Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Bar Exam Advice

Aisha, you just passed the bar exam, what are you going to do now?? SLEEP! And sleep I did, quite well these past few glorious post-bar-exam-result days. Now that I have celebrated as properly as one could given the circumstances its time for me to share what I learned from my experience. This advice is of course just my own personal point of view and what I did may not work for you. I just remember doing a lot of googling for blogs on bar exam advice and so I thought it would be nice to add another to the pool. I hope this is of some use.

BarBri: I used BarBri as my bar prep course. They help you prep for the state portion and the national portion (the multiple choice MBE). BarBri is pretty good, you take their classes and fill in their pre-prepared lecture notes. They provide good outlines for all the essential bar exam topics. If you didn't take a particular course in law school, the BarBri outlines will cover all you need. At one point in the class you take a full length practice MBE and they give you your ranking as compared to other BarBri students nationwide. BarBri helped me stick to a schedule and I felt comfortable that I learned all the topics covered on the exam. That being said, BarBri is very expensive. If you're going into the private sector your employer may offer to pay for it but if you're a public interest route person like me then... not so much. I was not going to take BarBri because of the high cost (my year it was about $2200) but I caved in. I know people who used old Barbri books passed the exam and saved a pretty penny as well. So it can be done... butI wanted peace of mind and I am glad I took BarBri.

PMBR: PMBR helps you with the national MBE portion. Though BarBri preps you for it too, the books for PMBR are a lot more intense. The questions are much more difficult and the sheer number of practice questions is staggering. They offer two separate lecture style classes: A six day course where you take a sample exam on one topic and then review it for three hours each day. They also offer a three day course where they give you a full length practice exam designed to test you with all the hardest questions and then review them with you. In my opinion the books are awesome but their lectures not so much. If I were you, I would skip the six day lectures but make sure I got the books that they give out at the six day lecture. The three day lecture is somewhat useful and under $200. My one caveat is that on the 2007 MBE however was that it was nothing at all like the PMBR sample questions and that threw me off quite a bit, but still it helped to have studied their questions.

Study Schedule: Some say you should study 12 hours a day. Some say make it a work week. I didn't keep a strict schedule like others had but I did study 40 hours a week. I also made sure to do one 50 question MBE practice exam every day. With studying for the bar exam study like you did in law school and that method will prove to remain successful for you. You took the same courses as the majority of other bar exam takers and so the difference between your knowledge and your seat mates is not going to be significant. Therefore the real difference is the confidence levels and thus the ability to perform better. In my opinion if you study like you always have you will be fine. ***Caveat: I have heard the bar exam in California is atrocious with an abysmal pass rate... they have great blogs out there for California bar exam takers such as here. Perhaps extra study there would not hurt***

An answer to a frequently asked Question: Should I take X class because it will be on the bar exam? My opinion: If you take BarBri: No. BarBri will dumb down all you learned in law school and give you the black letter law and how the bar examiners want to see it. The only two classes in my opinion that would help to take for purposes of the bar exam are: Con Law II and Criminal Procedure. I say those two because the concepts can be a tad complicated so background knowledge in those might be helpful.

When you sit down to study for the bar you will have just graduated law school. You will be tired and burnt out and the last thing you want to do after GRADUATING is STUDY. Just remember it will soon be over and that you will see the light at the end of the long long six week tunnel.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

You were quite thorough with your studying - good job.

On a side note I wonder if you and your readers can offer some advice :

I happened to come across an
ex-friends blog (one that I parted with on not too good terms - like your experience that you had written about the other day - a friend that you thought would last a lifetime). I have been reading her blog and had read some mean things that she had written about me.

My question is whether I should let it be known that I have read her blog and am quite aware of her comments? She has emailed my blog email curious as to who I am - I think she may have her suspicions.

I hope you don't mind my question on your blog, I just feel you would have good advice.

-Thank you.

Aisha said...

