A Texas Bar retaker shares her experience

A Texas Bar retaker shares her experience:
I believe a little background may be instructive:

Attempt #1 (July 2005): I had just moved to Texas from Pennsylvania, where I went to law school, and was enjoying being in my beautiful new home which my husband had selected in my absence (we were apart for 9 months while I finished school and he moved here to start his new job). I took the BARBRI review course (the most popular) and studied at home for probably 5-6 hours in the evening. I also had the PMBR books (multistate questions, of which there are 200, and they are incredibly tricky and confusing, for the most part). I allowed myself to get distracted by pretty shiny things (hey - isn't that a piece of lint 50 feet away? I must abandon my studies and pick it up!), and my studying was exceedingly superficial. I failed by a HUGE margin, which was not surprising at all. I found out that I had failed on Eid (the Muslim holiday at the end of Ramadan), and my day was ruined, but it really wasn't surprising. I cried a bit and retired for a long nap, and a few days later I filled out the reapplication and started studying again for February.

Attempt #2 (February 2006): I decided to use MicroMash, another (computerized) bar review program. To achieve their pass guarantee refund, I had to complete all 2300+ multistate (MBE) multiple choice questions correctly at least once. I also used their state review, meaning I had to do 6 practice essays and submit them to an assigned mentor for criticism. Frankly, the MicroMash state review isn't that helpful, although I did increase my MBE score by 14 points. I spent so much time on the computer questions to get the guarantee that I ended up having only 2 weeks to really study for the essays, which was a huge detriment. I also allowed myself to get distracted by my beloved Winter Olympics; although I consider myself a world class multitasker, that's asking a bit too much in this dire situation. My score increased by 28 points, but was still WAY off. My law school buddy was visiting from PA, having just passed the PA bar on the second try at 66 years of age, and she was of great comfort to me when I learned I had failed again. She and my husband took me out to eat and reassured me that I do indeed have an IQ greater than that of George W. Bush, something I found it very difficult to believe at the time. I went to Kinkos and had an enraged, scowling picture taken for the reapplication; I'm sure my licensure analyst must have been laughing at the sour expression on my face!

Attempt #3 (July 2006). Realizing I had to change some things in order to pass this behemoth, I did so. Rather than studying at home, I got up early and rode into Dallas with my husband, who dropped me off at the Southwestern library and then went to his office on the North Campus. I left my computer at home; I confess to playing Monopoly on my cell phone quite a bit, but the main thing was that I was stuck at the library with my books and had no choice but to study until he was ready to go home at about 5 or 5:30. I devised a meticulous study schedule and tried to stick to it as closely as possible. I spent the month of May on the MBE subjects, reading through the Conviser and long outlines (if they did BARBRI, they'll know what those are) and doing at least 35-40 questions per day. I'd also look through the Multistate Performance Test (MPT) examples and go over the Texas Procedure and Evidence rules occasionally (each of those is worth "only" 10% on the bar). In June I cycled through the Texas essay subjects, spending 3 days at a time on each and thoroughly immersing myself in the "black letter law" and trying to memorize as many rules as I could. I didn't really write out answers to any old essay questions, but I did outline quite a few to see if I identified the issues and recalled the applicable law. It really helped to critically read a bunch of recent exam questions, as they tend to repeat in some areas, and you can really learn the rules that way. I continued doing MBE questions at night (probably still 35-40 or 50). In July I spent another week on the MBE subjects, then essays, still doing MBE questions at night, and spent a few more days on the MPT and Procedure & Evidence questions. For those P&E questions, it's impossible to know EVERYTHING, but I answered a number of old exam questions and really focused on remembering as many rules as I could. I also bought an "overcoming text anxiety" hypnosis CD and listened to it while going to sleep at night, as well as a 6-CD subliminal series with such CDs as "Overcoming Test Anxiety," "Improve Test Scores" and "Master Your Memory," which I listened to on my iPod while studying. I don't know how much those helped, but they certainly didn't hurt! Finally, although I only live 17 miles from the Arlington Convention Center (the testing site), I booked a room nearby so I wouldn't have to deal with traffic and so that I'd study in the evenings (although experts don't recommend that, I wanted to keep focusing on the task). I remember during the exam period being very anxious after the second day (the beastly multistate) and seriously not considering going back on Thursday for the essays, but when I awoke on Thursday morning I felt strangely at peace and knew I had to return, knowing that I would accept whatever happened.

I ended up increasing my score by 61 points this time! I got my letter yesterday and learned that Texas doesn't give passers their scores (except the final scaled score and MBE score, which really wasn't spectacular at ALL; I must have done surprisingly well on the essays). My MBE score only increased by 9 over February! I passed by 10 points.

Examinees should always try finish all the questions. Time management is key. Although I finished all of the questions on each exam, on my first attempt I allowed myself to get 15 minutes behind on the 90-minute MPT question and have to scramble to catch up, and I spent too much time on the Secured Transactions question and had 10 minutes less than usual for the next question. Your daughter's friends should, if they're not doing this now, write on their exam booklets what time they started the question and what time to finish it and move on to the next question. For the MPT, they should budget 5 minutes to read and outline the task memo, 35 minutes to read and outline the file and library, 5 more minutes to re-read the task memo, then the remaining time to write their answers. It really helped me to stick to my schedule. Not finishing the questions was never a problem for me, but when you get behind on a question you have less time to answer the next, and they're all worth the same.

Another thing which helped was my mental attitude. The first time I went into the exam with the attitude that I was going to fail. The second time I was hopeful, but tentative. The third time I went in saying, "I'm going to pass this beast; nothing's going to stop me." It's one thing to think after the exam that you probably failed; it's completely another thing to go into the exam thinking you're bound to fail. DON'T DO THAT!!

Sorry this has been so long - how I love to tell the story! If it helps someone else, that's terrific!

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