Bar Exam Success Commandment 4: I Will Give You Actual Confidence (to Identify Issues Without Issue Spotting)

The angel on your shoulder whispers to you as you hallucinate from studying…

Don’t cry, you’re going to be a fine lawyer… You’re a good person no matter what… Life is short, just YOLO it…

Screw you, it doesn’t matter even if you never appear again! We’re trying to pass the bar here!


This is the last of a four-part series on what I think are fundamental study strategies, whether you’re a first timer or a repeater. They are fundamental in that they are important concepts that I focused on that made a difference in my second attempt, but you can tailor the concepts to your own needs.

Part 1How to Gain a Superpower for the Bar Exam
Part 2Time to Apologize to Math Now (and Improve Your MBE Score)

As mentioned at the end of Part 3: How to Exploit Scarcity on the Bar (and Improve Your Essays), recall that you can still salvage partial credit for incomplete rules and application. But without identifying the right issues, you get zero credit for those unraised issues.

I mentioned the WHAT (identifying issues) and said I would tell you the HOW (to systematize that mystical process).  We try not to use the s-word (“spotting”) around here. We don’t randomly “spot” issues that we happen to catch in the stream of facts.

This was actually one of the biggest game-changing insights I had for my second time.


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Bar Exam Success Commandment 3: How to Exploit Scarcity (and Improve Your Bar Essays)

Excuses, excuses… Let me know if any of these sound familiar.

We like to tell people we “don’t have time” or that “time is the most valuable resource” or that “life is short~” (even though we love to procrastinate).

You’ll never hear me say that last one. Life is actually really long! Can you even imagine being confined in prison for more than 1-2 years? Compare that time to our lifespan of 80-90+ years. Having lived 31 years already feels like forever, and with my luck, I’ll have to go through it two more times.

Point is, we do have a lot of time at our disposal. We just choose to squander a lot of it, too.

Whatever “squander” means to you, if that’s the way you want to live your life, I support your right to do so. But don’t blame the human condition or your age for a “short” life; blame yourself.

Then what’s the true scarcity of this world? What is the one thing that’s radically limited and expires very quickly?

Money? Everyone wants it, but you can always make more.

Time? You don’t necessarily lose time forever. You can get your time back to do what matters to you: Hire a maid instead of cleaning, get takeout instead of cooking, get Magicsheets & Approsheets to assist with practice instead of painstakingly recreating condensed outlines and essay attack sheets, etc.

(BTW the time for investigating and hemming and hawing is over; do not get them if you’re a tool collector who wonders why they’re so overwhelmed)

I think there’s something even more scarce.

Read on to see my answer and how you can use this scarcity principle to give yourself an edge on the written portions of the bar exam.

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Improve Your MBE Score: 3 Rules for Effective MBE Preparation

I know I’m asking for a lot, but think back to law school for a moment. What do you remember?

  • That fresh feeling of starting a new journey in a new place
  • That cute girl next to you at orientation who smelled really good that you couldn’t help but introduce yourself to her and live dangerously close to the edge of flirting because she’s friendly and smart and familiar with the obscure music you listen to, but you force yourself to be platonic because you’d already locked yourself into a medium-distance relationship right before law school for some reason, and then she gets married to some balding guy with thinning hair and a suspicious mustache while you end your own relationship right before graduation because you’ve accepted that your life is full of irony
  • FINAL EXAMS WORTH 100% OF YOUR GRADE

That escalated fast, but you know what the deal is. Final exams are serious business!

Basically, they invite you to join them in what looks like a warm pool party but instead charge you more than the median household salary and then throw you into the cold winds of society.

So what do you do two weeks away from the final? I mean, after you procrastinate for a week and get that same sinking feeling you get as when you realize your carton of fries is almost empty.

Right, you go “oh shit” and finally print all those old essays that your prof tested in the past. The past is an indication of the future.

It’s less likely that you’d look for essays that some book from Amazon or another professor wrote unless you were some kind of weird gunner.

Same with bar essays… You’d practice with the exact same essays your bar examiners have given out before. You wouldn’t go back to the 7-page-long hypos from law school.

Then why would a bar taker insist on practicing for the MBE using questions someone wrote at Barbri/Kaplan/PMBR? Or get their essays “scored” by an underemployed seasonal contractor who gets paid $3 an essay and has no incentive to help you?

That’s a rhetorical question. The “difficulty” of their questions doesn’t give you the right kind of stress testing. There are undeniably better choices for MBE prep after talking with people who pretty much volunteer this info on me.

And if you’re prepping for California, this is no joke because the MBE is worth half of your overall score now.

Below, I’ll offer (1) sources of MBE questions you want to use based on your budget and (2) how to optimize using them.

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