The Value of Redoing Questions (You’ll See Them Again on the Bar Exam)

“How do I do MBE questions faster?”

“The way to approach these questions is not staying with me.”

“If I study a subject really well and circle back around to it after studying the others, I’ve forgotten half of the first subject.”

Have you ever felt that?

There is a SIMPLE and UNDERRATED way to fix this: Redoing questions.

“But wait,” you say, “I have seen and remembered those questions and answers before. Should I be worried because I am not practicing new questions?”

There’s only a limited number of ways they can test you, so it’s actually GOOD if you recognize fact patterns. If that’s not the point of preparation, what is?

We can’t expect to “get” something after reading or doing something once. So when it comes to preparing for the bar exam, should you really limit yourself to just doing things once and dusting off your hands?

That’s what causes you to forget. The more you cycle through the subjects, the more you’ll retain next time.

If you had to choose between anxious uncertainty about retaining the material vs. routine boredom, which would you pick?

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Stop “Studying” and Start Learning: The Underrated Practice of Practice in Bar Prep

You read outlines. Then you did nothing with them. Did you ever do this?

Back in college, I gave a copy of my cheat sheet for our engineering midterm to a girl. How do you say no to a girl? Answer: You can’t.

And then she got the lowest score in the class.

It had all the equations needed, but she didn’t know how and when those equations applied. She hadn’t seen those rules applied to similar problems. She assumed that just having the rules there would be enough. (Same reason open-book bar exams would change very little.)

It’s like when someone says, “b urself” or “learn to love yourself.” Okay… what’s that mean? Could you explain that a bit more, bro? Any specifics?

Same with your “black letter law”… What does “related” mean in your rule statement? You get a better sense of what that means by looking at examples of how that rule is used until you gain an intuition.

You’d think these rules would be plug and play, but they’re not always. Context matters. Knowing when and how to use them matters.

She was my gf at the time btw. Awkward! Oh well, live and learn.

And that’s what I want to talk about—learning.

“Do I really know this? Am I really becoming ready for the bar exam?”

It’s natural to question yourself at every step when preparing for the bar exam.

What people try to do:

  • Consume material to get all their “ducks in a row” first
  • Obsess over every rule and get overwhelmed
  • Collect more tools than is possible to look at and reconcile
  • Endlessly seek the “best” silver-bullet tool
  • Fill in the available time

This is when we pour our coffee, make room on our desk, organize our pens, turn on the computer… and then just stare at the words and ask random people online for yet another document that collects digital dust.

not practicing

Endlessly seeking more information is really just a distraction away from what it is we already know we need to do.

How to actually find out:

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Setting Up Clear Goals You Can Follow for the Bar Exam

When preparing for the bar exam, set up clear goals you can follow.

Say someone asks you what you want. You say that you want to pass the bar. Great, a north star that you can reach toward!

But the end goal itself doesn’t tell you what to do at any given moment. It often makes you feel good about the future end result, but it doesn’t mean you will do the needed things in between now and the desired result.

For example, a new year’s resolution like “I want to lose weight” gives you a nice self-affirmation and a burst of motivation.

However, 80% of such resolutions fail by February. There are many actions required, such as watching your calories and macros, exercising, and doing so consistently. Simply jumping in with a new gym membership is a recipe for your goal getting ghosted.

There are three main components to good goals…

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Distractions and Passive Learning vs. Active Learning

Dude, I get it… This shit exhausting.

You don’t want to take this exam or SEE another question EVER again. You want nothing more than to pass this stupid bar so that you can move on with your life.

You can see the One Outcome on the horizon. So close yet so far.

So close yet so far to end of bar prep

But you can’t escape this endless cycle. You’re not allowed to. Not yet.

Wake up, then crash your face into the pillow. Hope and despair, rinse and repeat. It feels like you’ve been preparing for this bar exam your whole life.

It doesn’t even feel real anymore. But this exam is the realest thing in your life right now. So I hope you’re not spending all day thinking about unimportant fiction, catching up on all the distractions, panic, and the doom and gloom.

All the constant news in bar world, about remote testing issues, how the grading works, diploma privilege, exam software concerns, new coronavirus variants…

Feels great to have some drama in your life. Something OTHER than Civ Pro to vent about!

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