Georgia Supreme Court Replaces September Bar Exam With Online Exam in October

student with head down on desk

Chief Justice Harold D. Melton announced this afternoon that the Supreme Court of Georgia has canceled the in-person Georgia bar examination scheduled for Sept. 9-10 at the Georgia International Convention Center: https://www.gasupreme.us/online-bar-exam/. Due to public health concerns during this pandemic, and concerns specifically for bar-takers’ safety, an online exam will be administered Oct. 5-6 in its place.

Atlanta, July 20, 2020 – Chief Justice Harold D. Melton announced today that the Supreme Court of Georgia has canceled the in-person Georgia bar examination that was scheduled for Sept. 9-10 at the Georgia International Convention Center. Due to public health concerns during the pandemic, an online exam will be administered Oct. 5-6 in its
www.gasupreme.us

It is expected that the October exam will use most of the same materials from NCBE that other jurisdictions will use for online bar exams in October, but with Georgia law essays as usual instead of Multistate Essay Exam questions. All the subjects that were previously identified as eligible for testing are still potential subjects on the October exam, for the MBE, the MPT, and the Georgia law portions. Although the exam will still be given over two full days, the exam itself will be shortened.

If you were previously registered to take the September exam, our information is that the bar plans to roll over your registration, but make sure to follow all official instructions and announcements from the Office of Bar Admissions itself. If you had previously decided to wait until February 2021, but would now like to take it this October in the online format, it is likely you will get a chance to register for October, but that window may be brief, so keep checking the bar admissions website, below.

Details will be forthcoming at www.gabaradmissions.org. If you are already registered, look for further direct communications to you from the Georgia Office of Bar Admissions, which will also post answers to Frequently Asked Questions on that website later this week.

7, 13, or 16 Weeks To Go?

Like so many things this summer, bar readiness is confusing right now. You know it’s essential to plan ahead and stay focused on studying for the bar exam, but how to do that when 1) important public events are deeply disturbing and distracting; and 2) for the first time any of us can remember, there are at least three four different scheduled bar exam dates already; and 3) who knows what more might change? (Just as I published this post, the District of Columbia announced it was canceling its September bar exam date and would give a remote exam in October that would not provide a transferable score).

First, the crucial public events and protests. Many of you may have taken part already, more may take part in coming weeks. Please remember that you are already uniquely equipped to fight for justice, if you’re studying for a bar exam: you have a law degree. Only about .5% of the adult US population has that education. Meaning only about .5% of the adult US population has that kind of power to effect change through our legal system. To wield that power, you have to pass the bar. So your success this summer or fall on the bar exam may be one of the most valuable contributions you can make, long-term.

Second, whether you will take a bar exam in late July, early September, or late September, here are some things to keep in mind, at this point in the summer:

Here again is a recording of the MBE Overview program Professor Rich Freer did for us last year: MBE Overview-Prof. Freer 1-30-19. It’s a good reminder right now, as you continue to work in your commercial bar review courses, of his excellent advice. The MBE Subject Matter Powerpoint shown onscreen in this recording is also available on this blog, under Online Learning Resources (above), with the other MBE Subject Matter outline Powerpoints I created for these faculty-led sessions. They are drawn directly from the MBE Subject Matter Outline document on the website of the National Conference of Bar Examiners.

If you will take a bar in July, you now have seven weeks until the bar exam. It may be helpful to look again at those outlines occasionally, to see how the sub-topics within each major subject on the MBE relate to each other, while you continue to do practice MBE questions regularly in sets to test your knowledge. Don’t freak out if your results look worse when you do “mixed sets” of questions in different subject areas, as opposed to “blocks” of questions in one subject like Torts, or Contracts. That is normal, and part of the learning process! Don’t give up on doing the mixed sets — push through the challenge and keep doing them, knowing that you probably won’t score high for a while. Mixed question sets are a very effective way for most students to learn material, especially for an exam like the MBE where you won’t know what subject a given question is testing until you try to answer it. Doing them over an extended period of time, instead of cramming all the practice in at the end of your bar study, is also an effective learning strategy.

If you will take a bar in September, you have the opportunity to spread out practice questions even more, and use principles of “spaced repetition.” As we said two weeks ago in our first online “Bar Study Hall”, it is critical to be using this time wisely, and you should have in place now a written plan for how your personal study schedule will proceed, all summer. Use the gift of extra weeks to do more practice questions and better self-assessment on all parts of the bar exam: MBE, MPT, and essays.

