Tanvi passed the 2023 February California Bar Exam, which had a 32.5% pass rate.
Pass rates don’t mean anything to MTYLT readers (you) because pass rates have no bearing on their own chance of success.
Like many of the other passers you hear about here, this featured passer did it her own way after she realized things were not working for her.
There are many ways you can pass the exam! You are the dean of your own studies. Bar prep is personal.
- Attempts: California Bar Exam 1 time
- Weakness: Multiple choice
- Unique challenge: Lack of familiarity with U.S. law, lack of time
▶▶ BarMax prep course
▶▶ BarMD PT workshop
Tanvi’s three steps for strategically “cramming” her bar preparation
1️⃣ Determine if your current approach is working for you or not.
Tanvi started going through her bar review course, but she noticed it wasn’t working.
How do you tell if it’s working or not? In Tanvi’s case, things were not sticking.
This is a fundamental flaw of big box review courses: They tell you “WHAT to study” but now “HOW to learn.”
This is an outdated approach to exam preparation.
Not just because it’s got a single point of failure…
…but because it ends up frustrating bar takers and keeps them lost in the mass of information, rather than having it flow through them.
To illustrate, it may feel like confidence when you become familiar with some rules. But this illusion gets shattered…
- If you’re staring back at the blank page and don’t know what to write.
- If it’s taking you too long to finish an essay.
- If you’re getting half of the MBE question set wrong.
It’s easy to be an information junkie, to nod along and think you’ll get it the first time you try. It’s a LOT HARDER to be able to apply the information and move the needle (or convince stressed-out students to do so).
That’s why I do what I do. The overpriced courses that dump information actually have the easiest job in this process. My readers tend to be pretty good at questioning and modifying this traditional approach to suit them.
So assess whether whatever you’re doing now is working for you, instead of bruteforcing your way through frustration and a sunk-cost fallacy.
It’s not too late to revisit your approach to studying. No need to regret getting a course too much.
2️⃣ Seek to be efficient AND effective.
Many students get cold sweat around June or July when they realize they’re running out of time and it’s not coming together. Their course or whatever they’re doing still hasn’t progressed them in a meaningful way.
Bar review courses are simply supplementary to what is a self-study process at its core.
That means, if you’re interested in expanding the efficiency and effectiveness of your studies, you have to try different things to see if they help you.
Relying solely on a course to turn you into GPT-4 is a risky first-timer mistake (that I made). And if you’re a repeater and STILL making the same mistakes, it’s time to try something different.
This was especially true for Tanvi, who had a busy life outside of bar prep! It’s possible that she would have LOST time and progress if she had forced herself through the course.
As a general rule, ask yourself if you’re doing something that’s helping you prepare. If your time is limited, we can trim the fat to do what moves the needle.
It’s not that taking a bar review course is bad, but you should make it work FOR YOU.
For example, consider what Tanvi did:
- Use tools and resources (other than your course) designed to help you see the big picture.
- Focus on DOING.
- Actively fill in the gaps in your knowledge and memorize them.
- Focus on issues and rules.
- Be strategic about what’s important in the exam.
BTW these are the same techniques that Sam (a UK lawyer) used to pass on his second try.
3️⃣ Spend more time on your weak areas.
You don’t have to treat every area equally. You can instead surgically treat your weaknesses.
If you can free up time, such as by using the approaches above, you can afford to make room for your weak areas.
BTW, focusing on your weak areas is another way to take control of your studies instead of gambling on predictions.
👀 BONUS: Doors fling open once you pass the bar exam.
This may seem obvious, but you may not realize how big the barriers are before you clear this final hurdle called the bar exam.
Tanvi IMMEDIATELY started interviewing for jobs and is optimistic about her future. I had a similar experience where suddenly a lot more people wanted to work with me once people knew I passed.
So get excited! The best is yet to come.
💬 “Post-bar, I’ve been working in a legal adjacent job, and am currently interviewing at a few companies and firms. I’m not set on one particular path, but passing the Cal Bar has definitely opened up doors. I’m excited to see what the future holds!“
Nice work, Tanvi! Here again are the tools she used.
Tanvi’s full story, unedited
Nice work, Tanvi! Here again are the resources she used.