Wajahat Ali’s NO B.S. Guide to The Bar Exam: Or, How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Bar (kind of, but not really)


Salaams and hello. My name is Wajahat Ali, a recently licensed Attorney at Law and successful 2007 July Bar Applicant. This is my uncensored, unadulterated, blunt, candid, unsolicited approach to tackling the Bar exam. As a person who recently went through the trenches only to emerge alive and victorious, please note that all of this is a collection of hard earned wisdom. I’ve added personal anecdotes and examples, as well as tips and hints from my more competent and savvy peers and elders who’ve gone through your “Bar trek.” I hope this is useful for you, and if it isn’t, well, you didn’t pay me, so stop complaining…punks.

Also, this guide is rated PG-13. I use naughty language from time to time.

INTRODUCTION

You are stuck in a forest. You see an illuminated path, a yellow brick road with a giant, fluorescent EXIT sign. You sigh relief. You begin walking on the path. Suddenly, a behemoth, shit covered bear appears on the path in front of you.

To misquote Keanu Reeves from that classic piece of celluloid Speed: “You encounter a shit covered bear on the road blocking your path. What do you do? What – do- you- do?!?!

Your natural answer as a virgin Bar examinee is to quote yet another classic Keanu line – this one taken from The Matrix – and reply, “Whoa!”

The correct answer to the question is this: You permanently knock out the beast by beating the ever living shit out of it, while knowing the bear will undoubtedly beat you within an inch of your life

Ladies and Gentlemen, The Bar Exam is that shit covered bear that you must wrestle, beat down, choke hold and ultimately dominate.

It is possible. It has been done. It can be done. It is not rocket science. You need not even be smart or gifted or talented to accomplish the task. YOU WILL DO IT.

WHAT TYPE OF GRASSHOPPER ARE YOU?

Before your anxiety addled, trigger happy brain forces you to skip this page to the essays and mbe section of this outline, I implore you take time and read the whole philosophical-spiritual approach to the Bar [This section.] In fact, it is probably this component of the Bar exam that causes so many to fail.

The classic war manual, The Art of War, recommends that a warrior must know himself and know his enemy before combat. That requires strategy, research and introspection. Knowing yourself is something that can only be accomplished by you. Not that prick peer of yours who does Law Review, Moot Court and still gets a 3.85. Not the slacker prick who never studies and manages to get great grades. Not the drooling, vacant eyed, paste eating peer who bought his way into law school. It is something that can only be known by you and those close to you.

Why is this important, you brown demon of a man, you ask? Because all wise men/women who have experienced the Bar will tell you it ultimately comes down to 2 things:

1) Consistent work and studying – if you don’t put in the effort, don’t expect to pass.

2) Perseverance of mind and will: This is what makes most people who do step 1 fail the Bar exam.

Usually, each BAR exam yields a set of four personalities. I will illuminate them for you and you can decide which one you are. I will tell you their strengths and weaknesses.

1) The Lazy Grasshopper

a. This grasshopper exerts no superior effort in preparing for the Bar. Instead, it takes “casual” study breaks and “flips” through Barbri materials from time to time. In fact, for many days it never does its exercises, nor does it ever review the material. Stupendously, this grasshopper is shocked that it didn’t pass the Bar exam.

b. Most of the people who don’t pass the Bar do so because they didn’t study. Straight up, they didn’t put in the 8 to 12 hours a day, including BARBRI classes, to prepare.

c. Simple Rule #1 (Referred to as SR from now on): “If grasshopper is lazy and puts in no effort, grasshopper will fail…and be killed and eaten.”

2) The Type-A, Neurotic, Crazy Ass, Law student Grasshopper

a. This represents the “model” grasshopper. Most Bar takers belong to this category. This is emblematic of most law students in general. Driven, obsessive compulsive, neurotic, insecure, arrogant, ambitious, perfectionist, terrified of failure, hysterical law students.

b. For these types, you must remember that you are your worst enemy. You must change your lifetime of self-flagellating insecure thinking for the sake of your sanity. You all think that by studying 20 hours for a quiz earns you an A. You dorks were the ones who volunteered for AP and Honors classes. You feel that pain and misery and sweat and hyperbolic dramatic claims like “Oh, my God! I’m going to fail!” will somehow shield you from actual failure and make you pass. That mentality does not fly for the Bar. Making your life harder than it needs to be, suffering or mentally beating up on yourself will only make your Bar experience harder.

c. SR #2: “Grasshopper will think only good thoughts and not beat himself up. Suffering needlessly shall not make grasshopper pass.”

d. More on this later. See Section “Think Happy Thoughts”

3) The “I’m kind of a big deal” Grasshopper

a. These bastards are those pricks who do the following, loudly I might add and on purpose, in front of their peers: “So, I just did 26 performance exams over the weekend. Oh, what? You didn’t do 26 exams?! Oh, you only did 2 exams as recommended by Babri? Well…I guess you’ll be fine.”

b. In a perfect world, the adequate response to this douche bag would be to roundhouse kick this punk in the nuts, knee him in his chin, uppercut punch his face and then Daniel-son Crane kick the shit out of him.

i. What happens instead? The contagion known as panic overwhelms the rest of the bar examinees who listened to his nonsense; you go into a panic attack; you start doubting yourself; you ask everyone “Did you do 26 exams?!“; you lose all your confidence; and, then, like an idiot you go waste 15 hours doing needless exercises to assuage your own neuroses.

c. How should you respond?

i. When douche bag is finished giving himself verbal fellatio, you simply respond, “Wow. Good for you. Have a cookie. I only did 3 PT’s, saved 20 hours of my life, and then went out to eat ice cream. And I’ll pass the exam…I guess you’ll be fine.”

…..and then kick them in the nuts.

d. SR #3 : “Grasshopper will not be “I’m kind of a big deal” douche bag grasshopper. Grasshopper need not waste energy and time doing mindless work. Grasshopper will simplify life.

4) The Zen Grasshopper

a. This is the Splinter, The Yoda, the Miyagi, the Obi Wan, the Confucius of the grasshoppers. You must aspire to be this type of grasshopper. Most will not become it, but aspire to it.

b. This grasshopper realizes the Bar exam is just a test, an important one indeed, but merely a test. It does not define you as a human being. It does not qualify your worth, intellect, talent or potential. It will not determine how much weight you will gain or how many ridiculously good looking women you will make sweet, sweet love to. It’s just a tedious, almost mindless, annoying “weeder” exam that you just gotta do to get licensed. That’s it. It doesn’t have mystical powers, it is not the devil incarnate, it is not the boogeyman, it is not God’s black sense of humor, it does not have horns or thorns. It is not “For you or against you.” It doesn’t give a shit about you either way. It doesn’t care you took out a loan to pay for it, it doesn’t care that you studied 20 hours a day, it doesn’t care you took Ritalin or illegal drugs to get “pepped” for it, it doesn’t give a shit about you either way. It’s simply a test that pretty much doesn’t change year after year. It’s a beast of burden that once you know how to ride, you can navigate and control. And once you’ve passed it, it will become as meaningless as Invisible Cola and Birkenstocks.

c. Example: Let’s compare “Zen Grasshopper” to “I’m a big deal Grasshopper.” Once douche bag “I’m a big deal grasshopper” finishes bragging about its 26 Performance Tests, the Zen grasshopper is the one who assuages the rest by saying, “Don’t worry, PT’s are easy. You did 2 as recommended. I only did 2 as well. We’ll all be fine.”

d. The Zen Grasshopper is the one calm center who “Type A” grasshoppers go to for some comfort, relief and perspective. The Zen Grasshopper is the one who people seek for encouragement the day of the Bar Exam. The Zen Grasshopper, essentially, is the one that gets mad play at the post-Bar exam party. Be the Zen Grasshopper and get yourself some booty – and peace of mind – during and after the Bar.

e. SR # 4: “I will be the Zen Grasshopper…I am the Zen Grasshopper”

I WILL ONLY THINK HAPPY, SEXY THOUGHTS.

