Friday, July 22, 2011

Five Rules for Studying for the Bar

Note, 07/22/11: Final bump for the bar exam.

By way of encouragement, I would like to share the following true story from my own encounter with the CA bar last summer.

The first question on the bar last summer was a long, drawn-out torts issue-spotter with lots of battery and assault and negligence by the owner of arestaurant or bowling alley or something like that. The fact pattern concluded by asking, "Who is liable to whom, and for what?" Question two was ethics (I think), and question three was a horrible screw-job of an evidence question that instructed, "Answer according to California law." Like pretty much everyone, that question shook me up and at lunch I tried to find a quiet place to eat to collect myself. While I was there three women entered and sat at the table next to me. They started reviewing the morning's questions.

Their treatment of the first question was a long discussion about mental states, merger, and attempt, before one of the women, looking genuinely perplexed, asked, ". . . wait, wasn't that a torts question?"

THIS is the competition:

Hat tip to McTwo for reminding me of the fine work by Mr. Andrew Fong, featured above.

These are my five rules for sanely navigating Bar/Bri and the bar study process. There may be others, but that's for the discussion to follow. Here we go.

Rule 1: Do what has worked for you. We all have different ways of organizing and compartmentalizing information for quick/effective recall later on. For some people, including Bar/Bri, mnemonics work. For me, they didn't. I personally recall things better when I write them out, and discuss. You may like flashcards. I couldn't use them.

Rule 2: Accept the principle of the Bar/Bri schedule, but not every technical detail of it. It makes sense to practice on a subject that you just learned, and later return to earlier subjects to constantly refresh your memory. But the pace is not mandatory.

Rule 3: How you study now should be different than how you study in late June/July. Right now, your goal is to learn elements, basic doctrine, etc. that you will be called upon to recall and apply to facts. Bar/Bri gives you a number of ways to learn those. See Rule 1. As you progress, your goal should become to apply what you have learned under test conditions. In the month of July, for example, it might make sense to do 3 essay questions back to back to back, or 100 MCs. By that time, you should also be able to fit everything you need to know about each subject on a single sheet of paper. In fact, there are such mini outlines floating around. Ask your colleagues. So to summarize: May (learning subjects / elements / doctrine) ---> Early June (same as May but increasingly returning to old subjects) ---> Late June (condensing knowledge of legal doctrine into bare essentials, increasing essay writing, MCs) ---> July (start memorizing bare essential legal doctrines, focus exclusively on preparing for the marathon that is the CalBar).

Rule 4: Try to study at least part of the time with others. Again, with the caveat of Rule 1, it was very helptul to hash out the issues presented by an essay among a few of us to get a better idea of what we all could have done to write a better answer. Also I often found myself distracted when I was alone. But with others, we all felt too guilty to be distracted so we stayed on pace. At the same time, working with others was helpful for Rule 5 in terms of having non-legal discussions and the like.

Rule 5: Have a release. This process is going to dominate every ounce of your soul. If it means taking a couple of evenings off to have dinner and watch TV (FX shows are about to start right in time), then do it. If it means taking Saturdays off to go to ball games, then do it. No guilty feeling here. The California bar is a three day marathon. And on the third day, it's your endurance that will be the biggest factor, not whether you went through an extra 100 flashcards. So I think not overburdening your mind early in the process is important.



Blogger Patrick said...

This is an excellent post. To drive Armen's Rule 1 home, here are my own suggestions.

1. I'm totally on board with Armen here: do whatever works with you. The goal is for you to pass the bar, not for you do keep up with or duplicate the efforts of your peers. Flashcards helped for me. Discussing the law with other people didn't. My approach was therefore different than Armen's, but what counts is that we both passed the bar.

2. Try very hard to treat this like a short-term, super-shitty job. Enjoy the suck.

3. Related to 2, try not to complain or feel bad about how much fun this whole experience isn't. Others may prefer to vent (see 1, above) but for me, complaining breeds negativity which tends to make me lazy and insolent. So, I tried to pay attention to my attitude.

4.I'm splitting with Armen here: my advice is do not study with others. They are stressed and anxious and tend to complain and worry. It's not good space. That's my own view. Note that I didn't study with others in law school, either. So, if you DID study in groups during law school, and liked it, refer back to 1: do whatever works for you.

5. Exercise. You don't have to train for a marathon or anything, but there is overwhelming evidence that using your body a bit each day sharpens your mind and increases your ability to learn. It's also a very good way to unwind after a long day. So, make it a habit to go for a short run, visit the gym, or just take a 30 minute stroll around the neighborhood each day. You'll be glad you did.

6. Be nice and give lots of thanks to the people in your life who are supporting and being kind to you as you go through this. Especially if they are not taking the bar exam.

7. Once a week or so, look up attorneys in California who have been disbarred. Read the facts of those cases, and then pinch yourself: THAT jack-assed clown passed the bar exam. You can, too.

Best of luck!

5/26/2011 10:07 AM  
Blogger Armen said...

I believe the correct term is embrace the suck.

No disagreements with any of that really, but I do want to clarify that Rule 4 should not be detrimental to your sanity. I had never worked in study groups in law school. (Are there any at Boalt?) But I did study for the bar with a couple of friends who were not suffering from general anxiety disorder, kept to the tasks on hand, and generally discouraged me from blowing 8 hours on Deadspin or something. Patrick, on the other hand, appears to have the discipline of a Spartan mother, so he didn't need a friendly wag of the finger to stay focused.

