Bar review is in full swing. I lectured this past week for bar review in Virginia, Illinois, and Colorado. Working with my students in Florida. Will lecture shortly in California.
The common theme? Everyone is listening to bar review lectures (though I do see some still on social media during bar review lectures), but not everyone has cemented the habits of routine practice tests. It’s harder. It’s active learning. And, it is perfectly normal to feel like you don’t know enough law yet to take practice tests. But take and learn from practice tests you must.
The “power trio” of a) taking regular practice tests, b) studying sample or explanatory answers, and c) seeing where you need to improve and making improvements accordingly with each subsequent power trio is the virtuous cycle of success.
Note: The vicious cycle of bar failure arrives all too often when bar applicants learn everything so it’s all their in the heads but don’t complete enough practice tests so they are not able to give the examiners what they want in the format and timely fashion they want it. Still others don’t learn the material with the kind of precision necessary for the quick and accurate recall required for bar success. Others get distracted by well-meaning friends and family who just don’t get it. But failing the bar exam can be prevented! Tips, and success strategies for virtually every part of passing the bar exam detailed in Pass the Bar Exam.
Active studying, practice testing, and learning from each practice opportunity is what bar exam success is all about. (Yes, getting to take practice tests is an opportunity, a gift! If you complete enough practice tests and learn from them, many of the questions on the bar exam will seem familiar. Unlike many law professors, bar examiners tend not to hide the ball. It’s all there for you.)
With every practice bar exam essay or PT you write, ask yourself how you can improve.
- Can you read more critically? Missing even one word can derail success on an MBE.
- Can you organize your answer more clearly? Well-organized bar exam essays stand out as passing quality. Rambling disorganized treatises will not impress bar graders.
- Don’t know or don’t understand a particular legal rule? Now is the opportunity to learn it, memorize it (maybe using a mnemonic).
- Didn’t finish the exam within the allotted time? Use a more strategic process of reading and outlining, hitting obvious issues, and completing your answer, then filling in detail if time permits.
More self-assessment and other success tools for PTs, essays, and MBES detailed in Pass the Bar Exam.