Inspirational: Comments on retaking the bar exam found online

Anonymous said...
I took and failed two bar exams before passing July 2005. The first time I used MicroMash and got a fabulous MBE score but tanked the essays. I didn't realize that PA counts essays more than the MBE. The second time I studied, I concentrated on MicroMash more, especially their essay portion, which is useless. I was still assuming I would pass just like all my other friends from law school. When I failed the second time by 2 points, I grieved and thought all the things everyone else has said in this forum about self-worth and direction, and then I got pissed. I focused on the nit-picky examiners who probably looked like my hated UCC prof in law school. With that in mind, I decided my financial output for any more bar preparation stuff was going to be minimal and I determined they weren't going to beat me. I had to work full-time, so for July 2005 I changed my tactics. First, I decided not to study until 6 weeks before the exam. In the time between April and May I thought about my stategies. I purchased a few books on stategies for the MBE and the Essays and a book about how to get your head straight when you fail the bar- that book was the most helpful. Beginning 6 weeks before the bar, I did 100 questions a day in Micromash to keep me fresh--but I had done that for a year by that time so all the questions seemed no-brainers--but I did them anyway because by now I had realized the bar exam is as much about mental endurance as it is about intellectual capacity. I super concentrated on the essays. In my state they post past essay questions and the examiners answers on the web, so I printed all those out. I wrote an essay and then compared it to the examiners essay, then I would write it again like the examiner's answer. It was slow going. I had about 15 essay questions, so once I did that for each one, I mixed up the questions and did them again. Yeah, the same 15 essay questions. My schedule was: I arrived at work ( I work for a law firm) two hours before anyone else and wrote 3 essays. At lunch I read PMBR flashcards, which I purchased on Ebay for 5 bucks. After everyone left at around 4:30, I stayed and wrote three more essays and did 100 MicroMash questions until about 10 or 11. On Saturday, I went to my office and studied all day doing 3 essays, then 100 MBE questions, then 3 essays, then 100 MBE questions until about 4. I took Sundays off. I studied like this until the day before the bar exam and then took the day before off. Of course, it was excruciating to take it a third time and I went back to my hotel room and cried during every intermission. I don't mean to imply that everything was smooth sailing. It was hard. What I want to tell everyone is that you can do it. I think it helps to calm yourself down and figure out a study plan that works for you. By the third time, I realized that all the bar preparations stuff wasn't working for me and I had to figure out my own way. And it is simply appalling what tutors and others charge to help you, with all their guarantees. I think there is a special place in hell for a person who feeds off the depair of a person who has failed the bar by charging 4000 bucks to tutor. Geez already. Oh, and I want to respond to the person who said a client would rather have a lawyer who passed the bar on the first try: Firstly, your statements assumes that the bar exam measures whether the person will be a "good lawyer". That's BS. The bar exam is simply a hoop one must jump through to practice law. And I'm here to tell you that once you pass, how and when you passed become completely and utterly irrelevant and you look at yourself in the past, when you were stressing about the bar, like you would look at a bug in a petri dish. Secondly, it has been my experience that clients simply want someone to help them and they don't give two hoots about whether you passed the bar the first time. Thirdly, your law school must not have had this saying: "A" students are law professors, "B" students are judges and "C" students are litigators. You'll notice that all types are worthy and will be good for the profession. In the same way, failing the bar has zip to do with what kind of lawyer you are. You keep thinking that, though, and perhaps one day I'll see you in a courtroom.
Friday, January 06, 2006 8:15:46 AM
Anonymous said...
Irving...I am the other person from Texas who failed the first time, but I passed this time around. I increased my score by 98 points! To be honest with you, I didn't do anything different. Organization, confidence, and a bunch of practice problems, especially on the MBE, are the key to pass this test. You also need to take the required 2 months to study 8-10 hours per day with the exception of weekends. You can study about 6 hours on Saturday and Sunday. Go to church on Sunday and call it a night early on Friday and Saturday. If you need to talk about this, let me know and I will be glad to help you out. I know how much it sucked for me so I feel your pain, but now that I passed, it doesn't even matter that I failed the first time. Let me know what you decide.
Tuesday, May 09, 2006 10:41:22 PM

Anonymous said...
To those multiple takers I've been there. I graduated in July 2003 and I've taken four Texas bar exams. I know what its like being stuck in a kind of limbo not an attorney and not a law student and its also like being in a nightmare that repeats itself every six months. Since Texas only lets you take it five times I was already getting information on the CA bar, which is much harder than Texas. And I remember that day when I got my first results and failed by 60 points I told my dad 'I have four more chances' never did I think that I would need all of four of those chances. But I passed this time by twelve points and one piece of advice I can give you is go on the website and follow their outlines and they tell you where most of their questions will come from in a given subject. I took three MBEs before the bar and raised my MBE score by 14 points to a 139. Its all with the MBE, its the one place that when they scale the scores they don't take away points like the essays. So keep
Thursday, May 11, 2006 7:42:45 AM
Anonymous said...
