Learning and Prioritizing Rules to Know for the Bar Exam

Maybe it’s the last two weeks before the bar exam and you just started prepping for it.

Maybe your bar prep course FINALLY let you go off to do your thing and it’s a mess to sift through.

Maybe you have a full-time job and got some time off and everything is riding on this exam.

Whatever the case, you may be left with a bunch of law you don’t know how to actually USE in the exam.

You’d love to start practicing essays and MBE questions but feel like you just haven’t learned enough law yet.

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

Key takeaways:

  • Learn not just the rules but also how to present the issues
  • Highest-priority issues and rules are those that have appeared in the past (there are two other categories)
  • There are efficient and effective ways to hit both of the above at once
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The Value of Redoing Problems (You’ll See Them Again on the Bar Exam)

Am I the only one who keeps a list of cringeworthy things they’ve done in the past? Anyone?

*crickets and random cough*

We learn our lessons by doing something and getting embarrassed and trying again.

In fact, embarrassment is the best way I found to learn a lesson: actually doing things, realizing you did something wrong, feeling the pain, and using the pain to change course in the future.

I’m not saying we should “make bad decisions” on purpose (#yolo). Life is already a constant stream of embarrassment anyway.

We simply need a willingness to endure embarrassment as fodder for our growth. Opening ourselves up to the possibility that we’re wrong.

Reprinted without permission

We don’t know what we don’t know. That’s why we can’t really be too quick to judge our own proficiency. That’s why we get on the bike and try to apply the theory as we go so that we find out.

If we don’t—if we simply try things once and stop—we end up thinking we “get it” with a generalized and incomplete understanding. There’s a difference between awareness and experience.

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How to Systematically Identify All the Relevant Issues in a Bar Essay (Without “Issue Spotting”)

Be honest now. Imagine you’re mentoring a starry-eyed 1L starting law school. How would you explain how to “spot issues” in an essay? How exact and specific can you get?

Is it just a mystical process where the crystal ball in your head somehow divines issues from the heavens?

The MBE isn’t the only section you gotta worry about. Every fellow repeater who retook the bar with me had to improve on their essays. Unlike multiple choice with an objectively correct answer, essays are subject to the whims of the grader.

On its surface, an essay is simply a string of IRACs (easier said than done of course). Prep companies and law school tend to focus on the “R” and “A” and assume that you already know how to find the “I” naturally.

That’s funny (not really) because an issue that’s never raised, or an irrelevant issue, is completely worthless.

But has anyone actually taught you how to identify those issues? They give you the IRAC framework and leave you to figure it out.

That’s why I’m going to explain it to you in more detail than this:

issue spotting

To spot issues, try your best.

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