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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You’re the Dean of Your Own Bar Exam Studies

Here’s something that people who pass the bar never say:

“All I had to do was listen to all those bar course lectures. They were so helpful!”

Can you imagine?

Sometimes we think “doing whatever it takes” to pass the bar means throwing thousands of dollars into a black hole. (But it doesn’t have to be expensive.)

Or following some unsustainable cookie-cutter schedule (which doesn’t care if you have other responsibilities like work or family). Good luck if you fall behind by one day.

Or letting a perfectly fine morning slip through by religiously sitting through 4 hours of droning lectures. Worse, pausing lectures to fill in all the notes. Then not even remembering 99% of it.

tfw you think the lectures are making sense

I remember those days. Those are things I didn’t do my second time. Here’s what I would do instead:

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