Imagine Not Practicing Performance Tests

I was browsing the July 2014 CBX topic at top-law-schools dot com slash forums. It’s what I do as I look around my room deciding where to put the portrait of myself holding my own portrait. Of course, I never end up hanging it anywhere because it’s the journey, not the destination.


But then I came across these little . . . nuggets.


i'm not sure how helpful it will be really

20 pts for Gryffindor
20 pts for Gryffindor



I can’t believe you’ve done this. Was I successfully trolled? Finally slain by the hands of a fellow lawyer? I’ll hit you back even though you didn’t hit me.

you mad

Yeah, I was furious.

I managed to write a constructive reply, and no one was able to rebut my arguments for why you should care about performance tests (PTs). Well, maybe it’s just that no one cared. But you do! So here was my response in its entirety:

You should literally practice PTs. Maybe 4-7 total (once a week?) but not 1 or 20. If you’re one of those people who don’t care about PTs until test day, can you rebut my arguments?

  1. PTs are worth one-third of your total grade, and you only get 2 shots. Compare this to 6 shots for essays and 190 shots for the MBE.
  2. PTs are worth 2x the essays. Do you realize how much double actually is? Try playing the piano with one hand or halving your lifespan to 40. Extra 5 points here = extra 10 points across 1–2 essays = your scaled score possibly tipping over 1440. On the other hand, it’ll be hard to recover if you get 55s on PTs. You’d need about 65s on all essays and 133 raw on the MBE.
  3. PTs are the easiest section to improve on because they are skill based. This means…
    • As you spend time on this, you will improve and accelerate (improve your rate of improvement) a disproportionate amount compared to the other sections. Best bang for your time-buck.
    • You’re out of luck if you didn’t pay attention in law school and forgot how to do legal writing. But you can improve how to write, organize, and focus better.
  4. PTs are in the afternoon, so you are more susceptible to lethargy, apprehension, homesickness, etc. So you need to practice to feel more in control when you’re stuck with that feeling that you failed in the 17th hour of the exam.

If you’re already scoring 70+ in your sleep, then fine. But Jesus, “don’t practice PTs” makes me want to weep, and I haven’t cried since November 22.

The plan laid out by the second post seems unbalanced also, except in the other direction. Practice just one PT right before the exam or a PT every other day? Real life doesn’t even make sense anymore.

Also, who said you can take Sundays and Mondays off? Am I the only one who needs to train my brain into developing a habit of study so that taking 2 days off doesn’t lead to 3 and so on? Even if you have to take days off (e.g., because you have a full-time job, in which case you can buy back your time and convenience with supplementary resources), I would do something every day, even on your off days, even if every day were your off day.

This doesn’t mean doing a PT every other day. It’s too unwieldy even if you need the help. In that case, it’s better to really analyze what you did in instead of just spamming them out (quality over quantity). Has he even done one to see where he stands?

If you haven’t done a PT to diagnose yourself yet, do it now. If it turns out you need to work on arguably the simplest section to improve on, you can still grab those relatively easy points. I’m not saying PTs are easy per se—good heavens, no—but if I were given 3 bonus hours on the bar, I’d rather do a PT than 3 essays or 100 MBE questions. At least it’s open book.

If you want to know how to get started without all the headaches and trial and error, grab my free guide if you haven’t yet (let me know where to send it with the form to your right) –>

You’ll get the lowdown on:

  • What to expect on the PTs
  • How to approach it when—or before!—you open one
  • My specific strategy, including a simple way to set up Word to simulate SofTest, how I set it up, and how I divide up the 3 hours
  • What you need and don’t need for a 70
  • How to get immediate feedback on your practice work
  • How to improve the soft skills related to answering PTs
  • Why and how to “make your own luck”
  • Which PTs to practice (a list ordered by increasing difficulty) and how many you should practice (it’s not necessarily 4–7 as I said above)

I think you’ll enjoy it. I’ve painstakingly put these tips together into a convenient toolkit just for you, and I’m offering it for free because this information is just that important. You’ll be dimensions above those with unbalanced plans if you implement the strategies in my report.

Now I want to ask you: Do you have any rebuttals to my 4 arguments above? Regardless, what is your current plan with PTs? Write a comment below.

And if you liked this article, consider signing up for my email list via the form to the right (even if you don’t care about PTs, though you should). No spam, no sharing of your info, just free updates and goodies.

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2 Replies to “Imagine Not Practicing Performance Tests”

  1. The MPT was the whole reason I failed the bar. All of my other scores on essays were well within passing and my MBE was solid. It was one MPT – just one! – that killed my score.

    1. Sorry to hear that. I’m not sure what the MPT is like, but if it’s anything like the California PT, they shouldn’t be taken lightly. Hope your studies are going well!


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