“Be Arrogant”: Arrogance as a Bar Exam Mindset

Not even gainful employment can save you from the terror of the bar.

The other day, I was talking about the bar exam with David, a coworker. Although he is a first-time passer, he passed each of the California, New York and Massachusetts bar exams on the first try some time ago.

I usually discuss the more tangible side of bar preparation.

But are there any mental attitudes that you may want to consider cultivating when preparing for the bar exam and during the daunting task of taking the exam?

We were having such fun exchanging our thoughts about the bar that I started recording our conversation (there go our billables). I interviewed his thoughts revolving around his core advice that day: Be arrogant.

What did he mean?


What can you do mentally when it’s finally time?

Trust in the preparation.
Have fun with it.
Don’t get hung up on the end result (save that for later).

Finally, “be arrogant.”

Listen below for the place “arrogance” has on taking the bar exam, and more.

It’s a bit long at 51 minutes, so below is a rundown of some key points for your reference.

0:30: When to be humble vs. arrogant
1:49: Merit of showing off on the bar exam
3:24: Why you should prepare to be multiple notches above passing level
5:23: When to actually “be arrogant”
10:05: When to consider erring on the side of over-including issues
14:17: One way to “make up” law
17:55: Alternate way of outlining…as you go (if you’re typing)
20:10: Two ways to order answering your essays
25:00: What happens if you are humble or arrogant at the wrong times?
25:45: “Accept your deficiencies”
30:14: What arrogance as a secondary strategy can do for you
33:15: Make your essay look like a rubric, not a mystery novel (what to do with issues, rules, facts and conclusions)
42:20: Where David got questions for a mock MBE
43:30: Massachusetts and New York bar stuff
51:15: Why this recording is labeled as podcast 3

Without further ado, I present my interview with David.

Now I want to ask you: Is it important to have a particular bar exam mindset? What was the top takeaway you had after listening to the interview? Drop a comment below.

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9 Replies to ““Be Arrogant”: Arrogance as a Bar Exam Mindset”

  1. Brian thank you for the very insightful interview in Arrogance when taking the bar.This interview was helpful in that I have to go into the Bar with a different mindset . A different mental attitude of being confident and arrogant . I like the discussion of treating your essay as a rubric and making sure I fomat my answer using IRAC. I also like the idea of what David did in that he took a simulated MBE session and essay session a week b4 the Bar.
    Any way Brian this was certainly a treat . Keep posting and sending good stuff.

    1. You got it, Marc. Those are some great takeaways that I didn’t get to put in the notes. I’m glad that you found value and inspiration from this conversation. Good luck!

  2. I absolutely agree with what he’s saying! Last exam (my 1st time) I was scared of writing the wrong thing down even though I knew I was missing an issue. I didn’t want to write the rule incorrectly. Now I think–had I winged the element I was worried about reciting wrong, and just wrote it in my own words, I would have shown I recognized there was an issue instead of skipping it. Also, once I tried trusting my recollection of the rule during practice (this time around) I was closer to the rule than I thought I was. Trust ourselves. We know more than we think we do and should just go for it and not worry about being perfect. It’s unrealistic to know all subjects perfectly from memory.

    This time I am going for it. If I am not sure of exact wording I will explain it in my own words and get as close as I can! And, from what I heard from a grader is we are not penalized for incorrect answers. So, I am definitely not going to be shy this time around. We’ll see if the mind set makes a difference.

    Thanks for sharing!!!

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