I heeded the wisdom of my elders and peers who repeatedly told me to create a positive mantra and stick with it. Recently, research has shown that positive verbal reinforcement changes our brain chemistry. Conversely, negative thoughts increase depression and make us susceptible to debilitating stress. FORCE yourself to repeat a positive mantra EVEN IF YOU DON’T BELIEVE IT!

1) THINK POSITIVE, BE POSITIVE (Sr #5)

a. Here’s an example of a positive mantra:

“I will pass the Bar Exam. I will not fail. I’ve studied hard, I’m smart and I deserve to pass. There is no way in hell I am ever doing this shit again, because I won’t need to. This is the first and last time I will ever do this, because I’m passing no matter what.”

i. This, ladies and gentleman, was my non-stop mantra for 2 months. It single handedly helped me pass the test. I cannot stress, I repeat, cannot stress how important a positive, proactive outlook is. It will be the one “mental perseverance” tool that will help many of you pass, and the lack of it will make some of you fail.

ii. During the last day of the Bar exam, my computer crashed. I found this out 7 minutes before start time. I had not rehearsed nor practiced at all with handwriting [See Section: Essays]. I was given a packet and I had thankfully brought my pencils. I was about to panic but I forced myself to be calm. I refused to panic. I knew if I panicked, I’d be dead. I repeated my mantra, I straight up talked to myself. I said something like this: “I have come too far to let a small glitch ruin this. I will not use this as an excuse. I will write the test, no problem. I will pass. It will be ok. I will not panic. I will be calm and I will pass.”

1. The first essay I wrote was so bad it made me cry. I didn’t double space, I made weird arrows and lines and scraggly marks. I crossed out paragraphs. It was the filthiest essay I’ve ever written in my life. But you know what? Who cares! I had written all the major points, underlined black letter law, used facts properly and correctly identified the major issues. I passed it. And that’s ALL that mattered. I refused to get nervous or panic, I kept my calm, I exhaled, and I wrestled the shit covered bear. The second and third handwritten essays progressively improved and I was able to answer all of them on time and on point. If I didn’t think positive I know for a fact I would be retaking this bastard in February.

2) UNHAPPY THOUGHTS ARE USELESS AND GIVE US UNNCESSARY STRESS (SR #6)

a. I urge you to strongly understand this point. I repeat these negative thoughts and words are useless and more importantly they are damaging. This isn’t high school where saying these words after studying 50 hours is simply a convenient way for you to “prepare” yourself psychologically for an A- instead of an A. This can really derail you during the Bar exam. It’s literally like cutting yourself or poking holes in your flesh. It’s self-flagellation and does next to nothing to “help” you.

HOW TO APPROACH THE BAR EXAM

1) RESPECT THE TEST

a. This is not one of those “I’ll cram it and ace it” type exams. The only way you are going to pass is if you spend quality time and effort in studying the law. It is just too massive in its scope to simply cram in a week or two. You need to chisel away at it. Think of yourself as Andy Dufrains [Tim Robbins] from The Shawshank Redemption – year after year he picked away at the wall hiding behind the Rita Hayworth poster until finally he reached the sewage system and crawled through a mile of shit to his eventual freedom. That, my friends, is the process towards beating the Bar – bit by bit, step by step, crack by crack, little by little crawling through the mud of shit awaiting the glorious cleansing rain of seeing your name on the “Pass List” in November/May.

b. The only way to do that is consistently work at it. You can miss some days. You don’t need to do all the mbe’s and essays. You don’t need to master it. But you must respect the test and give it it’s due. Spend the time.

2) Demystify the Bar Exam: It’s just a test. If I can pass it you can pass it.

a. I am living proof anyone can pass. I took the SAT’s three times in high school and got the exact same shitty score thrice! Standardized tests and me are like my fellow brown women and me: incompatible.

b. My parents were so convinced I wouldn’t pass they prepared a “pep talk” in anticipation of my failure [God bless ruthless South Asian parents.] My mother was so shocked I passed she made me reload the screen 17 times. 17 TIMES!

c. Again, if I can pass, you can pass. It’s simply a beast of burden you must understand how to tame. You tame it by practicing and studying, refining and simplifying. It takes time and effort. That’s it. Nothing more.

3) It’s a Marathon. Be the Tortoise, not the Hare. (Sr #7)

a. Remember that children’s tale about the slow ass, geriatric turtle that eventually beat the steroid infected, meth pepped, speed freak hare? It slowly but surely took its own time, stayed its course, kept true to itself and won the race in the long run.

b. SR # 7: THE BAR EXAM IS A MARATHON, NOT A SPRINT. SLOW AND STEADY WINS THE RACE.

c. You learn at the end of the first week that you jut got 30% on the MBE’s, you failed all your essays and you’re already behind on the first subject while already starting the second subject. Congratulations – this is NORMAL! Perfectly normal. You are normal. You are not abnormal. There is no way in hell you can memorize everything in the first month – impossible. Slowly but surely doing the work, keeping abreast with the subjects, nipping away at it day by day and routinely reviewing your notes is the only way. [More on this later]

4) I do not need to Master the Bar Material; I just need a “Glib” understanding. (SR #8)

a. Even if you study for 8 months in a row, non-stop, you still will mess up on the Bar Exam. I guarantee, nay, I bet hard earned money on it. It’s impossible. Just too much detail, information, statutes, nuances, and so forth. You are not expected to master the material!

b. You need only 65-70 score to pass. That’s like getting a “D+.” In some cases, that’s failing. That’s all you need across the board. So basically, if you do a 70 across the board, you pass with flying colors. This should assuage you – not worry you. This means you have to know the major topics, be able to identify them, use facts with law intelligently, and write your answer coherently in a proper, efficient format. All that requires, like I said, is diligent work and consistency. Again, you only need a “glib” understanding – you don’t need to get an A, you don’t need to ace it, you will not get a Victoria Secret model or a tasty chocolate chip cookie for getting a 100%. You know what you get? The same thing a dude with a 71 average got: a passing Bar grade.

5) Oh, shit! What to do if I fail? I take it again! That’s all. Simple. [SR #9]

a. Very simple answer to that dreaded question. You just declare a rematch with the shit covered bear and like Rocky in Rocky 2 you knock out Apollo Creed in the end. That’s it. Your life will not end. You need not attempt suicide. You need not call yourself a retard. You just take it again until you pass.

i. Pete Wilson governor of California failed twice. Kathleen Sullivan the motherf’ing dean of Stanford Law failed on her first try. The Mayor of LA failed four times. JFK Jr. failed 3 times.

ii. If you fail, you join 40-50% of your peers. It’s ok. Relax. Sign up again. See where you went wrong. Practice. Take it. Pass. Move on with your life.

