Practice (Questions) Makes Perfect, or at Least a Pass

I hope you all had a pleasant Memorial Day weekend! By now, most of you have started your bar review classes. If you have NOT started yet, you need to start NOW. Eight weeks from tomorrow, you will be finished with the bar exam! Some of you will be finished eight weeks from today! To make sure you will succeed and pass on your first try, the next seven weeks are crucial and doing practice questions is an important key to success. One analysis last year showed that students who did 2000 practice MBE questions scored 13 percent higher on the MBE. That can mean the difference between passing and not, so why leave it to chance?

Similarly, practicing with essay questions (actually writing and submitting answers to your bar review company in time to get meaningful feedback) is very valuable. No amount of reading the material and model answers can prepare you, or show you where you have gaps, as well as writing out your own answers and getting feedback in time to adjust and improve your approach. By practicing, you will also build up familiarity with the format and the look and feel of bar exam questions, which will reduce mental stress and allow you to engage more quickly and effectively with real bar exam questions. It’s a little like riding a bike; doing it over and over makes it more automatic each time you try.

If you want to practice with actual MBE questions written and tested by the National Conference of Bar Examiners, you can buy them directly here: MBE Online Practice Exams. But ask your bar review company first whether they have licensed use of those questions and will provide them to you as part of your course in addition to the ones they draft themselves.

You Graduated. Now What?

Emory Law Commencement 2016 led by Professor Richard Freer, by Frank Chen.

Congratulations — you graduated and you earned a law degree! BUT … you don’t get to practice law until you pass the bar. Sooooo … it’s time to really focus on getting ready for success on the bar. Even before you start your bar review course (and start listening to Professor Freer again!), here are some suggested actions to take right now, from the excellent book “Pass the Bar”, by Riebe and Schwartz:

  1. Develop a written bar preparation schedule for yourself that includes:
    1. Time to review bar review outlines
    2. Time to attend bar review classes.
    3. Time to master or recall the substantive law.
    4. TIME TO DO PRACTICE QUESTIONS.
    5. Time for sleep, exercise and relaxation.
  2. Make sure you have sent all bar-related paperwork in by your state’s deadline: check here: National Conference of Bar Examiners. E.g., in Georgia you must file separately to take the exam, with separate paperwork, once you have been certified as eligible through the Character and Fitness process. Deadline to do so for the July bar is June 1!
  3. Contact all the people who are important to you, explain how crucial it is that you pass the bar exam and how much time it will take you to get ready, meaning you will be less available to them — i.e., at least fifty hours/week.
  4. Do at least one thing you enjoy that you won’t have time to do once your bar review course starts, until the end of the bar exam.
  5. Remind yourself frequently of your strengths and how they will help you pass the bar exam.
  6. Any other planning ahead you need to do for things like housing, meals, childcare, pet care, other obligations.

Stay in touch and let us know how it’s going! And congratulations again on your achievement in earning your law degree!

Photo: Frank Chen, 2016.

Recordings of Bar Readiness Sessions with Faculty

Dear students: all audio-recordings of this spring’s “Bar Readiness” sessions led by our own faculty, which were overviews of the subjects that can be tested on the MBE based on the National Conference of Bar Examiners’ detailed outline, have been gathered here: Bar Readiness Recordings 2016. You will have to log in using your Emory credentials and look for them under that title. All MBE subjects were covered except for Property.

Critical Information If You Will Take the New York Bar

If you plan to take the New York bar exam this summer, you should know by now that New York has moved to administering the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE). As part of that change, New York will also require bar applicants to take an online exam in New York law. This week, the New York Board of Law Examiners updated information about that with study materials, test dates and registration details. It is very important for you to review all of this information, here: New York Bar Exam.

Subjects Tested on the Georgia Bar Exam

The Georgia bar exam is a two-day exam. Some parts are written by the National Conference of Bar Examiners; the essay questions are written and graded by members of the Georgia Board of Bar Examiners and their attorney assistants. For details on the Georgia bar exam dates, deadlines and logistics, visit their website: www.gabaradmissions.org.

Day 1: Two 90-minute Multistate Performance Test (MPT) questions in the morning and four 45-minute essay questions in the afternoon.

Day 2: Multistate Bar Exam (MBE), a 200-question, multiple choice exam.

SUBJECTS TESTED

MBE Subjects: Constitutional Law, Contracts/Sales, Criminal Law/Procedure, Evidence, Federal Civil Procedure, Real Property, Torts.

Georgia Essay Subjects: Business Organizations; Commercial Paper; Family Law; Federal Practice and Procedure; Georgia Practice and Procedure; Non-Monetary Remedies; Professional Ethics; Trusts, Wills and Estates; plus all MBE subjects. More than one subject may be tested in a single essay question.

Multistate Performance Test: Practical questions using a file of instructions, factual data, cases, statutes and other reference material supplied by bar examiners. Examinees are asked to draft a written work product, such as: a memorandum to a partner; a judicial opinion; contract provisions; a letter agreement; a letter of advice to a client, etc.

Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam: The MPRE is taken separately from the bar exam and it is offered in March, August and November. A scaled score of 75 on the MPRE is required for admission to the Georgia bar.