Forced retrieval”, which is what you are doing when you give yourself practice questions and tests, is a highly effective learning technique. Remember that it’s not the initial results you get that matter, no one else is watching! What matters is the process of making yourself answer questions, over and over, and then reviewing your results to understand what you got wrong and how to answer correctly next time. Active learning, retrieval and practice always win over passive “recognition” (re-reading and re-watching material you’ve seen before, without then testing yourself on it). It is well-established that adult learners learn best when their activities are “meaningful, active, motivating, and significant.” Your effort to pass the bar is meaningful and significant, to yourself and to others. Keep it active and stay motivated!

Third, no one knows for sure what this summer may bring in terms of COVID-19. That’s just the reality of life right now, including for the jurisdictions and public officials who administer bar exams. So while it really is essential to have a written personal study plan and schedule, write it in pencil. You might have to change it because of personal circumstances unique to you, or because the jurisdiction where you plan to take the exam has had to change something. Stay up-to-date on your jurisdiction; the National Conference of Bar Examiners updates its summary of jurisdiction information at least weekly, if not more often.

Finally, keep taking good care of yourself. The ABA has provided some great online resources, including this video/audio recording: “Self-Care and Mindfulness in the Age of COVID-19.” The ABA Law Student Division also has lots of good resources and guidance for tackling the project of studying for the bar exam.

It has been a very challenging spring and this summer promises more challenges. Try to remember how important your ultimate goal is, for you and for others, and keep your eyes on that prize — a license to practice law. Stay safe, and stay well!

Featured image from www.law.com.

Bar Readiness, Remote Version

Welcome back to the Spring semester, Emory Law!  Even though we are not with you physically, we are still available and ready to assist you as you prepare for the bar exam.  Professor Rich Freer has recorded an introductory lecture regarding bar preparation, which you can view here. We have also rescheduled our series of MBE subject matter workshops (see schedule below). At these sessions, Rhani Lott 10L (with input from Dean Brokaw and the Dean’s Teaching Fellows) will walk you through the MBE’s scope of coverage as outlined by the National Conference of Bar Examiners. The sessions will be recorded, but we encourage you to take part live so you can ask questions.

Wednesday, April 1: 12:15pm

Wednesday, April 8: 6:30pm

Monday, April 13: 12:15pm

Wednesday, April 15: 6:30pm

We also encourage you to review the information here: Academic Engagement & Student Success: Bar Readiness; and to bookmark and subscribe to this blog, Emory Law Bar Readiness, so that you receive new bar-related blog posts. As always, go directly to the website of the jurisdiction where you plan to take the bar exam for specifics and deadlines. You can find a listing of those websites at www.ncbex.org.

Bar Readiness Update, March 13, 2020

Dear students: the bar information session with Georgia bar officials that was scheduled for Monday, March 16, is cancelled due to university-wide changes because of COVID-19 (more information HERE). We are in the process of revising our planned Spring semester bar readiness programming for delivery online; we will provide details as soon as we can. Please make sure to read the weekly On The Docket, which will resume on Monday, March 16, and all Emory emails.

Meanwhile, if you are graduating in May and plan to take a bar exam in July 2020, you can make great use of this extra week of spring break to get ahead on your individual bar readiness. Please remember that getting or keeping job opportunities in the legal profession depends on your taking and passing the bar exam as soon as possible after graduation, so everything you can do right now to focus on bar readiness, including using the extra week out of class, will directly improve your options and your chances for success.

If you don’t already have a copy of the book “Pass The Bar!“, I highly recommend it. Although it was published before some changes to the MBE, it is still the most useful single-volume guide I have found to supplement your commercial bar review course. It has “action checklists” for different timeframes leading up to the exam itself; Checklists 1 and 2 are now relevant to the July bar. The biggest changes in the MBE, not reflected in the book, are the addition of Civil Procedure to the MBE subjects and the increase in the number of experimental questions to 25. Otherwise, the advice in the book is very sound.

If your commercial bar review course is making “early start” materials available by now, I strongly advise you to work on those during the extra break. If you haven’t yet signed up for a bar review course, you should do that right away, even if you’re not sure what state you’ll work in after you graduate. Most courses will let you switch states if you need to. Remember that more than half of all state jurisdictions now use the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) which gives you a portable score. For details, go to www.ncbex.org, where you can find general and jurisdiction-specific information.