6) Enjoy your life – you need not suffer to pass the Bar exam. [SR #10]

a. Taking 2.5 months of your life to concentrate 12 hours a day on one of the most important exams of your life is not anybody’s idea of a good time unless he be a flaming masochist. That being said, you can alleviate the suffering and actually make your experience bearable and at times enjoyable. This will make you happier, will stimulate your mind and spirit and help you, yes help you, do better on the exam.

b. Every day give yourself some form of a reward or two. If you enjoy exercising, then take 30 min to run or play bball. In fact, I wholeheartedly encourage exercising and physical activity. If you enjoy food? Make yourself a nice, tasty dinner. Spend time with your wife, girlfriend, husband, kids and family. Get lots of booty call – this apparently is a key to success according to many of my peers who got tons of play during the Bar – this includes men and women. What’s a better stress reliever than boot-ay?

c. What did I do?

i. Every day I made sure I took time out to eat my dinner. I didn’t study at all for an hour or two during this break. I ate my mom’s homemade food [I went back every 2 weeks to the Bay to get fresh supplies. I’m spoiled I know. Don’t hate the player, hate the game. That didn’t make any sense, but you know what I mean.]

ii. We also went Salsa dancing every Thursday night after finishing studying at like about 1030 pm. I had never Salsa danced in my life and found it liberating to fail miserably with my two left feet in front of a genetically predisposed, agile Mexican dancing population.

iii. I used to stop studying at night and always gave myself at least an hour or two to unwind. I usually watched an action or science fiction movie from the 80’s or early 90’s. One of those can’t fail classics that makes you giddy. A bunch of us used to unwind and just watch these flicks at night. Great stress reliever.

iv. Go out once a week to either see a movie or eat at a restaurant with your fellow Bar homies. It gives you all an excuse to unwind and if enough Bar homies are out, then it gives you a sense of calm. Bar exam like law school thrives on herd mentality. If you chill, others are allowed to chill. Vice versa. Note: do your work then go out.

v. Anything that makes you relax or unwind will rejuvenate your mind, alleviate your soul and give you a sense of peace and calm. That type of mind and psychology greatly helps efficiency and absorption of material. It’s like a natural high. Your mind is sharper, you are more enthused and you can learn more in half the time. This is basic psychology and understanding of human behavior. It works.

7) There is NO ONE WAY of Studying/Preparing for the Bar Exam [SR #11]

a. Most bar examinees have already begun asking me the following: “What is the way to do this? If I do this, can I also do that? What if I study this book, should I read the other?” Let me repeat, law school and bar exam is herd mentality, lemming, psychology oriented process. Do not be a lemming. DO NOT BE A LEMMING. There is no ONE way to do this. Go back to step one: know yourself. Some people thrive studying 14 hours a day. Not me. I hate studying. I can’t stand it. I’m amazed I even studied 5 hours a day outside the 4-hour class. Some people need only 8 hours, some need 12. Some love flash cards, others like me find them useless. Some, like me, love acronyms, others find them confusing. Do you get the idea?

b. Grow a pair! Have some faith in yourself. Man up! Be confident! You’ve graduated from law school. You know how to study, you know how to pass exams. You’ve done this. You know what works for you.

c. DO NOT let other people’s insecurity and anxiety affect you. [SR # 12] DO NOT let other people’s insecurity, anxiety and fear affect you. Let it bounce off. Let other people’s study habits, if they are useless to you, bounce off. Do what works for you. Have faith in your system. Have faith in your knowledge of yourself. You will save loads of time and loads of worrying if you follow this mentality. If someone’s baggage is affecting you negatively, calmly walk away. Politely say, “sorry I gotta go study.” Don’t let other’s insecurity weigh you down.

8) REST [SR # 13]

a. For the love of God, don’t be like me. If you can, get 8 hours of sleep a day. Rest your mind and body properly. Remember – this is a marathon not a sprint. You need to conserve your mental energy to last 2 months and then 6 hours a day for 3 days. I am an insomniac who slept like 5 hours a day and during the Bar exam I slept an average of 2 hours a day. [More on that later.] Prepare your body to sleep. This means getting a schedule.

9) Do not expect to finish the insane BARBRI schedule [SR # 14]

a. I don’t think I met anyone who finished the entire Barbri schedule. Go ahead and take a look at it. I’ll wait. Yes – it is insane. No – most don’t finish it. You can pass without doing all the MBE’s and Essays. I got through most of it, but didn’t do all of it.

b. Quality over quantity wins the race. You do enough mixed subjects, practice tests, and practice drills that you eventually cover mostly everything. You don’t need to do all of the MBE’s and Essays. Is it better if you do? Of course. But, by rushing and doing them and not really understanding them, you are not only wasting time and being inefficient, you are not learning. It becomes simple routine, like you’re racing to finish but not understanding the material. So, what’s the point in that?

c. If you’re exhausted and feeling rushed, do the following. If you’re given 50 hard mbe’s, do 35- 40 instead. If 4 essays, do 2 and then outline the other 2. You can always go back and make them up. Even if you don’t, as long as you’re consistent, you’ll cover it in the mixed subjects and practice tests.

d. After a month or so, most people develop their own rhythm and schedule. After July 4th break, people usually get their own groove and do their special cram session. You’ll develop your own system based on what you perceive are your strengths and weaknesses. Some people hate MBE’s, some people rock them. Some rock Con Law, others Contracts. So you can keep it flexible.

10) THIS IS NOT ROCKET SCIENCE [SR # 15] – It is just a test. It doesn’t even test your talents or genius. It’s just a beast that you must tame. That’s all. Just some hard work and then spitting it out the way they want it. Just takes practice. Again, this is not rocket science. You can do this.

Now on to the schedule and the specific sections.

THE DAILY GRIND

1) Go to all the classes

a. You’ve paid nearly 4000 dollars for this insane class, you might as well go. Get up and make sure you are there on time. Leave yourself 10 minutes to get your coffee and boot up your computer.

2) Make your outline as you take notes

a. Why waste time making an outline of your notes when you can make the outline as you take the notes? This is something I learned later in the game. Just set an outline template in your MS word and take your notes, dividing them in subsections and what not. The proctors structure their lectures like an outline. It is remarkably easy and will save you hours. I have given you a valuable tip – use it.

b. If you are like me, you have an attention span of a retarded gnat on crack. Find some online pages or sites like ESPN.com or CNN.com or Rottentomatoes.com or gmail.com. I even started reading some gossip zines like TheSuperficial.com in between the classes. I couldn’t help it. But be sure you keep major focus on the lecture. This internet browsing actually helped me – it gave me a kick when I needed it and ensured I didn’t get too bored. Some women shopped during the lectures and lot of people checked their email. Some do it more than others. It doesn’t hurt but could help you if you use it wisely.

c. Take the breaks to go outside and feel the sun. Seriously. We had, what I called, “The Green Mile” in Davis. This small balcony terrace on the second floor right next to the classes. I always went there at least for 5 minutes during the breaks to feel the sun and not think of the Bar. It is quite soothing to “feel” the sun – your body gets Vitamin K.