5/26/2011 10:16 AM  
Blogger Matt said...

I found it really helpful to take a non-CA bar.

5/26/2011 10:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm with Patrick.
1. Taking practice tests works best for me, so all I did was read the BarBri outlines once, go to class, and do practice essay and MBE, always under test conditions. No flashcards, no outlining, no talking with others.

2. Treat it like a job. I didn't even think it was a super-shitty job. Don't work more than 8 hours a day.

3. Remember to have fun. You have more time during the bar to do what you want than you would at firm job.

4. I rarely studied with others in law school and avoided the library like a plague during the bar. The tension level was way too high.

5. Definitely exercise. And drink lots of OJ. The test is one of endurance, and I got sick on the third day (not sick enough to really hurt my score, but sick enough that I didn't really enjoy the post-bar festivities).

5/26/2011 10:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Take Patrick's adivce with a grain of salt. He took and passed the bar without doing barbri or any other course.

5/26/2011 10:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The post is spot-on, exactly right. Its subtext, however, should not be that the Bar is super-shitty. It isn't. In time much shittier, ultra-super-shitty jobs and life experiences will put this in perspective. The Bar is what it is, a relatively well-defined task that requires focus and application, discipline, and self-knowledge. That should be the take-away from the post.

5/26/2011 10:29 AM  
Blogger Patrick said...

10:29 #1, my advice was to do whatever works for you. So, a person who takes your advice to not take my advice would also be taking my advice to not take my advice!

HIYEEE-YA!! (Ninja logic.)

5/26/2011 10:32 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

My advice: read a WHOLE LOT of Green Lantern comics.

Just about every day, I got my study shit and went to Borders bookstore in Alameda (hopefully it has not fallen victim to their bankruptcy). I would get a table by the window and proceed to alternate between 30ish minutes of studying followed by one issue of a Green Lantern comic. By the end of the study period, I had read Geoff Johns' entire run on the title AND most of the barbri materials.

And you know what I thought back to every time I got discouraged? "In brightest day, in blackest night..." Or "You have the power to overcome great fear!" I'm telling you, it worked for me.

The overall theme being, find your thing. If you can't study more than 30 minutes without unwinding with a children's story, find a way to make that happen. If you can't process difficult challenges in real life without filtering them through a pop culture lens in which you are an intergalactic Superhero, find a way to use that lens.

In related news, I seriously hope that movie doesn't suck as much as it looks like it's going to suck.

5/26/2011 11:15 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

It's also important to remember what is nice about studying for the bar exam. It's a rare time when it's OK to forget about almost everything else in your life. People will understand, and more importantly, you can allow yourself the leeway.

Along those lines, I weirdly actually enjoyed the process of taking the test. I found studying for it to be horrible at times, especially near the end, but when I sat down to actually take the thing, I got very calm and just kind of Zenned till it was over.

I think this is because, in the months leading up to the test, you are at war with yourself. You're preparing for the test, yes, but you're also fighting off your own insecurities, fears, and inability to study properly. You will, at times, drive yourself crazy.

But when you sit down to take the test, that's all over. All those parts of your psyche that have been at war with each other for months can finally unite against a common enemy. At that point, it's you versus the test, and you're yourself again.

5/26/2011 11:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It took me a few days to get over the fear of that pile of Bar-Bri books. You only need three of them--the in-class one, the Conviser mini one, and the essay one. I'm pretty sure I returned everything else, unopened.

Consider using an online program to work thru the MBE Qs so you can track your progress and know what areas you need to work on. I liked Adaptibar's better than Bar-Bri's since their Qs are from real past bar exams. It's a couple hundred bucks, but my firm paid for it in lieu of that Kaplan MBE-specific thing.

And ignore Bar-Bri's essay grading. It will be the most worthless thing you ever paid for.

5/26/2011 12:41 PM  
Blogger Toney said...

Whiskey and 16-bit video games helped me (especially Chrono Trigger). And also whiskey.

5/26/2011 3:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

NBA playoffs....

5/27/2011 11:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nobody cares about the NBA playoffs, both teams in the finals are completely unlikeable and do not have true fans. I look forward to this being the lowest rated NBA finals in perhaps the last ten years.

5/27/2011 12:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Clearly some people care about the NBA. And while I would agree that this matchup isn't ideal (I would have preferred the opposite if only for the Westbrook-Rose matchup), it is compelling to see if instant-teams (e.g. el Heat) will be the new dominant trend in the NBA.

5/27/2011 1:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

11:17 here,

I agree with 1:57. I was hoping for Thunder v. Bulls.

The Conference finals were an interesting and well-needed post-barbri break.

Heat v. Mavs will be interesting too... I guess.

5/28/2011 8:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would have preferred almost any two other teams, but the Dirk demon-slaying story line is pretty good. Also, these two teams have a sense of urgency that almost no other combination would have had because the other teams are either young, have already had championship success, or didn't have a realistic shot at winning it all. Should be a good series.

5/28/2011 10:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can we have some more whining or camplaining again already? Sports are boring.

5/29/2011 12:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Because we all know that the school does not work weekends, the earliest our grades will be in is June 1st. Thus, grade complaints may commence:

You would seriously think that getting paid well over 200k a year, the teachers at our school could turn in our grades in a timely manner which is their one and only duty to the students who pay north of 45k a year, but I guess this proves too much.

