Distractions and Passive Learning vs. Active Learning

Dude, I get it… This shit exhausting.

You don’t want to take this exam or SEE another question EVER again. You want nothing more than to pass this stupid bar so that you can move on with your life.

You can see the One Outcome on the horizon. So close yet so far.

So close yet so far to end of bar prep

But you can’t escape this endless cycle. You’re not allowed to. Not yet.

Wake up, then crash your face into the pillow. Hope and despair, rinse and repeat. It feels like you’ve been preparing for this bar exam your whole life.

It doesn’t even feel real anymore. But this exam is the realest thing in your life right now. So I hope you’re not spending all day thinking about unimportant fiction, catching up on all the distractions, panic, and the doom and gloom.

All the constant news in bar world, about how many questions other people are doing, whether others are feeling just as behind or panicked as you, whether they’ll abolish the bar exam, remote testing issues, how the grading works, diploma privilege, new coronavirus variants, exam software concerns…

Feels great to have some drama in your life. Something OTHER than Civ Pro to vent about!

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Predictions for the Bar Exam (What to Focus On for Efficient Study)

Before every exam, a handful of people come out of the woodwork and shamelessly ask about subject predictions for the bar exam.

“Does anyone know the essay predictions?”
“What do you think will be tested?”
“I don’t think ____ will appear on the exam.”
“Anyone think ____ will be tested?”
“I know we’re not supposed to listen to predictions, but…”
“What are ____’s predictions?”
“Here are my MEE predictions!”

Whose predictions are you going to listen to?

If you’re like many bar takers, or if you’re a repeater, you say: “Haha of course I’m not going to rely on the predictions. I shall adequately study all the subjects. You should too!”

And then you panic and look at the predictions anyway.

Did you want me to tell you, “Aww poor baby, don’t worry. It’s normal and happens to the best of us 🥺”?

You SHOULD worry if you’re secretly tempted about relying on predictions… because this kind of thinking is entirely predictable and avoidable. Sweating about predictions is not a good place to be and requires intervention.

Also, remember when subjects actually leaked for the California exam in 2019 and people got mad over it? Make up your minds! Do you want to know the subjects ahead of time or not? Jesus

Maybe you’re too young to remember ancient history. I’ve been dealing with you people for too long.

Here’s why you should look toward essay or MEE subject predictions only for entertainment value (and 3 things you can focus on instead):

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Dominating the Essays: Organize Issues and Prioritize Rules to Know on the Bar Exam

Ever wonder how you’re supposed to juggle everything in your head? How do you prioritize the rules to know for the bar exam?

How are you supposed to learn all this when time is tight? How do you tackle the massive body of rules to know?

How do you know you’ve completed the essay in full? Did you even talk about the correct issues? Are the graders going to give you the points? Are they even going to read your prose?!

You’d love to start practicing essays but feel like you just haven’t learned enough law yet. It’s overwhelming to even begin from scratch.

If you’re a bar taker struggling with coming up with what to write, essays are the bane of your existence. Your rambling paragraphs start to blur. There’s just so much to know (or so you think) and say.

Let’s breathe. We can simplify the essays and make them less scary…

Key takeaways:

  • Issues: Learn not just the rules but also how to present and organize the issues (with examples below)
  • Rules: Highest-priority issues and rules are those that have appeared in the past (there are two other priorities)
  • There are efficient and effective ways to hit both of the above at once
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You Need a Study Plan: Why You Should Make Your Own Bar Prep Study Schedule

The only thing I remember from law school is my negotiations professor saying this in class randomly:

“Anything worth doing is worth overdoing.”

It’s so true. Is bar preparation worth doing? Then it’s worth doing right.

After all, you’re the “dean of your own studies.” And we know that we must enjoy the process (not merely fixate on the goal of passing the bar) for sustainable momentum.

Just as what’s enjoyable is personal, bar prep is also personal. Your study plan and schedule are personal.

Here’s an example of what that could look like, based on the sample 4-week study schedule from Passer’s Playbook (taken from sample study schedules that span 1-10 weeks, also has example student schedules that go up to 17 weeks).

Sample 4-week study schedule for bar prep

Samples and examples can be used as a template, but YOUR schedule should fit you like a handmade glove and be flexible to YOUR needs and without strict hour-by-hour timing. You can’t predict what will happen, but you can account for it.

A personalized schedule helps you plan what you need to address each day. You’re ultimately responsible for knowing what YOU need to learn the material and learn the skills to apply the material.

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How to Pass the California Bar Exam with a Focused Approach of Discipline and Consistency

Got yet another success story, by a reader who shared with me a very detailed and specific recap of her journey to pass the 2020 February California Bar Exam (26.8% pass rate) on her second try.

It was too good not to share.

Jinnyi Pak headshot

Before:

  • Big bar course made her “dumber,” wasted her time, DRAINED her energy and time. She was too wiped out to memorize or practice
  • Did not even know how to START any essay
  • Panic, doubts, insecurities, mind games, pressure

After:

  • Practical and effective approach
  • Used the right tools for her
  • Enjoyed herself because she could see herself getting better

Key takeaways and full story below…

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