In this episode, I go further into the importance of practicing in order to pass your bar exam.
I also give a great mental tip about how to keep moving forward, even if you’re failing some practice tests.
Click the link below to download the episode or play in the player. Enjoy!
Practice Makes Passing
Today we are going to be talking about how practice makes passing and how practice can help you pass your bar exam this summer or if you are listening to this in the winter time this winter.
Let us tart with this analogy, if I told you that at the end of July or the end of February if you are listening to this for your February bar. At the end of this time if I would give you one million dollars if you hit a free throw shot what do you think is the first thing that you would set out and do. Well, probably you would run out to the nearest basketball hoop and start shooting free throw shots; you would start practicing the free throw right?
You might do well you might do poorly you might hit the shots you might not, but after you practice some then you probably think well how can I get really good at this, I really want to hit this free throw shot, how can I get good at this, so you might go to YouTube and watch YouTube videos on free throw shooting, you might start reading on line how to make a free throw shot, you might start reading books, you might find a mentor or a coach or somebody who knows what they are doing who has done this before and ask them.
There are all kinds of different things and then you will take what you learn from that video you watched, those books you read, or the internet or the mentor and you start applying that to your free throw shot, so you might start changing different aspect of your free throw shot, you might start changing the stroke, you might start changing the position of the elbow or the way you follow through, the way your feet are positioned.
You will start going out and implementing those and practicing those every day okay good. So now what if I issue the challenge to you and I said at the end of July or the end of February (if you are listening then) you are going to have three essays and you will have to take those three essays in three hours and if you pass those essays I am going to give you one million dollars. Well surprisingly instead of going out and start practicing those essays many of you might just start going and reading books on how to pass the essays, start memorizing the rules that you need to do it.
Shockingly a lot of you would actually not go out at all over this period of time and start practicing those essays. You might just caught up reading the books and memorizing the rule as oppose to practicing, but it is important to know the number one reason why people do not pass the bar exam is because they do not do enough practice test during their preparation. Yes, that is true and if you ask any mentor any bar exam coach, anyone who has passed the bar exam they are going to tell you that practicing those essays were probably one of the most important things that they did.
Let go back to the free throw analogy, so if you are reading all of those books on the free throw and watching video and getting the coaching, looking online you are doing that all for one purpose and that so you can make the free throw on the big day.
When that day comes you want to be able to make that free throw. All that other stuff is just to make you a better free throw shooter so you can make the free throw. None of that stuff is the main focus, you are not going to be asked to tell other how to make a free throw, you are not going to be asked to teach others to the follow through and what is the position of the elbows is going to be. None of that all really matters you are just learning that stuff so you can be a better free throw shooter.
The same thing applies with the bar exam, all those rules you are memorizing and reading over and over, there is one purpose and one purpose only to get those rules done and that is so you can write good passing essays o the day of your bar exam. I will say that again. The rules that you are reading and memorizing are for one purpose and one purpose only and that is to make you a good bar exam essay writer so you can pass the bar exam, and by the way when I say the essays I also do mean the MBE’s and for those of you with performance test again this applies to that as well, it applies for the MBE’s, the essay and the performance test.
Your goal is not to memorize the rules you goal is to pass the essays and pass the MBE’s so now let us apply what a lot of you are doing for your bar exam, let us apply that what it would look like if you were preparing that way for the free throw shot. Well, many bar exam takers are spending a lot of time watching those videos, reading those books, trying to memorize the way the wrist should flick, how the follow through should look.
This is not going to be what is best and what most effective use of your time to hit that throw, it is not the best use of your time to pass those essays and the MBE and the performance tests. Doing some of that is fine, but if you are not out there taking the shot over and over and over, learning, readjusting, taking them over and over and over, you are not doing the best job to prepare yourself for the bar exam, now some of you will do a little bit bet as oppose to just watching the videos and reading the books on shooting a good free throw, you actually go to the basketball court and you will just kind of go through the motions you might not actually take the shot, but you will kind of just flick the wrist at the hoop and go through the motions and get a feel for what it is like, I feel a little bit better that is okay I analogize that to outlining essays, that is a little bit better it is again okay but it is not actually taking the practice shot, so really ideally you got to get that ball and you got to be shooting and shooting and shooting and shooting.