5/29/2011 11:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I got a grade yesterday.

But yes, when I talk to people in other departments they are often shocked as to how long it takes for us to get grades.

That being said, I think it goes back to the curve so there are a lot of steps to awarding grades.

5/29/2011 11:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anyone have any experience with disclosing class rank or distinctions? I'm thinking of just disclosing despite the honor code implications because I see absolutely no reason for the policy. If other people did not do as well, they should have worked harder. Does anyone have any experience with this policy?

5/29/2011 2:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Telling someone your class rank is a truthful statement. One might ask if the State of California can create prior restraints as to truthful statements or if it can punish truthful statements after the fact.

Alternatively, what if you say, my gpa is x.xx and most years that will result in a class rank of xy%. Does that violate the rule?

5/29/2011 4:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

2:43 - if you've graduated, I'm not sure what the school could realistically do to you. Still, those potential employers who happen to know our policy and realize you're breaking it might think pretty poorly of you. Maybe most employers don't know these details, but if you're applying in a legal market familiar with Boalt, is it worth the risk?

And if you're still a student, the last thing you want are the moral character examiners looking into why you have an honor code violation in your law school record, so the potential downside is pretty huge.

5/29/2011 9:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm failing to see how its immoral

5/29/2011 9:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the immorality thing comes from the fact that the school agrees to tell you your class rank if you promise to only disclose it for one of the enumerated reasons. And presumably if you have it your rank to disclose, you have made that promise. So if you tell it, you went back on your word, violated the honor code, and risk a report to the bar during the good character business.

That said, I've always understood that the honor code only applies to (and indeed only refers to) students disclosing this information--not graduates.

Of course, many people do not realize this, and some simply disagree with the interpretation. So if you list your rank on a resume after graduation and the recipient is a Boalt alum, you may risk leaving a bad taste in their mouth.

5/29/2011 10:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think the point is that disclosing your rank would necessarily be immoral. But if you're still a student here and you got caught violating the honor code, you may be subject to discipline by the school, a fact that you'd then have to disclose on your moral character application. I doubt the bar would be interested in your failing to see what was immoral about breaking a rule that you knew you were supposed to follow.

5/29/2011 11:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The issue isn't whether YOU think it's immoral. It's whether the BAR EXAMINERS think it's immoral.

Huge difference.

5/30/2011 11:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

May the grade related complaining commence *sounds the trumpet*

5/31/2011 12:39 AM  
Blogger McTwo said...

Today is the 31st of May, not the 1st of June.

5/31/2011 8:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The only important date in all this is the date the professors are told they have to hand in grades by. If they told them to get grades in the week after exams, grades would be in. Does anyone know what it is this year?

5/31/2011 1:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Coor's Bar exam ad, hit or miss?

5/31/2011 8:18 PM  
Blogger ibz said...

I had only skimmed the coverage of the newish lawsuit against Thomas Jefferson School of Law, but David Lat pointed out today that the complaint was filed by a Boalt grad named Brian Procel. Cool.
The complaint is pretty detailed and worth reading, if you are interested in this sort of thing. My own intuition (moral, not legal) is that schools are bad if they misrepresent what happens to their graduates, but students are foolish if they rely on what schools say about employment statistics. Caveat discipulo, so to speak. (Third declension, right? It's been a while.)

5/31/2011 9:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with Armen's tips. Also, for me when July rolled around I started to get worried because the amount of material felt overwhelming and it didn't seem like it was all sinking in. I think that's normal. I started doing lots of practice exams anyways and gradually it all started to sink in. That's how I felt I learned the material - by doing practice exams.

Now, of course I never learned all of everything. But I got to the point where I saw enough questions from a given subject that I knew each could be attacked with just a few points from my outlines. By the day of the exam, I felt like for every subject I could bring up a few points that would at least allow me to b.s. with the given facts enough to score points.

Good luck this summer, Boalties!

6/02/2011 11:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

At the risk of being cautioned not to slack off (to which I can only respond: I know! and I'm not trying to slack off), how much substantive material do I need to really know? If I get everything in the Conviser mini review down pat, is that basically the material that I am supposed to know for the exam? And then the rest of what counts is test-taking skills?

6/03/2011 8:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

6/03 --

My advice: don't worry about substantive material beyond CMR, except to be conscious that it's out there. I sometimes looked things up when I had a question, but only do that if you feel like it. It's not that it won't get tested, it's just that you don't need to know it to pass.

Also: slack off for a day.

6/05/2011 10:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How important do past bar takers think it is to do the practice essays BarBri recommends now, i.e., relatively early on in the process? I've tried a few but have found them fairly frustrating, because I don't yet feel like I have enough substantive law committed to memory to make much headway on them beyond just spotting broad issues.

My thinking is, I'll focus more over the next 2-3 weeks on MBEs + getting comfortable with the areas of law that I'm shaky on, and then shift to essays in late June, when I'll (hopefully) have memorized a bit more. Are there any reasons not to do this and to get some essay practice in earlier? For what it's worth, I never found taking practice exams to be all that helpful in law school.

