First, I want to thank you for following this blog. To date, we have had over a million views! I take great pleasure in being able to offer assistance to those who are struggling through the grind of bar studies. It is truly humbling to have your readership.
The bar exam is now less than two weeks away. This weekend is often one of the most critical weekends in a July bar examinee’s review period. Many are starting to realize the sheer weight of what has to be done and fear starts to creep in and even take over. Anxiety starts to run high, and if allowed to go unchecked, can be any bar examinee’s demise.
It is normal to experience some anxiety and fear during this time – especially when you think about how much you might still need to learn, let alone memorize. However, it is important that you put things into perspective. The bar exam, while now less than two weeks away, is not tomorrow. You have time to improve and to work on your memorization. One of the best ways to eliminate anxiety is to start memorizing the material. But, what do you memorize?
One of the most common questions I field every bar round is: How can I possibly memorize everything in time? How can I pull this together?
First of all, know that YOU CAN do this. Believe that.
So How do you memorize everything? You have time to do what you need in the remaining days leading up to the bar exam. You need to memorize a lot of information. Everyone knows this. But, what many bar examinees fail to recognize is that you need to also make sure that you are memorizing what you actually need. I can tell you that memorizing a 100 or 150 page outline for every topic (if this is even something that is humanly possible) will not likely translate into your being able to identify the correct issues on an essay exam. And if you can not identify enough of the correct issues on an essay exam, then you simply will not be able to write on enough issues to pass and it really will not matter that you have that 100 or 150 page outline memorized.
Start memorizing condensed outlines now! I am not saying that a long outline is not a useful (and even necessary tool) for passing the bar exam. But, when it is this close to the exam, you need to begin (if you haven’t already) memorizing condensed materials. Also, you need to get exposure to as many past bar exam essays as you can (read these, study these, study the answers) as well as memorize approaches and definitions that are manageable. By manageable, I mean that instead of 150 page Contracts outline, you memorize a 4 page, condensed contracts outline. And, preferably you have a step-by-step approach for each subject area. And if you don’t, then get one or create it from past essay answers.
So now what – great, I came here, read the “guru’s” latest blog post and I am now freaking out! If you do not have a condensed outline – then read the essays. If you do not have a step-by-step approach for each subject area – read more essays. The information is there. And it is not too late! If you want condensed outlines for the California bar exam, predictions, a detailed 10 Study Plan and selected essays that are based upon our predictions, you can still order these today. For more information see this earlier post about the Bar Exam Cram and Predictions Package.
There are so many more reasons to read essays and study the answers but, I will focus on just a few:
- If only I could see the test in advance: Past bar exam essays repeat and repeat over the years. In fact, most bar exam administrations do not test anything new or anything in a different way than has been tested previously. This means that if you study past bar exam essays, you increase the likelihood of seeing something on the actual bar exam that you have read and studied before. How great would it be to walk into the bar exam (in 13 days) and open your test booklet for the essays and read the first essay and realize that you had just studied a very similar essay and the accompanying answer. It would be pretty great. Our “Predictions” email includes selected essays and answers that correspond to the predictions and areas that I feel are most likely to be tested.
- Reviewing essays and answers is actually a form of substantive review: Another reason to study and review and read the answers to past California bar essays is because it is actually a type of substantive review but, in a way in a more memorable context.
- Learn what the examiners want from you: Finally, and this is a big one, by reading past California bar essays and studying the released answers (selected by the California bar examiners as the answers that should be released) you will learn what the examiners were looking for and this is critical.
Understand this: you may think you know the law at this point but, if you are not able to translate your knowledge and memorization of long outlines into correctly identifying the issues that the bar examiners wanted addressed for a particular essay, you will likely fail the bar exam. I know, this is blunt and sounds harsh. But, it is true and I wouldn’t say it if I didn’t think that you still had time to fix this (assuming it is an issue for you) with the time remaining.
Regardless of where you are in your studies right now, be sure to switch over to condensed versions of the testable material and please, do yourself a favor and read past California bar exam essays and really study the answers. This is how you will know what the examiners are truly looking for on a given fact pattern and you do need to know that in order to pass.
Thank you again for following this blog, we have now had over one million views.
It is humbling and I am grateful to have this outlet to offer a little guidance and help.
Stay positive, you can do this! I will write more in the coming days.
All the best in your studies!
Lisa Duncanson Founder/Program Director, Bar None Review Bar None Review 213-529-0990 firstname.lastname@example.org