Stay well, and stay tuned for more information about this spring’s bar readiness programming!

Good luck on this week’s bar exam!

If you are taking a February bar exam this week, we are rooting for you! I think our graduates overall could pick up some more points on the MPT, and possibly bridge the difference between passing and failing, so make sure you understand what it will ask you to do, and how it will be graded. If you want to look over examples of past MPTs and sample answers, you will find some here: Georgia Bar Past Questions and Sample Answers.

Make sure you review the rules, procedures and instructions for your jurisdiction’s bar exam. Georgia’s are here: Rules, Procedures and Instructions. Most of all, get a good night’s sleep tonight, stay hydrated, plan ahead for challenges like traffic and weather, and get to the test site early. The less stress you have on bar exam days, the better your chances are. Remember, each question is an opportunity to do well and score points; fight for every point, but forget about each question after you finish, and move on. Remind yourself why you know you can pass this exam! Good luck, wherever you are taking the bar– you can do this!

Keep Track of Upcoming Bar Deadlines

Emory Law Bar Readiness State Bar Georgia

If you plan to take a bar exam in July 2020, make sure you are meeting all deadlines! In Georgia, the last date by which you can apply for character and fitness certification to take the July bar comes up the first week of March. Go here for details: Georgia Bar deadlines and fees. And mark your calendars for the March 16 information session with Georgia’s Director of Bar Admissions and one of the Georgia Board of Bar Examiners, Emory alumna Susan Cahoon 68C. Ms. Cahoon is a university trustee and an equity partner in the law firm of Kilpatrick Townsend. She is a Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers, has chaired Kilpatrick Townsend’s Litigation practice group, and is the firm’s General Counsel. She is one of the bar examiners who write and grade the Georgia law essay questions on the bar exam every year, so she has valuable insights into how to succeed on the bar. For time and location details, see the announcement in On The Docket, and flyers on the digital screens in Gambrell.

Info Session on the Bar Exam

Come find out everything you always wanted to know about the bar exam but might have been afraid to ask! (Don’t be afraid — be informed!). On Monday, March 16, 2020, the Director of Bar Admissions for the State Bar of Georgia and one of the Bar Examiners (the people who write and grade bar essay questions) will visit Emory Law to give an overview of the bar exam and answer students’ questions. Much of the information will be relevant to jurisdictions other than Georgia. Join the Office of Academic Engagement & Student Success from 12:15-1:45 pm in Rm. 1E, on March 16. Reminders will be in On The Docket.

Remember also to keep track of deadlines for the jurisdiction wherever you plan to take the bar; always check directly on that jurisdiction’s own official bar admissions website. You can get to that through the website of the National Conference of Bar Examiners.

Pizza will be served during the March 16 info session; feel free to bring your beverages and your questions!

Bar Readiness; Or, What I Did Over My Winter Break

Dear Class of 2020: Congratulations on finishing the fall semester! As you look ahead to the rest of your time here, you will have much to celebrate even before graduation. Don’t forget to use this time also to make sure you are ready to make the most out of your commercial bar review course after graduation. There is much you can and should do NOW to improve your bar readiness and your chances of first-time success on the bar exam in July!

First, check to make sure you are aware and on top of all bar-related deadlines and requirements for the bar exam in the state where you plan to take it.  Each state has its own rules and processes, even if they use some of the same tests, and the state bar admissions offices put the burden on you to know, understand, and follow their particular requirements. A good place to start is www.ncbex.org, the website of the National Conference of Bar Examiners, but always check directly on the state bar’s own website in case of any changes. You will also find on the state bar’s website information about the subjects that state can test, what kind of performance test it may give, whether there is an additional component that you take separately from the bar exam (e.g., the MPRE, or the online New York law course), and even past essay questions and sample answers. If you plan to seek exam accommodations, start that process now, it can take a long time.

Second, I highly recommend the book “Pass The Bar!” by Riebe and Schwartz. Although it was published before a few changes in the MBE, so you have to update the information about what subjects are tested and how many questions are experimental, for instance, it remains the best comprehensive guide and planning tool I have found, including especially its “Action Plan Checklists.” Also, subscribe to or come back to check out our blog, “Emory Law Bar Readiness” (link is on the Office of Academic Engagement pages on the law school website, www.law.emory.edu); it contains a lot of useful information as well as links to additional resources.

