A Cautionary Tale and Some Heartfelt Advice from a Bar-Taker

This post just appeared in a Reddit forum for bar-studiers; it includes heartfelt, sound advice from a bar-taker who just found out that s/he failed the bar for a second time. As the poster writes, this is AVOIDABLE! There are specific steps you can take as a bar studier to maximize your chances of success.  But the struggle is real, especially as we’re not yet through this pandemic and its impact on our physical and mental health. Here it is:

I failed for the second time. The first time I took it, I completed all the [commercial program’s] lectures and some MBEs. I didn’t do any MPTs or MEEs. The sheer anxiety of taking an in-person bar during the midst of a pandemic as an immuno-compromised person paralyzed me. I couldn’t study no matter how hard I tried. I didn’t finish two MEEs and guessed on around half of the MBEs. So, I wasn’t surprised when I failed with a dismal 234.

The second time around I decided to redo the [commercial] program since I didn’t really finish it the first time. I got past some of the lectures but I remembered most of the lectures so it felt repetitive. I fell off course again. Four weeks before the exam I snapped back to reality and bought [a supplemental commercial course]. I watched all the lectures and rewrote lecture notes by hand until I had them memorized. I barely did any MBEs and didn’t do any MEEs or MPTs. So, unsurprisingly, I failed again with a 244.

I’m not sure why I repeated the same pattern of not doing any practice for the second exam. I’m not sure if it’s the lack of discipline or motivation that’s serving as a roadblock. It could have been my depression and anxiety, my bruised ego or a combination of all three. I have no one to blame but myself. So many of my loved ones feel sorry for me because I failed again after trying so hard. But, I didn’t. I really didn’t. I have too much shame to tell them the truth so I decided to tell strangers on the internet instead.

I’m in a better place mentally this time around. I’d be an absolute idiot to not do practice this time. I already have a game plan, unlike last time… The key is to just do the damn practice exams.

Yes. Active learning is more effective than passive learning, always. As you continue your bar readiness journey, do as much of the recommended work as you can, making bar study your fulltime job as much as possible after graduation. If you’re short on time, always choose active learning options like practice questions, followed by careful self-assessment, over passive options like watching online lectures. When you watch lectures, take active notes, ideally by hand as that is know to improve retention for most learners.

It’s mid-April. You have plenty of time to create your own plan for success on the July bar. You can do this!

New York Announces Remote Bar Exam in July 2021, Caps Applications

You may have heard this news from other sources such as your commercial bar review course, or directly from the New York Board of Law Examiners via their Applicant Services Portal: the New York Board of Law Examiners (NY BOLE) announced yesterday that 1) New York will administer the July 2021 Uniform Bar Exam remotely; and 2) it will cap bar exam applications at 10,000. This is comparable to the number of NY bar takers in July 2019, so no need to panic, but you should register as soon as you are able to do so, following the instructions at the NY BOLE website and any official communications you have from them.
 
The application will open at 12:01 am EST on April 1, i.e. just after midnight tonight, Eastern Standard Time. To apply, you must have an NCBEX account (which you have if you took the MPRE) and a NY BOLE account (which you have if you’ve already taken the New York Law Course and the New York Law Exam online). I suggest you make sure today you have taken all steps to be ready to submit your application, following the NY BOLE instructions. Note: “An application is considered filed when it is filed electronically online and the application fee is paid. The application must be completed and the fee must be received during the application period for the application to be considered filed.” Credit cards accepted for online payment are MasterCard and Visa. Applications will be open until April 30 or when the cap of 10,000 is reached, whichever happens first.
 
As a further reminder, per the NY BOLE website: “The results from the March 11, 2021 NYLE have been posted to candidates’ BOLE Accounts. To access the exam results, log in to your account in the Applicant Services Portal using your email address and password and navigate to the NYLE section within the portal. The next administration of the NYLE is on June 10, 2021 at 12:00 pm Eastern. The deadline to complete the New York Law Course and register for the March [June] NYLE is May 11, 2021 at 11:59 PM.” 
 
