Nine Weeks …

Nine weeks from today, most of you will be done with the July bar exam! That’s hard to envision, since most of you also just started your bar review courses. Here are some pieces of good news, which I hope you will find encouraging:

  1. In nine weeks, this will be over. No, it won’t be the best summer of your life, but it will be over before August and you can still go to a beach, lake, or whatever destination fits your budget and your need to relax.
  2. You have NINE WHOLE WEEKS to focus on getting ready to pass the bar on your first attempt. If you manage your time well, keep up with your courses’ assignments, and treat bar preparation as a daily job, that is a good amount of time. Don’t let one of those workdays or weeks get away from you — it might feel good now, but it sure won’t later.
  3. You are a very bright student community and most of you WILL pass the first time — IF you put in the time, do the work, and do more than 1800 practice MBE questions. If you took one of our diagnostic MBE workshops this spring, those count toward your total! If you didn’t, you can still pick up the practice questions from all three workshop providers, outside G145.
  4. The bar exam is not an aptitude test; it’s all about “sweat equity”, and you control that. No matter how bright you are, if you don’t study enough, you are unlikely to pass. But even if you struggled academically in law school, you can still pass the bar first time by investing focused, daily effort in your preparation and doing up to 2000 practice MBE questions. This is within your control, unlike so many law school courses. Seize the moment and take that control!
  5. Slow and steady really does win this race. Don’t panic or freak yourself out — there’s no need, and it won’t help. Just plug away at your course assignments and practice questions, 6 days/week (you can and should take a day off weekly, if you are otherwise keeping up).

Check your Emory Law email for the list of support programs we are offering this summer on Wednesdays here on campus! We were glad to see many of you today for the first one — complete with celebrity cameo appearances by Prof. Rich Freer and Dean Schapiro. Whether or not you are here in Atlanta, know that we are here and we are rooting for you. Let us know how we can help.

Happy New Year! Bar Readiness in 2017

Will you graduate this May? Do you plan to take a bar exam this summer? If so, now is the best possible time for you to focus on getting ready to pass the bar the first time you take it, if you haven’t started already. Time after time, we see that the law students who start planning for the bar early in their 3L year have a much higher chance of passing the first time. In January, you have plenty of time to diagnose any weaknesses you might have and work over time to address them. Many law students have factors that put them at risk of not passing the bar first time — but virtually all of those factors can be readily addressed if given time and attention.

As we did last year, Emory Law is offering all our students who will graduate this spring the opportunity to gain some of those insights by taking an MBE diagnostic test of 100 practice questions with a follow-up workshop to discuss correct and incorrect answers, and the strategies to achieve your best scores. They will take place in January and February; the first one is on January 20. Students can sign up HERE for 1, 2 or all 3 of them! Last year, many students took all three and got great results on last summer’s bar exam. We are very happy to be able to offer the same opportunities again this year!

Bar Results

If you took any state’s bar exam in July 2016, you likely have your results by now. Most of you are thrilled and relieved; some of you are not. Let me share some wise words and advice from Scott Johns, a law teacher who posted this on the Law School Academic Support Blog :

First, if you passed the bar exam, congratulations!  What a wonderful accomplishment!  As you celebrate your success while waiting to take your oath of office, here’s a quick suggestion.  This a great time to reach out to your support team (family, friends, colleagues, mentors, etc.) and personally thank them for their encouragement and inspiration.  And, with respect to your law school colleagues that did not pass, its important that you reach out to them too.  Send a quick email.  Invite them for coffee.  Let them know that you personally stand behind them and for them no matter what.  Most importantly, just listen with kindness, graciousness, and compassion.  In short, be a friend.

Second, if you did not pass the bar exam, please know that the results are not a reflection of who you are as a person….period.  Lots of famous and successful people did not pass the bar exam on the first try (and some after a number of tries).  Yet, they are some of the most outstanding attorneys and successful leaders.  So, be kind to yourself.  Take time to reflect, cry, and ponder.   Most importantly, just be yourself.  Then, in a few days or a few weeks, reach out to your law school.  Make sure you order your exam answers if they are available in your state because looking at your exam answers can give you inside information on what you did that was great and where to improve too.  Contact your bar review company for a one-on-one chat.  Overall, though, the most important task at hand is to be kind to yourself, and please remember, your value comes from who you are and not from the bar exam at all.  Period.