Third, now is the time to confirm your choice of a commercial bar review course, if you haven’t done that already. You should have that in place by the end of your fall semester. This will allow you to start getting familiar with the course materials and figuring out where your individual weaknesses might be, with plenty of time to remedy any gaps in your recall or understanding of bar-tested subjects. You can add bar-tested subjects to your schedule during the drop/add period in the first week of classes in January, if you think that’s necessary.

Fourth, start NOW to plan ahead for your post-graduation study period. Assess your own readiness in a systematic way, and plan to take the MBE diagnostic tests and overview workshops we will offer in the spring semester.  Assess candidly whether you have any particular risk factors (a chart of risks and how to remedy them is available outside the Office of Academic Engagement). Plan how you will use the time between now and July to address those. Make a plan to handle your time, finances, and other needs during the bar study period (May through end of July).

We look forward to working with you on your readiness to take and conquer the bar exam next summer! Best wishes for your holiday season – Dean Brokaw

Change in Process to Apply for Accommodations on the MPRE

The National Conference of Bar Examiners has announced the following change to its process for approving accommodation requests on the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (“MPRE”):

IMPORTANT: The process for requesting MPRE test accommodations is changing. Beginning with the March 2020 MPRE, candidates must apply for accommodations prior to registering and scheduling a test appointment. A detailed explanation of the application process is provided below; please read it carefully. NCBE is now accepting requests for accommodations for 2020 administrations of the MPRE.

Details are on the website of the National Conference of Bar Examiners. As a reminder, requests for ADA-related accommodations on the bar exam itself, as distinct from the MPRE, are reviewed and decided separately by each jurisdiction. Applicants should read the relevant portion of the state bar admissions website for the jurisdiction where they plan to take the bar exam, well in advance, as it can take a long time to collect all the required documentation. All of those websites can be reached through the website of the National Conference of Bar Examiners, www.ncbex.org.

Guest Post on Bar Exam “Trigger Words”

Dr. Kirsten Schaetzel, a linguist and our Emory Law ESL specialist, has written this excellent advice that will help all bar-takers, not just those for whom English is not a native language. The bar exam will play tricks on you; awareness and practice will help:

“Pay attention to trigger words!

Bar questions, both multiple choice questions and essay questions, often contain words that may seem insignificant, but instead carry much legal meaning and usually have an impact on the answer you choose or the answer you write. We call these words “trigger” words because just like the trigger on a gun, these words have an impact! When you pull the trigger on a gun, a bullet shoots out; when a question contains a trigger word, it has an impact on the way you interpret a situation. Some bar questions may have more than one trigger word.

Trigger words concern time, place, and manner (the way something is done). These usually have a legal impact. Examples of triggers are:

  1. Adverbs, such as immediately, recklessly, accidentally, quickly, severely
  2. Negatives, such as not, does not, did not, and prefixes such as il- (illegal), im- (imperfect), in- (inhospitable), and un- (unconscious)
  3. Descriptive qualifiers, such as a person’s age, any physical limitations, gender, familial or business relationships
  4. Dates, distances, and times (may be clues to causation and statute of limitations)
  5. Place, such as country, state, county, city (may be clues to jurisdiction)

A few examples of trigger words in sample MBE multiple-choice questions are listed below (http://www.ncbex.org ):

  1. The man has “Beware of Dogs” signs clearly posted around a fenced-in yard . . .
  2. The neighbor was attached by one of the dogs and was severely
  3. A major issue is whether the train sounded its whistle before arriving at the crossing.
  4. A daughter was appointed guardian of her elderly father . . .
  5. The sales agreement did not mention the shutters, the buyer did not inquire about them, and the buyer did not conduct a walk-through inspection of the home before the closing.

Notice the underlined “trigger” words and think about the impact they have on meaning.

As you read the prompts for multiple-choice questions and the fact-patterns for bar essay questions, keep your eyes open for trigger words and phrases!”

Thanks, Dr. Schaetzel! I recommend, in this final stretch of bar study, doing as many practice MBE questions as you can and use “active reading” by underlining or circling trigger words and other key words on the questions themselves. This will remind you to notice them on the real bar exam (and you should underline or circle them on the real questions too). Time will be tight — you can streamline your pace of answering questions by practicing now how to focus on the essentials.