Ten Reasons People Fail the Bar Exam

If any of these resonate, do something now to get on track; make the necessary necessary so you do not fail the next bar exam.  

  1. You are not worried enough. You got by in law school.  You did not come to class prepared and you knew it, but you got lucky.  You passed all your classes, so you think you will get by now.  You say to yourself, “The Bar can’t be that tough.  I know tons of stupid people who passed.” OK, but it is that tough. It is a whole different ball game, physically and mentally, from law school finals. You need a strategy to sustain two full days of high gear.
  2. You are too worried. You are filled with so much anxiety that you cannot relax enough to learn the material. You have a lot to study and you are right to be concerned, but you cannot absorb rules of law if you are completely stressed. So, stop. Sleep more. Take breaks. Do deep relaxation and physical exercise. You cannot study effectively for 20 hours a day, and you don’t need to in order to pass. Just be diligent, disciplined, and give it a good 8-10 hour day. Remember: slow and steady won the race.  You are dealing with more material, but the depth of analysis is not as intense as a law school final or law review article.
  3. You have not learned the law. Do you know what an easement is? Do you understand UCC Section 2207? Can you explain equal protection and due process, with examples? If you don’t REALLY get it, admit that now. You can learn before it is too late. But do not set yourself up to fail. Do not pretend you know what you really do not.  The time is now to dig in and engage in deep learning.
  4. You are the Dreamer. You are going beyond the scope of the fact patterns. You read into things. You assume facts not in evidence.  Read more slowly. Read every word of the fact pattern aloud, under your breath. Recall what you read. Stay away from “What ifs.”  Resist, if you find yourself saying, “But what if the party were an adult?” If the facts say the party is a minor, work with that. Why bother with “what ifs?” The party is a minor, period, end of story. Analyze the facts and the law accordingly.
  5. You have weak reading comprehension skills.You really don’t understand what you are reading. Either you are trying to read too fast or you have not trained your reading skills thoroughly enough. The Bar Exam, like all standardized tests, is largely a test of reading comprehension. Your reading must be in top shape to pass. Complete mountains of practice tests and study the model answers to learn what you missed and why.
  6. You are a Practicing Attorney in Another Jurisdiction.You are licensed to practice in another state, and trying to get licensed in a new state. You may have been practicing for years. You may be angry at having to take the Exam in the first place; you are an attorney, after all. You are licensed. You have done your time. You shouldn’t be asked to have to take another test. It’s been a while since you were a student and you resent this imposition.You are also knowledgeable in the real world. But in some instances, you know too much. You think of too many practical issues and get hung up on them. You need to pretend you are back in school. Think BIG issues, and write a complete analysis. This is not shorthand to help you resolve a client’s problem. This is long hand. Give a complete analysis to prove your skills for the grader. “Show the math.”Also, lay off the jargon unless terms are used in the problem. Don’t use flashy terms to impress the grader; you won’t. Don’t use “heretofore,” “the party of the first part” “said party” or “said issue.” Just write out an IRAC (issue, rule, analysis, conclusion) in short but complete plain English sentences.
  7. You have poor typing skills. If the graders cannot easily read what you write, they won’t. If you do not finish questions because you type slowly, they will not give you the benefit of the doubt. They will not assume you included the right points in an essay or MPT answer. Sloppy careless typing with major mistakes in spelling and grammar can bias a grader.  Lawyers must be organized.  Present yourself on paper as you would in an interview: as a competent, organized, clear-thinking and clear-sounding professional.
  8. You don’t manage time well enough. Time flew. You were caught with moments to go and unanswered or barely answered questions. Even one question left unanswered is enough to fail you—especially an MPT. Practice, under timed conditions, and watch the clock.
  9. You are not ready to be a lawyer.Maybe you went straight from college to law school, and are still a little overwhelmed. You may not even know for sure if you want to be a lawyer, and you are not ready to have someone else’s life or financial future in your hands. This is common. You can solve this issue creatively in a number of different ways, without having to fail the Bar. For example, decide before taking the Bar that you will give your yourself some time after you take and pass the Bar Exam before seeking or accepting a law job.  Work doing something else for a bit to take the pressure off, and then decide if law is what you want. 
  10. You are simply unlucky. This does happen. Some people do just have a bad day, family problems, physical accidents or other incidents that occur with the worst of bad timing.  If you are one of these people, you will just climb back on the saddle, and do it again. Don’t plan for this. But don’t beat yourself up if it happens. Do your very best. That’s it, plain and simple. And, make sure you don’t all into any of the nine traps outlined above. You’ve got this! This is your bar exam to pass!

Are you on a 2022 Roll ?

It is easy to feel stuck in pandemania, but there will be a future, and the time is now to prepare yourself for it. The time is now to push through the challenges, to seek and receive assistance if you need it, and to follow your vision – one step at a time.

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Happy New Year

To all, may the year bring hope, happiness, and health!

To upcoming bar takers, and all facing great challenges, may you embrace that which is difficult knowing that your effort is worthwhile, your courage is great, and your persistence will be rewarded.

1L Students: Enjoy your break and get ready for a power second semester!

Check out these CALI law school success lessons!

