The Value of Redoing Problems (You’ll See Them Again on the Bar Exam)

Am I the only one who keeps a list of cringeworthy things they’ve done in the past? Anyone?

*crickets and random cough*

We learn our lessons by doing something and getting embarrassed and trying again. In fact, embarrassment is the best way I found to learn a lesson: actually doing things, realizing you did something wrong, feeling the pain, and using the pain to changing course in the future.

I’m not saying we should “make bad decisions” on purpose (#yolo). Life is already a constant stream of embarrassment anyway.

We simply need a willingness to endure embarrassment as fodder for our growth. Opening ourselves up to the possibility that we’re wrong.

Reprinted without permission

We don’t know what we don’t know. That’s why we can’t really be too quick to judge our own proficiency. That’s why we get on the bike and try to apply the theory as we go so that we find out.

If we don’t—if we simply try things once and stop—we end up thinking we “get it” with a generalized and incomplete understanding. There’s a difference between awareness and experience.

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Stop “Studying” and Start Learning: The Underrated Practice of Practice

Back in college, I gave my cheat sheet for our engineering midterm to a girl. How do you say no to a girl? Answer: You can’t.

It had all the equations needed, but she got the lowest score in the class because she didn’t know how and when those equations applied. She hadn’t practiced applying those rules to similar problems.

You’d think they’d be plug and play, but they’re not. Context matters. Knowing when and how to use them matters.

She was my gf at the time btw. Awkward! Oh well, live and learn.

When you don't practice for the bar exam

And that’s what I want to talk about—learning.

“Do I really know this?” It’s natural to question yourself at every step when preparing for the bar exam.

What people try to do:

  • Consume material to cover all the subjects first
  • Obsess over rules and get overwhelmed
  • Collect more tools than is possible to look at and reconcile
  • Endlessly seek the “best” tool
  • Fill in the available time

This is when we pour our coffee, make room on our desk, organize our pens, turn on the computer… and then just stare at the words.

How to actually find out:

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Quick and Simple Ways to Improve Your Bar Essays

A big complaint about essays: “Essays are so freaking subjective!”

Sure, the MBE is more “objective.” There’s only one right answer on the MBE.

But it depends on your interpretation of the question, the hypo, and most important, the answer choices. Yes because X? Yes because Y? Where’s the option for “yes because Z”? FML!

That’s a question for another day.

Let’s use the subjectivity of essays to your advantage. We’re going to take advantage of the impatience of a human who has thousands of shitty essays to read.

This is great because if you know how to write better on one, you know how to write better on all of them. How many points is that worth to you?

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