I got the news today that I passed the bar exam! I have read this post many times since I first failed last July, and it was really good to know that I wasn't alone. Since failing in July, I have been out of work, looked over, rejected, and completely ignored for ANY legal jobs. So, my only option was temping for sometimes as little as $7.00 an hour. Believe me, I KNOW the frustration, anger, depression, and the feelings that "I have really wasted my time going to law school and now I have $100+ in debt to pay back." The first time I took the bar I really freaked out! I felt like I had studied very hard, but I was way too overwhelmed. This time, I paced myself a bit more: 1. I started studing 2 1/2 months ahead of time, so I studied about 5-6 hours per day. 2. Everyday, I did only 25 MBE Questions, but I wrote out the explanations to the answers I got wrong. 3. In addition to my 25 questions, I reviewed one state subject, and then did Essays and MPT's 3-4 times per week, so some days were heavier than others. 4. Then about one month before the exam, I still did my 25 questions and the other stuff, but I started outlining my state subjects. 5. Sometimes at night before I was about to go to bed, I read through about 10-15 flashcards. 6. I used the same stuff I studied with the first time, because I couldn't afford to buy a new bar review, and really, I didn't think I needed it. Pacing myself the second time around helped me out A LOT psychologically because I felt more at ease and I knew that I covered as much I could have covered. I wasn't all that confident, but I was pretty CALM before the exam, and during it. And when I walked out, I knew I had done all I could have done. In the end, my overall scaled score increased by 34 points (MBE--improved by 16 points, Essays--improved by 18 points). But please don't give up! It isn't that you don't have the ability to be an attorney, so NEVER doubt yourself as far as that is concerned. I strongly believe the key is staying CALM (which is hard for me because I am EXTREMELY "high-strung"), pacing yourself, and when you have done that you can really believe that you did everything within your power to pass the exam. I had already determined that if I didn't pass the bar this time, I was not going to take it again, because I knew that there was absolutely nothing else I could have done. So walking away from the legal profession would have been a little easier. If this is what you really want, don't quit, persevere, try to relax and pace yourself as much as you can, all of the studying in the universe won't prepare you enough because it is not humanly possible (in my opinion) to know it all. Afterall, it isn't how much you do, it is how you do it. To all repeat takers who have been blessed with success, congrats! And to those of you who must take it again, best wishes and keep fighting for what you want.
Friday, May 19, 2006 5:45:35 PM
Anonymous said...
This is directed to Irritable in Irving in particular and anyone else who went to school outside of Texas and is trying to pass the Texas bar. I also went to law school in Pennsylvania and signed up to take the Texas bar. Let me assure you that I did not know any Texas law when I started the Barbri bar review and I wasn't at the top of my class. Basically out of sheer panic and terror, I developed my own method of studying for the bar that worked on the first try. Here it is: 1) With respect to the multistate: Take PMBR. Do at least 150 questions in each subject. For each question that you miss, go back and read the explanation and write down the rule that was tested in the question. They test the same rules over and over and you can learn any multistate section by following this advice. I had a very poor background in evidence and property and did fine on the multistate using this method. I would also recommend not even bothering with the Barbri multistate practice questions because they are generally not as close as the PMBR questions. 2) For the horrible TX essays; Take out your BARBRI essay books. Read the questions and answers for the last 25 questions or so in each subject. This will also help you learn the law in the TX specific subjects. They generally test the same types of subjects over and over. I guarantee if you do this that you will be able to spit out so many rules on the essay to get through almost any question except oil and gas. For oil and gas, do maybe 10 questions and guess at the exam. It is a lost cause for people who don't have a background in that subject. 3) For TX procedure and evidence. Take the Barbri one-day mini course. If you cannot take the course, do at least 10 practice Texas Civil Procedure essay questions from the Barbri essay book and at least 10 Texas Criminal Procedure. There are common themes in the questions that will get you through. This is really only 10 percent of the test, so you will have to just acknowledge that you are at a loss for TX procedure if you didn't go to school there. 4) On the essays, state in positive and confident terms what you DO know and stick by it. It is intimidating to learn those subjects in a short time span. Stick by the basic rules/ themes that are tested over and over and develop those as much as possible. 5) I really hope this helps you. I learned everything in TX on the fly and passed only by using this method. I hope that you passed this time and won't be needing this help!
Friday, October 13, 2006 6:28:43 PM
Anonymous said...