A Good Place to Start…. Depends on Where you are Beginning (LSS33)  (Law School Success Lessons Overview & Finding Tool

Common Law Basics: What Faculty May Assume You Know (LSS20) 

Analysis 1: Thinking Like a Lawyer (LSS04) 

Time Management: Creating Your Plan (LSS09) 

Words Matter (LSS22)

Metacognition (LSS03) 

Don’t Compartmentalize! Transfer is the Key to Law School Success (LSS28) 

Law School Resources (LSS15) 

Preparing for Class 101: Preparing for Your First Day of Class (LSS34)

Case Briefing (LSS13) 

Excavating Facts from Cases (LSS16) 

Finding The Rule (LSS21)

Introduction to Rule Synthesis (LSS10)

Note-Taking in Law School 101: The Basics (LSS08)

Note-Taking in Law School 101: Case-Based Content (LSS14)

Secrets to Improved Memorization (LSS27)

Help! I am Zoning Out! (LSS35)

Study Groups: Best Practices (LSS29)

Legal Writing v. Exam Writing (LSS24)

Attacking Exams (LSS19)

Outlining Basics (LSS17)

IRAC (LSS01)

Creating Study Aids (LSS02)

Reading Comprehension Strategies for Exams (LSS23)

Issue Spotting (LSS12)

Hyped about Hypos (LSS25)

Analysis 2: The “A” in IRAC: Application and Analysis (LSS06)

A Methodical Approach to Improve Multiple Choice Performance (LSS05)

Multiple-Choice Questions: Wrong Answer Pathology (LSS11)

Mechanics of Memorization (LSS18)

Grit, Growth, and Why it matters. Or, how to be gritty! (LSS30)

Mindfulness Practice for Law School (LSS31)

Assessing Your Own Work (LSS07)

How to Learn from Exams (LSS26)

Semester Self-Assessment & Reflection (LSS32)

Don’t wait to take practice tests!

Bar Review outlines are only as useful as you make them.  They do not come into the exam.  Only what is in your brain comes into the test site.  So, use the outlines now to help you learn, along with lectures, flashcards, flowcharts, and other learning tools. And, remember, the best way to learn law is to put it into practice!  So, be sure to be completing daily MBEs and MEEs and weekly MPTs.

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It’s a long way till February. Don’t burn out!

You are perfectly normal if you think, “I cannot handle any more studying.  Not another lecture or practice test.  I need to sleep.  I need a day off.  I need my life back!” You will have your life back after the bar. For now, another day of this is precisely what you must do. And another, and another.  You must remain motivated, batteries fully charged, util the last “time” is called on the last day of your exam.

How to maintain motivation?   It’s not easy.   But these ten steps help.

1) Exercise to burn off stress

Burn off the stress. Do something active every single day if you are able.  Walking, yoga, biking, swimming, weight lifting, jogging, spinning, skating.  Don’t skip a day.  Think of time exercising as an investment in your success.  And, if you want, study while on a treadmill or walk while playing a bar review lecture.

2) Pace yourself – one day at a time

Take breaks.  Remember even during the bar, you get close to a 2 hour lunch break between the morning and afternoon sessions.  So, feel free to take lunches now.  Stop fully and relax.  Eat something healthy. Drink water. Then get back into it.  And, when you’ve put in a full day of studying, take off, relax, then get a good night’s sleep.

3) Reward Yourself –daily and weekly.

Do something kind to acknowledge each day’s work. And, give yourself a bigger treat to mark the end of each week of hard work.  

4) Plan an after-bar something special

Schedule something as soon as possible after the exam, something you really look forward to.  Just thinking about that and knowing that you have something planned will help alleviate some of the burnout today.  

5) Shake up your study routine.

If you are tired of reading quietly, read aloud to yourself.  One of my students found the way to keep motivated (and better retain the material) was to read aloud in a funny accent and record her voice reading rules.  She played them back to herself  while driving and laughed while learning.

Try charting, try flashcards, try re-typing sample answers. Explain the rules/theories you are most afraid will be tested on the bar exam to a non-lawyer person.  (If you can explain something correctly to someone else, likely that means you have mastered it.)

Study in a different location one day. Variety can go a long way to helping stop burnout before it drags you down.  

6) Get on bar standard time

Complete practice days where you are “on” during the times you will have to be on during your bar exam. This will help you train the endurance needed for success.

7) Be kind to yourself.

This IS one of the hardest times in your life, one of the steepest mountains you will climb.  Once you pass, it’s a lifetime license.  You never have to do it again. 

8) Sing

Sing a favorite song. Music is a healthy, natural way to re-charge.

9) Check in with a classmate

If you study effectively with others, it might help to have some company. If not, at least reach out to classmates. There is no one who will understand what you are going through better. Even a quick phone call, text, or Zoom can help you feel that you are not alone. You are all in this together.

10) Eat chocolate!  It won’t add brain cells, but it should put a smile on your face!

For 1L Students

#Contracts #LawStudents #1L
Step-by-Step Guide to Contracts -an interactive workbook designed to effectively prepare students to pass exams. The most heavily tested legal rules are presented in a format that mirrors the way they arise as issues in typical testing fact patterns. Rule statements are set out in easy-to-memorize statements, with a breakdown of the element components and logical steps to take to apply new facts to each legal element. Fluency with the legal terminology is also essential to exam success, so this Step-by-Step Guide includes fill-in-the-blank spaces to help you learn and memorize definitions of key terms as they are introduced, and a glossary of selected terms at the end for further reference. In addition to learning the law and memorizing key rules and terms, success in law school also requires the hard work of deep learning, engaging with problems to test your own knowledge, and working toward gaining a strong command of all testable topics. To that end, this Guide contains short-answer Test Yourself questions. Working through these questions and then reading the answers and explanations to determine where your understanding is clear and where you must do additional work will help you master the skill of applying the relevant rules to new and different fact patterns. In addition to the short-answer questions, this Guide also includes numerous full-length essay questions with sample answers —providing further practice to test your knowledge and deepen your learning.
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