101 Rules for Bar Exam Preparation

Here’s a list of 101 quick bullets on preparing for the bar exam.

Your answer is probably somewhere in here if you ever feel like asking the worst questions in the world:

  • “Do you have any advice?” (only if there’s enough context)
  • “Can you help?” (can you help?)
  • “Thoughts?” (a minimalist reply seems rude but tempting)
  • “HELP!” “Let’s connect” (?)
  • Anything with more than one question mark in a row unironically

If you have the Magicsheets & Approsheets suite, you already have access to the exclusive pocket guide “17 Strategies to Get Un-stuck and Un-frustrated by the Bar Exam.”

I tried something even more straight to the point.

Why 101? I wanted to do something contrived like 100 and ended up with 1 more (say hi to your OCD for me). I’ll probably update this in the future. This is an amorphous and evolving draft. Nothing is set in stone. Things change. Things get better. Same with your bar prep.

Feel free to disagree with any point. Advice is autobiography. Advice is never one-size-fits-all. Take what you like and leave the rest.

If some rules seem contradictory, that’s where interesting things happen.

Let me know which parts you agree with, parts you disagree with, or contradictions you thought about on your own and resolved.

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3 Strategies I Used as a Repeater to Study for the Bar Exam: Fight for Simplicity!

I went on a Zoom call to discuss how to study for the bar exam. If you’re just starting out, you may be lost on what the right way to do this all is.

So I distilled three key strategies from what I did differently to pass the California Bar Exam on my second attempt. These are applicable to all jurisdictions and whether you’re taking a bar exam for the first time or you’re a repeater.

Here’s the recording (volume/quality warning):

Slides (with links and coupons)

Giveaway link (enter by 11:59 PM PT on Thurs, May 20, 2021)

Writeup & timestamps below…

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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 Stan Finally Passed the Bar Exam Using Proven Bar Preparation Strategies (Anyone Can Do This!)

I recently had a back-and-forth with Stan, yet another reader who passed the (online/remote) 2020 October California Bar Exam on this 5th try.

When I asked to showcase his incredible personal journey, Stan offered to rewrite his emails into a more comprehensive story with approaches he discovered, his realizations, and specific study tips to help others join him beyond the bar.

Some of my favorite impressions among many:

Respecting the exam is important but so is enjoying the process

Practice as if it were the real thing. Do the real thing as if it were practice—with confidence

Bar prep doesn’t have to be expensive

Enough about my impressions. It’s time for yours. Here’s Stan’s story on what he did to finally pass the bar exam. No substantive edits made except adding relevant links and [comments in brackets] and writing out some abbreviations.

One for Five: How I Finally Passed the Bar Exam

After I told Brian about my journey to passing the Oct 2020 California bar exam, he was gracious enough to offer me a chance to share my story on his blog.  I discovered Brian’s website by searching stories on how people passed the exam.  I’d bet that’s pretty common.

Before we get into my story, please know my only intent is to show you if I can pass, you absolutely can too.  I’m not special, nor am I looking for credit or praise of any kind.  I’m just an ordinary guy from LA who took the bar exam five times, dealing with life along the way.

Everyone’s journey to passing the bar is unique.  What worked for me might not necessarily work for you.  But I would bet a quality everyone needs is discipline.  My story is a cautionary tale of why discipline should always be where bar prep starts and ends.

The October 2020 California bar exam was my fifth attempt, but I was finally ready to pass.  Let me tell you why you should never think you’re not smart enough or good enough to pass, or that it must not be meant for you.

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My 5 Rules for Passing the MBE

You ever have interactions with dog owners that go like this?

Oh he’s so well trained!

Sit. Sit. Sit. Sit. Sit.
SIT. SIIIT.
SIT!

Ooooh look at how well he’s trained!

The MBE is probably the lever that will move your bar exam result the most.

Yet we see that training when it comes to the MBE is sometimes shoddy and not really there.  We LOOK like we’re trained, and you very may well be, but the actual exam experience is different from the simulations.

When you’re actually on the hotseat, you’re automatically less good at the things you’re normally good at on a day-to-day basis.

"I did 4000 questions on AdaptiBar and was 72% overall, so I'm confused on what I need to do better for my MBE."

“We don’t rise to the level of our expectations; we fall to the level of our training.”

I don’t want you to find out that you actually weren’t training well as you fall to its level on the real thing. Instead, I want you to pass the MBE (and the bar exam) with flying colors.

To that end, here are my five rules for passing the MBE:

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