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Self Study or Traditional Bar Review Interview with Be a Goat Author Jessica Klein Podcast (Episode 009)

by Dustin on

In this episode, I have the privilege of interviewing the author of the Be a Goat book Jessica Klein.

Jessica decided to self study for the bar exam and she will share the three things you must know BEFORE you make the decision to study for the bar exam on your own.

Jessica is also a bar repeater and will share how to handle the emotions that come with studying for the bar exam a second time around.

Finally, Jessica also raised a young child while studying for the bar exam.  She will discuss how to balance bar exam study and family obligations.

You can get Jessica’s book here.  Use discount code: 94ZVXNQJ to save $15!

You can also read her blog or join her on facebook.

Enjoy the interview! Link is located at the top of this post, underneath the picture.

Self Study vs Traditional Bar Exam Prep Program

Today I have a very special guest on the show she is a former bar exam taker, she passed the bar exam and she is come on to give her feel give her side of and perspective on how she passed the bar exam. She has a very unique perspective which is why I want to bring her on here today.

Not only did she self study for the bar exam, so she is going to talk today about how to self study for the bar exam and give you guys some tips on that, but she was also raising a newborn child while studying for the bar exam, so for those of you out there with family obligations or kids and trying to balance that between that and the bar exam this will be a great episode for you to listen as well and thirdly she  is also a bar exam repeater so she will talk a little bit about what she did the first time and how she handled the news of not passing and then things that she changed and went about doing during her second round.

So if you fall into any of those categories or of course you are just studying for the bar exam in general I think this will be a very good interview and podcast for you to listen to today. Some of you may read her work at she is also the author of Be A Goat book helping students pass their bar exam. Her name is Jessica Kline and I am very thrilled to have her on the show today. Without further ado let us go straight into the interview.

Hey and welcome we are here with Jessica Kline from be a goat blog she is very kind to come on and talk to everyone today about her experience with the bar exam and things that she did to helped her pass and what she is recommending for others to help them pass.

Dustin: Hi Jessica how are you doing?

Jessica: Good, how are you Dustin?

Dustin: I am well. Thanks again for coming on.

Jessica: I am very happy to be here

Dustin: You currently run the blog, what kind of inspired you to help other with bar exam through your blog? What’s kind of your story with the bar exam and how it came across to you to start that blog?

Dustin: Okay, well to make a short story long I guess you want to know about the blog and book and everything it kind of comes out of my experience. ahm I first took the bar exam right out of law school in July of 2008 and ahm early on in my study prep, I found out that my husband and I were expecting our first child so ahm that was a big surprise for us, it kind of got me ahm thinking about that life change, it kind of get the bar exam off being my main focus and ahm I was about two weeks before I could wrap my head around it and get back to the bar exam and by then I started ahm feeling really sick with first trimester nausea, so I felt pretty terrible most of the bar prep period, but I still plugged along.

I was hopeful that I would be able to get all my studying done even though I was delayed and I got probably half to two thirds of the studying done, there were some subjects that I did not get to so if I got the perfect type of question on the bar exam there was a good chance I could pass, but lo and behold I got one or two that I had not studied at all, so I went into ahm November result pretty much expecting to fail but , I think like everyone else we kind of have roller coaster emotions and think maybe I did pass and maybe I did good enough, so I was hopeful that I did pass but I didn’t. It was really difficult during the process even though I saw it coming it was just you know hard to tell family and friends and the whole disappointment thing, so, so I ahm didn’t pass in July and February wasn’t an option for me because I had my son that month and ahm the following July I mean I  still had a very young baby so I knew it was going to be a while before I could take the bar exam again and I had told myself if I do take the exam I’m going to make sure that I carve out enough time and I give it the proper attention it requires so that I don’t fail again and don’t go through that humiliation again.

So I ended up not taking again until July 2010 so that was a 2 year gap, but ahm I prepared for it, I ahm you know studied on my own both times and by the second time I had become a pro at studying on my own. I passed the exam and then I felt like all that hard work kind of ahm would be wasted, I knew that ahm there are other people who were trying to study on their own I even have some friends that had failed ahm and they were kind of trying to figure it on their own and I just wanted to put my resources out there, all my hard work I wanted it to be useful to somebody. So I decided to start the blog and just share knowledge.

Dustin: Okay that’s awesome wow! What a great story. So basically the difference between the first time and the second time was …really the second time you gave it your full energy, full attention, full focus.

Jessica: Yea definitely I ahm you know having gone through the process I knew exactly what to be expected, how intense it was and ahm I wanted to be on the side of over-prepared and not under-prepared you know the first time I thought might be able to eat through it but the second time I wanted to feel confident and not shaky at all going in, because you do need a little bit of extra confidence the second time or third time, like you are a repeater you know how ahm, how much of a head game it is not even just the regular bar exam stress, but the emotional stress of feeling like you know I failed it before what to say I am not going to fail it again that type of thing. So I really wanted to do as much as I could to combat that so ahm I definitely wanted to over-prepare.