Finally, make sure to read all the published information at the NY BOLE website and the FAQ at the NY BOLE website, and check your email and applicant portal often to make sure you don’t miss any official communications, as those will be your first and most important information channels. If you have questions that can’t be answered via information on the website, you may call the BOLE office at: 518-453-5990.
 

A Four-Month Action Checklist Before the Bar Exam

As my regulars know, I’m a big fan of the book “Pass The Bar!” by Profs. Riebe and Schwartz. One reason I value it so highly is that it provides “Action Checklists” for up to 12 months before taking a bar exam.

Four months from tomorrow, most bar-takers in the US will begin their first day of the July bar exam (July 27 and 28, 2021 in Georgia and many other states). So here is an action checklist, modified from the one in “Pass The Bar!”:

  1. Review your intended jurisdiction’s bar admission and licensing rules. For Georgia, go to www.gabaradmissions.org. To find other jurisdictions’ websites, go to www.ncbex.org, where you can look them up.
  2. Plan now for your bar review period.
    1. Assess your own risk factors and the suggested solutions, to maximize your chances of passing the bar on your first attempt.
    2. Decide what if any remedial actions you need to take, including assessing your strengths and weaknesses in core bar-tested subjects, using the West Academic Assessment materials (see The Fourth Floor, on your Emory Canvas dashboard).
    3. Schedule time weekly to start studying or reviewing subjects you feel you don’t know as well, focusing on doing practice questions and analyzing why the answer options were correct or incorrect. Note any patterns you see in the errors you make (and everyone will be making errors!). Revisit the winter break study plan sent in December to all 3Ls and graduating LLM students.
  3. Create your own winning “game plan” for bar success.
    1. Review the time commitments you have between now and the end of July, and plan to minimize them where possible. Make bar study a top priority between graduation and the exam.
    2. Do a financial check-up and plan ahead for budgetary needs during your bar study period. If necessary, look into bar loans.
    3. Do an academic check-up: review your law school transcript to identify any gaps or weaknesses in what you have studied to date, comparing your courses to the subjects your jurisdiction can test on its bar exam, and decide on a plan to remedy those gaps or weaknesses.
    4. Update/refresh your legal writing skills for bar exam essays; practice so that producing a strong, clear written work product in IRAC format becomes almost automatic.
    5. Review your jurisdictions’ past essay and MPT questions, paying attention on the MPT to what kinds of documents you may be asked to create. Start doing practice MPT questions, comparing your answers to the sample answers most jurisdictions provide.
    6. Do a stress/attitude check: plan for how you will stay positive, healthy, focused, and resilient during bar study.
    7. If you haven’t yet signed up for a commercial bar review course, do that ASAP and start using any early access study materials it provides.
    8. Remember to enjoy your last semester of law school and seize any opportunities to do some things you might not have done yet, like getting to know certain professors better.

Georgia Plans Remote Bar Exam for July 2021

From www.gabaradmissions.org:

The Supreme Court of Georgia announced today, March 24, 2021, that it has authorized the Board of Bar Examiners to administer the bar exam scheduled for July 27-28, 2021 remotely due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.  The July 2021 Georgia Bar Exam will be comprised of all components of a regular Georgia Bar Exam, including a 200-question Multistate Bar Examination, two Multistate Performance Test items, and four Georgia essay questions. The Georgia essay portion of the remote exam will be open book.

The regular application filing period for the July 2021 exam opens April 5, 2021 and will remain open until June 2, 2021 at 4:00 p.m.  The dates for the late application filing period for the July 2021 exam have not been announced. 

Good Luck on the New York Law Exam!

Good luck to those of you who will take the online New York Law Exam this week as part of the bar admission requirements of the New York State Board of Law Examiners! If you aren’t taking it this week but you plan to take it in the future, please remember the dates and application deadlines, which are separate from the dates and deadlines for the Uniform Bar Exam that New York administers (also required for bar admission). The New York Law Exam is given four times a year.

