There are a LOT of study supplements, resources, and outlines for bar prep. As time passes, more and more get added to your potential repertoire.
Sometimes, the sheer overwhelm causes bar takers to load up on all sorts of materials, attend every workshop, DM everyone offering something — spreading themselves so thin that they end up not using any of it!
The materials collect digital dust, and bar takers end up restarting at square one, exhausted. But “the great aim of education is not knowledge but action.” (Herbert Spencer)
I, too, offer study materials for the California Bar Exam and the Uniform Bar Exam. Here’s my answer to questions about them, including HOW to use them. This will be useful whether or not you use my material.
- What are Magicsheets and Approsheets?
- Speaking of which, there are also other popular resources that have helped bar takers, which you may already have:
- Now, how do you use all these bar exam study materials together?
What are Magicsheets and Approsheets?
Magicsheets are condensed outlines that boil down the issues and rules for the MBE and essays, and can be a reference when you practice or memorize.
If you have a bigger outline such as the Barbri Mini Conviser, think of Magicsheets as a condensed version of the key subject matter, saving you time instead of trying to overwhelm yourself with 800 pages to remember.
One key feature of Magicsheets is their emphasis on issues. Without knowing the issues, you can’t solve any questions.
Approsheets are issue roadmaps that help you set up your essay outline or answer.
Identifying the right issues is the key element required to pass essays, as opposed to focusing on deep analyses to the detriment of adequate issue setup, as one might be tempted in law school or even in practice (a trap for practicing attorneys).
While no supplement is a requirement (don’t let me pressure you into getting anything), they can help make your life easier. You could try to reinvent the wheel… or use resources already streamlined for your convenience.
The (unspoken) secret of those who appear to have effortless success is that they obtain the right resources. “No man is an island.”
Speaking of which, there are also other popular resources that have helped bar takers, which you may already have:
(How can you incorporate them all? See the subsequent section.)
- BarEssays (California only) – for comparing your essay practice with actual graded answers.
- Ask: Is your answer more like a low-scoring answer or a high-scoring answer?
- Or use my free essay answer bank
- Mary Basick’s essay book (California only) – issue charts for select essays
Get essays to practice with from past exams (CA and UBE) here.
MBE – practice questions from past exams
- Emanuel’s Strategies & Tactics for the MBE
- UWorld – 1,500+ past exam questions and visual charts and explanations
- AdaptiBar – 1,700+ past exam questions
Review and comparison of UWorld and AdaptiBar here.
Get a 10% ($40+) UWorld discount code, a $30 AdaptiBar discount code, and a $25 BarEssays discount code by signing up for my weekly newsletters here.
- BarMD video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5yMmgpkRaY
- My “Performance Test Toolkit” — comes with each of my products as a bonus
Get PTs and MPTs to practice with from past exams (CA and UBE) here.
Now, how do you use all these bar exam study materials together?
Based on the above, your workflow could look like this:
1. Study source materials – Conviser, Magicsheets, Approsheets, etc.
1 day per subject, 2 days max.
The aim is to gain a general understanding (a rough idea) of the testable subject matter. No matter how much you memorize the words, you won’t know how they’re applied in context and you will forget unless you USE them. Your body has no idea what to do if you memorize some rules as a fact.
Yes, this is a type of passive learning. This is not the focus (only 10% of your preparation), but it will build a basic foundation on which to develop your skills and bar intuition.
You can refer to Magicsheets for the issues and rules (MBE and essays), and to Approsheets to help you set up the relevant issues in essays.
2a. Attempt to solve MBE questions from MBE resources above.
2b. Attempt to answer essay questions from past exams. Focus on the issues and then the rules. Try to outline these first. Approsheets can come in handy to check that you’re identifying the main issues and sub-issues being tested by the fact pattern. You must identify the right issues and issue clumps to get passing scores on the essays.
2c. Once a week, practice putting together a PT. This is a commonly overlooked portion of the exam that tanks applicants. Don’t let this be the thing. See “Mistakes to Avoid” file in Passer’s Playbook.
3. Feedback and self-critique
Check your answer against model answers, selected answers (posted by your state bar), sample answers (by other students), explanations, etc. as appropriate.
Find past essays and selected answers for CA and UBE/MEEs here.
(3b. If working on CA essays, you can check against student answers on BarEssays or my free essay answer bank.)
“Practice practice practice” — we’ve all heard this one, but this is an incomplete approach. You also need to see if you did it right. Practicing is measuring yourself on the scale. Studying the correct answers is what you do in between the measurements.
4. Review source materials (again)
Now that you’ve seen how the concepts play out in practice, review the source materials to solidify your understanding. (Magicsheets, Approsheets, Conviser, etc.)
Steps 2-4 should take 1-2 days per subject.
Don’t worry. You can move on to another subject even if you don’t “get” one completely yet. We’ll revisit the subject multiple times to lock in your understanding through repeated exposure. Don’t make the mistake of sticking to something like one subject per week and by the end of 13 weeks you forget the first subject.
Repeat for all subjects to complete one cycle. Repeat the cycle. That’s your study framework. (Here’s a bit more info on planning a study schedule.)
Use one of the sample schedules with your Passer’s Playbook files to guide your daily or monthly plan so you stay on track. It’s OK to deviate as long as you focus on what you need to do most — taking action on your weak areas so that you will be prepared to fight in the ring.
If you approach your bar exam preparation such that you continue getting better, passing the bar exam is inevitable. It’s only a matter of time.
Want to make your bar prep smarter and more effective with the Make This Your Last Time collection of study tools? Check out the catalog here.