6/05/2011 11:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


What you're proposing is what I did (minus the trying a few early on). I don't regret that, and I don't think this approach will hurt your chances of passing the bar. But there is a good reason not to do that: Sometime around the end of June or beginning of July you're likely to get really scared (most people do), and knowing that you haven't started essay practice might make that scare worse. My advice is, don't worry about what essays BarBri tells you to do, but keep doing practice essays semiregularly just to keep yourself familiar with what they're like.

6/05/2011 12:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Android App for flashcards? I've tried a million it seems and none seems to do what I want. I don't want to enter my flashcards into someone's proprietary website, I don't want to have to plug my phone in to my computer and copy a csv file over.

I want to import from google docs, AND I want my fricking flashcards to be in the order I entered them unless I choose to shuffle. I've spent hours trying to find a program, and I'm starting to think I should have just made my own by hand.

6/05/2011 3:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

3:30 here and am answering my own question. I finally settled on AnyMemo. It doesn't download from google docs, I have to download a csv file to my computer and email it to my phone, then save it to my sdcard, then import it through the AnyMemo interface, but I like the rest of it. It leaves my cards in order unless I choose shuffle. Here is a review of flashcard programs should anyone else be interested.

6/05/2011 5:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fellow daredevil Themis adventurers: There's an android app for lectures. Maybe everyone knew that already, but I just found it.

6/06/2011 12:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fellow daredevil Themis adventurer: any idea if there's an app for iPhones?

6/06/2011 2:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm inclined to think there is, and google results suggest the same. I found the android app not on the themis website, but from the android marketplace. I'm not sure how the iphone app-finding thing works.
It seems strangely under-advertised, not being on the themis website, but the android one accessed my progress and let me download lectures, so it seems to be legit.

6/06/2011 4:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anyone have a recommendation for purchasing good multistate flash cards?

6/06/2011 9:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Something to brighten your bar studying day: At least you do not have an estimated total cost of attendance of $72,818.00 for a year of in-state law school to stare at!

6/07/2011 10:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wait, really? That's for Boalt?

6/07/2011 12:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That has to be out of state. In state tuition is now 52k a year?

6/07/2011 12:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From the bearfacts page (and yes, it is in state):

My UC Berkeley Costs
Books and Supplies: $1,496.00
Fees: $46,946.00
Health Insurance*: $2,150.00
Living Expenses: $22,060.00
Other Expenses: $166.00
Total UC Berkeley Costs: $72,818.00

6/07/2011 1:08 PM  
Blogger Toney said...

Sweet jeebs that's alotta hooch. Law school will soon be for the spawn of the rich only.

9:38 - shoot me an email and I'll send you my flash cards, free of charge no less.

6/07/2011 1:22 PM  
Blogger JohnSteele said...

"Law school will soon be for the spawn of the rich only."

The middle class and working poor suffer from a disparate impact in law school admissions and, one suspects, that will increase over the next decade. If you're interested in this topic, shoot me an email.

6/07/2011 3:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

poll for all bar exam alums:

what is the worst/hardest subject on the bar?

assume i have not taken any bar courses except the required ones.

6/07/2011 3:41 PM  
Blogger Armen said...

Evidence. Hands down.

6/07/2011 3:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any subject where you have to learn the "California Differences." Which includes Evidence.

6/07/2011 4:02 PM  
Blogger Patrick said...

. . . particularly last July, when they devoted an entire essay question to TESTING those evidence distinctions. Ugh.

6/07/2011 4:03 PM  
Blogger Toney said...

Evidence is tough, but not bad if they only test you on Fed Evidence.

Civ Pro was far and away the worst for me, though thankfully they did not test on it. The Civ Pro lecture dude (balding guy, way too animated for being a Civ Pro lecturer) was great though, and helped loads.

6/07/2011 5:08 PM  
Blogger Armen said...

Well that's a required class for one, so it doesn't fall within the category.

6/07/2011 8:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is the book store open during the summer?

6/07/2011 9:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone have any advice on how many times a day is too many to be masturbating? Will my penis eventually just fall off or something? Is that worse than sitting through an entire lecture?

6/07/2011 9:40 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

California folks, just be glad you do not have to learn Commercial Paper. What a load of horseshit.

6/08/2011 7:02 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Re: Flashcards, I don't know any Android program, but I used a freeware thing called Anki on my mac that worked great.

6/08/2011 7:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re. masturbating, I would say 4 times a day is a bit excessive (unless its a two video day - in which case 4 may be on the low end). Try to alternate with meals during video breaks and I think you'll be fine.

6/08/2011 9:21 AM  
Blogger Toney said...

Sorry Armen, I meant Cal Civ Pro.

6/08/2011 9:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In regards to the 72,818 cost i was thinking at least the department of education cannot just send a SWAT team to knock down your door and raid your home if the debt is unrepayable:

I was wrong.

6/08/2011 11:09 AM  
Blogger McTwo said...

I wonder how much she owed to the DoE to earn that sort of treatment...

6/08/2011 11:44 AM  
Blogger James said...

No one "earns" that sort of treatment.

6/08/2011 1:53 PM  
Blogger McTwo said...

Would you prefer it be phrased "I wonder how much she owed to trigger that sort of reaction from DoE"?

6/08/2011 2:19 PM  
Blogger Toney said...

"Trigger" insinuates guns. In this political environment, I'm offended at the use of such charged language.

6/08/2011 2:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

how about: "I wonder how not-white-suburbanite she was to trigger that sort of reaction from DoE"

I dunno, should DoE be abbreviated?

