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.

Georgia Announces Remote Bar Exam for February 2021

Georgia’s Office of Bar Admissions has made the following announcement:

The Supreme Court of Georgia announced on November 9, 2020 that due to the continued threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has authorized the Board of Bar Examiners to administer a remote exam on February 23-24, 2021. Unlike the administration of the October 2020 remote exam, which included a limited number of questions, the February 2021 exam will be comprised of all components of a regular 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 February 2021 exam opens on November 10, 2020 and remains open until January 6, 2021 at 4:00 p.m.  The dates for the late application filing period for the February 2021 exam have not been announced.  

Character & Fitness Applications and Deadlines; Planning Ahead

As we’ve been discussing for a while, if you plan to take the July bar exam in Georgia, you must first complete and clear the “character and fitness” process. Regular applications for clearance are due in Georgia by 4 pm on December 2; details are here:  Certification of Fitness.

The Director of Bar Admissions, Ms. Heidi Faenza, held her usual annual meeting about this process with Emory Law students on September 9, on Zoom; it was recorded and Emory Law students can watch it here: September 9, 2020 meeting. You can also reach it via The Fourth Floor on Canvas.

The information will be helpful even if you plan to take the bar in another state, as character and fitness review processes mostly seek the same kinds of information. You can start gathering the information you will need (past employers, addresses, etc.) now. It takes longer than you think it will!

If you plan to take the bar in a different state, each state’s rules and deadlines are different. Look up yours at www.ncbex.org, the website of the National Conference of Bar Examiners, where you will find links to each state’s bar jurisdiction website as well as information about registering for the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (“MPRE”) which most states require in addition to their bar exam. Remember that the only official information about a jurisdiction’s rules and deadlines comes from the jurisdiction itself; always check the official bar admissions website to make sure any information you’ve gotten elsewhere is accurate and up-to-date.

I recommend, again, that you read the book “Pass the Bar!”, by Profs. Riebe and Schwartz, between now and the start of classes. It includes really helpful “action plan checklists” that start with the period 6-12 months before your commercial bar review course starts, which is now if you plan to start such a course in May 2021, for the July 2021 bar exam. The book was written before some of the changes in the MBE in recent years (e.g., it says there are 6 MBE subjects and there are now 7), and it doesn’t address any pandemic-related changes made in 2020, but in every other respect, it is one of the best independent guides to passing the bar on your first attempt that I know, and a great supplement to the guidance you’ll get from your commercial bar review course (which I hope you’ve chosen and enrolled in by now).

The book walks you through the many things you can do, throughout your 3L year, to improve your odds on the bar exam. Every one of you can pass the bar first time, but it takes advance planning and this will help. It also discusses individual risk factors any student might have, that could affect that student’s bar passage; others are described here: Bar Exam Risk Factors. Specific solutions to address each of those are listed in “Pass The Bar!”; if you feel any of them apply to you, please schedule an individual advising appointment with one of the OAESS team.

Course Selection and Bar Readiness

Christen Morgan, Emory Law 16L

Two years ago, Christen Morgan 16L published a great post with some excellent advice for all law students with regard to bar readiness: Three Things I Would Have Done Differently for Bar Prep at The Girl’s Guide to Law School. Her points are valuable for 1Ls, 2Ls, and other continuing students as you consider your course selections for next year; and for 3Ls and soon-to-graduate LLMs as you continue to increase your “bar readiness” this year and once you start your commercial bar review course for a bar exam this summer.

For more specifics on how you can choose courses to optimize your readiness for success on a bar exam if you will return to law school in the fall, and on how to manage your own bar readiness if you are in your last semester, go to the Office of Academic Engagement & Student Success webpage and click on links for Bar Readiness, Choosing Courses, and Practice Areas (for practice-focused academic guidance and information). Some are behind tiles you will see if you scroll down the page a bit.

If you missed our session on Course Selection and Bar Readiness last Monday, 10/12/20, it was recorded and the Zoom link is here: OAESS Session on Course Selection and Bar Readiness.

