Why Bar Takers Can’t Remember What They Need To

Back when I first took the bar exam in 2013—

Wow, where did the time FLY? This is getting depressing already.

Anyway, I was able to write these beautiful rule statements. Something out of a treatise. Flowing with prose fit to be in a presidential speech. Baroque music in the background. Some renaissance shit.

What’s really depressing is that despite my perfectly memorized (and perfectly recited) rules, they were still mostly useless.

Ask the average bar taker, “Where do you want to be in February/July/exam time?” And that’s the dream they have—to have the “black letter law” memorized perfectly.

They chase after knowledge over experience and intuition. Mere exposure and familiarity over understanding.

Be conscious about your approach: Rather than jumping in and brute forcing your way to MORE MEMORIZATION, MORE FLASHCARDS, MORE PRACTICE QUESTIONS, consider more understanding, more recitation, more feedback/self-critique to see why something is correctly used or not.

Optimizing for “knowledge” and familiarity looks like this:

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You’re the Dean of Your Own Bar Exam Studies

Here’s something that people who pass the bar never say:

“All I had to do was listen to all those bar course lectures. They were so helpful!”

Can you imagine?

Sometimes we think “doing whatever it takes” to pass the bar exam means throwing 1000 hours and even more dollars into a black hole. (But it doesn’t have to be expensive.)

Or following some unsustainable cookie-cutter schedule (which doesn’t care if you have other responsibilities like work or family). Good luck if you fall behind by one day.

Or letting a perfectly fine morning slip through by religiously sitting through 4 hours of droning lectures. Worse, pausing lectures to fill in all the notes. Then not even remembering 99% of it.

tfw you think the lectures are making sense

I remember those days. Those are things I didn’t do my second time. Here’s what I would do instead:

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Biggest Areas of the MBE to Focus On (Highly Tested Topics)

The MBE isn’t just a mixed bag of questions. It’s actually not even an evenly distributed bag of questions.

There are some topics that are tested disproportionately and more frequently on the MBE! Not all questions are equally important.

💡 There are just THREE highest-priority topics…

💡 These top 3 tested topics EACH account for over a whopping 7% of your score (over 21% total)!

💡 What can you do with the lower-priority topics?

But these takeaways are not that obvious if you simply skim through the NCBE’s subject matter outline. The language isn’t as clear or intuitive. Let’s break this down into charts so we can visualize it better.

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dreams of becoming an attorney

I want to talk about dreams.

The world is changing and so must we. We can’t stay the same and can’t pretend everything else will stay the same.

Changing means not staying complacent.

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”—Charles Darwin paraphrased

Do our dreams have to change? Your dream of becoming an attorney doesn’t have to change… BUT how you get there might have to.

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Underutilized Strategies for Fixing a Poor MBE Score

Someone wrote in to ask about improving his low MBE score:

“Hope all is well with you. It has been awhile since we last spoke. Unfortunately,  I was not able to pass the bar. It was quite a horrible moment.

If possible, I wanted to get your thoughts on how to effectively study for the MBE? I scored between 55%-60% on Uworld. However,  I did very poorly on the day of the exam. The questions were much harder than expected. I’ve come to realize the multiple choice is a weak spot for me more than the essays right now. Just needed a bit of your guidance on how to study for them. In addition, how should really repeaters now study for the bar?”

Here’s my pointed answer:

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