Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Bar Exam Blues

Although many of you have probably blocked it from memory, for some of us this time of year always brings up memories of the bar exam. Nevada's July bar exam is next week at UNLV. In honor of those poor souls about to spend three days on the finer points of law they may likely never use so they can practice in Nevada, this post is dedicated to them.  Do you have any tips or advice? Is the bar exam experience from 20 years ago even anything close to what it is today? Any horror stories or words of warning? Is it time for Nevada to adopt the UBE?

30 comments:

  1. If you answer 165 of the multiple choice questions correctly, your probability of failing the bar is close to zero.

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    1. Is this really true though? I know in many states it is, but Nevada has a minimum score for the essays. Pretty sure the essays counted for 2/3 when I took it as well. Also, I am not sure how helpful it is to tell people "just do 99th percentile score and you'll be fine."

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    2. It's true because there is a strong correlation between being able to answer 165 multistate questions correctly and being able to do minimally competent work on the essays. I'm sure if someone answered 165 multistate questions correctly and then did nothing on everything else, that person would fail.

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    3. . . . and then you can market yourself as a "Bar Exam Expert", like at least one misguided P.I. lawyer in this town.

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    4. I know someone who got a ~125 on the MBE and passed because his essay score was apparently very high. It surprised both of us.

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  2. Don't eat seafood or buffets the night before the exam. And take some anti-diarrheal pills with you just in case.

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  3. Get a hotel room at the hotel where the bar exam is being held at. I don't care if you only live five minutes away, it is not worth the stress. I know for a fact that I failed the first essay question and I still passed the bar, so don't get discouraged if you open up the test and immediately regret not studying X subject

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  4. You must write something semi-intelligible on every single part and subpart of each question. You almost certainly get a decent chunk of points just for addressing issues with the applicable rule. This cannot be stressed enough. The "model" answers sometimes have totally wrong substantive responses. They are "models" not because they are right but because they organize and address the issues. That's what you're being tested on: issue spotting, knowledge of law, and organization. Proper application of law to facts is the difference between passing and getting a really high score, not the difference between passing and failing. And don't waste your time trying to squeeze out an extra half point on some minor issue if it means you're going to miss two points by totally failing to answer another subpart. That kind of tactical error will add up. Skim the question, outline your answer according to the parts and subparts asked so you don't forget to answer something, read the question closely, then start answering. Use at least 5 min to do this before writing any substantive answers. Then divide the rest of the time (minus 5 minutes) by subpart and use the correct division of time per subpart. Use the final 5 minutes to double check that you have answered everything asked. If you have 2-3 minutes left after that, go ahead and throw in minor issues here and there to squeeze out extra points after you are positive you already have a decent answer about everything asked.

    When I took the NV bar, we walked out during a break and my buddy told me he "didn't have time to get to" the third part of a three-part question. Of course, he did have time, but he managed his time poorly. It was my third bar exam (passed all of them on the first try), and I knew right then and there he would fail. He did.

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  5. Bar exam was as easy as ordering lunch and I didn't even do well in law school. Just puke some legalese onto each page and you'll do fine.

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    1. You must be a credit to your profession and a delight to your clients!

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  6. Good luck to all of you.

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  7. As the admissions qualifications of new law school grads continues to decline, we should see a commensurate decline in bar passage rates. If we don't, then it is only because bar passage is being made easier in order to compensate.

    Law school applications have plummeted. Admissions numbers have also declined, but at a far lower pace than have applications. Law schools are now admitting progressively less qualified applicants. Law school has been exposed for the ripoff that it, for many years, has been. Welcome to the profession, young ladies and gentlemen. http://michaelbhorn.com/2017/07/might-want-think-twice-going-law-school/

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    1. And good luck paying off that student debt.

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    2. Think about this while you're taking the bar exam. That should help.

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  8. Be happy you don't have to deal with Pat Eichman, yikes.

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  9. IRAC. Know it and use it on the exam. For that matter, use it in practice. That will make you better than 50% of lawyers right out of the gate.

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  10. Always look for the crossover issues. A common crossover question involves professional responsibilities and another substantive issue. If the fact pattern identifies one of the parties as an attorney, 99% of the time it will have at least 1 or more PR issues involved (really no other reason to include that fact unless its to set up an ethics issue). The test will frequently have a jurisdiction issue, remember that this is the Nevada bar exam... find a way to allow a Nevada court to exert jurisdiction.

    Final advice... stop the studying the day before and go see a movie. It will help put you in the right frame of mind and help you to relax. By that point, you either already know the material or trying to cram those last few hours wont make a difference and will only stress you out.

    Break a leg!

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    1. I agree with the stop studying advice only to a point. The final day or two before the exam, don't try to learn anything new. Just read a bunch of sample essay answers - you don't even need to read the questions. It helps you focus on how you need to structure and respond to essays without the stress of trying to learn new substantive areas of law in a few hours.

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  11. My contribution to the great suggestions already here -- do NOT talk about the exam before, during or immediately after the exam(s). Folks see different issues, answer what they see differently, everyone is certain they've missed things, everyone freaks everyone else out.

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    1. I can't think of a better point. Much like fight club,,, The first rule of Bar Exam is: You do not talk about the Bar Exam. The second rule of the Bar Exam is: You do not talk about the Bar Exam.

      I took my CA Bar Exam at a facility that I literally did not know a person, and consequently didn't get involved with any chatter about the test during the entirety of the exam. I think this reduced my stress exponentially because I did not have any conversations that made me second guess my answers like Anon at 7:14 says.

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  12. Right now, at this moment, you're either ready or you aren't. You may fine tune over the next few days, but you've already determined through your choices and effort whether or not you will pass the bar exam.

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  13. Be prepared to scale up or down your clothing. I sat for the barzam in Michigan in July several years ago, and my exam was administered at the MSU Breslin Center - a basketball court that doubles as a hockey rink. I was seated directly under an industrial grade air conditioner that blew ice cold air down upon me for two days. Fortunately, I had followed the advice I am giving now and was able to "layer up" (get it? Heh heh! cf. "lawyer up"). I passed the MI bar on my first sitting.

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  14. Take one-two immodium pills each night before, even if you don't generally suffer from diarrhea. You may be constipated, but that's better than having an unexpected bout of the sh***s.

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  15. Advice on how to be sufficiently caffeinated without having to pee for hours at a time?

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    1. Not my style. Other ideas?

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    2. Guess I'm just a bore

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  16. My advice:

    After each exam section, write down the subject/issues and how you felt out of 5. This is more for your own piece of mind while you wait for results. I passed and I felt 4/5 on most essay questions and felt decent about MBE/MPT.

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