6/08/2011 2:33 PM  
Blogger McTwo said...

"Yesterday, the Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General executed a search warrant at a Stockton, Calif., residence with the presence of local law enforcement authorities.

While it was reported in local media that the search was related to a defaulted student loan, that is incorrect. This is related to a criminal investigation. The Inspector General’s Office does not execute search warrants for late loan payments.

Because this is an ongoing criminal investigation, we can’t comment on the specifics of the case. We can say that the OIG’s office conducts about 30-35 search warrants a year on issues such as bribery, fraud, and embezzlement of federal student aid funds.

All further questions on this issue should be directed to the Department of Education’s Inspector General’s Office."

As reported on Above The Law.

6/08/2011 3:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

reading between the lines, it was a fraud related to students loans? if so, does that warrant a SWAT team?

6/08/2011 6:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


6/08/2011 8:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

it's too late for me, but i think we should have a post for rising 3Ls about how you don't actually have to pay $3800 for barbri in order to pass the bar. 3Ls: Themis is 100% completely fine, and less than half the price of barbri. also, you could split the cost of barbri with someone and work out a way to make it work. don't submit to the monopoly.

6/10/2011 2:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I want Tara Shah, Esq. to be the mother of my children.

6/11/2011 10:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To 2:33 - yes! Vive la revolucion!

6/11/2011 2:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bar Question. For the Simulated MBE, Scheduled for Berkeley Barbri folks on June 20, is there any point in actually mailing in your MBE to Barbri? It looks like the answers are in the workbook and can be pretty easily broken down by subject matter to assess your strengths/weaknesses. Do they do anything with your answers that you can't easily do yourself???

6/14/2011 4:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, they tell you how you're doing relative to other BarBri students. I recommend taking advantage of this -- it can be either a comfort or a wake-up call.

6/14/2011 6:01 PM  
Blogger B said...

Hey Toney, saw your very generous offer to email someone your set of flash cards and was wondering if you might be kind enough to send the same to me. I would be forever grateful.

Thanks a lot.

6/15/2011 3:50 PM  
Blogger Toney said...

Totes, they are on the way. Same offer goes for everyone else.

6/15/2011 4:26 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6/16/2011 7:16 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6/16/2011 7:18 AM  
Blogger Sara said...

Would you send me a copy too please? Very generous offer.

6/16/2011 3:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My state has its MBE practice exam and analysis in a couple of weeks. I plan on going to the exam to practice in test conditions, but it is necessary to go to the two full days of analysis that follow? Is it even necessary to watch the videos for those days? I only ask because the preview week analysis seemed like a huge waste of time.

6/16/2011 8:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Was it just me or was the wills trusts guy horrific?

6/17/2011 8:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Toney, how do we get your email?

6/18/2011 11:21 PM  
Blogger Toney said...

11:21 - shoot me your email address at my old, spam-only email address: jazzwhiz at hotmail

6/19/2011 11:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember from last year's bar post that everyone said that the actual MBE questions on the test are harder than barbri's. After today's simulated MBE I find it hard to believe that the actual test is harder. Can past bar takers comment on whether the actual MBEs are easier or harder than Barbri's?

6/20/2011 9:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe BarBri has changed its style, but traditionally the actual MBE questions were much harder than the BarBri questions.

6/20/2011 9:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

9:58: Did your barbri course tell you that their questions were harder than the actual MBE questions? That's what they've been saying to us this summer. Should we believe them?

6/20/2011 11:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember walking out of the simulated MBE and thinking, "WTF?" It seemed more difficult than I thought it would be. So if you felt that way it's OK. It's probably part of the master plan to make sure you keep working on the MBE practice questions.

I did almost all of Barbri's MBE questions last year and I can't say that the MBE was categorically harder than Barbri's. There were some WTF questions--Dumper's Case, really?--, but those were the minority. If anything, I seem to remember there being a lot of long fact patterns, which turned the exam into a speed test.

Some of the perception issues may be from people who didn't do all of the Barbri questions. The questions get harder as you move on in the book. So if a person didn't work through the upper levels, I could imagine that the MBE would seem harder.

Likewise, if you haven't been working on the higher levels in the MBE practice book, then the simulated MBE will likely seem harder as well.

Just keep plugging along. You will get this.

6/21/2011 8:46 AM  
Blogger Toney said...

I did all the practice MBE questions, and I thought the actual MBE was significantly harder. Don't trust what barbri says.

Of course, I may be significantly less intelligent than most people, but I felt totally caught off guard. I did take solace in the deflated look of everyone leaving the test center that day, and the general dour outlook of people on the internets.

I actually did a post about how hard the MBE sucked the night of: - give that a read and you'll be somewhat more prepared.

6/21/2011 10:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've heard that the fact patterns on the actual MBE are shorter than Barbri's. Is that accurate?

6/21/2011 10:26 AM  
Blogger Armen said...

Am I alone in thinking there's not much value in worrying how close Bar/Bri's questions come to the real thing? Sure you want to make sure you get the best simulated test environment, but when it comes to crunch time, it's your mastery of the materials that's going to get you the points, now whether Question XYZ on the Bar/Bri mock exam was as difficult as the MBE.

6/21/2011 10:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think I was much better off knowing ahead of time that the actual MBE would differ from the practice MBEs I'd been given.

