How to Gain 20/20 Foresight Studying for the Bar Exam

No fortune teller would accept me as an intern because I am a terrible predictor of the future.

In fact, you, me, everyone else—people in general are terrible at predicting the “best” outcome or solution. “Hindsight bias” is also expressed as “hindsight is 20/20.”

If you don’t believe me, write down your hypotheses so that later you can see what your track record is for predicting the future. (This is also a good way to hone your understanding of something and also your humility.)

But imagine that you could know what you should do before it’s too late. Having 20/20 FORESIGHT would be like benefiting from a second chance on your first time.

You can still use 20/20 foresight to “look ahead” with a crystal ball so that you can avoid mistakes in your bar preparation.

Come again? Yes, even if you’re a first timer studying for the bar exam, you actually have a crystal ball!

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The 20/10 Cycle: How I Hacked My Motivation to Study 12 Hours a Day

I’ll be the first to admit that it is difficult for me to concentrate, to achieve flow. I’ll be the first to tell someone “I can’t focus because I have the brain and charisma of a goldfish.”

Yet at one point I was studying for the bar 12 hours a day and getting stuff done, from getting up to going back to sleep. Part of it was an honest admission that I need to work around the fact that I can’t concentrate for long.

I dub it the 20/10 cycle. I used the 20/10 cycle to crank the productivity dial to a level worthy of my middle name (Danger, unofficially) and churn out those condensed outlines, cooked essays, and even time for entertainment.

You can also tweak it to suit your needs. Maybe you can even make time to “work out” or “have brunch” or “watch the game” or “travel” or “sign up for Barbri” or whatever weird activities you people do.

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I Messed Up

Something happened on Friday that I thought was relevant to the topic of an upcoming post: dealing with your weak areas on the bar.

For weeks, I’d been corresponding with a patent examiner giving me the runaround regarding a patent application close to allowance. But he was a nice guy who was willing to work with me (when available) and share information.

We exchanged emails (i.e., on record) discussing the merits of the case when I should have used email only to set up a phone call. I sent documents that were not in compliance with the guidelines. I had not CC’d the client manager (who is ultimately responsible for the case) until today when I forwarded the entire exchange as a FYI.

In addition to getting chewed out by the exasperated client manager, I got called in get a stern talking to by two other partners. I thought I was going to be reborn into the next life.

Will I get over it? Sure, it’s a learning experience and an inspiration to do better.

But you can bet your sweet ass that I will from now run email and document drafts by the responsible supervisor (so that the case doesn’t get compromised if it ever goes to litigation or even be grounds for malpractice).

My neurons have locked in these jarring experiences to avoid this mistake at all costs.

Keep this in mind as you read the upcoming material and think about how messing up is not always such a bad thing (for example, if I happened to pass the bar the first time, I’m not sure if this project would exist).

Sometimes all you need to get unstuck is permission to fail, and you have it from me.

What to Do If You Are Retaking the Bar

It’s not your fault.

You waited months. Day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute, you slowly lost your ability to focus on anything. Blood knocking against all corners of your body. You suffered those few seconds of pure agony as you searched for your name on the pass list of truth.

You didn’t even care about celebrating. You would have spent your lifetime of luck to get this hurdle over with.

But then…nothing to show for all your damn effort

It could’ve been anything. Maybe your proctor kept walking by with a weird cough. Maybe you were minesweeping at the test center, surrounded by your 8 neighbors being distractions. Maybe you were running around trying to secure lunch.

The bar shows NO mercy, NO sense. It seems like there is at least a quasi-objective determination of your aptitude, but how did they get your final score? Unemployed graders sitting on their toilet giving your essays whatever score they feel like, that’s what. It’s bullshit.

But this is the game we’re playing.

It’s not your fault, but you can always make preparations to prevent it. They say prevention is the cure.

The very fact that you’re reading this shows me you are determined to change things around. If so, read on to see how you can reposition your inner mindset today for success next time.

If you’re going to pretend that reading this and going “yeah that’s what I should do” before forgetting everything I said will miraculously change anything, then please get off my site and go back to Upworthy to continue your consumption of slacktivism there.

I wish I could make graphics like this

Read on if you are retaking the bar and want to learn how to tweak your attitude before getting back into the game.

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5 Things I Did Differently the Second Time to Pass the Bar as a Repeater

The thing about reality is that your brain doesn’t notice it until it’s wrapped tightly around your brain like a sheet of aluminum foil, crinkling and making a polygonal mess.

0 minutes remaining. I slapped in my applicant ID, my entry ticket to three seconds of pristine agony. Then two, three more times. I made sure I was reading correctly. For once, I wasn’t delusional.

I could feel the heavy air of TRUTH closing in around me. Light fading quickly. But I wanted to believe. No, the silvery foil pushed its way around the noodles of my brain, turning into TV static. It was wrapped around the potato, and my brain realized it then.

In some other universe, I passed. But in this one, I failed. I failed. I failed.

2013 was the worst year of my life. My brain convinced me to break up with my friend of ten years and girlfriend of three. My dad screamed at our family on Christmas morning and night. I failed the July bar and haven’t since posted a status on Facebook out of supreme shame. 16 months and counting since becoming Facebook celibate. Facelibate.

I lied down on my bed. Then I got up.

The experiment was a failure. It was time to change the variables. This was how I would prove I was not insane. Then 2014 became the best year of my life.

Having experienced both outcomes of the California Bar Exam, I’ve distilled the following insights that were instrumental to passing the bar. These are things I did the second time but not the first time. Do you like clickbait? You won’t believe #4!

Any fool can learn from experience. I prefer to learn from other people’s experiences.

Make this the last time you have to walk the line between heaven and hell with these 5 things I did differently the second time to pass the bar exam.

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