Simulated bar exams: Take them next week!

If you are preparing to PASS the upcoming bar exam, calendar your simulated bar exam next week so you have time to learn from -and improve from- the experience. Take the exam under as close as possible to simulated exam conditions. And, study the sample answers to any questions you got wrong or guessed on as soon as possible after the simulated exam.

#barexam, #simulatedbar, #barreview

Don’t forget to Breathe!

How tense are you right now? How much learning is blocked from coming into and staying in your brain because of nerves.

My constant refrain that I ask bar takers and other students getting ready for exam to tell yourselves is: “Turn Panic into Power and not Paralysis.” That power phrase appears in my books and articles and in most every talk I give to students preparing for high stakes exams.

There are many steps for turning panic into power. Step one is always to breathe. We’ll talk about next steps in future blog posts.

Ten tips to manage procrastination

Many students share that as midterms and finals approach, and during bar prep, they find themselves unusually eager to clean their homes, review and delete old emails, clip their toenails. You get the idea – anything other than studying!

Here are tips if this is your situation:

  1. Know that procrastination is normal. Lose the self-criticism.
  2. See some procrastinating as a positive. Sometimes, it does serve a useful purpose – helping re-charge your batteries so that you are all-in when you are studying.
  3. If your procrastination is paralyzing, rather than positive, seek help from reliable, expert resources.
  4. Think of an academic goal as a series of finite projects. It is more tempting to avoid something that feels like a huge challenge. Identifying tasks as doable parts of a project makes them more approachable.
  5. Once you identify the various tasks, ask yourself if any of them feel overwhelming, and see if you can get some help with those pieces of the puzzle.
  6. List what you tend to do when you procrastinate and schedule specific, limited time slots for those things. Don’t make them guilty pleasures. Make them a controlled part of your day. For example, if you procrastinate with social media, you may find yourself losing many hours. If you know that every day, you have social media “office hours,” you will be less apt to use that as an escape.
  7. Study first, then take your time “off.”
  8. Adopt a routine. Being on a schedule will help your body and brain “accept” that you just do particular tasks at certain times. You just do.
  9. Talk to yourself about how good you feel when you accomplish what you set out to do. And, if it’s helpful, remind yourself how icky it feels when you don’t. Simple example: many people have a habit of never going to sleep with dirty dishes in the sink. No matter how tired they are, they just don’t procrastinate on that one. Why? They find it pleasant to wake to a clean sink and very unpleasant to wake to dirt. They also realize that the task gets more difficult the longer food sticks to dishes. And, they know that a sink for of dirty dishes attracts bugs.
  10. Articulate why your big goals are important and valuable. And give yourself props for all the hard work you are doing.

#studysuccess, #academicsuccess, #lawschool, #lawstudent, #ASP, #barsuccess

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.

, , , , ,

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.

In the Age of Corona: online skills lessons –a dream come true

AALS 2016, after CALI’s early morning breakfast meeting, I found myself in the elevator with Deb Quentel.  CALI’s newly released set of skills lessons trace back to that elevator!  Deb and I talked then and then at length when I returned to South Florida.  I shared how excited I was about the lessons, tracking and assessment opportunities. I incorporated CALI lessons right away into 2L and 3L courses in the ASP department I directed at NSU, and I spoke with Deb about ideas to create skills lessons –for all law students including 1Ls. I did not have the bandwidth then to develop them, but I held on tightly to the ideas.

Fast forward to the CALI annual conference in 2018. I sat  with John Mayer and we talked at length.  I suggested CALI consider developing law school ASP skills lessons, and encouraged CALI to apply for an AccessLex Grant to fund the effort. The rest, as they say, is history. The Law School Academic and Skills Lessons are live! Thank you, CALI. And, thank you, AccessLex!