If you're prepared for that fact, then Armen is right: just use the Bar/Bri practice MBEs as a means of practicing the material and familiarizing yourself with the general genre of the test; don't worry too much about the minutiae of how the questions differ. But be sure that it won't rattle you when you sit down to the test and encounter stuff you haven't seen before (obscure law, of course, but also the style of the questions, the style of the fact-patterns, whatever).

6/21/2011 10:50 AM  
Blogger Toney said...

Armen - I fail to see how the two are unrelated.

Of course you want to master the materials, but in the event that you can't go for 100% completion, the allocation of preparation time between essays & MBEs is crucial. If you feel like you are nailing 80%s on the practice MBE and decide to put off the remaining MBE practice questions to instead focus on essay writing practice & non-MBE subjects, there could be potential for suckitude.

In addition, it is awfully nice to know that the MBE is harder than the barbri practice questions when you take the actual MBE. Nothing sucked worse than feeling like I hadn't prepared enough the day I took the MBE. If I had known ahead of time that this sort of thing could happen, it would have, at a minimum, helped my spirits.

6/21/2011 10:51 AM  
Blogger Armen said...

Whiskey would have helped your "spirits."

6/21/2011 10:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any people taking themis? Is barbri a waste?

6/23/2011 6:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of the BEST motions for summary judgments.

I posted it on this chain because it brought me some amusement as I studied for the Bar

6/23/2011 10:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Taking Themis. Because I'm stuck in the position of paying for it myself, there was no way I was going to pay $4,000 or whatever it is of my own money to the barbri giant. How they compare? Who knows. I don't know anyone who has done the whole courses from both. And whether it works for any individual person to pass, depends as much on the person as the course.
The content has been fine. I think that I am getting the material I need to, and an understanding of the skills to practice, what I need to do to prepare, etc. I have had a few minor frustrations with slow navigation inside the site, especially considering it's not even https.

6/24/2011 10:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hows everyone plugging along?

6/27/2011 5:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel that I haven't had time to learn all the elements. I just don't see how I can memorize everything in time. Does anyone have advice? Add to that I didn't take wills and the lecture was not helpful and we still have corps and community property to learn!

6/28/2011 2:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know what your exact issue is, but I would say that you don't have to learn the rules in very exact ways. I mean you have to learn how they would would operate for purposes of, say, the MBE, but if you're worried about how you would regurgitate some rule statement in an essay, it just needs to be roughly correct so you're talking about the right things in your essay (and even then you can score points on analysis if you were way off on your rule statement). But it's not like someone's sitting there being like "up, she put the word 'rational'; we were looking for the word 'reasonable' -- fail."
(At least I don't think they are; full disclosure - I of course have no idea what they're actually doing, but that's the sense I got when I took it.) Most of the time, unless it's a statute, judges aren't even consistent with how they formulate those rules.

And also, if Barbri's essay scoring is freaking you out, to the extent that helps keep you motivated to do better, fine, but don't let it get to you -- i know of no one who did too well on those over the summer and most everyone i knew passed.

6/28/2011 9:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Around now is the most upsetting period of the bar summer for a lot of people, because you've done enough work to grasp just how much material there is but you haven't had time to "master" the material (master on the extremely shallow level required, I mean). And as you say, there are new subjects still to come.

My only advice: don't panic, just study hard. Your situation is normal for the end of June. You still have a month left, and you will learn a lot in this month.

6/29/2011 11:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

agency/corporations lecturer is the absolute worst public speaker I have ever heard. His cadence is almost impossible to decipher. Taking notes was impossible without rewinding every few minutes. Absolutely the worse Bar/Bri speaker I've yet heard. They need to get someone new.

7/01/2011 12:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you will learn to love that guy. i felt the exact same way as you when we first had him, but when it came down to really cramming for the bar, he had distilled the info down into a really nice attack outline whereas the other subjects which much more onerous and less distilled. maybe that's just the nature of corps/agency/p-ships compared to every other subject, and maybe he left out some info, but i learned to like that guy.

assuming we're talking about the same dude. dunno.

7/01/2011 1:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For the longest time, I couldn't put my finger on who that guy's speech patterns and pronunciation reminded me of. Then, it finally hit me:

7/01/2011 2:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I haven't read through this whole string, so I'm sorry if I'm repeating what someone already said, but saw a comment above about the Bar Bri questions not being similar to the real MBE questions. That's certainly true, but Bar Bri provides one practice test of actual past MBE questions. Taking that test was, psychologically speaking, the best thing I did the whole time I was studying (I think I took it about 2 weeks before the actual bar). Why? The MBE style is totally different than the Bar Bri style, and I felt as if I had bombed the whole thing. But when I went back and checked my answers to the real MBE questions, I performed similarly to how I was performing on the Bar Bri questions. Same thing happened during the actual bar exam, but since I had taken a practice I knew that it was pretty safe to ignore that "oh my god I just failed the MBE" feeling. I think it is the experimental questions that really throw you off and make you feel like you failed.

7/04/2011 8:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

8:09: Where is this test you speak of? All I've found is some random real MBE questions in the barbri book with a note that these are very old questions and not to look at them. Do you remember what the name of this test was or what barbri book it is in?

7/05/2011 11:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

11:19 -- I took the test a few years ago, and I believe it was in a very skinny book that no one from Bar Bri ever told us to look at. I recall that I stumbled across it accidentally.