The Powerpoint from that session is here:

Finally, if you will graduate this academic year and plan to take a bar exam next year, you should make a decision now about which commercial bar review course you will use. If you know for sure which state’s bar exam you plan to take, whether or not you have a job offer yet, sign up for that; if your plans change, most vendors will let you switch states. Ask before you commit. If you are unsure or you are keeping options open depending on employment, consider signing up for a course for a UBE (Uniform Bar Exam) bar jurisdiction. The UBE offers a portable score that is valid in over 30 states now. Again, most bar course vendors will let you switch specific courses among their offerings if your plans change, so ask. In any event, don’t delay your bar readiness plan, which should be in process this whole academic year if it is your last one.

Staying Composed During The Bar Exam

You’ve absorbed so much information already about exam-taking strategies — this is not that. These suggestions come largely from Professors Riebe and Schwartz, my favorite bar readiness authors (“Pass The Bar!”):

  • Get plenty of sleep the weekend before, and each night before, each day of the bar exam. (I will add, stay hydrated; it does help!).
  • Check your technology and allowed materials. Make sure your laptop and charger are in good order.
  • Get set up in your test location early, to allow for any unexpected situations, whether it is in your home or somewhere else.
  • After test sessions, DON’T talk to your fellow bar-takers about the exam or compare notes. They don’t know any more than you do, and you could end up feeling discouraged without there being a real basis for that.
  • Stay focused on your goal, use stress management techniques that work for you before, during, and after exams, stay positive and think of “success” as doing your own personal best.
  • Pay close attention to all instructions, before the exam and on the exam itself, and make sure to follow them.
  • Think ahead and remind yourself how you plan to use your time wisely during the test sessions.
  • Forget each section or questions as you finish it; put it behind you and focus on the next opportunity to do your best, i.e. the next section or question.
  • Remind yourself how far you’ve come and why you believe you will pass the bar.

I’ll also add, after the end of your last session, breathe deeply. You’re done. It will be a while before you get results. Try to put this whole ordeal behind you and refocus on aspects of your life that you may have had to put on hold since May. This stage is over. Be kind to yourselves and to each other. We’re very proud of all your hard work and resilience this year.

You Got This!

One week from now, your 2020 remote bar exam ordeal will be over in Georgia and in most states. Remember to double-check the instructions you have from your bar jurisdiction, including the deadline to download the exam files (10/1 at 4pm for Georgia). You’re in the last stretch of this marathon. You can do this. You can pass the bar. You don’t have to ace it, just pass it. Your law school is rooting for you and we wish you the very best.

 

Remember the MPT

Dear bar studiers: some of you will be tempted to do scant preparation for the Multistate Performance Test (“MPT”) portion of the bar, because it doesn’t require as much memorization as the MBE and the essays. This is a strategic error that can mean the difference between passing and failing the bar first time. Emory Law students, especially, should be able to do well and gain points on the MPT, because of the strength of our legal writing courses and the fact that so many Emory Law students take Contract Drafting and other similar classes.

Take the time now to get familiar with the MPT and how it works. Look at the past MPT questions used on the bar exam you plan to take, whether the Uniform Bar Exam (“UBE”) or the Georgia Bar, which posts past questions and sample answers, to both essays and the MPT, here. February 2020 questions are here. (The MPT parts will be at the end). Most commercial bar review courses offer the option of taking a practice MPT, submitting it, and getting graded individual feedback. Make sure you take advantage of that in time to get and use the feedback, so you can fine-tune your approach.

Prof. Mary Campbell Gallagher, founder of BarWrite and author of books on passing the bar and of a blog on the same subject, gives a detailed analysis, below, of one of the 2018 MPT questions that proved difficult for many bar-takers, including our graduates. She explains what was needed to score well on that question, and how bar-takers may have fallen short, to their cost; most importantly, she suggests how to do better. Because it’s possible to fail the bar exam by one point, you should make sure you are well prepared to grab every point available to you, and I believe our graduates could pick up more points on the MPT with more strategic preparation.

  1. Practice doing the close reading of MPT instructions Prof. Gallagher describes, using real MPT questions, and practice outlining how you would respond to them.
  2. Write out full practice answers to a few, looking for questions that ask for different types of written work product, and compare them to sample answers.
  3. Remember that your answers on the MPT will be graded on your responsiveness to the instructions regarding the task you are to complete, as well as on the content, organization, and thoroughness of your responses.

You may be asked to produce a memorandum to a supervising attorney, a letter to a client, a persuasive memorandum or brief, a statement of facts, a contract provision, a will, a counseling plan, a proposal for settlement or agreement, a discovery plan, a witness examination plan, or a closing argument. You should know what those look like and how to create them with specific reference to the instructions you are given. There are free MPT questions and point sheets from 2010-2015 available here at the NCBE website (scroll down).