3) After you’re done with the lecture, go and print your outline/notes for the day from the computer lab or at home. Voila – you have your rough outline for “Con Law.”

a. “If ye ask for notes, they shall come.” Law school students, most of them being neurotic and insecure, hate showing weakness and, again, are lemmings. If you offer your notes selflessly, people will gladly give you their notes. They are more than willing to exchange, because they, like you, doubt the quality of their notes. I always got 2-3 sets of extra outlines so I could compare mine to theirs. It really helped fill in some holes and vice versa.

4) TAKE 1- 2 HOUR BREAK. ENJOY YOUR LUNCH. DON’T THINK OF THE BAR.

a. Take a one-hour break. Seriously. You will live. I took 2-3 hour breaks most the time. I was so exhausted b/c I only slept 4-5 hours that I usually had to take a 1 hour nap. I don’t recommend this 3 hours gap unless you need it, but do take one hour at least to unwind, talk shit, joke around, eat lunch or just take a nice, relieving poop. You have the rest of the entire day to study. Don’t let other gunners scare you. If they want no breaks and want to eat their lunch as they study immediately after a 4 hour class, then most likely they are losers who have no social life and their pay check is the only thing that will ensure they have quality sex in the future. You will be ok.

5) Before doing the exercises, review your notes thoroughly.

a. I found reviewing my notes was even more helpful than reading the Convisor Mini Review [which I recommend doing, but don’t expect to learn it by simply reading it. Just get a minor glib understanding when you do the reading the day before.] I compared my outline with the other 2-3 I got from my homies and plugged in the mistakes and weaknesses.

b. This can take 1 to 1.5 hours. Don’t freak out. You are simply cementing what you just spent 4 hours listening. It will only help you understand the material for the future.

6) THE MBES: Do the MBE’s – expect to fail miserably.

a. Some time themselves from the get go with their mc’s and the essays, some don’t. This is your call. I actually wish I could go back and not time myself for the first 2 weeks. You will have plenty of time to time yourself, take practice exams, etc, etc. Timing yourself and rushing and failing only compound the initial pain and anguish you will feel when you get only 40-60% right. Why not take your time and do quality over quantity?

b. Simply doing essays and MC’s won’t effectively make you learn. You must engage the subject. After doing the MBE’s, go and read the answers carefully. Spend time understanding why you chose the answer.

c. Wrong MBE’s – How to improve?

i. Regardless of your method (which we’ll discuss in a moment), improving on MBE’s can only come from practice and gaining a better understanding of the black letter law.

ii. I got an average of 40% for the first month on the MBE’s. That placed me like in the bottom third of all Barbri takers. I had a miserable time. I hate MBE’s. I rushed through them and didn’t follow the advice I just gave all of you. Expect to get horrible scores for the first month. Horrible scores. Do not be discouraged, especially in the Intermediate or Hard sections.

iii. Attack the MBE’s. Engage them. How? 1) Do the questions 2) Read the Answers 3) Write down the Black Letter Law of the Incorrect answers

1. Flashcards – Many used flashcards. They are a means by which you can refresh your weak spots and learn black letter law or elements. Flashcards didn’t work for me. I did the following instead.

2. Outline

a. Each time I reviewed an MBE section, I wrote the black letter law or elements of the question I missed in an outline. Each outline had a section for the subject, for example “Criminal Law.” Underneath Criminal Law, I had subheadings for specific subjects, such as “Murder.” So if I missed a question, any and every question I missed, on, say, “Felony Murder” – I’d write that rule under that section of my outline.

b. By the end of the Bar exam, this outline was nearly 20 pages long. Whenever I had free time, I used to read sections. I crammed it during the last 2 weeks. And that’s how I improved my score [that and doing insane amounts of MBE.] It’s essentially improving your weaknesses in a targeted manner: you’re learning all the “law” you missed; you learned it, and didn’t make the same mistakes again thus bumping up your score. That’s how it works.

d. PMBRE is not mandatory to pass

i. I am living proof you don’t have to take PMBRE to pass the Bar exam. Those who say otherwise are merely rationalizing spending obscene amounts of money on a course that is not really necessary but can be helpful.

ii. Instead, just use the thousand mbe’s Barbri gives you. Attack them consistently and systematically like I mentioned employing the techniques that work for you. You automatically become better with TIME and practice.

e. Read the Call or the Narrative first?

i. The call is the actual question part of the MBE right before the answer choices. The narrative is the facts portion. I recommend practicing both techniques to see which one works. If you can master reading the call and then going to the facts, it helps give you a “guideline” or “roadmap.”

1. For example, the call can tip you off to the subject. If you know the subject from the call, I recommend writing it down to the right, such as this “Torts – Negligence” Then read the fact pattern. You’ll have a clearer sense of what the answer should be. This helps you narrow down the correct answer even if you have to 50/50.

f. How do I know I’m Improving? You’re narrowing it to 50/50.

i. You’re one month in and you’re getting 50% on the MBE’s. Your homies are getting 65%. You mock them and wish a potent venereal disease in their direction. You panic, you freak out – don’t. If you do what we’ve been talking about, you’ll notice you were able to narrow it to 50/50. That’s what usually happens, you boil it down to 2 and you picked the “close but no cigar” answer. This is sign of progress. Well done. All you need to do is keep hustling, keep polishing your weak spots, keep practicing and you’ll see it improve.

g. Study with Friends! Hooray!

i. Doing timed essays and MBE’s with one or two homies can greatly help you to not only focus but understand the material. I repeat, study with the homies you know are serious about the BAR and ones you get along with.

ii. This is what I did: We did like 25 timed MBE’s as a group. We all sat down on a table and took it like a real test. Once it was time’s up, we all stopped. We then corrected our mistakes individually. Then, we reviewed the ones we got wrong and helped each other by explaining the answer or why we got it right, they got it wrong, etc. We did this everyday for about 2 weeks during the cram time. It really helped keep us in check and simulate a real test environment. It might help you as well.

h. The BAR MBE’s are Intermediate to Hard – so Prep those mostly.

7) THE ESSAYS

a. After reviewing the notes and doing the MBE’s, you should take a crack at the essays. Again, it’s up to you if you want to time yourself in the beginning. You really don’t have to from the get go, I’d recommend you practice form and structure.

b. Form and Structure

i. Remember the LSAT and how the games and arguments could be categorized and broken down by a formula and structure? Very similar to the essays. Each essay should be seen as skeletal structure, a body that has a backbone and form. Then, you add on layers with flesh, tissue, muscle and skin. But the form is the backbone upon which you build. Once you perfect the form and structure, much like IRAC, you start becoming efficient in your essays, and most importantly, you please the bar graders.

ii. Bar graders only spend about 3 minutes per exam. That’s it. They fly right through it. What do you think an underpaid, overworked Bar grader who has to look at 1,000 booklets wants to see? A stirring, eloquent, loquacious, garrulous, verbose essay using words like “pithy” and “sanguine?” Uh, no. They want to see a clearly organized essay with headings and subheadings and the black letter law and elements underlined or bolded. You will give that to them.

