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!



It’s your predecessors who prepared for the bar exam.

Ideally, they are those who have successfully passed the bar—but not just anyone. First-time passers may or may not know exactly what it was that made them pass.

Maybe it was luck or natural talent. Maybe they just happened to pass and aren’t the best teachers (“Just go to lecture and pay attention! Read the MPRE book the week before!” I lose respect for law students every day). Maybe they don’t see or care to share the whole story.

Furthermore, first timers tend to be fixated on their bar prep program. They follow a standard-issue program, and it happens to fit some of them.

Instead, seek to probe the wisdom of those who have revisited hell and lived to tell the tale. Listen to their regrets. They say things like “I would have passed sooner if I’d known that…” or “I should have done this last time…” or “I passed this time thanks to…!”

That’s your cue that you’re in the “between the lines” territory—the part most people don’t tell you about.

It’s like those articles about the top five regrets of people on their deathbed. I don’t know about you, but I’m trying to take them to heart. After all, they have more life wisdom. Similarly, by virtue of their proximate care and wisdom, grandparents tend to buff their family’s longevity in “blue zones.”

That is to say, there’s a better way to verify and adjust our current understanding.

It means you don’t have to reinvent the wheel because you can look ahead through the crystal ball. Let’s say you asked some non-first timers how they passed. The common themes you hear from them could apply for 80% of your study. I have plenty of case studies, testimonials, and stories and you can start with.

You can use the remaining 20% of your study efforts for experimentation suited to your own style:

  • Are you an auditory learner? What happens if you skip a lecture and read the corresponding outline instead?
  • Are you a completionist obsessed with filling in every blank and checkbox provided by your bar prep? Could you instead spend 30 minutes to see if you could make a tailored study plan?
  • Outlines or flashcards? Try both? I’m an outline kind of guy myself, although Law in a Flash cards were useful for learning specific concepts with examples

In this day and age of planetary connectivity, you will suffer if you rely on your “self” only and try to be TOO original to solve your problems. Those who leap over the pioneers got their results not by reinventing the wheel…but by getting the right help.

There is no need to bootstrap everything yourself like I did my first try, which failed miserably. For the time being, you don’t have to feel guilty about plagiarizing, if you will, from the work of others.

Be like those people who slip through the door as it closes on the person behind them (pure malice). Though if you actually do that to me in real life, I’ll kick your ass through the door.

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