How to Systematically Identify All the Relevant Issues in a Bar Essay (Without “Issue Spotting”)

Be honest now. Imagine you’re mentoring a starry-eyed 1L starting law school. How would you explain how to “spot issues” in an essay? How exact and specific can you get?

Is it just a mystical process where the crystal ball in your head somehow divines issues from the heavens?

The MBE isn’t the only section you gotta worry about. Every fellow repeater who retook the bar with me had to improve on their essays. Unlike multiple choice with an objectively correct answer, essays are subject to the whims of the grader.

On its surface, an essay is simply a string of IRACs (easier said than done of course). Prep companies and law school tend to focus on the “R” and “A” and assume that you already know how to find the “I” naturally.

That’s funny (not really) because an issue that’s never raised, or an irrelevant issue, is completely worthless.

But has anyone actually taught you how to identify those issues? They give you the IRAC framework and leave you to figure it out.

That’s why I’m going to explain it to you in more detail than this:

issue spotting

To spot issues, try your best.

Continue reading “How to Systematically Identify All the Relevant Issues in a Bar Essay (Without “Issue Spotting”)”

Improve Your MBE Score: 3 Rules for Effective MBE Preparation

I know I’m asking for a lot here, but think back to law school for a moment. What do you remember?

  • That fresh feeling of starting a new journey in a new place
  • That cute girl next to you at orientation who smelled really good that you couldn’t help but introduce yourself to her and live dangerously close to the edge of flirting because she’s friendly and smart and familiar with the obscure music you listen to, but you force yourself to be platonic because you’d already locked yourself into a medium-distance relationship right before law school for some reason, and then she gets married to some balding guy with thinning hair and a suspicious mustache while you end your own relationship right before graduation because you’ve accepted that your life is full of irony
  • Final exams worth 100% of your grade

That escalated fast, but you know what the deal is. Final exams are serious business!

Basically, law schools invite you to join them in what looks like a warm pool party but instead charge you more than the median household income and then throw you into the cold winds of society.

So what do you do two weeks away from the final? I mean, after you procrastinate for a week and get that same sinking feeling you get as when you realize your carton of fries is almost empty.

Right, you go “oh shit” and finally print all those old essays that your prof tested in the past. It’s less likely that you’d look for essays that another professor wrote or from some book from Amazon unless you were some kind of weird gunner.

For essays on the bar, you’d practice with the exact same essays the bar examiners have given out before. You wouldn’t go back to the 7-page-long hypos from law school.

Then why would a bar taker insist on practicing for the MBE using questions someone wrote at Barbri/Kaplan/PMBR?

That’s a rhetorical question. The “difficulty” of their questions doesn’t give you the right kind of stress testing. Yes, you can still use non-licensed questions as youll see below.

Also, if you’re building a study schedule that works for you, the MBE is a good place to start since it’s where the points are, you don’t need to write yet, and MBE subjects will overlap with your essays anyway.

Below, I’ll offer (1) sources of MBE questions you want to use based on your budget and (2) how to optimize using them.

Continue reading “Improve Your MBE Score: 3 Rules for Effective MBE Preparation”

The Barbri Regret: How to Recognize the Trap and Decide for Yourself

Bar exam results.

Tens of thousands across the country face them time and time again. Hope and despair, rinse and repeat.

You endured the onslaught of “aww… you got this” and “I’m sure you passed!” for weeks and months.

Anxiety, excitement, uncertainty squirting into your heart every time you thought of the moment of truth. Waiting is the hardest part. Uncertainty is being locked in a padded room alone with delusions of hopes and worries.

Then… the ruthless truth. This is the result of all your work, condensed into one screen. It has declared that your efforts were not enough.

Maybe for the first time, a humbling moment. Maybe not your first time, even more painful. 

How do you face your family and friends? How do you face yourself?

You “trusted the system.” What needs to be changed?

"The more I review, the more I realize what a waste of time the big bar prep programs are. . . . Never will I 'trust the process.'"

Continue reading “The Barbri Regret: How to Recognize the Trap and Decide for Yourself”