The phrase I constantly find myself saying when people ask me how Bar prep is going is, “I’m having the most fun you can have while preparing for the Bar!”
Bar prep is rough. There are no two ways about it. You cover 17 law subjects (or almost all of law school) in approximately three months. It is intense. It could probably be summed up by saying it is like trying to take a drink from a firehose. You review a subject, practice MBE questions, and take practice essays. Rinse and repeat. There is rarely a moment to catch your breath much less absorb all the material. I studied between twelve and sixteen hours a day.
Bar Prep Reprieve
It is not all rainbows and unicorns (sarcasm intended). There are moments of brief reprieve. Sleep is welcomed on a nightly basis. Occasionally, I get to stop studying when I have a meal. I get to spend a little bit of time in between study sessions with my wife and two daughters. They laugh, I cry, just kidding we all laugh (on the outside). On the inside, I am seriously questioning my reasons for becoming an attorney. The Bar is fun if you consider studying until you begin to loathe vague and ambiguous fact patterns and obscenely difficult multiple questions. My wife and daughters became my reason for focusing so intently. If I was going to put them through this torture, I only wanted it to be once. It is only for three months, but it was one of the most difficult three months of my life.
Losing it During Bar Prep
Seriously, if you do not lose it at least once you are not studying enough. If you leave anything on the table you are most likely going to have to take it again. One and done became my mantra. I studied when I did not feel like it; skipping any extra curricular activities. I could not risk that taking a significant break would cause me to lose momentum, thus having to retake the Bar. The volume of information is so overwhelming, even the brightest, most intelligent people cannot remember everything. You will lose it. Accept it. Move on. In fact, the quicker you move on from losing it the better. Do not dwell on it because that is just wasted energy. Attorney Up and get mad!
Recognize Your Limits During Bar Prep
After you lose it your first, second, or third time (however many times it takes) you have truly accomplished something. You now know your limits. If you keep trying after reaching your limits, this is where the magic happens. You will see the law and how it relates to everything! Towards the end of Bar prep, I would often say, “I see Torts everywhere.” The law touches and concerns (if you can name that reference I will give you a treat) everything we do whether you realize it or not.
Maybe the title of this post is a bit misleading but once you see how the law affects everyday life, you begin to see the fun in law (fun being a relative term of course). Do not become discouraged and give up. No one ever accomplished anything great by giving up. Use your limits to your advantage because limits are an advantage if you know what they are and use them wisely.
Final Thoughts on Studying for the Bar
Take a Bar prep course or not. There are ways to successfully pass the Bar without spending thousands of dollars on a Bar prep course where you sit and listen to lectures while filling in the blanks. It’s a very passive way of learning. Be active. Take LOTS of practice essays. California at least has released several years worth of past Bar exams including model student answers, use them, abuse them, and then reuse them until you cannot help but see the issues and analyze the law. Practice with real essay and multistate bar exam questions.
Multistate Bar Exam Questions (MBE)
The Bar prep course likely have their own sets of MBE questions. They have watered down versions and not representative of actual MBE questions. The language used to signal certain nuances is different. If you sit down on the day of the Bar without doing some real MBE questions, not from your Bar prep course you will be in for an unpleasant surprise. Unfortunately, even the released MBE questions (all 1,591 of them) are MBE lite. The actual MBE questions on the Bar are more subtle and nuanced. The older MBE questions are no longer good law but they give you an opportunity to practice understanding the mindset of the NCBE. You will likely get a lot more of those wrong simply because of the difference in law.
Memorization of the Black Letter Law
Last but certainly not least, take your courses in law school like you would the Bar. Memorize the black letter law and if you tests are open book/note only use them if you absolutely have to and cannot remember what you have memorized. Do not let open book/note become a crutch. Bar prep is hard enough do not make it more difficult by having to memorize the law as well. You will thank me after you pass the first time and never have to take it again.