Yes, you must do your very best on the MBE and the essays, and that will require memorizing a lot of material, but don’t leave MPT points on the table. Those points count too! Go get them!

Prof Gallagher’s article and analysis:

Bad News on the First July 2018 MPT Task

Some Tips for The Last Weeks before the October Bar

No matter what state’s bar exam you will take in October, it is essential that you complete as much as possible of your commercial bar review course before then. For example, the average completion percentage of BARBRI’s successful bar-takers last summer, July 2019, was about 82%. We advise trying to do more. We also advise that bar-takers aim at having done a total of about 2000 practice MBE questions by the time you take the real thing (that includes all practice questions you’ve done since beginning your bar study). Use the tools your bar course provides to calculate how much time you need to budget daily to finish your work, including — VERY IMPORTANT! — taking the simulated MBE if you haven’t done that yet. And just as important as taking it, you must assess your own performance on it so you can target any subject areas of weakness between now and October 5.

Here’s the recorded Zoom session with Prof. Rich Freer and BARBRI’s Director of Legal Education, Jonathan Augustin, held on Sept. 23: MBE Strategies.

When you review your simulated MBE score, Profs. Riebe and Schwartz recommend analyzing WHY you got any particular answer wrong so you can plan how to do better. They identify four main categories of error: 1) reading comprehension (RC); 2) missed issue (MI); 3) error of law (EL); 4) applied law incorrectly (A). As you review your test results, jot down those letters by each one you got wrong, and identify which kind of error you make most often, then work on improving that skill.

Emory Law graduates, if you weren’t able to attend last week’s session on how to tackle the Georgia essays, plus other tips on the MPT and what you can do to reach peak bar readiness over the next few weeks, that session was recorded and you will find it on Zoom here: Georgia Bar Essays and Other Tips for Readiness. The Powerpoint used during that session is here: 

If you missed last week’s separate session with Georgia’s Director of Bar Admissions, that was also recorded and the recording is available on Zoom: Information about the October 2020 Georgia Bar Exam.

Check communications from the Georgia bar or your bar jurisdiction as to whether you will now be allowed to use any scratch paper during the MPT, as that was a recent change option, but not all states have changed their restrictions.

If this feels like a heavy lift after the long months of delay, quarantine, rule changes, schedule changes, etc. — it is. But this exam is the last obstacle between you and the license to practice law that you’ve all worked so hard to achieve. You’re almost there! You can do this! We are all cheering you on!

Georgia Bar Publishes Details About October Exam

The Georgia Office of Bar Admissions has updated its FAQ section with more details and specific logistical requirements for the remote October bar exam: here. If you plan to take that exam, please review those very carefully, as a failure to comply strictly with all requirements could result in your being disqualified. You all have waited too long and endured too many changes to have that happen in the home stretch!

As set forth in the new FAQ and in an email you should have received from the Georgia Bar this week, laptop registration is now open. It will close on September 18 at 4 pm, so please don’t leave that until the last moment. There is other paperwork you must complete, so do read their email carefully, it has detailed instructions in addition to the FAQ posted. Both are essential for you to review.

The Office of Academic Engagement & Student Success will host a special review session for Emory’s Georgia bar-takers on September 10 at 4 pm, on Zoom, to discuss how to tackle the open-book Georgia law essay questions. Check your Emory email for details and a link.

Take good care of yourselves, the light is showing at the end of the tunnel. 

New York, Illinois Will Give Remote Bar Exam in October; Other States Confirm Diploma Privileges

The ABA Journal has published the following summary today to reflect more changes announced by bar jurisdictions yesterday:

In light of public health concerns, Illinois and New York have joined the growing list of states that canceled in-person bar exams, with plans for an October remote test offered by the National Conference of Bar Examiners.

Ohio and New Hampshire made similar announcements Wednesday, as did TennesseeWashington, D.C.Massachusetts and New Jersey during the month of July. Maryland is also offering the NCBE October exam, which the state announced in June.

Additionally, Louisiana announced on Wednesday that the state would be offering diploma privilege for candidates who graduated from an ABA-accredited law school no earlier than December 2019.

According to the NCBE’s website, Utah, Oregon and Washington are also offering diploma privilege.