Spring Breaking Down the Bar Exam

Well, it’s law school Spring Break.  My last Spring Break.  Ever.  Although, I can’t recall any of these last four Spring Breaks when I actually took a “break,” it is what it is.  As per usual, I have a laundry list of things to do this week and I’m loathe to get started.  It’s been raining consistently for the last three days and all I want to do is sleep.

Instead, I know I should be outlining my Advance Torts class as that is my main goal for the week.  I also need to start organizing my bar study wall calendar, making flash cards for the P&E (Procedure & Evidence) portion of the bar exam, and listening to my law CDs so I can start committing the rules of law….for EVERYTHING…to memory.  Wow.  Now I want to sleep even more.  I’m tired just thinking about it.

We’re plodding along in my Passing the Bar class and I’m feeling more and more pressured.  I know how I am.  Everything has to be organized and ready to go for me to study.  I am the person that has to have a clean and orderly study space or I can’t even think straight.  Sure, all semester long my office gets more and more cluttered, but twice a semester:  at the beginning and just before finals, it MUST be organized or I can’t focus.

Problem is, I know that when bar prep starts I can’t waste precious time tidying up and getting “ready” to study.  So I want all of it done now and there’s just so much to do; I guess I’m immobilized by the tasks at hand.  What a vicious cycle. I have got to get it together.  I guess part of the problem is the vast array of unknowns at this point.

Here’s what I mean:  We were asked to fill out a survey in my Passing the Bar class.  The survey was meant to help identify our weak areas of law.  Once we fill this out, our professor has all kinds of hand outs, supplements, and study aids that can help us fortify those specific areas in which we need remediation.  It’s so daunting.

So I did my survey and met with my professor this week.  Once I had it all on paper I was not surprised to find out that the areas I’ll be focusing on most are those that I didn’t care for in law school (or that didn’t care for ME) and those that I avoided altogether.  In short, business law courses:  Agency, Partnership, Payment Systems, Business Associations.  Meh.

Also, I knew I’d have to go another round with Con Law (although, I did just fine in its companion course, First Amendment) and of course, the bane of my existence: Property (to include Marital Property).  Note that only first semester property was horrific (Read: Future Interests and the RAP) and once we got to more sane areas of property like mortgages and equal lending and housing practices I was much better!  I cannot blame my first semester disconnect on my professor, either.  Nope, he is great–it’s the subject matter that fries my brain.  Sigh.

There were other parts of the survey that I just couldn’t answer yet.  I couldn’t put down on paper how many hours I planned to devote to bar prep.  I couldn’t list my planned daily schedule.  I couldn’t break any of this down because #1) I don’t know what bar prep course I’m going to take, # 2) I don’t know how I’m going to pay for it ($2K+) and #3) because of #1 and #2 I have no idea what portion of my day is pre-planned with lectures and what remains of the day for me to follow the rest of the bar prep schedule.

And, BTW…what does that bar prep schedule look like????  I feel like there are 25 balls juggling in the air at once and before I can get any of them into a rhythm one is gonna have to start falling down to begin the sequence.

I applied for a bar prep scholarship that our school has given out for the last seven semesters.  I guess they started this shortly after I began law school in 2008.  I know in the past the scholarship committee has been very generous and most everyone that applied got some sort of assistance.  I can only hope that this trend continues.  I need that scholarship bad.  We’re supposed to find out towards the end of this month.  So please send prayers that this works out.   Once I know about this, the rest of the pieces I need to plan and prepare will fall quickly into place.  I just need to do what I can to get as much organized as I can in the interim.

I don’t know how people would have any idea of how to approach taking the Bar exam without taking this class I’m taking now.  Think of it as a Prepping for the Bar Prepping Class.  So I guess I’m somewhat relieved that as frazzled as I am right now, I’d rather be having this BEFORE actual bar prep as opposed to on top of bar prep.   Thanks to my professor I’ve got a plan.  The following is from his handout:


1)  ESSAYS:  The goal is to develop a base of knowledge that is similar to what I have in classes in which I made a grade of at least a B or higher, and to create an outline for the most commonly tested topics.

2)  MBE (Multistate Bar Exam) The goal is to get a good deal of law under my belt and to shore up or radically alter how I answer multiple-choice questions, which ever approach is applicable.

3)  P&E (Procedure & Evidence) The goal is to learn the rules for the most highly tested ares of law and to learn how to write concise answers to the P&E short answer questions.

4)  MPT (Multistate Performance Test):  The goal is to learn how to systematically deconstruct my task and construct the required answer within 90 minutes.

And that’s just the EARLY bar preparation.  During the course of bar prep (approx. 10 weeks) it is expected that we will spend a minimum of 8 hours a day studying for the first few weeks, then we will transition into 12-14 hour days, then as the exam gets closer we are supposed to kick it back down to 5-8, so that we aren’t dead before show time.

No point in starting to panic now.  The only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.  Like Dory in “Finding Nemo,” all I can do is just keep swimming!


About LegalTrenches

I graduated law school in May 2012 and have been blogging about my experience as a non-traditional student since my 2L year. I live over 200 miles from my law school and so I commuted two round trips a week from the beginning. I put almost 1000 miles a week on my car. Law school is crazy. It's even crazier as a non-traditional commuter student, but I wouldn't have had it any other way! I blogged my way through bar prep and sat for the July 2012 Texas Bar exam. Hopefully some of my experiences will help out those taking the bar exam after me. On Nov. 1, 2012, I received my bar results and became an officially licensed Texas lawyer! Follow me as I transition into the legal world as a brand new baby lawyer. I'll try to keep it light and promise to keep it real.

Posted on March 11, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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