Friday, July 12, 2013

How to Properly Use The Last Two Weeks To Study


Hello, readers --

Time to reiterate some old points. By now, Barbri students have ditched their study plans and are simply studying like crazed lunatics. (Or is the other way around? Has Barbri left their student to drown?) Either way, that's not a wise plan going into the home stretch. Rather than lecture you about how you should have studied earlier or how you should now be studying, I’m better off just helping you not totally screw up the next two weeks. So here are six pointers to keep in mind.

1.  Review Smart 
  • If you’re comfortable with all of the major issues for each subject, then move onto the details. If you’re still trying to nail down all of the major issues, focus on them—and forget the details.
  • Think small at this point. Ditch the big outlines and books. Rifle through your index cards instead, three or four subjects per day. A week from now, all of your cards should be second nature to you.
  • At least three times before the exam, run through all of the short answer questions.
  • Pop off 25 MBE practice questions per day—but review each explanation! If you don't review the answer explanation, don't bother doing any practice questions. You won't learn a damn thing, or progress one inch.
  • Pop off 7-10 practice essays per day. If you went through Barbri’s Virginia Essay book cover to cover, switch over to William & Mary’s collection of previous Virginia Bar Exams. Do the four or five preceding bar exams. The VBBE love to recycle previous essays. If bar examinees bombed a particular essay on February’s exam, don’t be surprised if you see the same or similar issue on July’s exam. The VBBE test on what they think is important. 
    • NOTE: When you read through previous bar exams on the William & Mary website, you will recognize that you read the same essays in Barbri’s book. Re-read them anyway; it’s good practice. Also, some of William & Mary’s model answers will be different from Barbri’s model answers. That’s fine, too. Some essays will have several acceptable answers. The point is, just do as many essays as possible. You want to be in essay-mode from this point forward. Let no essay scare you!
2.  Recharge Your Body
  • You can’t afford to get strung out or sick in the next two weeks. You’ll risk being out of commission for some time or, even worse, carry your exhaustion or sickness into the exam days. Now is the time to begin physically preparing for your exam days. Get sufficient rest (minimum 7 hours per night, preferably 8 hours), eat healthy foods and drink lots of fluids. Your body needs to be physically prepared for two grueling days.
3.  Recharge Your Brain and Psyche
  • With two weeks to go, emotional meltdowns = BAD. Avoid crying in a stupor about your preparation or progress, or lacks thereof. At this point, those issues cannot be completely addressed. Also, avoid crying in a stupor about the bar exam, which lies dead ahead. Fretting over it won’t make it come sooner and go away or get any easier. It’s coming. Deal with it.
4.  Keep Up Your Confidence
  • This one’s crucial! You have to keep your head up. You must be confident in your abilities, even if you don’t quite feel that way. The bar exam is like a premier professional athlete. It wins by finding your weaknesses and exploiting them. Don’t let that happen. Build an impenetrable wall around yourself. When you feel an urge of anxiety or fear rushing upon you, smack it back with a pep talk.
  • I cannot stress this point enough. If you walk into the bar exam feeling like shit about your ability to pass, chances are you’re not going to pass. Keep calm and hold fast. You can do it. I know you can.
5.  Failing the Bar Will Not Ruin Your Future
  • IF you feel there’s a strong possibility you’re going to fail, or IF you want to know what to expect IF you fail, then read below. Otherwise, move onto #6.
    • OK. Worst case scenario: You fail. That’s it. You fail. You retake it in February, you pass, and you move on with your life. A couple months of setback; that’s all there is to it.
    • First, put your predicament into perspective. If you barely studied, then you deserved to fail. If you didn’t study properly, then get a tutor and study right the second time. If you missed passing by just a few points, then know that you’re not far from passing in February. But none of these predicaments involve embarrassment. Many attorneys before you failed the bar exam, many of them smarter than you. And your friends and loved ones won’t think any differently of you either. You’ll think they will and you’ll be too self-absorbed to think otherwise—but you’ll be wrong. You’ll think you let them down, too, and still you’ll be too self-absorbed to think otherwise—but you’ll be wrong again. A few clowns might judge you, maybe even a colleague, but I doubt it. You have a Juris Doctor. That means you’re smart and you have drive. So if you want something, go get it. Period. If you want to talk about your plan in getting there, contact me any time. But you WILL pass. I know you will.
6.  You’re on the Home Stretch
  • You’re almost there! Your bar exam woes are nearing their end point, only to be replaced by long nights at the office. Oh - joy of joys! Take a minute to appreciate just how much effort you gave this summer, how you put your mind to it, how badly you wanted this, and just how much law you now know. Honestly, you know more law right now than you might ever know in your entire career. That’s impressive!
You’re rounding the turn for the final 100 meters. Don’t let up know, finish strong, but finish smart. Don’t be a dummy in these last two weeks. They can make or break you. GOOD LUCK!

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