Now personally I almost recommend a dramatic approach to the essays, when I first started doing my bar prep I would spend a lot of time up front memorizing the whole bunch of rules and going through the hypotheticals and for those of you who do not know I took Barbri and there was actually one point during my bar exam prep where we were studying for contracts and I said you know what I am going to fall behind on the other stuff and I am just going to really get contracts done.
I remember spending three days going over all the over hundred plus contracts hypotheticals in my Barbri class, I went through all the rules trying to get them down to memorizing, like three days on contract that is all I did, and then I went to the essays and I open the essays I was very excited I am going to really nail this essay down, I open the essay book and I almost went in tears because I had no idea of what to do, what to answer, what to say, what the issues were, what the rules were, I felt like I spent all of that time and it really got me nowhere and I did the same with the MBE’s and I said okay that is fine let me try and do the MBE, I know I am going to hit the MBE’s because I did so many practice hypotheticals and when I looked at the MBE’s same thing, I think I did five questions and I had one of them correct in the first five, so it was at that point…that was like a real big turning point for me and not only did I really catch up with my homework after that, but as at turning point for me in the way I approached the bar exam and how I prepared for each topic.
Having gone through that and by the end of the bar exam prep having change my strategy completely, what I recommend for people to do is actually jump straight into the essay even before you know all the rules or even some of the rules or maybe even any of the rules, even before you look at the rules on a certain subject jump into the essays, take a dive in and see what happens and then as you are in the essay in that moment make your adjustments by going back and looking at the rules from the sample answer or if you know a rule that apply then go look at the outlines and see what rules apply and that is a fantastic ways to learn the rules and how they apply in the context of an actually essay which is what you are actually going to be doing on the bar exam as oppose to learning the rules playing in themselves.
They have actually done some studies on the way people learn and the number one way people learn is through application, applying what they are learning. One of the lowest way of learning is reading; reading is actually one of the worst ways to actually learn something, it is actually through the application of what you are reading and learning that really is determinative of whether you are going to learn it or not.
It is a much better, much more effective way to learn that and I wish I had known that starting my bar prep and I actually wish I had known that starting law school to be honest. So here is what recommend you try, take an exam dive right in and try to do it, if you have not looked at any of the rules you probably have no idea how to handle it, but guess what even if you have looked at the rules, you probably still have little or no idea how to handle it. Memorizing the rules does not make you a good essay exam taker, practicing the essays and learning the rules through the practice makes you a good essay taker.
This is something if you do not see it now, you probably will see it by the end of my bar prep as I did and as other people that I have talked to about the bar exam as my friends as they also saw as well. Here is my actual approach, dive in start one essay and time yourself for 15 minutes and that 15 minutes no matter what you are going to spend the time and try and do a outline of the essay, regardless of what you think that you do not know anything or have no idea of what is going on try and do a 15 minutes outline of that essay.
After the first few minutes you probably hit a brick wall, that is what always happen to me every single time, I had no idea how to do it, but I stayed discipline I said since I am sitting here for 15 minutes and I have to do this, what would I write if I have to write something and you know I went through and I sort of seen some rules, start making up some rules or using some rules that would be logical to me, I used some facts and throw it in and as each essay is the facts and each essay for specific reason and I began to learn use those facts and see what is it the bar exam tester is pointing me toward by saying these certain facts, what is the bar exam tester want me to see here, so I would use those and kind of make up a rule that I learn from law school or from my experience and I would make that up and kind of make a little sample outline there.
Although I felt hopeless it forces me to look through the facts and use what knowledge I had to make stuff up. Believe it or not this is one of the most overlooked and one of the most important skills on your bar exam especially in California, because on your exam, (especially in California I cannot say for other jurisdiction) you are going to see things on there you are going to see facts and rules and stuff that comes up that you will not know what it is.