iii. I used Whitney Robert’s “Bar Codes: Cheat Sheets in Action.” Others used Adachi’s book. That one is good as well. You can find Roberts online here: http://www.thebarcode.net/publications.aspx. It was a worthwhile purchase. She is a former Bar grader and she uses actual Bar exam questions. Then, she answers them. She also provides the “skeletal backbone” for each major question in each major subject. You see, the bar exam is very repetitious. A Torts Products Liability question is essentially the same as it was before. They just dress it up with new facts or stress “design defect” instead of “manufacturing defect.” A Murder analysis is exactly the same as it was 2 years ago, instead they might focus on “felony murder” instead of “involuntary manslaughter.” The analysis is mostly the same. She gives you cheat sheets for every major topic in each subject. I read these cheat sheets throughout the Bar exam. Like I read 2 a day, and I kept just repeating the process. During cram time, I tried reading as much as I could. Like at night for 15 minutes, re-read “Con Law’ section. The next day, read the Murder section in Criminal Law. Again, little by little, step by step, consistent.

iv. Use Headings, subheadings, bolding and underline. Remember, you are trying to attract a Bar grader who is pissed off, tired and exhausted. They want simplicity. They want it force fed to them. Simplicity is key. Organized, step by step, element by element.

c. Rushing is the key to failing Essays

i. More on this later, but most people fail the essays b/c they speed through ‘em like Speed Racer missing pertinent facts and sometimes completely missing the subject/topic asked. You can easily write an essay in 35- 40 minutes. You don’t need to write a rambling 10-page essay when a concise, on point 6 pager will do. Organization and clarity will win the race.

d. Take 10 to 15 minutes to read the essay and make an outline.

i. I used to rush and start writing. I was panicked. I thought I would run out of time. This was a disastrous but common mistake. Again, marathon, small steps, strategy is what wins. I strongly recommend taking at least 10 to 15 minutes, which seems like a lot but isn’t, to read and outline each essay.

ii. During the bar exam, I refused to start the essay until I gave myself at least 10 minutes, usually 15 minutes, to read and re-read the question, and then outline. Once I started employing this strategy, my essays were more coherent, better organized, better written, more correct in their usage and application of facts, and more wide in scope allowing me to fit in more causes of actions and potential on point laws.

iii. Read the fact pattern question twice.

1. First time I read the question, I circled or underlined any key words and key facts. I also wrote down any “buzz word” that came to mind signifying the “topic” or “cause of action.”

a. If you think it, write it down! Please!

i. Initially, you make the mistake of having a “buzz word” hit you as you read the fact pattern, and you think you’ll remember it and you keep reading without writing down, say, “Negligence.” Write it down. Scribble it. Anywhere. You are so pumped and stressed and with adrenaline, that you might forget it…completely. It happens to a lot of people, don’t let it happen to you.

2. After reading it, quickly look at the buzz words and notes you’ve written, then re-read the fact pattern and question.

a. You’ll be surprised how many pertinent facts you miss by rushing. Once you re-read it, you’ll already have a general sense of what the question wants. Now, you can refine your understanding by looking for additional facts and seeing if you “missed” anything in the first go around.

3. Now, make an outline and organize your thoughts.

a. I made my outline in pen on the scratch paper. I didn’t do an elegant job but then again all I needed was the skeletal structure, the outline if you will, and I plugged in “buzz words” which represented either the law, elements, or facts from the narrative. That was enough to trigger the memory of what I wanted to say. So, I’m 15 minutes into the test and I have an entire roadmap, including the facts, of what I want to say and how I want to say it. Now I just spend the next 35-40 minutes writing it and 5 min to review it.

e. I.L.A. – I Love Acronyms.

i. Most sophisticated Bar takers, such as Adachi, will tell you that Mnemonics is one of the great mental tools to help you unpack volumes of knowledge. Acronyms are God’s gift for bar takers.

ii. Make acronyms that work for you. Those are the only ones that will be useful to your mind and your brain. These are mental reminders that literally unfold volumes of info. The ones that rhyme are usually the most memorable. The ones that are specific to your likes, memories, upbringing, etc, are also the ones that stick.

iii. I made acronyms for every subject. I was an acronym freak. I engaged in mad, orgiastic orgies with acronyms. I literally acronym’d all of Property. Yes, I said it. I created crazy acronyms that essentially packed every single subject into 25 page complete list of acronyms. I found it to be quite useful. But, again, it is up to you. If you decide on doing it. Do a couple each day, and keep doing it. By the end you’ll have a giant list. If you cram that list in the final 3 weeks, you’ll see it all stick in your head.

iv. Example: The first question on Day 1 was a massive Landlord Tenant question. I annihilated this question. At first read through, I was able to spot major issues and on the margins I wrote all the acronyms that popped into my head that I made for LL-Tenants, covenants, etc. Any and every acronym for the subject that I thought was on point I wrote down. On second read through, I circled those acronyms that were on point and wrote some facts from the fact pattern underneath it. If you saw my paper, you’d see like 15 acronyms with one, two word facts underneath. To most, this would be insanity. To me, it was the entirety of landlord tenant law that I had reduced to acronyms in front of me. It was literally like looking at my outline as if I had it in front of me. I could pick and choose what I thought was appropriate for answering the question. And that’s a large part of why I dominated the first question and felt so confident (only to be killed by evidence later).

f. Use Common Sense and Use the Facts

i. Here’s a true story. One bar taker got a phat 84 [awesome score] on a Remedies Bar question without ever having studied Remedies. They used his answer as a model. The Bar instructor who graded this essay explained his rationale in awarding him the high marks. He said he knew the man didn’t know remedies b/c he didn’t use the “legalese buzz words.” However, he used common sense along with thefacts in such a practical, easy to understand way that he answered the question. There is much wisdom in this story.

ii. Bar graders love it when you make sweet, sweet love to the facts. Intertwine the facts with the elements of the law as much as possible. This proves to them that you actually read and understood the fact pattern instead of mindlessly regurgitating information. If you apply analogy and real life scenarios that only makes them that much more aroused and stimulated. Shamelessly use the facts as much as you can. It can only help you. This is a big tip given time and again by all bar graders. Use it.

g. Argue both sides of your brain

i. After talking to many Bar takers who failed, you realize that teasing the hypothetical is what gets you the better score. For example, most Bar exams give you enough facts to lean you in a specific direction. However, there is some evidence to suggest possible alternatives. Spend measured time in suggesting those alternatives. For example, a “Murder” fact pattern. It leans heavily to first-degree murder. If you all you write is this: First Degree Murder, Elements, Facts, Conclusion – you will fail. They want you to also argue manslaughter, second degree, and negligent murder. It behooves you to argue both sides. It shows depth of your understanding and ability to play with the facts and apply them. You will see that for each fact pattern, there are 3-4 major areas, and you should be able to hit them. But adding those small mini paragraphs on tangential or potentially related causes of actions can’t hurt you, they only help and give you some brownie points.

ii. However, Don’t go on a fishing expedition. Using the Murder example above, if it’s clearly murder, then argue the murder categories, don’t waste your time on assault and battery. That’s frivolous. All of this will make sense once you see how badly you do on your first couple of essays. Don’t worry. Your essays will improve.

h. You need a mediocre essay, that’s all.

i. Your essay has to be moderate to pretty good. That’s all. A 70 will get you a clear pass. Again, that’s like a C- grade average. Real shitty. In fact, the “model” answers in the BARBRI book are wrong sometimes. So, if the model answer has some major mistakes or minor mistakes, and that’s the best of the best, can you imagine how shitty most of them are? Exactly – relax. Take a breath. Exhale. This is good news. You don’t need to be good. You just need to be above average shitty. One of the few times in life where mediocrity will get you far in life. Congrats!