7/06/2011 9:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For NY bar folks, the released questions are in the back of MPQ2. Not sure if the CA folks have the same book.
The released questions appear to be much longer than those generated by Barbri- bad news for me as I already have a hard time getting through the shorter Barbri questions in time. Any suggestions on speeding up?

Also, is there any point to studying/practicing for the MPT? I feel like it's a huge waste of time when I've got so much law to learn over the next 3 weeks.

7/06/2011 7:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I mean the BarBri graders are way harder than the real thing right?

7/06/2011 11:13 PM  
Anonymous Megan said...

For those concerned about the differences between the real MBEs and the Bar-Bri MBEs, I have two pieces of advice, just for what it's worth:

(1) When I took the CA bar, in 2008, the CA bar had released previous MBE questions on its website. There weren't a ton, but there were certainly a bunch that I was able to go through and kind of get a sense of the style. So that could help, if you want to seek those out.

(2) I don't know if any of you have the Kaplan books or are planning to do the weekend Kaplan practice MBE the weekend or so before the bar, but I found those practice MBE questions to be WAY harder than the Bar-bri ones, and while it was a bit of a jolt during the practice test, it did give me a little more confidence when I saw that I would have "passed" the MBE had it been the real thing, and I found those a bit harder than the real MBE questions, too. Even if you just borrow someone else's Kaplan book and work through those questions, I think it could be helpful.

7/08/2011 1:16 PM  
Anonymous Megan said...

Sorry - I'm rethinking (1) above. I think maybe it was the MBE website itself that had released questions? I'm struggling to remember now - but I know they were online and that I did some! Hopefully they are google-able.

7/08/2011 1:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In many MBEs do we need to get right to be in the passing range?

7/08/2011 3:28 PM  
Blogger Armen said...

3:28, not only is there no answer to your question, but the question itself is off. What you should concern yourself is whether you are mastering the MBE materials. I think if at this point you are scoring anything above 50%, you are at or above the curve. 40-50 is on the bubble and below that, start practicing.

7/08/2011 3:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

3:28: Why are you so concerned with the MBE's? Everyone stresses about them but they are less than a third of the test.

7/08/2011 3:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

to continue about the unemployed 3L LLM issue, realistically what happens to Boalties who do not have jobs at graduation? Is it really dire like working at Starbucks? Do people find firms that actually pay? Anyone know what kind of salaries the firms pay?

Nobody at CDO talks about this because according to them everyone gets a job paying well north of 100 grand in the private sector? Does anyone have more info on this sect of our population?

-Concerned rising 3L

7/11/2011 11:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd say ask us in half a year. We'll have a better picture then. For now, the bar looms.

7/11/2011 12:02 PM  
Anonymous Stephanie said...

6/23 6:36 (I realize this was a long time ago, but I'm just looking at it now):

Absolutely take Themis. Like another poster, I did it solely for cost reasons and was really nervous I wasn't going to be prepared enough -- so not true. It's all the BarBri propaganda. Most of my friends are taking BarBri, and from what I gather from them, these are the differences between BarBri and Themis: BarBri has twice as many books (that you mostly don't need), and scheduled class time (that no one I know went to after the second week). And a slightly different schedule, but we end up doing all the same things, just in a different order. Unless you're certain that you need to attend a physical class in order to succeed (which nearly everyone I know does not do), Themis and BarBri are basically the same except that Themis is $2400 cheaper. Spread the word!

7/11/2011 3:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The UVA guy on Themis is cool, but I just can't get "defendANTs" out of my mind. Fellow daredevil adventurers should be able to relate.

7/11/2011 4:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Totes. Love that guy. But he, along with many of the other lecturers, pronounces shit weirdly.

Have to say, as much as the UVA guy is cool, William Birdthistle (the 30-year-old partnerships/agency prof with the watch fob who talks like he's performing Hamlet) is by far my favorite.

-fellow daredevil adventurer.

7/11/2011 4:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hate the barbri model answers to the mock final essay exam. Literally every one of their comment bubbles implies: "If you missed this little nit pickey point you wont pass".

7/11/2011 6:53 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I feel like this is a ridiculous problem because I'm an adult and should know how to feed myself, but I'm really having trouble practicing for three hours at a time (especially in the morning) without eating. I hadn't realized before how humane it was that other states don't ban food during the test. I'd like to figure out a solution that doesn't involve sneaking in food and wasting time scarfing a granola bar in the bathroom.

So does anyone have suggestions for breakfast that will keep you full but not make you comatose? Do I just eat a whole jar of peanut butter each morning or what?

7/12/2011 8:36 AM  
Blogger Patrick said...

Well, you're probably not willing to chew tobacco (which cures hunger, as well as worms and bad relationships) so you should probably go the more traditional route: protein & complex carbohydrates. Try a chicken breast and a whole wheat bagel one of these mornings and see if it works for you.

Also, I don't recall the details but I feel like when I tested at Oakland last summer they weren't nearly as strict as their pre-test mailings made them sound.

7/12/2011 8:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is it normal to not be nervous at this late date?

7/13/2011 4:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anyone who has taken the exam at Oakland center care to describe the test conditions? Is it elbow to elbow like barbri? seats decent? not stuff I should be worrying about intensely, I know, but getting to the point where I'm trying to visualize ahead while cramming these last few weeks.

7/13/2011 5:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

getting only 50-60% of the multiple choice right at this point. should i be freaking out? b/c i am...

