Should You Study for the Bar Exam or Take a Break During Holidays?

Every time the holidays roll around, a pang of guilt flashes across the bar taker’s heart as they balance social obligations and the big day looming.

“DO I STUDY OR DO I HANG OUT WITH MY FAMILY?”

There are pockets of cultures surrounding work, rest, and self-care. Let’s divide them into two extreme stereotypical categories as a narrative device for me to make a point later:

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Dominating the Essays: Organize Issues and Prioritize Rules to Know on the Bar Exam

Ever wonder how you’re supposed to juggle everything in your head? How do you prioritize the rules to know for the bar exam?

How are you supposed to learn all this when time is tight? How do you tackle the massive body of rules to know?

How do you know you’ve completed the essay in full? Did you even talk about the correct issues? Are the graders going to give you the points? Are they even going to read your prose?!

You’d love to start practicing essays but feel like you just haven’t learned enough law yet. It’s overwhelming to even begin from scratch.

If you’re a bar taker struggling with coming up with what to write, essays are the bane of your existence. Your rambling paragraphs start to blur. There’s just so much to know (or so you think) and say.

Let’s breathe. We can simplify the essays and make them less scary…

Key takeaways:

  • Learn not just the rules but also how to present and organize the issues (with examples below)
  • Highest-priority issues and rules are those that have appeared in the past (there are two other priorities)
  • There are efficient and effective ways to hit both of the above at once
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Which MBE Supplements Should You Get?

There are many MBE supplements out there, although only a few come to mind as the leaders of the space: AdaptiBar, UWorld, and the Strategies & Tactics for the MBE book.

To decide which one(s) you may like, I condensed some of my key strategies for the MBE and looked into which resources could help you hit them all:

  1. Quality of review (quantity without sacrificing the learning)
  2. Track performance by subject and topic
  3. Primarily focus on real questions, but also bring in simulated questions to grind problem areas

Here are the options and what you should consider in choosing them:

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Why Bar Takers Can’t Remember What They Need To

Back when I first took the bar exam in 2013—

Wow, where did the time FLY? This is getting depressing already.

Anyway, I was able to write these beautiful rule statements. Something out of a treatise. Flowing with prose fit to be in a presidential speech. Baroque music in the background. Some renaissance shit.

What’s really depressing is that despite my perfectly memorized (and perfectly recited) rules, they were still mostly useless.

Ask the average bar taker, “Where do you want to be in February/July/exam time?” And that’s the dream they have—to have the “black letter law” memorized perfectly.

They chase after knowledge over experience and intuition. Mere exposure and familiarity over understanding.

Memorizing rules is important for sure! But memorizing the rules is merely the cost of admission. What’s the real goal here?

It’s to know not just the law but how to use the law. 

Be conscious about your approach:

Rather than jumping in and brute forcing your way to MORE MEMORIZATION, MORE FLASHCARDS, MORE PRACTICE QUESTIONS, consider more understanding, more recitation, more feedback/self-critique to see why something is correctly used or not.

Optimizing for “knowledge” and familiarity looks like this:

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