i. How to prepare for the essays?

i. Barbri gives you an insane schedule where you have to do 3 essays, sometimes 4 a day. F’ that. No way I could do all of that. Instead, I did like 40% of the essays written and timed, and the rest, especially during the cram time, I did timed outlines. This was glorious for me. It might not work for you, but give it a try.

ii. Imagine you’re taking the real exam. Give yourself 20 minutes , time it, and then “outline the answer’ as if you would in a real test. Don’t write it all out. Then, read your answer compared to the model answer. Be honest with yourself. If you didn’t get the major subjects, make a note. See where you went wrong. Also, observe how your outline structure comports with the Bar answer. Again, it’s ideal of course to write it all out, but who has time to write it for 1 hour, read it, and then do the rest? Most don’t. This for me was really helpful in making my eyes see at least all the essays in some capacity.

iii. I stayed true to this course of action for 2 months and with time and practice, I was able to get my form and structure down cold. I also was able to read the question more fully, answer more thoroughly, and not doubt myself or panic as I did before. Slow and steady wins the race in the essay battle.

j. Time and Pressure

i. As with the MBE’s, your essays will improve only with time and pressure applied. Don’t expect to become Yoda by week 3. You won’t. In fact you never will. Expect to become proficient and confident only in the last few weeks, especially during Cram. That’s when it all comes together. Remember, rushing only helps you in the first 5 minutes but screws you up for the next 50 minutes while writing an essay. Taking your 15 to 20-minute outline time might at first seem foolish, but it allows you to strategize and lay the organized, comprehensive groundwork for the essay. All you have to do is spend the next 40 minutes writing, which is essentially layering your “skeleton” with flesh and tissue.

ii. The only way to overcome your “time” weakness is to keep timing yourself and practicing. Some people just can’t finish the essays in time. Well, you must. Keep practicing. Again, you don’t need an “A”, you just need a 70. Whatever you do, try to finish the essays. Write less but to the point. Make sure the main causes of actions, elements are there. Put it on the paper – if it’s there, you can get a mark. If it’s not, you don’t get points for effort. Timing yourself with your friends, much like the MBE’s, in a simulated environment a great way to practice.

k. Prepare for Chaos – aka, your Computer failing

i. A couple of times we prepared for our computers failing by doing the essays in hand. I should’ve done this more times since that’s exactly what happened to me. I cannot urge this enough – prepare, just in case, for your computer dying. Practice it. Midway through one or two computer written essays, pretend your computer dies. Let 2- 3 minutes pass to simulate you reviving it. Then, pick up a pen and start writing the rest on paper. This could happen to 10% of you. You want to be prepped and prepared and most importantly calm if it does happen.

8) REVIEW

a. Each night, usually either after or before dinner as you’re winding down, spend an hour or two casually reviewing. Review your notes, your flashcards, your convisor, your essay answers, etc. Read a section from Adachi or Whiteny’s books. But make sure you are reviewing small sections. This keeps the material fresh and if you keep doing it, after 1.5 months right before you cram, you realize you know more than you thought.

b. I casually flipped through notes while I watched movies every night. Most of the time I was watching the movie, but I did take a gander at some material.

c. Gain Knowledge While Pooping

i. Some of my best Bar studying happened on the toilet seat. Yes, I said it.

9) THE PERFORMANCE TESTS

a. PT’s are God’s gift to you on the Bar Exam. They are “give me” points. Once I heard this from an attorney, I wanted to punch this person in the face. I, along with everyone else, thought we would die a miserable PT death after taking and failing our first one. Again, I repeat: PT’s are God’s gift to you on the Bar Exam. They are “give me” points.

b. All that you need to know is in the Performance Test. You need not memorize anything. This is the best part of the PT. All the facts, the law, what they want is in the big ass packet they give you. You don’t have to rely on any memory whatsoever. The trick is how to successfully find that information and convey it.

c. Spend 80 minutes reading and outlining, Spend 85 minutes writing.

i. This is the best strategic offensive to take with the PT. Apply this rule like a standard. Try it out on 3 PT’s. I guarantee it will give you focus and help you manage your time. You will get better with practice.

ii. You spend 80 minutes (give or take 5 min) reading the material and creating your outline, notes, thoughts, etc. Then, please get up and go to the bathroom or walk around. Spend 5 minutes just chilling. This will help you relax and think. You can afford it. Then return and spend the next 85 minutes or so writing your PT. Many times, you will finish couple of minutes before time is called.

d. Read the question 3 times.

i. The number one reason why people fail the PT is because they don’t read the question properly. I’m serious. I’m not joking. I read the question 3 times. Yup, thrice. And I’m glad I did. They tell you exactly what they want, so you give them exactly what they asked for. Exactly? Exactly. Not rocket science. Make the Bar people happy. And before writing it, I read the damn thing ONE MORE TIME [So I read it 4 times.]

ii. This is, again, the main key to passing the PT. Reading the question and giving it to them exactly as they want it.

e. If there’s a statute, you must use it.

i. PT’s are very simple to break down once you’ve done a couple. At first, you will cry with intimidation. There’s a frikkin 30 page packet with information you must assess and then use to answer a question. Filthy. But basically it boils down to a) legal sources b) facts. That’s it. The cases usually give you the “elements” needed to prove a certain cause of action. You just copy that word for word. Then you fill it in with the facts from the first half of the PT to flesh out your argument. That’s basically it.

ii. If they give you statutes, you must use each and every one in answering the question or questions. Remember this. Each statute is used at least once when answering a PT question[s].

iii. If they give you 3 statutes, and you used only 2 in your final answer, you’ve essentially failed the PT.

f. Shamelessly Plagiarize

i. 70% of my PT was straight up copying the facts and the law word for word. Really? Yes, really. They expect that from you. They just want to see if you were able to catch the black letter law and pick up the necessary facts to prove it. You can copy facts word for word and cite it. Ditto the law from the cases and statutes. In fact, you get more brownie points for doing so.

g. Follow the format they give you

i. Most of the times they tell you exactly how they want you to write the memo or the complaint or the admission, etc. So, just do it. Follow their template. Once they asked us to write a memo without giving us a template. So, go back and see how you write a memo. Not too hard. I think once they also asked for an “Admissions” w/o providing a template. But they did that once in Bar history and never again.

h. Follow the “How to Take an Essay” Strategy

i. In order to do more, I recommend using the “outline” approach. Spend 2 hours instead of 3 and just outline the answer instead of writing a complete answer. You’ll improve and be able to see how/where you went wrong in your reasoning. However, I recommend doing at least 4 complete PT’s within the 3 hour timed limit using the approach I gave you.

The Day Before the Bar Exam…….