We are proud of all of you for undertaking something as challenging and exhausting as preparing for a bar exam. We will be offering resources to those who did not pass, but feel free to contact us yourself for support, whether in bar passage, employment or a fellowship. To the advice above, I would add that you should absolutely get as much information about your own answers as you can from your bar jurisdiction; make sure you know the deadline for making that request. In New York, for instance, it is 60 days after the date of notification that you did not pass.  Also, in most jurisdictions, you can request hand-scoring of your MBE answer sheet if you think that would make a difference. Contact your state bar jurisdiction for instructions on how to do that, as each of them has different rules. In Georgia, the process is:

Send a request in writing to the Office of Bar Admissions containing:

Your Name/Address/Phone Number/Email and Applicant Number

Month/Year Bar Exam Taken

Signature

Include a money order made payable to the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE):  $50

The address is:

Office of Bar Admissions — ATTN MBE Hand Score Request

244 Washington Street; Suite 440

Atlanta, GA  30334

If you passed the Georgia bar exam, you should have heard from our Alumni Relations team inviting you to join your classmates and members of the Emory Law community to be sworn in at a special ceremony hosted here at the law school next week. If you did not get that information, please contact Bethany Glass at bethany [dot] glass [at] emory [dot] edu. You must RSVP and bring the original of your Georgia Bar certificate to Rm. G120 in Gambrell Hall. We look forward to hearing from you or seeing you soon.

Featured image provided by Al Haidar.

Important Changes To The MBE For 2017

The National Conference of Bar Examiners alerted law school deans yesterday about another change to the MBE starting in 2017 (they had previously announced an expansion of the scope of topics that might be tested in the category of Real Property). The 2017 MBE will still contain 200 questions, but unlike prior years, when 190 of those were actually scored and 10 were unscored experimental questions, the new MBE will only score 175 questions and 25 will be unscored experimental questions.

This means that each individual multiple choice question will count a bit more than in the past; and cumulatively, it will be more important for a bar taker to answer each one correctly. What this means for you, as an individual test-taker, is that test-taking skills and strategies will become even more important. In addition to paying attention to the added scope of Real Property topics and making sure you study the new topics, it will be more important than ever for you to do as many practice MBE questions as possible and review what strategies were most effective for you.

We will be offering (again) free MBE workshops for graduating students in the spring semester, so please plan to take advantage of at least one of those. You can come to all of them at no cost to you. Also, be sure to ask bar review course vendors for details about their MBE practice questions, such as how many of them are actual former MBE questions released by NCBEX, and how many will address the added subjects in Civil Procedure (added in 2015) and Real Property. Be aware that older MBE review materials will likely not include those new topics, including some that are on reserve for your use in the MacMillan Law Library.

More Practice MBE Questions On Reserve For You

As you shift more and more of your time toward doing practice questions and mock exams, it is useful to practice with sets of earlier, actual MBE questions which are released for that purpose by the National Conference of Bar Examiners. You can either buy sets of 100 as online practice exams (OPEs) at their website, www.ncbex.org, for your personal use, OR you can check out either or both of the Emanuel books “Strategies and Tactics for the MBE”, the fifth and sixth editions, which I’ve put on reserve at the law library circulation desk. The sixth edition has OPE Set 4 and the fifth edition has OPE Set 3, both with answer keys and explanations. You can also buy a personal hard copy of those books online through Amazon et al.

Do You Want Free Critical Pass MBE Flashcards?

Here’s something to lighten the mood a little on a stormy Friday five weeks before the bar exam and after a tough, sad week in Orlando. I have a complete, new set of “Critical Pass ” MBE flashcards that was sent to me by the company after I went to the annual conference for law school academic assistance. I understand that those of you who are taking commercial bar review courses (which I hope is all of you who will take a bar exam in July) can gauge your progress on completing assignments during the course, against the average for all others taking the same state course from that provider.

If you are an Emory Law grad, Class of 2016, taking a bar exam this July, email me a screen shot of whatever system your course uses; if it shows that you have done MORE assigned work than the average for your course, in your state, I will enter your name in a drawing for the set of MBE flashcards (I know, thrilling, right? But they’re not cheap and some 2015 grads really liked them). They cover all the MBE subjects, including the 2015 addition, Civil Procedure. You must be able to pick the set up from the law school in person and you must email me the screenshot before 5 pm on Monday, June 20. Good luck!

 

Image: www.criticalpass.com

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.

Managing Your Time on a Multiple Choice Exam (MBE!)

As you may have found during law school, it can be very challenging to plan and manage your time on a long multiple choice exam over a few hours — and yet that is exactly what you will need to do to maximize your success on the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE). As a reminder, the MBE is the day-long, standardized, multiple-choice exam that you take in two sessions, morning and afternoon, of three hours each. Here is the National Conference of Bar Examiners’ description of the MBE:

The MBE consists of 200 multiple-choice questions: 190 scored questions and 10 unscored pretest questions. The pretest questions are indistinguishable from those that are scored, so examinees should answer all questions. The exam is divided into morning and afternoon testing sessions of three hours each, with 100 questions in each session. There are no scheduled breaks during either the morning or afternoon session.

Yike. And your MBE score is very important; a high score can compensate for some weakness on the essays, making the difference between passing first time or not; and it may be transferable to another jurisdiction if you need to be admitted in another state (note: not all jurisdictions accept transferred MBE scores; you must check with specific jurisdictions).

Law School Academic Support blog to the rescue! Here is a very clear and helpful blog post about how to use a “time chart” to manage your time on a long multiple choice exam: Time Management on Multiple Choice Exams. As you do practice MBE questions this summer, I recommend learning how to create and use this kind of time chart to stay on track.

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.

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.