If you expect to apply for admission to the New York bar (or any other state), make sure to review carefully all the rules and instructions that every state provides on an official website, such as www.nybarexam.org or www.gabaradmissions.org. An easy way to find the website of the state where you plan to take a bar exam and seek admission is to start at the website of the National Conference of Bar Examiners, www.ncbex.org. Bookmark that website and the website for your bar jurisdiction if you haven’t done so already!

AccessLex Offers Free Bar Success Webinars

Happy Spring! The AccessLex Institute has launched a new series of webinars to help support students’ informational needs as they prepare to take the bar exam. These will be especially helpful to students who will graduate this spring and take a bar exam in July, but they are open to all law students, regardless of the stage of your legal education.

Law students may register for one, or all, of these free bar success webinars:
 
The Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE)
For many students, taking the MPRE is one of the first steps towards bar admission. Learn about the subject matter eligible for testing on the MPRE, along with important logistical information, tips for studying, and more.

 
The Road to Licensure
Becoming a licensed attorney goes beyond graduating with your J.D. This session will walk you through the steps to licensure and help you find the information you’ll need to meet all of the requirements for your specific jurisdiction.

 
What You Need to Know About the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE)
This session will cover each component of the UBE, including the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE), the Multistate Essay Exam (MEE) and the Multistate Performance Test (MPT).

 
5 Tips for Bar Exam Success
Questions about what the bar exam experience will be like? Join our team of licensed attorneys as they share some of their best tips, answer your questions, and help set you up for success.

Using Winter Break for Bar Readiness

If you will graduate in May and plan to take a bar exam in July 2021, consider using all or some of the long winter break through January 18 for early bar readiness activities, to save yourself some time and stress later in the spring and summer. 
 
The Office of Academic Engagement has created for you a self-administered study plan, meant to supplement whatever early access materials your commercial bar review course may offer. It was emailed to all graduating students in December and it is posted on Canvas, on The Fourth Floor, under Academic Resources and Bar Readiness; just log in with your Emory credentials: https://canvas.emory.edu/courses/74802. This plan makes use of the new West Academic Assessment materials to which all Emory Law students have free access; the link to those is under Academic Resources on Canvas. It is a substantive review of the doctrinal law you will encounter on the bar, which will help you focus your spring semester bar readiness efforts on specific topics and sub-topics.
 

If you’d like to confer with one of the Academic Engagement & Student Success team about a more individual bar readiness schedule for yourself, please feel free to make an appointment with one of us! We are available in January after New Year’s Day. Best wishes for a happy and healthy New Year!

Congratulations!

Bar results from the October 2020 bar exam administration have started coming in — congratulations to all of you who passed! You have shown great perseverance and resilience in what must be the worst bar study period in recent memory, and we’re so proud of you!

Best wishes for a happy, healthy holiday season!

Register Now To Take Georgia Bar Exam in February 2021

If you registered to take the Georgia Bar in July, September, or October 2020, and DID NOT SIT for the exam, but you plan to take it in February 2021, you must register anew and submit a new bar application (if you cleared character and fitness review before, you shouldn’t have to do that again, but CHECK your applicant portal).

If you haven’t applied to take the exam before, but you did clear the character and fitness review, remember to submit the second step, the application to take the exam itself. Check your applicant portal and the Office of Bar Admissions website for information and deadlines.

In both situations, regular registration for the February bar opened on November 10 and will close on January 6, 2021, at 4:00 pm. For details, go here: Georgia Office of Bar Admissions.

MPRE Registration and Deadlines Coming Up

If you will graduate in May 2021 and plan to take a bar exam in July 2021, make sure to check your chosen bar jurisdiction’s requirements and deadlines, including for the MPRE. Some jurisdictions require that you provide a passing MPRE score as part of your application to take the bar exam. Registration for the March 2021 MPRE opens on December 14, 2020. Deadlines are in January 2021. The recommended submission deadline is January 4, 2021; the final deadline is January 28, 2021. If you will seek test accommodations, you should initiate that request ASAP.
 
For details, go to: https://www.ncbex.org/exams/mpre/registration/.