MBE Scores Drop Again, to 33-Year Low

The ABA Journal reports:

The mean scaled score on the February administration of the Multistate Bar Examination fell to 135, down 1.2 points from the previous year and the lowest average score on a February administration of the test since 1983. The number of test-takers was up 4 percent from last year, from 22,396 in 2015 to 23,324 this year, according to Erica Moeser, president of the National Conference of Bar Examiners, which developed and scores the test.

February scores are typically lower than July scores, Moeser said, because July test-takers tend to be first-time test takers, who generally score higher on the exam than repeat takers. She said the results, while “a bit disappointing,” are not a surprise. “We believe we’re in the middle of a downward trend that is likely to continue for at least a couple more years,” she said.

The multistate bar exam, a six-hour, 200-question multiple-choice test, is administered as part of the bar exam in every state except Louisiana. The July 2015 results were also down 1.6 points from the previous year, to 139.9, its lowest point since 1988.

Doing well enough on the MBE to pass the bar exam first time is a learned skill that improves with practice. If you didn’t do one of the practice MBE diagnostic tests and workshops we offered this spring, you can still come by the Office of Academic Engagement and Student Success to pick up a test and administer it to yourself.

If You Will Take the New York Bar Exam …

Many Emory Law graduates plan to take the New York bar examination. It is very important to remember that New York has changed the nature of that examination starting this year, July 2016. Please make sure to review ALL of the detailed information posted by the New York Board of Law Examiners: The New York Bar and the Uniform Bar Exam. The online application opens on April 1, one week from today.

Bar Exam Risk Factors

A number of factors may put you at risk for not passing the bar exam. According to Professors Riebe and Schwartz, in their book “Pass the Bar!”, these include:

  • Low LSAT score, low law school GPA or low class rank
  • Not taking a bar review course
  • Low grades in bar-tested courses, or not having taken them
  • Working or other time commitments like caregiving during the weeks before the bar
  • Nontraditional student status
  • Life crisis or major life event (good or bad) when you are preparing for the bar
  • Record of weak test skills, in essay and/or multiple-choice format
  • Lack of realistic, effective study and exam-taking strategies
  • Excessive fear or anxiety

However, every one of these risk factors can be addressed by taking specific remedial actions, which are listed and discussed in the book. And as the authors note:

Although each of the factors puts students at risk, none of them prevents students from passing. Many students have several of these risk factors yet still pass their bar exams. The factors merely reflect common characteristics of students who have failed in the past. By being aware of the risk factors and acting to minimize their effects, you can increase your likelihood of passing your bar exam.

If one or more of these risk factors applies to you, please make sure to take full advantage of ALL opportunities to do practice questions and attend workshops to learn more and better test-taking strategies for the bar!

Upcoming Bar Readiness Programs — Save the Dates!

Emory Law students who will graduate and take a bar exam this summer should add these dates to their calendars. Make sure to attend one or more of the free MBE workshops (you can go to all three!) and the important meeting with Georgia bar officials on February 29 (see my earlier post for details and advance reading to do). To sign up for an MBE workshop and lunch, go here: Sign-up for MBE Workshops and Lunches.

Mark your calendars now for the following dates:
 
* February 22, 12:15 – 1:45 pm, Tull: Faculty session on Civil Procedure with Professor Rich Freer
 
* February 24, 12:15 – 1:45 pm, Tull: Faculty session on Torts with Professor Frank Vandall
 
* February 26, 1:00 – 4:00 pm, 1D: MBE Workshop Diagnostic Test with BARBRI (follow-up BARBRI Lecture will be in March)
 
* February 27, 9:00 am – 4:00 pm, 1C: MBE Workshop Diagnostic Test and Live Lecture with Themis (lunch provided)
 
* February 29, 12:15 – 1:45 pm, 1E: Bar Exam Introduction AND Review of Georgia Essay Question, by State Bar Officials (lunch provided)
 
* March 14, 12:15 – 1:45 pm, Room TBD: Faculty session on Contracts with Professor Rafael Pardo
 
* March 16, 12:15 – 1:45 pm, Room TBD: Faculty session on Criminal Law & Procedure with Prof. Morgan Cloud
 
* March 18, 11:00 am – 5:00 pm, 1D: MBE Workshop Diagnostic Test and Live Lecture with Kaplan (lunch provided)
 
* March 21, 12:15 – 1:45 pm, Tull: Faculty session on Evidence with Professors Julie Seaman and Mark Goldfeder
 
* March 23, 12:15 – 1:45 pm, Tull: Introduction to Bar Exam Essays and the MPT with Assistant Dean Katherine Brokaw (lunch provided)
 
* March 25, 9:00 – 4:00 pm, 1D: Follow-up MBE Workshop Live Lecture with BARBRI (lunch provided)
 
* March 28, 12:15 – 1:45 pm, Tull: Faculty session on Constitutional Law with Professor Charles Shanor
 
* March 30, 12:15 – 1:45 pm, Tull : Faculty session on Property Law with Professor Jim Hughes

Late Fitness Application Deadline for Georgia Bar, March 2

The last deadline to apply for certification by the Board to Determine Fitness of bar applicants in Georgia, in time to take the Georgia bar exam in July 2016, is March 2, 2016.  Applications must be received in their office before 4:30 pm on that date, not postmarked by that date, and the late filing fee must be paid in full. Details about all deadlines, fees and forms of payment are here: Georgia Bar Admissions Deadlines and Fees.