1) ………is absolutely horrible and nerve-wracking.

a. Everyone is in your same boat. People are pumped up with adrenaline and tension. People are amped up on a natural high, unable to sleep or even concentrate. You lie awake staring at your ceiling thinking of how you will answer a hypothetical Torts question, then you proceed to answer it in your head. Then, you think what subjects will be asked. You consider what will happen if you fail? How will you face your family? How will you face your community? You’ll be a derelict on the street forced to give fellatio for money or crack rocks like Tyrone Biggums. You’ll be a failure. It’s over. Oh, God, why didn’t you follow your passion and become a Swedish Yodeler instead?! Why, God, why?! Curse the Heavens! Nooooooooooooooo!!!……………

2) RELAX. R-E-L-A-X. Keep calm, keep sane, keep yourself in check.

a. Try to get rest, sleep on time knowing full well you will not get much sleep. I only got 2 hours of sleep each day. I lay awake staring at my ceiling trying to get my brain to stop talking to me, but it wouldn’t. Then, the Sun in Davis, California decided it would sit right on top of us and fart rays of humid heat directly on our faces. So, I sat there with my back drenched with sweat, sweating on my wet bed with a useless fan oscillating hot air onto my sweaty brown flesh trying to sleep but unable to think of anything except solving hypothetical Bar questions. If this happens to you, you are not alone.

3) Do not waste time thinking or guessing what subjects will be on the test, because you will be wrong 90% of the time. Be prepared for all of them, especially Professional Responsibility.

4) Make sure your computer is completely perfect. Call examsoft the day before. Make sure you are registered, have your registration ticket, your materials completely ready. Have pens just in case.

5) Study any nagging questions you have. I crammed everyday of the Bar exam. I couldn’t help it. I spent at least 2 hours reviewing stuff at night even though I was exhausted. But it is wise to rest your brain and relax and say “enough” earlier than later. You want your mind fresh.

6) Drive to the test location before the day of the test. I urge you to see the place before you take the test. If you are driving, then drive a day or two before. Make sure you know how to get there. Time it. And throw in 30 min for traffic or surreal delays. Get there early.

THE DAY OF THE EXAM……..

1) You wake up like Speed Racer. It’s as if your body was primed to start running as soon you opened your eyelids. You are completely wired. You will jump out of bed. Use that adrenaline. Get ready, have a breakfast, have your coffee if you must.

2) Make sure you have your registration card, your ID, your computer and charger, and pens just in case

3) Get there early. If you have time, review materials in your car or outside. Most people are reviewing right up until they are allowed inside.

4) Do not freak people out. People are high strung and about to puke sometimes. You don’t want to be the guy who gets them nervous, vice versa. Just keep it cool. A part of you will want to cry and suddenly you’ll say, “Oh, my god! I don’t know Products Liability. Help! Help!” Refrain and restrain yourself. You know it. Trust yourself. It’ll hit you like an injection once/if you see it.

5) Befriend your proctor and your neighbors

a. Since I have a God given ability to attract chaos in my life, I managed to leave behind my registration card during the break. Without that you don’t get re-entry, no exceptions. I also forgot my pens. My computer, thanks to Exam Soft, decided to die on Day 3. I also forgot to leave my cell phone in my car and brought it inside, which could get you kicked out. If this happens to you, they ask you to bring it to the front and place it in a big box and they claim no responsibility for it = it will get stolen.

i. Why do I mention all this? I befriended my proctor and neighbor. The proctor saw my registration card on my desk, picked it up, kept it and ran outside before re-entry and told the people at the desk that I was “legit” and I was one of “3 people who left their card.” She told me should ensure I’d get entry even if they didn’t let me by “vouching for me.” That’s a dope proctor!

ii. On Day 3, I brought my cell phone in. I said, “Crap! I have my cell phone. I don’t want to put it in the bucket so it can get stolen, can you hold on to it for the day?” She said, “Oh, sure. Just give it to me.” And voila my cell phone was in her purse instead of some giant open box.

iii. The last day my computer died 10 minutes before starting the essays. My neighbor brought pens as insurance and gave me her pen stack. I was saved.

6) Do not be the asshole that discusses the Bar Exam during the Break, it will only cause you much pain

a. There’s an itch. You want to scratch it, but you know it’s no good for you. That itch is curiosity. You want to know if you were able to spot the subject. Oh, how badly you want to scratch that itch. Don’t. Please don’t. I speak from experience. If someone starts talking about it, literally just walk away. Seriously, just say, “Ok, bye.” It will plague your mind and poison you. Do not even discuss it at night. Do not even discuss it after the Bar exam. I’ve been in all these situations where people started talking about it, I guarantee you it brings you NOTHING BUT MENTAL PAIN. Let it go. Please, for the love of God, let it go.

7) My computer starts glitching! My computer died! Oh, God!

a. You must be prepared for this. The ExamSoft system sucks. They are not sophisticated. Many people’s computers either died momentarily during the test or completely died like mine. For the former, there is a cure. I think there is a quick restart option by pressing some buttons. It’ll be in your Computer instructions. I urge you to read that. For others like myself, we had to go pen and paper.

i. BE CALM. If you panic, you die. Repeat this: “BE CALM, if I panic, I die.” The only reason I survived this, and some of peers with similar problems didn’t, is because I stayed ice cold and calm like Joe Montana or Cool Hand Luke. You must keep your wits about you. No nihilism, no fatalism, no giving up, no making excuses. Screw that. You worked too hard and this shit cost you $4K! Just breathe, be calm, unwrap the paper, and start writing. Apply the exact same strategy as before but only onto paper.

1. Give yourself two spaces. Again, double space.

2. Also, number your pages on your top right or left. This will make it much clearer for you to know where you are since the packet they give you is very cheap and flimsy. You could easily start on the back page thinking it was the front page. So number your pages.

8) I totally screwed up on an exam!! What do I do? YOU MOVE ON!

a. Each one of you will have one “bad” day or “bad” essay. You will convince yourself that all is lost, that you’ve failed, that the BAR molested you. You will think about it over and over and over and over again for 4 months. Imagine you’re taking the test. It’s the second essay. This is your molester. Time is up and you need to move on to essay three. This is what you must do: LET IT GO.

i. Let it go and move on. Brand new essay, brand new day, brand new chance to get points.

ii. I had this horrible Evidence essay as the third essay on Day 1. I didn’t follow my strategy on this because I only had 52 minutes instead of 60 minutes – I took too much time on Essay # 2. Instead of being calm and collected and making my outline, I rushed, thus forcing myself to reread the question like 6 times throughout the hour. I got stuck on the first call. Totally didn’t know what it was. It destroyed my confidence for the next 5 calls. After viewing the model answer months later, I got most of the answer right but it was by far my weakest with major gaping holes. This ate at me all day. It crept up in my brain for the first 10 minutes of my PT on day 1.

1. If this happens to you, and it will, you must literally stop yourself. Tell your brain, “I will not think about this. It is over. I am moving on to this section. I cannot change anything now. This is hurting me. I will move on to this section and apply all my energy to dominating it.” I literally had to say that to myself three times and then I applied all my energy to the PT. This again happened to me DAY 2 during the MBE’s. The first half was horrible for me, just terrible. I let the first half go during the second half by coaching myself. You must do this, or else you wont recovery psychologically and emotionally, ruining a perfectly excellent chance of passing the bar.

