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I have been studying for the California Bar for the past month. It feels nice to actually learn concrete laws, but the overall prep experience leaves much to be desired — and to be re-conceived.
One fellow Bar-studier sent me an entreaty to take on Bar Prep — some alternative to watching videos of law professors read out law to a camera at 3x speed, with an atmosphere of a hostage video. Blake Masters laid out one alternative plan last year: This is a great redesign for one Law Persona: I passed the July California Bar Exam by studying for hours—no more than 5 hours per day between July 1 st and July 24 th. My approach may not be appropriate for everybody.
But here are some details nonetheless; hopefully they will help some future examinee. The received wisdom is that the exam is quite difficult. Naturally, people who fail believe this because it softens the blow.
People who pass tend to believe it because they usually grossly overstudied, and are biased to think that all their preparation was important. Test prep companies do their part to terrify law students into enrollment. People tend to become incredibly stressed before the exam. Certainly some small amount of stress can be motivational.
Conviser Mini Review
Given all this, I figured I could probably pass by studying much less than conventional wisdom instructs, so long as I avoided panicking or feeling convoser about that and instead re-framed it as optimal. I could not study full-time since I had other priorities and commitments; over the summer, we at Min were raising a round of venture capital, hiring people, building a product, etc. So I had to be relatively cavalier in my preparation and relatively carefree about the results.
I think this approach would probably calivornia for most law students who are capable of passing the Bar. Because I work at a legal tech startup, not a law firm, passing the Bar was professionally important but not quite professionally crucial.
Most examinees cohviser expensive Bar prep courses, which strike me as psychic insurance policies as much as anything else. I suppose I would have taken one if they were free. These are reasonably cheap on eBay. More on materials in a bit. If you think you can successfully self-study for the Bar, you probably can.
BARBRI assigns a heavy load—something like to hours of preparation over the course of several months. At the other extreme, I had read that someone passed in with just 90 hours of prep. So I figured that hours would put me in range. This seemed aggressive, but perhaps not insane. Also worth considering is that the Bar Exam itself is 18 hours revuew testing spread over 3 days. Spending just 2x or 3x testing time on preparation seemed too haughty. There are 17 subjects tested on the exam, and I would probably have been doomed if I tried cakifornia learn and retain the basics of, e.
Since time was scarce, I knew I had to califorrnia efficient. Hence my strict policy of 5 hours of studying per day maximum. The California Bar Exam can be divided into two parts.
There is the Multistate Bar Exam MBEwhich is a bunch of multiple-choice questions that cover the basic law school subjects Constitutional law, contracts, property, torts, criminal law and procedure, and evidence.
barbri Books & Textbooks –
Because multiple-choice is very objective, you can rack up a ton of points by doing well on the MBE. It is much harder to gain ground elsewhere. For example, though the essays are each graded on a point scale, really good answers routinely get 70 or 75 points, while poor answers get 50 or I aimed to get through 1, practice questions—5x more than the amount on the actual exam—and came pretty close by doing questions in 1, minutes.
Shooting for 1, or 1, practice MBE questions is probably a good idea. Nothing is more important than studying your errors! A note on materials.
You need just 2 things to rock the MBE: But this goes to show that knowing Conviser is all you need. Perfect really is the enemy of the good here. The examiners can ask for an essay on any, or any combination, of the 17 subjects. Unfortunately, this is harder than the MBE subjects for two reasons.
First, there are no multiple-choice questions to test your knowledge on the non-MBE subjects. I made flashcards for this purpose. Second, depending on what you took in law cnviser, these subjects may be completely new to you. Most were new to me.
These elements—subject newness and uncertainty as to progress—may tempt you to go too deep. People dedicate entire careers to learning the minutiae of any one of these subjects. That is not your task. That is a recipe for competent essay writing. This is generally perceived to be suicidal. Practice essays are usually regarded as crucially important.
I tend to disagree, since I think that confiser is in a great deal of trouble if studying for the Bar also entails learning how to write well. Regardless, probably the biggest thing to watch out for is time management. Learn a bit about the performance tests, then ignore them.
The examiners are trying to see muni well examinees revies read, organize, reason, and compose a legal document under time pressure. These are general skills that law students have hopefully been developing for a long time by the time they sit for the Bar. You can absolutely pass the California Bar by studying for hours or less, and not getting freaked out is a key component of that.
The obvious pushback is that neither my advice nor californiia approach is applicable to people whose careers are on the line when they sit for the exam. One could still give the MBE the relative weight I suggested, but go on to do 3x more practice questions than I did.
The insight that anyone who did reasonably well in his legal writing class should be very confident about taking PTs without practicing at all may be useful to someone who is worried about only having practiced 5 of them. Or at least I hope so. So how out of touch can this be, really? Ultimately I believe what the data suggests.
Most smart people from good law schools can and will conbiser the Bar, and many probably need only minimal studying to do so. Many not-as-smart or otherwise disadvantaged people from poor law schools will fail, even with intense studying and multiple retakes. Fair or not, the Bar Exam rewards a certain brain type. People who can memorize stuff well can do well on the MBE. People who write clearly under time claifornia can handle the written parts. Stress or bad luck or inability reviwe be merciless.
That is a real conviserr. Arguably the Bar Exam should be done away with entirely old version heremodern version callifornia. Meantime, though, one has to pass it to lawyer. Hopefully this post has provided some insight and will help someone do just that. Enter your email address to subscribe to this site and receive notifications of new posts by email. Open Law Lab is meant purely for educational discussion of legal product and service design. It contains only general information about legal matters.
It is not legal advice, and should not revieq treated as such. Open Law Lab makes no representations or warranties in relation to the legal information conviseer this website. You must not rely on the information on this website as an alternative to legal advice from your attorney or other professional legal services provider.
Redesigning the Bar Study Experience
If you have any specific questions about any legal matter you should consult your attorney or other professional legal services provider. Bar Contrarianism I suspect two things about the Bar Exam. Plan Given all this, I figured I could probably pass by studying much less than conventional wisdom instructs, so long as I avoided panicking or feeling guilty about that and instead re-framed it as optimal.
Self Study Most examinees take expensive Bar prep courses, which strike me as psychic insurance policies as much as anything else.
Details The California Bar Exam can be divided into two parts. Here is what my general plan looked like: Specifically, I spent 22 hours taking practice MBE questions, probably another 15 hours recording and studying all of my errorsand at least 20 hours reading and reviewing the MBE subject outlines. I highly recommend prioritizing.
This is classic rule stuff. This kind of early confidence is key if you believe, as I do, that half the battle is managing psychology.
The MBE stuff is probably the easiest to get a handle on. So why not get an early handle on it? Subscribe to Open Law Lab via Email. If you remix, transform, or build upon the material, you must distribute your contributions under the same license as the original.