I finally passed AZ. on my 5th attempt. I'm 45 y.o., first generation college in my family. If you love the idea of practicing for whatever reason - mine has been to do public interest, non-profit law, then I encourage you to keep going, keep going on, yes! another time and another time as long as you are granted permission to sit for it (in AZ. after the 3rd time you must get permission). I sought help from a therapist/counselor type for test-taking and stress issues, it really helped me cope esp. w/ the last 2 repeat attempts -- Having a sane place to go and no judgments about me and the repeat failures. Validation that "not passing" did not make me a bad person. Also get support from loved ones (mine was husband and sister who are unconditionally supportive). I want to encourage you repeaters to keep trying until you just possibly CAN NOT any longer. I had decided that the July 2006 (and 5th attempt) would be my last, as it felt as I imagine hitting the marathon wall at 24 miles feels - I've only done a half-marathon to relate that to, but that's how I imagine it is. The feeling of just literally not being able to take another step that I was "this" close to feeling years ago when I hiked from the south to north rim of the Grand Canyon (and finished! despite feeling for the last mile as if each step would be my last), that's how tough it was to do the bar one more time. During the process I learned I had (and you may probably) a lot more to GAIN by taking it one more than I had to lose by not taking it, if that makes any sense. Ironically I'm now an unemployed licensed atty as I had given notice at my part-time legal assistant job (which I had so I could STUDY for the exam) to accept a full-time paralegal job in anticipation of NOT passing - they did not want an attorney and I could not go back to my old job so I'm taking a few weeks off and then will start looking for my first "attorney" job since graduating from law school in May 2003. But that would-be boss atty was very happy for me and had assured me during the interview process that it was an arbitrary pretty unfair exam and not a reflection in her eyes of my ability to be a great atty (as I have had other attys I worked with tell me). If it happened for me, it CAN certainly happen for you. I did the BarBri private tutoring (2X) for help w/ essays - she was tough but very fair and it helped a lot, also did PMBR 2X - key w/ both was practice, practice, practice, for me, in as much "real time" simulation as possible. Also tried a hypnosis CD on test taking, hard to gauge how much that contributed, but I sent that CD to my niece who is now in law school. Good luck and best wishes in Feb. 2007.
Monday, October 23, 2006 8:35:51 PM
And finally, advice from a person whose up and down taking the bar exam is chronicled in its entirety on the Uncivil Litigator:

Formerly Irritable in Irving said...
This is directed to Anonymous who just failed Texas for the third time, as well as anyone else who seeks advice. I just passed the Texas bar exam on my third try. I don't know if there are any "magic bullets," but I'll tell you how I studied and what I think I did wrong on the first two tries and right on the third try. Attempt #1 (July 2005): After graduating from my Pennsylvania law school, I moved to Texas and settled into my new home. I attended the live BARBRI lectures and used the PMBR books in the evenings. I didn't attend the PMBR classes; just read over the outlines and answered the questions. My preparation was very scattershot; I allowed myself to be distracted and didn't put in enough focused time. In retrospect, my study for the first attempt was very superficial. It wasn't at all surprising that I failed the first time. I was nowhere NEAR passing the first time. Attempt #2 (February 2006): I used MicroMash, both MBE and state review, and also reviewed my BARBRI notes. I increased my MBE score by only 14 points, which was rather disappointing because I felt MicroMash really helped. Because I went for the pass guarantee, I spent so much time on the MBE questions that I only had two weeks to study the Texas subjects, which was certainly not enough. The MicroMash state review was worthless. I did all six practice essays and sent them to my mentor for review, but it really didn't help me learn the law. I'd recommend the MicroMash MBE program, but not the state review. I allowed myself to get distracted by the Winter Olympics (can't help it - I love the Olympics!) Attempt #3 (July 2006): Knowing I had to make some changes if I wanted to pass, I made several. Rather than study at home, with all its distractions, I'd ride into Dallas with my husband each morning. He'd drop me off at the Southwestern library and go to his office. I didn't take my computer; just my books, so I was forced to study for 8-9 hours without distractions. This time I used the Conviser mini-outline and the long BARBRI outlines. I spent the month of May on MBE subjects, reviewing the BARBRI outlines and answering about 35-40 questions per day. I spent June studying the essay subjects. I'd cycle through the subjects, spending 3 days on each. I didn't write out any answers to the old questions, but outlined a few, and mostly read the questions and answers very critically, as you really learn the law that way. In the evenings at home I'd continue answering 35-40 MBE questions, writing down any rules of law I had trouble remembering. In July I spent a week revisiting the MBE subjects, then revisited the essay subjects, still doing MBE questions in the evenings. I spent only a few days on the Procedure and Evidence questions, as well as reading over MPT samples. I purchased the "Finz Multistate Method," which teaches you to mark answers as true or false and therefore narrow down the answer choices accordingly. I didn't use it very much, but it did provide a useful technique for answering the MBE questions. Another thing I did differently was invest in some hypnosis and subliminal CDs on test-taking anxiety and skills. I'd listen to an overcoming test anxiety hypnosis CD at night while going to sleep and to the subliminal series while studying. I don't know how much they helped, but they certainly didn't hurt! Finally, although I only live 16 miles from the testing site, I stayed at a hotel nearby during the exam so I wouldn't have to waste time fighting traffic. I also like to study in the evenings, although they tell us to take the evenings off during the exam. I think for me the difference this time was that I spent enough focused time on each subject. I remember noting things in the Conviser that I never remembered reading before! It also helped to eliminate or at least minimize distractions. BTW, I only got a 128 scaled on the MBE this time; I must have done really well on the essays and other stuff. When you pass, they don't break down the scores; they just tell you your total score and your MBE score. I was afraid I'd get another low MBE score and that that would kill me, but wonder of wonders, I passed! I hope this helps someone out there. Believe me, I know what it's like to fail this beast, but I'm living proof that it can be slain! YOU CAN DO IT!!!! Don't let the bastids get ya down!!
Wednesday, November 08, 2006 2:11:34 PM