McGeorge Bar Prep

What You Need to Succeed on the CA Bar Exam

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Using the Remaining Time Most Effectively

Posted by mcgeorgebarprep on July 19, 2016

If you follow this blog, chances are you also have been using your time this entire summer as effectively as possible.  You still may not feel “ready” to take the bar next week, but few (if any) people ever feel fully ready; there is just too much information.  What it really means to be “ready” for the bar exam is very different than, for example, what it means to be ready to present an oral argument, where you are expected to be an expert in the topic at issue.  Being ready for the bar means having done everything you reasonably could do to prepare.  Looking back, we always feel like we could have done more, so think about it objectively:  Did you take studying seriously from the beginning, simulating roughly 45-50 essays, 5-6 PTs, and 1500-1800 MBEs this summer?  Did you review every answer and take advantage of opportunities to improve?  If so, you should be in a pretty good position for bar success.  (If not, and you definitely feel unprepared — not just nervous, which is normal, but certain that you completed significantly less than what’s ideal and are really not ready — then I encourage you to contact me ASAP to discuss your options if you postpone to February, because you do have options if that’s the case.)

If you largely have been able to use your time effectively this summer, great!   Unfortunately it does not mean that you can sit back and relax this week, of course.  So what should you be doing?

The answer varies from person to person, but generally speaking, IF you have been dutifully simulating and reviewing practice essays and PTs, you might consider focusing more on outlining essay questions now.  This is not because outlining your answers is better than fully simulating them — it’s not — but this week is all about maximizing your time, and this will allow you to see more fact patterns and answer organizations in a shorter period of time.  Just make sure that you’re thinking about the applicable issues, rules, and what facts apply to each analysis, and then compare your outline to the sample answer.  There is a caveat to this strategy:  If you have NOT been fully simulating practice exams this summer, or if you are not comfortable with time management and weighting, using IRAC, or factual analysis, then you should keep fully simulating and comparing your answers so you can work on those vital skills.

Secondly, more MBE practice and review will help you keep drilling (and memorizing) the substantive law.  You may find that shorter, timed MBE exams are helpful — maybe 33 questions at a time, which equates to roughly one hour.  That way you can work on your timing skills and also review the answers before forgetting the questions.

Third, you also can work on straight rule memorization, whether with flash cards, reading and rereading subject outlines, writing the rules out by hand, or whatever works best for you.  (Personally, I condensed my outlines down to single-page checklists (front-only, two columns) that I read and reread.)

All of these suggestions — outlining and reviewing written answers, MBE practice, and straight rule review — depend on where you feel most and least comfortable.  If you feel great about your MBE practice, for example, then maybe you should work more with the writing component.  If you feel really confident about Torts but not so much with Con Law, then your focus should adjust accordingly.

If you would like to discuss your study plan this week, don’t hesitate to contact me.  Otherwise, keep pushing forward — you’re almost there!  If you start to feel panicked, think back to all of the hard work you’ve done to prepare, proving that you’ve got this, and that you really are “ready” to show off the results of that hard work next week!



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