7/14/2011 1:28 PM  
Blogger Armen said...

See my comment from 7/8/2011 at 3:32 pm. Sounds like you're doing great. If you want to improve beyond that, see which subjects you're doing the worst on, and start doing essays on those, reviewing your very mini outlines, etc.

7/14/2011 1:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Laura: I can't go more than two hours w/o eating, unless I eat enough to make me lethargic. Since being comatose during the exam seemed like a bad idea, I carried food (nuts, raisins) in my pockets and ate it in the bathroom. Gross, I know. I decided that losing five minutes was better than being completely unproductive due to a blood sugar crash.
7/13 @5:42: Assuming the location hasn't changed since I took the test (July 2009), I don't remember the seats either way, which suggests they were decent. I had more space than I thought (at least a foot and a half on each side). The one thing I remember is that there was a massive undersupply of bathrooms (only 8 women's stalls for an enormous room of people) and they were very poorly ventilated (sorry to be gross). So I'd recommend staggering your bathroom breaks (i.e., don't go when Barbri tells you to go or you may get stuck in line). The lighting was kind of annoying too (sort of like high school gymnasium lighting). The room is really big and kind of warehouse-like. There's an area in the hallway outside the room that isn't locked, but it has restricted access, so you can store your things there and they will be safe from everyone except for your fellow testakers.

7/14/2011 5:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How many of the issues do u really need to pass? Sixty percent u think?

7/14/2011 8:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oakland test center: Plug ins for laptops? I can't believe I'm asking this but if its something I can worry about, I DO worry about it, usually at 3 am while I'm thinking OMG I've got to get up and study soon.

7/15/2011 1:33 PM  
Blogger Armen said...

Test centers tend to have power strips running along the desks. I don't think there's anything unique to Oakland in that regard.

7/15/2011 1:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks for the comments from previous test-takers describing conditions, it's weird how comforting it is to have some idea of what it's actually going to be like. along those lines, one more:

what about lunch? about how long do we get? the schedule seems to think we get an hour and 40 minutes, but I can only imagine that there will be some sort of delay with instructions, collecting test books, etc. What was the shortest lunch break you guys got?

also, did most people bring lunch? find lunch in the area? I know we're close to city center but I'm worried about lines, etc.

7/17/2011 5:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm worried that's gonna be me.

"That was a remedies question?"

7/22/2011 2:35 PM  
Blogger McTwo said...


7/22/2011 2:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For those of you who have not experienced it (or who never will), I personally have found it interesting how much studying for the bar is like being pregnant: mood swings, irrationally crying at commercials, and random anxiety about the future.

7/23/2011 12:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


The room is huge. Dress in layers because I went back and forth from freezing to hot to freezing all day long. Tons of room for laptops/to spread out. Proctors are like 80 years old so don't get frustrated when they move slowly. They have water in jugs or something in the hallway by the bathrooms if you need water.

Brought my lunch on days 1 and 2 but ate at a restaurant on day 3. There is a TON of time for lunch, you could easily stand in line to get food, eat lunch, and then have 45 minutes to spare doing nothing.

Good luck to all!

7/23/2011 4:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh and just leave your laptop in the testing room when you go to lunch, everyone does it (yes, it is scary for the first five minutes to leave it behind but it's much safer in there than if you're carrying it around with you at lunch).

7/23/2011 4:10 PM  
Blogger Andrew Fong said...

Long live the bunnies!

7/25/2011 9:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So I know everyone just wants to take the bar exam and forget it, but other than the two weeks directly before it, I was happier before than I am now. I had two days of joy and exultation and now I just feel depressed.

Yes, no bar trip for me, instead I had to move and I was very sad to move from the place we lived. I had a hellish four weeks (last two weeks of bar prep, bar exam, then moving) and now I just sit around feeling vaguely unsatisfied.

I have a job lined up to start in October, so I want to ENJOY these last weeks of freedom and instead I sit around doing nothing, looking at unpacked boxes and complaining about where I live now even though its the nicest place I have ever lived.

Didn't know where else to post this. Don't know if anyone will even read it. But maybe I'll feel better to just type it out.

8/09/2011 8:40 PM  
Blogger Armen said...

Umm what? You have a job lined up. You have nothing to do. And you're vaguely dissatisfied? I can't tell if you're trolling or for-real. Since I'm a glass is half full kind of guy, I'll assume the latter.

In which case, I'm happy to recommend a long "to watch" list. Start with The Wire. Then Seasons 1-3 of Sons of Anarchy. Season 4 is about to start in September. Then pretty much anything on FX or HBO or AMC. Just ask co-blogger Dan for his "to watch" list. He's got some serious TV street cred (though not college football street cred).

8/09/2011 8:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not a troll. Appreciate the tv suggestions but that seems like a whole lot of nothing and want to DO something. Only I can make myself though.

I do appreciate the reality check. After reading your response I realized my vaguely unsatisfied probably had a lot more to do with other things (family related) than it did with me personally.

8/10/2011 12:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

February 2013 California Bar Exam: Question 3 was a Remedies question. The question says "At trial, the court found Frank liable to both Mary and Tanner for conversion".

In the hallway some girl says rather boldly "I knew it, the Remedies question was a contracts question!" And people around her started agreeing.

6/11/2013 12:54 AM  
Blogger Ethan Smith said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8/27/2014 10:44 PM  

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