my list of bar exam test day tips.  I think the tips are useful, but one anonymous commenter called that post:  "Quite possibly the worst advice I've ever read regarding how to take a bar examination."

So, just in case you agree with him/her, I have compiled a list of resources below containing bar exam test day tips:

[Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wurzle/659315/]

Thursday

Editable California Bar Exam Outlines

I provide PDF versions of my California bar exam outlines for free to anyone who wants them.  Click here to be taken to the free outlines.

The FREE PDFs are great, but maybe you want some more control?

Maybe you want to have pre-typed outlines based on BarBri lectures that you can modify as you study for the bar?

Maybe your brain works a little differently than mind did and you want to rearrange the contents of the PDF outlines?

For only $37, you can buy newly-updated versions of these outlines in Microsoft Word format for easy editing.

Just head on over to my other site to learn how to get newly-updated California bar exam outlines.

Sunday

Online Bar Exam Flashcards

A couple days ago, I learned about Flashcarddb.com.  It provides an easy way to make online flashcards that you can access whenever you want.  You can also search the existing database of bar exam flashcards and practice with any of them.  When you practice with the cards, the site keep statistics tracking how well you are doing.

While I think it is better to make your own flashcards, if you can find a well-crafted set of flashcards at Flashcarddb.com, it could save you a lot of time. And, if you are comfortable reviewing flashcards on a computer, you don't have to lug around pounds of cumbersome index cards.

Here is a sample of cards available for the bar exam (sorry, the embed link would not let me shrink the window to fit fully in this column):



CA Bar Exam flashcards from sethreagan on FlashcardDB.
.

Wednesday

A test of minimum competency?

If you look around, you will see statements that bar exams are tests of "minimum competency."  Well, I don't think that applies to the California bar exam. 

According to initial statistics, only 64% of first-time takers from California ABA schools passed, and only 58% of first-timers from out-of-state ABA schools passed the February 2011 California bar exam.  So, that means that either the ABA schools are not doing a sufficient job of teaching students legal basics (possible) or that the California bar exam is overly difficult (much more likely).

As someone who has taken the California bar exam and a bar exam in a state with a much higher pass rate (Oregon), I can tell you that the depth of knowledge required in California is much greater than that required in Oregon.  I would assume this comparison applies to most other states as well. 

So, is it really that much harder to be minimally competent to practice law in California than in other states?  I doubt it, but the exam is not likely to change any time soon.

Anyway, yet another amazing statistical breakdown from the California bar.

[Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/teofilo/1260960708/]

Tuesday

Bar Exam Mind Strategy Guide Now Available


I am excited to announce the launch of my stragey guide for learning how to calm anxiety, beat stress, and conquer fear:  Bar Exam Mind.  This book has more than 100 pages of powerful methods to destroy bar exam fear, anxiety and stress in only 15-20 minutes per day.

This strategy guide comes with a 21-day schedule for you to follow, or you can work at your own (faster or slower) pace.  Either way, you will get the information you need to get your mind right for the bar exam.

In the book, you will learn:
  • negative visualization techniques to remove bar exam fears
  • positive visualization techniques to improve performance
  • how to use and create affirmations
  • how to eat right for brain health
  • which supplements enhance focus and learning
  • and so much more!
 I want to launch this book with a bang, so I am making it available for the low introductory price of $15 (the price goes up to $24.95 on June 1st.)

*******
UPDATE:  A revised version of Bar Exam Mind is now available at Amazon.com.  CLICK HERE to order.
[Photo: http://www.fromoldbooks.org/Andrews-HistoricBywaysAndHighways/pages/33-domesday-book/]

Friday

UC Davis Law Video -- Davis State of Mind

Pretty clever.  Love the pig statute near the end.  "Middle class in the middle of nowhere."



Monday

A Role for Law Schools in Bar Review?

A legal intern at my office recently told me that he had just paid $3,500 for his BarBri review course.

It strikes me as strange that law schools cannot teach their law students enough to pass the bar exam.  If you are spending $10k, $20k, even $40k per year to attend law school, shouldn't that be enough to equip you to pass the bar exam?

Even if law school is not enough to help you pass the bar exam, you would think that law schools could at least pay for the bar review course for you.  If they don't want to pay for the course, then they should offer one themselves.  It would not be that difficult to put one together.  BarBri fits everything you need to know in order to pass the bar exam into a single book (the Conviser Mini Review).  You would think that all these smart law professors could put something like that together.

The University of Virginia law school is paying for up to $1,500 for bar prep courses for their unemployed graduates.  Why not extend that to all graduates?