POINTERS AND PARTING SHOTS

1) “Bar Takers Hotline:” Or, Please let me bitch to you!

a. It is perfectly ok to rant, bitch, complain, lament, cry and whine to someone about the Bar exam. In fact, I recommend it. Some people need to do this daily, some weekly, some monthly. I did this every 2.5 weeks.

b. Find a “Bar Buddy.” A successful bar examinee is a good choice because they can empathize with you: they’ve been through it. Hopefully, they are also cool people and your friends. Or, your parents, your spouse, or your kids. Or, your homies. But, again, I recommend a fellow attorney/law graduate.

2) It is Ok to fail miserably for the first 2/3 of Barbri

a. I got 40% on MBE’s consistently. I failed most of my essays. I failed most of my PT’s. I didn’t get any sleep b/c I’m an insomniac. I didn’t study 12 hours a day. I had no idea what I was doing for most of Barbri. I still passed.

b. You will be overwhelmed, confused, irritated and pissed off at your inability to master all this information for a majority of your Bar prep experience. This makes you normal. Congratulations.

3) Your peers are just as scared as you

a. We are Type-A, neurotic, ambitious, insecure creatures. We measure our successes by looking at our peers. One “I’m kind of a big deal” grasshopper can ruin our self esteem. I assure you most of your peers are in your same boat, most just don’t admit it due to their insecurity and fear of being seen as weak. People are terrified. People are failing their MBE’s and essays. People want help and comfort. You all are in the same boat. This should comfort you.

4) Gain wisdom: Talk to people who failed and passed the BAR.

a. Talking to those who passed is common sense, but why talk to those who failed? I found talking to them to be more useful. If they are honest and they open up to you, I guarantee the 3 main reasons for their unsuccessful attempts are the following:

i. They got nervous. Yup – the main reason. People freak out. They get frazzled. It’s as simple as that. They study just as much as you but they panic and it kills their concentration on game day.

ii. They didn’t study. They just didn’t put in the time or effort.

iii. They studied but they didn’t execute. I know someone who studied 14 hours a day and didn’t pass. Why? He knew all the black letter law but he didn’t apply it the way Bar wanted it. Again, I stress strategy, form and structure. You could spend 18 hours a day on the knowledge but if you don’t know how to convey it, it means nothing for the Bar. Really practice your execution. It will elevate your game.

5) Take JULY 4TH OFF

a. Seriously, no one does BARBRI on July 4th. No one. We all chilled and had a day long BBQ. Later, we all went to go see fireworks. It was wonderful. After the July 4th break, you essentially go into cram mode. You need that break. Most take 2 days off, some take 3 – everyone, except I guess losers, takes July 4th off. If you’re with fellow Bar takers, like I said, throw yourselves a food orgy. You deserve it.

6) It all comes together during CRAM TIME

a. Everyone will tell you that it comes together during the last 2.5 weeks, and they are right. It all sparks and you start “getting it” during the final stretch. This is where you naturally “cram” and your adrenaline kicks and you’re studying all the time. Use the cram time well – put it in 5th gear and take the pedal to the medal. I felt like I learned all of it in the final 17 days. It was like a revelation. Most experience this. All that mumbo jumbo swirling in your head finally coalesces and crystallizes. Just have faith that it will all come together by this time.

7) UPLOAD YOUR ANSWERS ASAP

a. Everything is now wireless and through the internet. After Day 1 and Day 3, you have to “upload” your files to Exam Soft. If you don’t do it by a deadline, then they don’t take your answers. On the final day, many people foolishly procrastinated, went home, fell asleep and woke up the next day only to encounter technical glitches. They uploaded it after the deadline and spend hours and weeks dreading whether or not their test would even count. All of them eventually counted b/c Exam Soft acknowledged the problem, but seriously think about it – do you want that mental anguish?!? NO! So, upload your answers the first thing you do when you get home after DAY 1 and DAY 3. Please.

That’s all I have for you, folks. Pardon me if this wasn’t useful, I tried to give you straight up, no nonsense, no bullshit, and experienced wisdom as a man who was in your shoes not too long ago. I empathize with your anxiety and I assure you that this is only temporary. The Bar exam will be an ancient memory for most – inshallah – in a year and you all can bask in your hard earned glory.

It’s just a test. If I can do this, anyone can. You can pass. Really, you can pass. Inshallah, you all will pass.

If I can be of more assistance, email me at lawdefense@gmail.com

Best of luck.

If this was useful, great. Buy me lunch sometime.

15 SIMPLE RULES FOR THE BAR EXAM

1) “If grasshopper is lazy and puts in no effort, grasshopper will fail…and be killed and eaten.”

2) “Grasshopper will think only good thoughts and not beat himself up. Suffering needlessly shall not make grasshopper pass.”

3) “Grasshopper will not be “I’m kind of a big deal” douche bag grasshopper. Grasshopper need not waste energy and time doing mindless work. Grasshopper will simplify life.

4) “I will be the Zen Grasshopper…I am the Zen Grasshopper”

5) THINK POSITIVE, BE POSITIVE

6) UNHAPPY THOUGHTS ARE USELESS AND GIVE US UNNCESSARY STRESS

7) It’s a Marathon. Be the Tortoise, not the Hare.

8) I do not need to Master the Bar Material; I just need a “Glib” understanding.

9) Oh, shit! What to do if I fail? I take it again! That’s all. Simple

10) Enjoy your life – you need not suffer to pass the Bar exam

11) There is NO ONE WAY of Studying/Preparing for the Bar Exam

12) DO NOT let other people’s insecurity and anxiety affect you

13) REST

14) Do not expect to finish the insane BARBRI schedule

15) THIS IS NOT ROCKET SCIENCE

Advertisements

5 thoughts on “Wajahat Ali’s NO B.S. Guide to The Bar Exam: Or, How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Bar (kind of, but not really)

  1. see… i don’t remember us adhering to Rule #1. See what I remember is kind of different… if I remember the way it went down, we spent the first 2 hours of the afternoon going “i don’t study” “no no no, you study, I don’t study” and so on, then “i don’t care” and then “no no no, IIIIII DONT care” and so on, and then making plans to go see movies (with the exception of Ratatouille… because I thought it sounded suck… and you insisted that everyone go despite my objections and preferences). that is how it was.

  2. Thank you. Thank you so much. I have been looking around for this EVERYWHERE. A realistic, honest, and encouraging approach to bar prep.

    THANK YOU!

  3. I would personally like to see this shit-covered bear analogy gain some traction. It conveys so many abstract concepts: fear, revulsion, danger, adversity…

    Those bears are probably pretty darn slippery, too, which I imagine only adds to the challenge. It works on so many levels!

  4. I essentially studied for 17 full days (w/o BarBri classes but with BrBri and MicroMash materials) and passed the Bar Exam. But I studied from 6AM to 11PM those 17 days (with 3 one-hour breaks in the middle for food etc) and had a plan that I believed in (I never thought that I would fail). I don’t think I am particularly smart but I have always managed to kick the living shit out of standardized tests. I am not suggesting that you do what I did unless you are pretty laid back and have still managed to do well in school (3.6+GPA) and standardized tests (1550+/1600 SAT); (170+ LSAT).

  5. I don’t remember how I found this blog but it was one of the most useful things I read (besides Barbri material) during my studying for the CA Bar Exam. It’s just basic, common sense but it reassured me that I was doing the right stuff. I studied my heart out. Passed the first time I took it. My advice- don’t take any shortcuts! Do it right the first time around and move on with your life. Thanks again for the solid words of advice and encouragement.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s