Anon- this question is off topic and I typically don't feel comfortable having these kinds of talks in comment boxes.. but I will say that if someone has hurt you and you care about this person and want to mend things its probably best to talk to them about it. If the person is no longer your friend and you don't care to pick up the friendship, its probably best to let it go and begin the healing process and move on. If they are publicly ridiculing or insulting you with actual identifying characteristics then maybe you could talk to them about that since you don't want your name dragged through the mud. If its just vague and name-less but you know its you, I'd probably let it go and stop reading that blog. I'm not really an expert on the topic, thats just my opinion..

Aisha said...

If you want to talk to me about this more you can email me. I can't guarantee a fast response but I will respond.

Anonymous said...

My apologies on the post in your comment box. Thanks for your response and advice. :-)

Anonymous said...

Is Con Law II First Amendment? And some schools have 2 Crim Pros; are you talking about the one based on 4th/5th Amendment issues?

Aisha said...

Anon 1: Please no need to apologize. The reason I get uncomfortable with off topic discussions is because they've led to not so pleasant roads in the past and i'm trying to make it a general rule to myself that I not risk such roads.. If you need to talk please feel free to email me though.

Anon 2: Constitutional Law II in my law school covered individual freedoms. First amendment to some degree, gender and race and other issues in Constitutional Law as well. But I think a class on the First Amendment would work just as well. The reason I think such a course would be useful is it covers the levels of scrutiny the Supreme Court uses to evaluate things and the levels or review (rational-intermediate-strict) etc. But you can get those basic principles in other courses too, I think family law covers it a little bit as well.

Yeah there are two crim pros but at my law school one was labeled Criminal Procedure I and the other II. I don't know if you need a full year of it but at least a se mester to get the basics of it might not hurt. I never took criminal procedure in law school but issues like search and seizure, entrapment, fruit of the poisonous tree doctrines etc. felt like big issues to me with lots of subparts and exceptions to the rule. I learned probably all i needed to know through BarBri but I wished I had taken crim pro because i had to study the concepts harder than others who had taken it already.

Also, a lot of pepole say to take either commercial , Sales, or secured transactions. I took secured transactions and I heard that people who didn't take it really struggled with learning it in BarBri.

Again, just my opinion... Hope that helps.

Aisha said...

Also- as a caveat, I took the exam for a particular state but others take it for other states. Essays are very state specific. i heard Texas requires a full day on civ pro and evidence... obviously your choic,e in classes to take before graduating law school would differ in that case (i.e. perhaps more advanced evidence and civ pro courses).

Anonymous said...

Great advice Aisha! I'll be taking the bar in Feb and will be coming back to this post soon. I'm also caving in and spending the bucks on BarBri. I need structure in my studying - definetly not self-motivated.

Muse

Enyur said...

Woohoo!!! Congratulations on passing the bar!!! Wish you all the best!! And again as always, great advice that I can pass on to my sister!

Perrin said...

I am involved in a Class Action lawsuit alleging antitrust violations by barbri that make the courses much more expensive, and substantively worse (outdated materials, etc.), because of numerous outright illegal actions taken by barbri to become a dominant monopoly. The Class will be comprised of everyone who took a barbri course in 2007 or thereafter. Would that include you?

If so, I wanted to ask you, first and foremost: how did you feel about the course? Lots of people have lots of complaints, e.g. "I didn't even get my practice essays back until after the exam!", etc. In my experience, most of us wound up at least a little disgruntled about the experience in general, especially if you paid for it yourself. Even if you basically liked it (which you hint at), you still got ripped off, price-wise, becuase there's no meaningful competition!

Also, if it so happens that you failed the bar, you might be interested to know that passage rates are down dramatically all around the country since barbri's illegal anti-competitive behavior started, based on the failure of barbri to improve (or even just update!) their product like they would HAVE to do if they still had any legitimate competition in the market.

I don't know if you took antitrust in law school, but if you did, then I don't need to tell you about the principles involved here... or about the automatic trebling of damages in most antitrust actions.

I'm eager to pick your brain about this... don't worry, I'll be gentle.

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