Many bar takers are obsessed with the idea of memorization for the bar exam.
Understandably, a lot of students naturally panic and have concerns about it. I think it comes from a place of insecurity. There’s a LOT to remember after all.
Panic mutates into paralysis.
They think, “As long as I memorize this perfectly, I will be set for the bar exam.”
They end up holding a bag of theoretical knowledge they don’t know how to use, neglect the performance test in the process, and end up with a score that’s not terrible but not great either. After all, they still memorized everything enough to stumble through.
This is a common thought process, especially for those starting out. This may seem to be a safe approach, but it’s actually reckless.
Maybe that’s why people are excited about the possibility of open-book bar exams in some states. I eagerly await their realization that it’s not just about having access to information—but whether they can use it properly. Removing the memorization requirement doesn’t really change the exam. In fact, it will probably hurt if you’re wasting time looking things up.
It’s not that I’m ragging on memorization. You should memorize for the bar exam—but not at the expense of learning. Memorizing is simply table stakes. Everyone’s doing it. It’s a minimum requirement. Just a cost of entry.
So you do want to start memorizing as early as you can.
But I want to point out what bar takers miss when they get tunnel vision around memorization. Don’t miss the forest for the trees:
Continue reading “Busting 4 Myths of Memorization for the Bar Exam”
Here’s something that people who pass the bar exam never say:
“All I had to do was listen to all the bar course lectures and take a lot of notes. Work hard like me and you’ll pass!”
Can you imagine?
Sometimes we think “doing whatever it takes” to pass the bar exam means exhausting yourself and throwing 1000 hours and even more dollars into a black hole. (But it doesn’t have to be expensive.)
Or following some unsustainable cookie-cutter schedule (that doesn’t care if you have other responsibilities like work or family). Good luck if you fall behind by one day.
Or letting a perfectly fine morning slip
through by religiously sitting through 4 hours of droning lectures. Worse,
pausing lectures to fill in all the notes. Then not even remembering 99% of it.
When you thought the lectures made sense
Trusting the process.
I remember those days. All of these are things I didn’t do my second time. Here’s what I’d do instead:
Continue reading “Should You “Trust the Process”? You’re the Dean of Your Own Bar Exam Studies”
Some bar takers wonder if they should study early for the bar exam (ahead of the traditional 10-week schedule), whether…
- They want to get a head start on studying
- They deferred the exam (e.g., February to July)
- They’re waiting for bar results (or got their bar results months ahead of the next exam they want to retake)
- They have a full-time job to juggle at the same time and won’t be able to take much time off
- It’s been a minute (or years) since they’ve graduated from law school or have taken the exam
While there are benefits to studying early, there are many traps to doing so. There are also benefits to simply waiting (if your neurotic anxiety can handle it) until study season is in full swing before deciding whether or not to study for the bar exam.
But bar prep is personal. You’re the dean of your own studies.
To help you decide when to start studying, let’s discuss all of this—who early bar prep is right for and the best way to study early and effectively—so that you’re making the most of your time and energy.
Continue reading “Early Bar Prep: Should You Study Early for the Bar Exam?”
You sit still during lectures and try to stay awake. You take notes. You read outlines. You even answer practice questions.
Then nothing works. Has this happened to you?
Back in college, I gave a copy of my cheat sheet for our engineering midterm to a girl. How do you say no to a girl? Answer: You can’t.
And then she got the lowest score in the class.
It had all the equations needed, but she didn’t know how and when those equations applied. She hadn’t seen those rules applied to similar problems. She assumed that just having the rules there would be enough. (Same reason open-book bar exams would change very little.)
It’s like when someone says, “b urself” or “learn to love yourself.” Okay… what’s that mean? Could you explain that a bit more, bro? Any specifics?
Same with your “black letter law”… What does “related” mean in your rule statement? You get a better sense of what that means by looking at examples of how that rule is used until you gain an intuition.
You’d think these rules would be plug and play, but they’re not always. Context matters. Knowing when and how to use them matters.
BTW, she was my gf at the time. Awkward! Oh well, live and learn.
And that’s what I want to talk about—learning.
Continue reading “Stop “Studying” and Start Learning: The Underrated Practice of Practice in Bar Prep”
Before every exam, a handful of people come out of the woodwork and shamelessly ask about subject predictions for the bar exam.
“Does anyone know the essay predictions?”
“What do you think will be tested?”
“I don’t think ____ will appear on the exam.”
“Anyone think ____ will be tested?”
“I know we’re not supposed to listen to predictions, but…”
“What are ____’s predictions?”
“Here are my MEE predictions!”
Whose predictions are you going to listen to?
If you’re like many bar takers, or if you’re a repeater, you say: “Haha of course I’m not going to rely on the predictions. I shall adequately study all the subjects. You should too!”
And then you panic and look at the predictions anyway.
Did you want me to tell you, “Aww poor baby, don’t worry. It’s normal and happens to the best of us 🥺”?
You SHOULD worry if you’re secretly tempted about relying on predictions… because this kind of thinking is entirely predictable and avoidable. Sweating about predictions is not a good place to be and requires intervention.
Also, remember when subjects actually leaked for the California exam in 2019 and people got mad over it? Do you want to know the subjects ahead of time or not? Make up your minds!
Maybe you’re too young to remember ancient history. I’ve been dealing with you people for too long.
Here’s why you should look toward essay or MEE subject predictions only for entertainment value and morbid curiosity (and 3 things you can focus on instead):
Continue reading “Predictions for the Bar Exam (What to Focus On for Efficient Study)”