Dustin: I got you. Did you do anything specifically to kind of combat the mental game behind it or did you just say okay well I am just going prepare as much as I possibly can or did you do other stuff specifically for the mindset?

Jessica: Yea there were actually couple of things that I did differently the second time around that weren’t necessarily study things but just for my emotional and mental health ahm one of them was…I didn’t tell people I was doing the bar exam again ahm I for whatever reason ahm sometimes do a little better when I keep things to myself and keep it personal, I kind of get this quiet resolve and it is a little bit of type of fuel that keeps me motivated, keeps me working on things. I know usually a lot of people do better if they put it out there and have people hold them accountable, but actually it just made me feel more stressed, so I kept it to myself so that I wouldn’t feel like social pressure ahm and then ahm (I’m sorry I totally just banked) .

Dustin: No that’s okay you were talking about just kind of avoiding the social pressure and kind of keeping things to yourself.

Jessica: Oh other things I wanted to share with you ahm one of them was you know we have those days where for whatever reason we just don’t get the studying done that we wanted to do or we’re just you know it’s an emotional roller coaster the bar exam and so some days just ahm hit you and you have a hard day and then you feel guilty day and because you feel so guilty you sit and sulk instead of getting back on the wagon.

So I promised myself that even if I had a bad day or an half day or didn’t studied one day that every day is a fresh day and it doesn’t matter what I didn’t do yesterday I’m going to get up and do it over again tomorrow. So I kind of took that approach which helped me just’s like I let myself forgive myself if I messed up one day and I would just try again the next day. So in that way I felt like ahm I just kept going at it with a little bit more resolve than I did the first time, so that helped me as well.

Dustin: That’s great. That’s a fantastic attitude to have and ahm yea I feel like as long as people can keep pushing through and going, going at it just doing the work one thing I’d like to say wax on wax off, just keep doing it, you might not see the light at the end of the tunnel but just keep moving forward and I think that’s great, create each day anew. Each day is a new opportunity for them to step into ahm who they can be with this bar exam and studying and being able to pass. That’s a fantastic attitude it’s great.

Jessica: Great

Dustin: Ahm you mentioned a little bit about when kind of emotions that happen when you didn’t pass ahm did you do anything kind of specifically to like…we just had a lot of bar results come out in California and some other jurisdictions, did you do anything kind of specifically kind of that week or that day ahm or the weeks coming up to kind of get yourself geared up to go for it the second time?

Jessica: Ahm so since I took such a large break and because I had my son and then I became a stayed home mom ahm you know my life had changed a lot and it was such a large gap, I don’t know how I would have handled it if I failed and then was going to sit for February right off the bat ahm you know it’s a little bit different of a situation I think I was so wrapped up in other life events that it kind of helped me get the bar exam out of my brain ahm but yea I don’t, I don’t really know if I can give any advice on that one, it really was a bit of a different situation for me just because I turned my focus to having the baby right after the bar exam results came out so I don’t know if it’s good if you should say (chuckle) you find something to take your mind off of it for a little while, it’s always something that comes up in your mind even if you’re trying to you know thinking about other things all of a sudden the thought would come up and as a repeater you know, repeater would know what I am talking about you think you are doing fine and then all of a sudden you remember you failed the bar exam and you feel depressed again.

So I guess keep on choosing to start think about other things or thing instead of ahm how great you’re going to do next time around, just turn it into something positive and try to get away from the negativity I guess.

Dustin: Okay. Wonderful that’s awesome. And I imagine there was another challenge when you just had a child and you’re also studying for the bar, do you…for people out there who have kids or children that they have to take care of and study for the bar exam, any kind of specific tip on how to handle that?

Jessica: Yea I mean what I did was ahm I gave myself a lot more time to study the second time around because I needed it ahm you know I was cold on the law because it had been two years so that’s extra work right there if you go straight into February after July then you don’t really have to spend as much time in the law because it already pretty much fresh in your mind so I needed to do that. I would had to ahm wait until my husband would get home from work to start studying in the evenings because ahm you know I had a child to care for and he kept me very busy and so I would do in the evenings, I would study on the weekends and ahm I just started pretty early in the year, I don’t remember exactly when I started I wish I did because people asked me so I don’t know exactly how many weeks I studied, but ahm I just took advantage of any free time we had.