These lessons will allow ASPers nationwide to expand their reach and their offerings to students. As all of us who are or have been in the ASP trenches know just how important it is to have quality resources for our students. These are also all online so perfectly adaptable to the shift to online learning that the pandemic forced on us and that you all have embraced heroically. And, as if all of that were not enough, what I am most proud of is that these are not only the highest quality (and editable by faculty who use them), they are free to law students in CALI member schools. This project thus serves the invaluable purpose of democratizing reliable supplements. Already stretched financially to intolerable levels, with the negative economic ripple of this pandemic, the importance of free quality study and skills resources simply cannot be overstated.

So again, thank you John, Deb, Sara, and everyone at CALI. Thank you Allie, Laura, Nicole, Courtney, Renee, Melissa, and Steven — the faculty authors.  Thank you to all the peer reviewers. And, thank you AccessLex for supporting this project.

And, thanks to legal educators across the country. Our collective support of law students is vital, now more than ever, to maintain our nation as one governed by the rule of law.

Took a simulated exam and feeling like $%$##@@!$

Have you taken any simulated exams yet?  Did you score way below what you think you need to pass? Did you take a simulated bar exam and walk out of the room with that “Huh???” look all over your face?  Do you feel like the last thing in the world you are ready for now is the real exam?
Take a big, deep breath, hang on, and hang in there! Many have been right where you are –dazed and scared, taking the scores on a simulated exam like a cannon to the gut, and yet on they went to PASS the Bar Exam just a week later. You CAN too.
1. You don’t have to take the real thing until the end of this month. You have a 17 days more days to study. Think of all you were able to learn in one day before certain finals! There is so much you can still get clear in these last weeks.
2. Your simulated exam may have been harder than the real exam.
3. The real thing is a PASS -FAIL test; you don’t have to get an “A.”
4. Use the simulated exams to help with strategies on how to pass the real thing.
  • Did you budget your time well? If not, watch the clock more carefully and limit your time per question.
  • Were you tired after lunch? Perhaps you can eat a bit less and take some of that lunch hour to walk a bit and burn off some stress or listen to some motivating music.
  • Did you “blank out” on any questions? If so, get a plan ready to work through a temporary “brain freeze” should one occur during the exam!
  • Most important, do not get psyched out. Simulated exams help you by providing an opportunity to make necessary adjustments before the real thing.  Simulated exams  are not necessarily a referendum on how you will actually perform next week. They are, however, an opportunity to get lots of useful information. Use that data wisely, and use these two weeks to improve!

July is here: your bar exam is just a few weeks away!

It’s here. This month that you looked forward to from the first day of law school is finally here. You may be feeling dread or fear or fatigue.  Likely you are not yet excited.

Notice the word “yet.”  Trust that you will be.  Give bar prep your full attention, focus fully for the next three weeks, and you will most likely come to the point when you feel if not downright excited then certainly empowered by all the knowledge in your head.

Picture yourself as a runner finishing those final laps.  You will be ready to cross that “finish line.”

You will be ready to write intelligently on any topic they throw at you.  You will be ready to say, “Bring it on, Examiners. Bring any topic and I have something to say.  I can break the issues down, recite the main rules, and, based on a careful reading of the facts determine a logical outcome to each issue presented.”

You will be ready to read each multiple choice question carefully, with curiosity, delving in to the call to figure out precisely what the question is, then seeking the facts to match up to law that is in your head so that you can rule out the wrong answers and bubble in the best one.

You will have more law memorized than at any other time in your life.  And, if you let it, that feels good.  Threads of legal rules that seemed to be picky irrational details finally make sense. You see how it all fits together. You see parallels between legal rules and policies in numerous areas of law that previously had been “siloed” in your brain in only own course, associated with only one professor.

Stay focused these next three weeks, though.  This is not the time to let up.  Today is.  Take today, July 4th, off.  Recharge your batteries.  Then, get in and soak up every bit of knowledge you are now ready to learn.  You are primed.  The rules have context now, so they will stick.  Memorize.  Know key rules just as well as you know your favorite passwords.  (Say them out loud, sing them, write them out 20 or 50 times.)

Think of how much you learned in three days before certain final exams.  These three weeks are the bar exam parallel to those three days.  Embrace them and enjoy this process.  You are strong and getting stronger.  You will go in there and be prepared to do your best.  And, that is a great feeling.