Bar Preparation Doesn’t Have to Be Expensive

It’s socially acceptable to shit on math. It’s politically incorrect to dislike “travel” or “dogs.” And it’s considered weird and risky to not sign up for a big bar prep course by the end of your third year of law school.

Let’s start by addressing that last one about bar courses.

Unless you were already exposed to the idea of alternate paths, you probably naturally assumed that you needed to go with a bar prep company after graduation. The question was framed as “what’s the best bar course” rather than “should I?” You were bombarded with offers from the usual suspects since day one.

So it’s not your fault. Also, there’s nothing wrong with using a course per se. I’m 100% for educating ourselves.

It’s just that you don’t NEED a course. You don’t NEED a tutor. You don’t have to spend $10,000 or $4,000 or anything close to that (besides registration fees) every time you take this test. (I’ll show you how below.)

I’m not wagging my finger saying you must or mustn’t enroll in a bar prep course. The right investments will pay off. I’m just saying you can think about it and consciously decide for yourself.

There is a way to pass the bar other than with big box bar prep courses.

Start by checking for any internal narratives you may have about what you need to buy to prepare for the bar. Here, I’ll help you reexamine the default assumptions born from “big bar” lobbying by answering these questions:

  • What are the drawbacks of “big box” bar programs?
  • What can you do instead to address these drawbacks?
  • What are the benefits of big bar courses?
  • Should you sign up for one? (It depends)
  • How do you prepare for the bar exam without a prep course or a big budget?
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How to Get 20/20 FORESIGHT for the 2020 Bar Exam

Welcome to 2020, where “social distancing,” “the new normal,” and “stay home” are the new meme phrases to replace “in this economy.”

But life and the bar go on relentlessly no matter the state of the planet.

It’s that time yet again. Results for the 2020 February bar exam are in for every state (pass rate in California 26.8% WTF?).

Anxiety squirting into your heart every time you thought of the moment of truth. Heart ricocheting around your ribcage as you check for your name on the pass list.

Waiting is the hard part. It’s even harder to get non-lawyers to shut up about obligatory “aww… you got this” and “I’m sure you passed” comments for weeks and months.

Well, I’m just gonna ask you. Did you pass?

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Preparing for the 2020 Bar Exam: Learn from Their Biggest Mistakes

It’s that time again. Results for the 2019 July bar exam are in for every state.

You’ve endured the obligatory “aww… you got this” and “I’m sure you passed” comments for weeks and months.

Anxiety squirting into your heart every time you thought of the moment of truth. Heart ricocheting around your ribcage as you check for your name on the pass list. Waiting is the hardest part.

Well, the insanity of the wait is over. But it turns out your nightmare isn’t over…

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Why Are Pass Rates Lower in February? (Yours Doesn’t Have to Be)

Bar exam takers are some of the most anxious and superstitious people on the planet.

  • They spend more time agonizing over which subjects will be tested than prepare for each subject (and then get really mad when the subjects actually get leaked, like it did for California in 2019)
  • They plug in numbers into score calculators to figure out how many correct MBE answers they could get away with… AFTER the bar (I’m also guilty of this)
  • They get worked up over the smallest indications of possibly passing the bar (“My account won’t let me sign up for the next bar exam! There’s some text that changed colors! My C&F status is different! Does this mean I passed the bar?!”)

It wouldn’t surprise me if someone used a ouija board to divine what a magic 8-ball would say about their bar results. (Spoiler: The answer is always a superposition of “maybe” because there is no way to know beforehand. Schrodinger’s bar results, anyone?)

I’m only judging a little bit because it’s natural to get anxious over a high-stakes exam. But we sometimes focus on trivial minutiae as a proxy for the fundamental questions and answers.

One question that some repeaters (or first timers who don’t take it in July) have is whether they should take the bar in February or July. The lingering concern is whether the bar is harder in February than in July. Is it really?

This is a valid question, but one that you ultimately need not worry about.

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Regrets of Past Bar Exam Takers

By now, reality has sunk in: Bar Is Coming.

BTW, I have only seen one episode of Game of Thrones in my life. So I am (1) not going to understand any other reference you throw at me and (2) immune to spoilers so don’t even try.

Before you ask me why, you probably have better things to get cold sweat over, like…

“OMG, the pass rate last year (for example, California) was 40.7%… What should I know before preparing for the bar?”

They say hindsight is 20/20. Let’s look ahead instead of thinking backward.

Here’s how to get 20/20 FORESIGHT: Study your predecessors, especially the ones who took the bar more than once. What are their regrets? What would they do differently?

Luckily for you, I already asked your fellow students for help, who took the bar exam in different jurisdictions (California, UBE, and more). Here’s a sample of what they had to say after coming out of the trenches.

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