Studying for the MBE and Managing Your Time While Working

Did you know that the president of the National Conference of Bar Examiners thinks newer MBE takers are “less able”?

1) Uh, well, given the lowkey increase of the bar exam’s general difficulty in recent years which we can’t prove anyway, it doesn’t even matter if you’re less able or the MBE is actually getting harder because you’re gonna get screwed regardless.

2) That kinda sucks because about HALF your score (also in CA starting July) is determined by scanning a series of alphabets you bubble in. Do you trust the machines? They can’t even autocorrect.

3) Fortunately, you can tilt the odds to your advantage.

I had a phone convo with Luis, a reader taking the Flordia bar who wanted to discuss how to approach studying for the MBE and doing so while occupied in a full-time job and a family. Check out the recording below.

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The Waiting Metagame: What If You Fail the Bar Exam?

Miss me yet? Aww really? :) But it’s only been like a month since the bar!

Instead of walking around like zombies or recovering your exuberance for life like regular people, why not think about the 2017 February bar for a bit?

Jeez, that escalated fast. You might think February is too far away to be concerned, but there’s power in anticipating the worst scenario (i.e., you fail the bar).

Take a look:

1. Changes to Real Property MBE (and MEE) in 2017 February
2. Should you retake a bar prep course? What’s the alternative?
Continue reading The Waiting Metagame: What If You Fail the Bar Exam?

Memorizing for the Bar Exam (to Recall and Recite Rules)

There’s this weird phenomenon where you meet someone new and then 1 second later it’s impossible to remember each other’s names.

To be honest, if I didn’t care about them 10 seconds ago, I’m not gonna care about them all of a sudden as if they were my newborn (whom I’d name Genghis (Hahn) so I don’t forget).

But what can I say? It’s impressive, for that exact reason, when someone actually uses your name in conversation without having to say, “Sorry what was your name again? I’m so terrible with names hahahahaha.”

When I was a 1L, I used a notepad to write down new people’s names so I could refer to it and remember the names forever. Kristina has no clue who I am now (she clearly forgot my name just like my Legal Ethics prof who referred to me as “one of us here” when I was dropping some truth in his class)… but I sure remember meeting her on the metro bus on the way to the APALSA bonfire in 2010 thanks to that notepad.

Useless information I wish I could forget—I tend to remember the very things I want to forget about the most. But it reveals a principle to remember all the shit you need to know on the bar.

And the fact is, your bar exam requires you to remember a LOT of shit. The typical brain is made for processing data but not so much for forcing discrete information to be inscribed into your memory forever.

Continue reading Memorizing for the Bar Exam (to Recall and Recite Rules)

The Courage to Make Mistakes Now

Our first date ended with her car getting towed. She was the type of person to schedule her showers by the minute because of her absurd rotation schedule in med school. Yet she had taken three hours out of her life to go on a walk with me.

I wanted to hold her hand so bad. A perfect pretext to creep on her… that I ruined! All because I lacked three seconds of courage.

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Studying for the MBE, Whether to Delay the Bar to 2017, Working While Studying, and Scheduling with Tunnel Vision

There’s nothing like hearing your own recorded voice for instant cringe. Despite your reasonable assumptions, I am not a peak human and always have things to improve upon.

Meanwhile, let’s instead focus on what you can learn today from a coaching call I did with a reader so that you might be able to take away some insights for improving your performance on the bar exam.

Here’s a recording of my discussion with Kristy about:

  • Her score report and studying for the MBE to improve her score next time
  • Whether it’s right for her to delay her retake to the two-day CA bar in 2017
  • Working while studying
  • Scheduling with one-track tunnel vision.

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3 Options If You Failed the Bar

It’s that time of the year again … California finally released bar results on Friday.

What’s the over/under on how many people SAY they’re not going to immediately check their results at 6 PM (“I’m gonna enjoy the weekend and wait for the mail”) but can’t resist when presented with the ultimate choice?

My bet is that you know your result by now.

Passage rate for the 2015 February California Bar Exam: 39.5%
2016 February CA Bar Exam: 35.7% (down from last year again)

(What the hell is going on??? This is getting out of hand)

If you passed the bar –

Congratulations! Bask in your badass glory (tactfully)! February is especially notorious for low passage rates.

You beat the odds, got your black belt, and the real training begins in the “real world” that you put off since taking the LSAT. For now, be proud of yourself and enjoy a well-earned sigh of bittersweet relief.

If you failed the bar –

You are in the majority. I don’t think that’s all that comforting, though. You still didn’t pass the bar. Damn it!

I’m truly sorry and regretful to hear this news. This is always a bittersweet time for me. After reading this, if you want to discuss anything, email me and let me know how I can help.

Nonetheless, I can’t sugarcoat it forever. The letdown is infectious to everyone around you. You may even have a job or loans that depended on your passing. At this point, a time machine is the only thing that will make you feel better.

Let me tell you: I know failure is fucking terrible because for some reason I haven’t stopped messing up since I was born (including falling on my head at least 4 times). It’s like I have to retry everything at least once. I grew up in Silicon Valley where the motto is to “fail fast.” How about try not to fail?

But you know what… Improvement comes from constant feedback and learning every time you struggle to solve a difficult problem. The disco mosaic of the Rubik’s Cube is still scattered. Keep turning the puzzle until it clicks for you. This is a learnable skill!

Continue reading 3 Options If You Failed the Bar

Admire the Buttcrack (and 9 Other Last Minute Tips for the Bar)

I had this convo (paraphrased) after seeing toothpaste on her pimple:

“Does toothpaste cure everything?”
“Can I use it to cure crippling loneliness and despair?”
“Maybe if you used it to brush your teeth”

Straight fire. I couldn’t walk because I was laughing to pretend it wasn’t a critical hit to my ego. I-it really wasn’t, OK?!

Aren’t you tired of that? You put on a brave face so your family and friends stop worrying about you or wishing you “good luck” (like they know what the hell you’ve been through). I don’t want to tell you “I know u will pass if u believe in urself !!” because I’m afraid it will overinflate your optimism and allegedly because I have no empathy. That’s what your friends are for, if you haven’t totally estranged yourself from them yet.

The fact may be that all that studying and memorizing and practicing and pacing in the bathroom and having nightmares and telling yourself “you can do this!” and telling yourself “I’ve seen better heads on lettuce, loser”… weren’t a cure-all despite your efforts.

That’s all right. I’m not saying don’t have regrets in general because I’m all for acknowledging your mistakes or wanting to do better. But at this point, if you’ve done your best, have no regrets as you go into the exam.

It’s too late for regrets now because the bar is finally here and is actually happening. It’s too early for regrets now because you’ll have plenty of time to be left alone with your thoughts and anxiety as you wait for your results.

Continue reading Admire the Buttcrack (and 9 Other Last Minute Tips for the Bar)

A candid, no-BS look at bar exam preparation after everyone else has bounced