My husband is amazing and he was so, so supportive so you know he gave up a lot too you know to be home and watch our son while I studied so he didn’t have any free time either and he took ahm care of a lot of things around the house that just need to be done because I wasn’t getting to it, so it made a big difference to have someone supportive that I know that’s something a lot of people have no control over but to the degree that you can control your ahm support system or you can just let them know you need their extra support and you know ask for specific things, maybe you don’t have kids or husband but you have friends or you have family nearby if you could say hey you know can you drop of my laundry, could you help me out, you know things like that eat up time so ahm getting help with it makes a difference in just putting those hours in studying.

Dustin: Right, right definitely support system is huge ahm for the bar exam I can’t say that enough and family and friends, spouse, children, loved ones, parents whoever you have just being able to lean on them ahm during certain times of the bar you know just kind of put you back up, because the bar exam is a longer journey, it’s not like a week (inaudible) can take a couple months to make it through, so yea.

Jessica: Yea

Dustin: Ahm by the way so since you started studying earlier where you able to kind of retain the information you studied in the beginning?

Jessica: Ahm well, yes and no I mean I didn’t try to do any type of rope memorization early on, I really didn’t do that at all actually in my ahm study system that I set up for myself I kind of leave that to the very end which most I think most programs recommend you do anyway so in the beginning when I was trying to refresh myself on the law I was pretty much just reading for comprehension, making sure I remember ahm the legal concepts I learned in law school or if it was a class I didn’t take I have to you know learn it from scratch and just making sure I understood that so once I felt like I had ahm reviewed the law I would go ahead and put that to use by doing practice essay and …well PT’s aren’t based on you know the law we learn, but ahm MBE stuff like that.

So I would start using the law once I read it so that kind of keeps it fresh in your mind the whole time. So if you are practicing you’re going to keep seeing the legal principles throughout the whole study period so it really doesn’t have much of a chance to go cold on you, but if you just study one subject and you don’t practice and you moved on to another one, I suppose it could be weeks before you see those concepts again which might make it harder to retain.

Dustin: Right ahm okay so that brings me to my next question since you did self study for the bar exam ahm there are a lot of people who self study they don’t take the bar prep route, what are maybe like three things that someone who self study for the bar exam ahm needs to know or needs to do on a maybe continual basis that you know they don’t have kind of like bar exam prep coach so the go on it alone, what are the three things they got to know?

Jessica: Well if you’re…three things you want to know ahead of time before you choose the route if you are considering whether you want to do a self study or take some other option like a prep course or tutor ahm you got to know that self studying is going to be a lot more of a lonely road so you’re going to have to be confident in what you are doing and you are going to have to be okay with having very little social interaction during that time period because you know you’re going to be in a library studying or wherever you decide to study, you are not going to be able to ahm spent time with your friends, hang out with your friends a lot and ahm you’re not going to be studying with anybody else like in a big prep class, so ahm you know you kind of have to see it within yourself if you are and you thrive on being around with other people and you really need that to keep balance in your life then it’s probably not going to be the thing you want to do.

It’s going to take a lot of discipline because there isn’t anyone over your shoulders you are not going to class and handing in an essay, you’re not having a tutor call you every day, so you really need to think will I be able to do this, you know and if you went to law school you can pretty much gage based on how you handled that as to whether or not you’ll be able to study on your own. I mean that is a really good example some people do great on their own, some people wants study groups and you don’t want to be able to bounce ideas off people.

So you can kind of base your experience in law school ahm use that as a basis I mean and ahm I think the last thing you need to know about self studying is you’re going to have to be able to get your  hands on direct material so it going to have to be the right amount of material because you don’t want too little and not be able to get the information you need, you don’t want to have too much and end up being confused and not really sure where you should go because there is a overload of information and you also need to be able to get your hands on the right kinds of materials you know they have to be materials that are good quality and are going to be effective in getting you from point A to point B. So if you have that all set up and you think you would be a person that would do fine on your own then self study might be an option for you.

Dustin: Okay, great. Ahm I think that’s why I take the bar prep class because I mean it’s kind of be around people and have someone tell show up to class at this time, study this, do this, do this so that was easier for me.

Jessica: Yea there is definitely something reassuring about knowing that you and all these other people are miserable together (laughing)

Dustin: Exactly. Ahm let’s talk and I think ….I guess in your book as well you kind of tell people what materials you use for the bar?

Jessica: Yea in my book ahm because I took the exam twice I got a lot more..I had lot more materials the first time around when I was kind of thinking you know you go on Amazon and see people reviewing and say this is awesome, (laughing) so you buys tons of stuff so I had a lot of materials that I thought oh I need to have this for I’m not going to pass type of thing, so I had them all around and once I start you know looking at the books and working with materials I kind of got a feel for ..ok that’s really not that useful or it’s really just the same information and it’s just in different format or all these essays are way better than other book essays.