Here is how law schools could do it.  First, they pre-pay BarBri or some other prep course for each law student during their 1L year.  Due to the volume of students, you'd think the law schools could negotiate a pretty good deal . . . maybe even a 50% discount.  Then, the law school tells all the students that a free bar prep course is theirs when they graduate.  Sounds like good marketing to me.

Another way to do it is simply put together a book with all the black letter law and copies of the last 10 years of state essay and performance test questions.  (In some states, this information is available free; in others, it will cost the law school some money.)  In any event, the law school could distribute this material to its graduating 3Ls.  That way, law school graduates with limited resources will have access to the information they need to pass the bar exam, even if they cannot afford a full bar review course.

It should not cost an extra $3,500 on top of the outrageous cost of law school to become a lawyer.


[Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jollyuk/1989719848/]

Tuesday

If only BarBri were really this fun...

There are a lot of BarBri haters out there, but as you can see from this video, studying for the bar exam does not have to be drudgery.



Saturday

Funny Bar ExamTweets, Part III

Here is the third in my occasional series of funny bar exam tweets.  (If you missed the first two parts, click here and here.)




July 2011 Bar Exam Tips -- Quick Start Guide

At the beginning of each bar exam cycle, I like to re-post a revised and updated version of my Quick Start Guide.  This post provides a summary of what I believe are the most important and helpful posts on this blog.

In my opinion, the bar examination is a test that is as much about your state of mind as it is about how much and how well you have studied black letter law. It is my belief that you need to understand yourself and figure out how to remain calm during the preparation and test-taking process. You need to understand the process of diligent preparation for the act of taking the test before you can study appropriately to learn the information needed to pass the bar examination.

Recommended Reading:

I recommend that you read my posts about general mental preparation before you read the posts about studying for particular segments of the bar exam.


First, read my posts on (1) diligence, (2) anticipation of conditions, and (3) stress reduction. I suggest that you digest the contents of these posts for a week or so before reading anything else.


Second, once you have begun to implement the ideas and suggestions contained in these three posts on mental preparedness, read the posts about studying for the discrete segments of the bar examination: (1) MBE study and test tips, (2) essay writing tips, and (3) performance test tips. (Also, if you are taking the Oregon bar exam or the California bar exam, you might want to check out my free Oregon bar exam outlines or my free California bar exam outlines.)

Third, be sure to read my posts about why practice tests matter and lessons learned from analyzing the reasons someone failed the bar exam.  If you are feeling overwhelmed just by reading this "quick start" guide or because you have just started studying for the bar exam, you should read my post about how the feeling of being overwhelmed will subside as you work your way through your bar exam preparations.

Finally, a few weeks before the start date of the bar exam (and before you make your hotel reservations), I suggest you read my post about how to make the actual test-taking experience a successful one.

Thank you for reading and good luck!



[Photos by cornflakegirl, ricardo.martins and DAEllis.]

Thursday

February 2011 Bar Exam

The bar exam is over for February 2011.  If you took it and survived, go out an have a good time.  You deserve it.  Congratulations on a job well done!


[Photo: Larry Tomlinson]

Sunday

Why practice tests matter

I have written elsewhere of my belief that practice tests must be part of your bar exam preparation.  Most bar students will do lots of practice MBE questions, but might skimp on practicing essays and performance tests.  Well, a recent article in the New York Times discusses a study published in the journal Science that provides strong empirical evidence that practice tests matter, and not necessarily full-blown practice tests.

The main conclusion of the study is that "retrieval practice" testing helped students learn more about a topic than any other method.  Retrieval practice is quite simple:  you study whatever you need to learn, then you take some time immediately after study to try and recall everything you just studied, then you compare what you remembered with what you studied to see what you missed, then you do another retrieval practice test.

It is clear that this format works well with small bits of information, but how to apply it to the bar exam monster?  One suggestion is to read your outline (or Conviser Mini Review, or whatever study source you have) on a particular topic, say Civil Procedure.  Then do the retrieval practice as discussed above. 

This could be a bit cumbersome, trying to retrieve an entire outline all at once, so maybe a better approach would be to break an outline into chunks.  So, for Civ Pro, you might read the part of your outline that deals with subject matter jurisdiction, then try to retrieve it from memory, review, then try retrieving again.  Then, move on to the next sub-topic.

Still another example would be to read a set of flashcards, then test with those flashcards, then read again, and test again.