You have studied everything and you will just not seeing this and you do not know how to you do not know what to put there, there was always this notorious at least in California that one essay that tends to be like that, for me it was like two or three maybe four on the bar where I saw stuff and I was like what is that, I do not know what this is, and there is a specific reason the bar exam takers do this, they want to see if you are going to get rattled or not, or if you are going to keep your composure and that is actually a big skill as an attorney there are all kinds of things that will come up, you might be in court and something happens, are you able to handle yourself with composure or are you going to freak out and give up.
So this is the skill that they are testing, they want to test your mental composure by doing this to you and you know what that is okay because it is just a skill that you can develop throughout your bar exam prep, it is a part of it. So do not look at it as the evil bar exam graders are trying to make me fail and they are out to get me. Just look at it, okay this is a skill that I need to develop to learn for the bar exam, that is it.
During my practice I would just make up a rule even if it is the wrong rule and throw in some facts in there and by the way if you do that on the exam, you are going to get partial credit even if you use the wrong rule but you apply the fact correctly to it you get partial credit for your answer. That is very important remember that.
What you are doing here with this method I am telling you is, you are really just practicing this skill, practicing dealing with the unknown, you throw in these facts and rules which you do not know the issues or you do not know what to do with, but you are able to handle it and make up something, and that will make you more ready when the exam time comes and you see this you will be able to handle it because you have practice it.
By the way on my exam, you can look this up actually it is the February 2010 bar exam that I took, I think it was question number 5 they gave us a common law question on full and partial government takings. I had looked at takings maybe once for about 5 minutes earlier on in my bar prep and had absolutely no clue how to handle it, you know what I did not freak out because I had been in this situation before many times during my prep and I took the facts they were using I literally made up like four rule test (I do not know where I got that I just kind of made it up) and I went with it and you know I ended up passing the bar exam, I do not know how I did on that essay, but I passed the bar exam.
You see that the grader give you guide posts, all the facts in that exam are there for a reason, do the why, why, why test with each facts that are in there ask yourself why, why, why is this fact here, what is the grader pointing me to. Okay so I would spend 15 minutes do the outline then I would go look at the sample answer outline, I never looked at the actual California model answers I think those are way too good to compare yourself to and I mean if you do not have anything else you can look at those, but those are very, very, very good answers I never wrote anything ever nearly as good as those answers, what I would do I would look at the Barbri samples answers and the Barbri sample outline, by the way if you are not taking Barbri you can get these books ( I had a email question about this the other day) you can get these books on Amazon or find a way that you can take practice essays from the pass and see sample answers, good sample answer.
Again the model answers on like the website those are ridiculously good you do not have to even live up to those so if you can get a sample good sample answer though that was maybe written from someone from Barbri or someone else if you know somebody else, like another tutor or bar prep program.
So I would look at my outline and I would see hey you know what, I actually got some of these issues right, I may have got some of the rules right and use some of the facts right, it was not a passing outline by any means but I did better than I actually thought I would by forcing myself to do that, so then what I recommend going back and doing that same essay, doing the entire essay. So again starting the timer 1 hour and go and write out the entire essay.
Now a lot of you will do that first part and then move on to the next essay or a lot of you might just go out there and outline essay answers and think oh I outlined it I got it, well I do not think you do, you do not got it because when you go and write out an actual essay you will see that you do not really have it, it is not until you write the essay that you are going to really see if you got this or not. Again on the bar exam you are not going to go in there and write outlines you are going to go in there and be graded on your essays, you write outlines, but you are not graded on outlines you are graded on the essays. So go in there and practice writing this essay from start to stop the full thing and that is going to develop the skills and the mindset for you to pass.
By doing so as well you will see that writing the outlines and writing the essays are actually different things, there a certain facts you did not know how to write or how to word the rules or how to word the facts and intertwine them, how to organize writing your answers. You only get that by actually going and practicing the essay. After you do that go back and review the entire sample essay answer in its entirety and see where you miss, what facts did you miss, what rules did you miss, how did you word it, how could you have worded it better, really get all the intricacies all the ins and outs of what you miss and how you can make your essay better.
Then I recommend you actually go back and do this essay from start to stop a third time, yes again, and you go there and you do it again and by this time you will have practice writing out all these rules, how they apply, all the nuances in a good passing manner, you will have basically written a passing essay because you will have this good sample to go by. And guess what by this time; do you think that there is any way that you would not be able to knock this essay out of the park? You have all the rules and how to apply them down.
