A coaching client and I were on the phone discussing strategy for the upcoming California Bar Exam in July.
The good news was that his MBE scores from previous attempts were already on track to pass the bar exam in California. He consistently got scaled scores of over 1440.
(If you’re taking the exam elsewhere, you’re already halfway home free with a good MBE score according to the “tripod approach” I’ll describe in a bit.)
The issue was that he couldn’t consistently score well on the essays. The essays he thought were the best, he’d get a 55 on them. The essays he wrote fewer than 1,000 words and thought were his worst, he’d get a 65 or more.
BY THE WAY: You don’t “pass” the MBE, or an essay, or a performance test. You pass the EXAM with enough total points—all or nothing. I will throw my keyboard out the window and hope it falls on the next person who talks about “passing an essay with a 65.” How does grading work for the CBX? Read.
Given his situation, I suggested a couple of approaches that would focus on a few key areas that would easily bring him over the hump to pass the California bar in July, once things “clicked” for him…
One of these is the basis for the Tripod Approach, which is a minimally effective approach where you focus on a few key portions when preparing for the California Bar Exam to get the largest return.
So you want to pass the bar. You’re super serious about it.
You pore over your outlines, trying to make sure you have a grasp of all the rules. There are still other subjects to review. You don’t think practice will be productive unless you “get” the theory.
It’s all so overwhelming.
But you did it. You can focus on practice now that you’ve had a good solid review of the core subjects first. You’ve been doing a few MBE questions and looked at a few essays already, but now it’s time to buckle down and get to writing those essays (you’ll get to the PTs… later).
After all, they said to “practice practice practice.”
But something’s wrong…
No matter how many times you do it, every essay is a
The blank-page syndrome is giving you irregular heartbeats
and making you break out into a cold sweat.
You keep picking the incorrect answer choice on your MBE
questions. The prospect of grading your work makes you want to lie down on your
Here’s why you’re stuck and what to do to get unstuck:
Observe the “10-40-40-10 rule” of bar preparation.
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 changing 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.
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.