So the first time around I had an overload of book and the second time around I knew exactly which I should have been spending my time with from the start and I just went with those and in my book I list all of those materials that I thought were wonderful and helped me a lot and were good quality and ahm that covers materials to ahm do your subsinative of review to review the law, the materials for the MBE’s, for the essays and the PTE’s so ahm I just list them out so if you want a great list of materials, but you don’t want to look for them all on your own you can just use that list.

Dustin: That’s so awesome. I think that’s very helpful especially people ahm who are self studying they don’t have no bar prep program to tell them what materials to use. That great.

Jessica: Yea exactly.

Dustin: What else is in ahm ..You kind of why you wrote the book and why you wrote the blog, what kind of in the book that if people are interested in ahm what will they find inside the book?

Jessica: What’s in the book? well, ahm I think the best way to describe the book is it helps you to study the bar exam it’s not subsinative stuff you’re not going to I didn’t write out what torts is in contracts and all that stuff, that’s going to be in the materials that I recommend you buy and you’re going to subsinative information there. what my book is basically how to like once you get the materials how do you go from you know the stack of book to be ready for bar exam so I have schedules and ahm like study schedule, daily study schedule, I have calendars for you know where to take your practice exams and what days and how to space them out ahm I have trackers that show you how to track your MBE practice and know if you are improving or how to ahm you know best spent your PT or your MBE practice time ahm all those types of things.

So I break it up into four steps being subsinative review, which everyone’s going to have to do unless you remember so much from law school you don’t think you need to do that I guess ahm and then the second step is how to practice the essays so what books to buy, how to practice somewhat schedule to be on that type of thing. Same thing with the MBE, what books to buy ahm how do you use the MBE materials cause it is really important to rotate your materials and have a few different sources  ahm how to track your practice and go back and go over the questions that you didn’t get correct and then for the performance test I talked about things that you can do to prepare for the performance test by practicing like things you should look out for trick to try to improve your score ahm I talked about other things too such as like what type of style and routine to maintain while you are studying so that you will be most successful because I feel like that’s not talked about as much in bar prep or amongst bar student, I think everyone tries to have this front like I have it all together and I’m doing just fine and ahm you know this is not difficult at all when really we all know it is difficult, it’s you know a sub sequential marathon and it’s hard to kind of keep the study space for that long and not be able to spend time with your friends and family like you were , it’s exhausting.

So if you are overworking yourself and you’re not getting any relaxation time you are going to burn out or you’re going to have some really bad days and might throw you off course or you might start to freak out thinking you’re going to fail and so you just give up studying all that type of stuff I think it’s initiative for everybody whether we want to so I just talk about kind of how to keep the balance and ahm what you can do to be successful mentally and emotionally because that’s the big part of taking a bar exam.

Dustin: That’s great it so sounds like ahm someone who is taking the bar prep program or someone who is not taking the bar prep program could benefit from this?

Jessica: Yea I think so, I definitely hope so I wrote it to help people and just give all the information that I found ahm helpful when I was taking it and ahm that I thought would be important to someone who wanted a guide to how to do it, so.

Dustin: Okay, awesome. And then also the materials are that mostly for kind a California based anybody do you recommend the resource material for everybody?

Jessica: The ahm the study materials I tell people they can buy?

Dustin: Right.

Jessica: Yea, those are all (let me think) so the MBE is an obviously California specific but the essay materials and the performance test are California specific that being said the system that I put together you could kind of ahm plug in your own states materials so if know you’d have to source themselves to see what quality materials you can get, but you could you know just take out the ones I recommended and and put in your state and the system will still work, I have had a lot of people buy my book that are from different jurisdictions ahm so you could definitely do that, it possible.

Dustin: Okay awesome. and yea I will …..five stars review on Amazon as of today.

Jessica: (laugh) Yeah (laughing) I’m glad people have found it useful, it’s always good to get those emails to saying you know especially just coming out it’s great to get email saying that ahm my book was helpful or my blog was helpful ahm that makes me feel like it all worth it so I loved that so people are liking it then, I feel like I am doing the right thing.

Dustin: That’s awesome. yea well thanks so much for sharing your insight I think ahm the stuff you share will be very helpful to people.

Jessica: Oh good, I’m so glad. Thank you so much for having me I really appreciate the opportunity to share.

Dustin: Yea sure, maybe we’ll talk to you again in a future episode for future bar takers.

Jessica: Sounds fun.

Dustin: Alright well thanks Jessica so much.

Jessica: Thanks. Bye

Alright then there you have it straight from the source Jessica Kline. I hope you got some good value out of that interview. If you like to go ahead and get Jessica’s book head on over to and you can get her book there.

So go out there and crush it this week on your bar exam you’re going to do great and until next time we’ll see you later and always remember that your name appears on the pass list. Take care and have a great day.

“This name appears on the pass list”

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