Now guess what the bar exam test the repeat the same major issues over and over and over and over and over, so the issues you saw on this essay you will probably going to see them in the essay if not that one, you will see it in the third essay and guess what you know how to do those, cool. So what I recommend is then go to the second essay and do the same process, so you spent 15 minutes outlining, review the outline, a hour writing the essay, review the essay, if you want you can go write the essay again kind of cater this to your specific style, but now go on to the third essay and guess what by that third and that fourth essay you are literally going to be crushing the essays.
You will have gone from other despair in the first essay to crushing the essay all within a few hours of studying the essays. This is a technique that really, really, really worked for me it save me a lot, a lot of time and you know if there were rules that I could not get out of the sample answer because I try to learn all the rules basically from the sample answer, if there is something I did not understand I would then go look at the rule or there is something I could not remember I would then go look at the rule and try and memorize it, all that stuff because I know how to apply it now. This is a very effective technique I want to try and tell you this earlier on in your bar prep so you kind have gone through some of the experience of just memorizing the rules and here is an alternative way to do that.
By the way if you just spent time memorizing the rules you probably learning but it is not really helping you a whole lot with the essays, because essays do not just require they require skills and issue spotting, writing the facts and applying them to the rules, how you are going to outline use the headings, what to underline, you do not pass the exam by just memorizing the rules, you pass the exam by taking practice test. Make sure you get out there and you practice your free throw shots, take those practice essays.
I want to end today too by giving you a mental edge tip; if you find yourself taking essays or MBE’s or PT…and you find yourself failing them quote end quote failing them, not really failing them because you are practicing, try not to beat yourself up about it, the bar exam is a lot like learning to walk, when a baby is trying to learn how to walk, what happens?
The baby falls, but what does the baby do after it falls? It gets right back up, it readjust what he or she was doing ( I do not want to call baby an it) and try start walking again and guess what it falls again, and it falls again, but it gets right back up and readjust and keeps going until it learns how to walk. The baby does not think oh you know I fell, I am over this thing, I am just over this walking thing, I will just crawl around for the rest of my life, no it gets back up he does not even think that it made a mistake or it failed.
It is like okay next time you know put right foot before left foot and step on the balls of my feel as oppose to you know trying to drag my feet, it just makes the adjustment that the baby needs and eventually pretty soon eventually starts walking right. Treat your bar exam prep the same way. If you are failing things do not think oh well I cannot do this, start panicking, start freaking out, and start getting into your head like I am not going to be able to do this blah, blah, blah it is okay, it is fine, do not worry, just focus on…ok what did I miss, let us learn it, let us readjust and let us go take the next one. Okay learn the lesson from the baby, do not tell me the baby approaches life from a smarter way than you and if it is then learn from the baby, babies learn from us, we can learn from the babies it is all good, we all learn from each other.
Let us review remember practice your free throws the goal is to make the free throw not just to learn the nuances of how to make a free throw, take practice test everything else is helping you so you can do better on the practice test, learn the skill of making stuff up, you do that by practicing without knowing the rules or necessarily how to handle it just make it up and then be the baby learn, readjust, move forward, learn readjust, move forward. I hope this helps you and gives you some inspiration and value in helping you for your bar exam.
I do want to share with you as well, I am working on something I think it is going to be really, really helpful for you, I have not told anyone about it but a few of my mentors and coaches were helping me create this program, it is going to be very effective and powerful for you and taking the bar exam I think it is going to help not only help you pass the bar exam but it going to help you deal with the stress and the fears along the way.
It implements some techniques that I used when I took my bar exam but it is really taking that 10 times deeper to an entirely new level. I am going to share that more with you in a later blog or a later podcast you can follow that on my website or if you join the email list as well I will send out some email information about that.
I hope you got some value out of this podcast, you can find me on ipassedmybarexam.com. Please email me with any questions, you can also find me on Facebook, facebook.com/ipassmybarexam and Twitter ipassmybarexa.
Good luck and remember your name appears on the pass list. Thank you so much and have a wonderful day.