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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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…

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

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Common Traits of Bar Passers & Why Mental Fortitude Is Important for Bar Preparation

They say knowledge is power.

But why is that with all the information out there, we don’t always get to where we want to go? Why do 80 percent of New Year resolutions fail by February?

“If more information was the answer, then we’d all be billionaires with perfect abs.”

Knowledge applied correctly is power. Knowledge is potential energy. It’s what we DO with the knowledge and the desire, not the fact that we have them, not the fact that we simply declare our desire.

But the #1 hurdle that I’ve encountered with people taking the bar isn’t skills, technology, or knowledge itself.

It’s, uh, mindset. I lowkey cringe at this term because it’s sometimes associated with impractical woo-woo and things like visualization.

But the point remains: The hurdle is often internal. If you can’t turn that potential energy in your mind into kinetic energy, what’s the point?

"half of bar prep involves preparing oneself mentally"
"the bar exam is all about your mental fitness and your ability to retain a crap ton of information without going crazy. Take care of yourself this time around."

It’s getting harder to pass the bar exam…and that’s exactly why you should go for it.

It’s not going to get easier. When the bar is set high, it’s actually an opportunity to stand out more.

Some common traits of bar exam passers I see:

If you take the time to observe people who have passed the bar exam, you can kind of tell why. There’s something about their behavior:

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“What’s the BEST resource for preparing for the bar exam?”

I know it’s a hellscape out there in bar land 🧯🔥 Everyone claims to be the best supplement for bar prep.

Exam questions get more complex the more you look at them. There are too many damn options for supplements. And this vicious cycle is like a whistling kettle getting louder.

No wonder I get questions like these:

“Hello, do you have any tips for passing the bar? Sent from iPhone”

Idk check the website and sign up for my emails. I’ve been writing about this for 7 years. But sometimes I’ll bite and answer this vague kind of question.

“Do you have tutor recommendations? Should I get a tutor?”

Sure, but just consider how far you’ve taken your self-study efforts on your own and your real reason for seeking outside help. I have nothing against investing in your success for the right purpose. 

“What’s the best course/platform/material for bar prep?”

Like people, nothing is 100% at everything. I may have suggestions that fit your situation, but remember that the tool itself won’t help unless the wielder uses it properly.

OK, coming back down to the streets now…

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Two Biggest Fears of a Bar Exam Taker

“I need to know all the law first!”

What were those three years of law school for? Never mind.

There’s this strange concern in the atmosphere floating around.

A concern that if you don’t know it all, then you won’t be prepared to solve the problems… The thought that all you need to do well in practice or even the bar exam itself (!) is to know it all…

So you sit there, fold your arms, and wait for osmosis. A passive approach. Maybe your soulmate will fall out of the sky, too.

And then when you finally flip open that essay after weeks of becoming a know-it-all…

You stare at the blank page.

In front of you, a blank canvas ready to be filled but only reflecting a harsh stillness.

The cursor blinks at you, urging you for your next order.

Cold sweat squeezes out of pores you didn’t even realize you had on your body.

“…”

You decide to hit the books and videos again. Maybe you just need to know more… Maybe you’ll get ’em next time…

You’re mostly grasping the material, but then when you take a practice exam it’s like everything you know is out the window.

WTF? Why didn’t it work?

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