Of course, do not forget to practice complete essays and performance tests, because a solid performance on the bar exam requires both knowledge retrieval and the ability to logically connect what you retrieve and put it into a written format.


[Photo: dcJohn]

Friday

Replace the bar exam?

A while back, I wrote about an article in the Oregon Bar Bulletin about allowing people to waive into the bar if they go to law school in the state in which they practice or, if they move in from out of state, participate in a pro bono program for a few months before waiving in.

Well, the Oregon Bar Bulletin is at it again.  This time suggesting that candidates for the bar be given the choice between taking the bar exam and serving in a pro bono apprenticeship program.  If a person chose the pro bono route, it would require them to serve in a pro bono capacity for a few months.  That way, they could gain lawyering skills while under the supervision of experienced attorneys while helping out people who normally cannot afford legal help. 

The author sums it up like this:  "It is time — past time — for the leadership of the bar to work with the leaders of Oregon’s law schools to formulate and present to the bar and the Oregon Supreme Court a solid proposal for letting all Oregon bar applicants choose between the bar exam route or one involving supervised pro bono practice. Let’s take a novel approach to the pro bono shortage."

It seems like it is past time for all states to consider this option.  I certainly would have liked to have this choice.

[Photo: ponchosqueal]

Thursday

What do the MBE and Erosion have in common?

Not much. 

Actually, surprise surprise, the comparison is a metaphor.  Here is the metaphor:  no matter how hard a rock is, water will eventually wear it down to dust if the water just keeps dripping against the rock.  See where this is going?

If you were like me, you probably have been scoring pretty poorly on the first practice MBE questions you have been taking as you start your bar exam preparations. When I studied for the Oregon bar exam, I signed up for the pre-BarBri six-day PMBR course.  I drove to some deserted business park, took practice exams, got only 50% correct or worse (I think I got 30% correct on the Real Property portion), and spun into a cycle of fear.  To make matters worse, after day 3 of the course, I got a horrible stomach virus, and was "purging" for 2 days straight and did not attend the remainder of the class.  I was convinced I would never pass the bar exam.

Of course, I did pass the bar exam.  In Oregon, the written portion is weighted 50% of your final score and the MBE is 50%.  So, I must have done sufficiently well on the MBE.  (Oregon does not release scores to people who pass the exam.) 

How did I go from getting at least half of my MBE questions wrong to passing the MBE two months later?  I became like the water and went with the flow, slowly wearing down my confusion with the MBE.  I practiced as much as possible, taking the time to understand why I got answers wrong so that it would not happen again. 

The key is to be focused while you study.  Don't think doing 2000 MBE questions alone will make you pass.  You must understand why you are getting the answers wrong.  You could probably answer only 500 practice questions and pass so long as you learn the lesson of each incorrect answer.

*****

For more, check out my MBE Tips and my free MBE Outlines.

[Photo: Hamed Saber]

Sunday

Bar Exam Study is Overwhelming ... At First


As I post this, BarBri -- the most popular of the bar review courses -- has or is about to begin for the February 2011 bar exam.  For all you first time bar takers out there, I am sure that one of the most common feelings at the start of bar review is to feel overwhelmed.  This feeling is made worse by staring at the 18-inch thick stack of BarBri course books when you first receive them.

As you begin to attend lectures and read through the course materials, this feeling of being overwhelmed will likely increase; at least, it did for me when I studied for the first of my bar exams (Oregon).  It probably took me about a week and a half to settle into a routine where I thought I was learning something each day and not feeling distraught about how much I still had to learn.  It took a week and a half to actually believe that I could learn enough to pass the bar.  After that, I just had to plug away and stay on schedule

Even so, it was still a few more weeks (three or four) before I believed I would learn enough to pass the bar exam.  This was a great, breakthrough moment for me.  A "light at the end of the tunnel" moment.  You will get there too if you are conscientious and dogged in your bar exam preparations.

Finally, it was probably about 10 days before the bar exam, as I was reviewing criminal law for the millionth time, that I was able to say to myself, "If I took the bar today, I am pretty sure I would pass."  After that, my worry was not about failing to learn enough, but was actually about forgetting what I had already learned before the bar exam date!

Make your own luck.  Study hard.  You'll get there.

********

Need some help with bar exam stress and anxiety?  CLICK HERE to learn more about my e-book.

[Photo:  whitneyinchicago]
 
Copyright 2009-Present Eclectic Esquire Media, LLC. Powered by Blogger
Disclaimer/Terms of Service
Blogger Templates create by Deluxe Templates. WP by Masterplan