Friday, October 17, 2014

So You Didn't Pass the Bar Exam. . . Now What?

To those examinees who did not pass, this post is for you. Remember that today's news is a setback -- that is all. Not passing is not a reflection of your abilities or your potential as an attorney. With the right combination of strategy, discipline and restraint, you will pass in February. Believe in yourself! The following are some steps to take to heart.

Step 1: For many of you, not passing will be a difficult event with which to cope. You may be mad your friends passed but you didn’t. You may be disheartened that your efforts were all for naught. You may be overwhelmed by the thought of repeating the process. You may be embarrassed to face your friends and family and coworkers. And you may feel like a failure. All of these emotions are natural, mostly unwarranted, but natural. Don’t suppress them either; you need to release them. Use this weekend to get that energy out of your system. Have a good cry. Seriously -- this is important.

Step 2: Cut off Step 1 after no later than mid-next week. Step 1’s necessary, but only to a point. Any longer, and it will become a cancer. After a week, accept the news, pick yourself up, and turn to Step 3.

Step 3: Think about what went wrong. Review your scores – did you miss passing by a lot or a little? Did the MBE kill you, or was it the essays, or both? Were you unprepared? Did you over-study? Did you burn yourself out with anxiety and stress? Did you try to learn everything? Did you walk in under-confident? Did an unrelated event – perhaps a death in the family, divorce, break-up, or serious automobile collision – derail your preparation? Was this just a bad time all around to sit for the exam? Think about what happened.

Step 4: Now decide whether you’re going to retake the exam. Will you retake the exam in February or at a later date? Will you retake the exam in the same jurisdiction or in elsewhere? If in a different jurisdiction, why? Are you switching for the right reasons?

Step 5: If you decide to retake the exam, but you repeat your same preparation as before, expect the same results. I recommend trying a new approach entirely. You need to shake yourself loose of bad study habits. A new approach might mean speaking with a tutor about strategies, using different study materials, or applying new self-study methods. You also need to take the new approach seriously. Make time, not necessarily more time, but just time – and make that time count. No distractions, no excuses – just focusing on one step at a time.

Step 6: Don’t just tell yourself to have confidence. Give yourself reason to have confidence. If you’re serious about Step 5, you will have that confidence. And don’t let that confidence fade away at any point. Keep it strong up to the exam, through the exam, past the exam, and after results. Remember: You can do this. Don’t let the bar exam define you! Don’t let it beat you! Turn your despair into determination. Rise up with a full heart and bury the bar once and for all. 

Hang in there, and don’t beat yourself up. This kind of bad news is not the end of the world. It’s very manageable. You’re going to be fine.

If you are interested in being tutored by me this winter, please write to me to discuss further. Each season, I take on a small number of students (6-10). Spots fill up quickly, some of them already. 

July 2014 Virginia Bar Exam Results -- RELEASED

The VBBE released the July 2013 Virginia Bar Exam Results late this afternoon. Click here for the results. Special congratulations go out to my summer students who passed! You did it!

In summary, the overall pass rate was on the lower end for July: 68.00%, with first-time takers peaking at 72.86%. Congratulations to the University of Virginia School of Law for having the highest overall and first-time taker passages rate (88.37% and 89.41%, respectively).

Please note that there are two pass lists. If your name is on the first list -- Pass List One -- then you met all requirements and are licensed as of yesterday. If your name is on the second list -- Pass List Two -- then you achieved a passing score on the bar exam, but other outstanding requirements in your file remain (e.g., the MPRE exam). Names on Pass List Two are not licensed as of yesterday. You will find more information on the swearing-in ceremony before the Virginia Supreme Court by clicking here.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Uh-oh: It's October. That Can Only Mean One Thing. . . .

"The waiting is the hardest part. . . ."

Damn you, Tom Petty. . . .

But he's right, you know: waiting just might be the hardest part of the bar exam. For many of you, October 17 will bring immense joy and relief. For others, it will bring sadness and despair. No matter how anxious you are now, the outcome will not change. What’s done was done back in July. I could say don’t bother worrying about October 17, but I know you will anyway. But try your best to keep the anxiety to a minimum. It really is wasted energy.

Chances are, the VBBE is finalizing the PASS/FAIL list by now, cross-checking their grades and tallies. For you, the last week or so will likely be a miserable one - the worst period, in my opinion. In the previous two months, when exam anxiety crept up, you could write it off ("Results are still months away, forget about it. For now."). As the moment of truth nears, that former luxury will vanish. Some of you might already have a gut-reaction on how you fared. (The poll on the left-hand side of my homepage reflects some of your reactions.) 

Now, for those of you who are fearing the worst, trust me when I say that your future is not nearly as disastrous as you are convinced it will be. Six months from October 17, you will look back on that low point as being the better for it. In the grand scheme, failing the bar exam on your first try is a puny blip on the screen. The problem is, bar examinees are very shortsighted. Anxieties are up, jobs sway in the balance, the fear of repeating feels like a death sentence. Basically, we magnify everything in our tunnel of vision. Bar exam results will never, ever define who you are, neither personally nor professionally nor any other way. You are ten times better than the bar exam to allow it to bring you down to a level of constant despair and anxiety and self-pity. Especially in this last week, you must not forget that. Pass or fail, you are still great.

If failing the bar exam is the worst thing you ever experience in life, consider yourself immensely fortunate. I expect you will face far greater challenges in your life.  So, honestly, don’t fear October 17. It’s not Doomsday. Take it in stride, and keep your head up whatever the outcome.

As a final aside, October 17 is not exactly a hard-and-fast date. Historically, the VBBE either posts results on the stated day or else the day before, in this case October 16. But for what it's worth, my hunch is on October 17. It's a Friday, and I look at it from the VBBE's perspective: Post results, close the office early to avoid the mass stampede of crazy phone calls, and let the whole thing blow over the weekend. Again, this is just my hunch. But don't expect any results before October 16.


Good luck, everybody! Hang in there, and remember to keep these next two weeks in perspective. Please, just trust me on this one. You're going to be fine.

Model Answers for the July 2014 Virginia Bar Exam

As a courtesy to Virginia bar applicants, professors from the Virginia law schools provide model answers for the most recent bar exam essays. William & Mary recently posted the collected model answers to the July 2014 Virginia Bar Exam. To access the model answers, please see this link. The answers are comprehensive and very nicely explained.


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

July 2014 Bar Exam: Done and Done!

First, congratulations! The exam is over! Your nights and weekends are back. And in a few short months, many of you will be attorneys at law. 

Quick recap for other readers: On the essays, we saw a lot of the usual suspects, although with unusual organization: Commercial Paper, Local Government (twice! - didn't I tell you to be alert about this hot topic?!), Agency, Partnership, Criminal Law, Wills, and Domestic Relations. Noticeably absent from the essays were Virginia Civil Procedure and Federal Jurisdiction, which the VBBE reserved for a slew of short answer questions. I'm told that these short answer questions, along with others from Criminal Procedure, Evidence and Real Property, were low-hanging fruit. Hope all of you pounced on them! Even better news was that up to three essays were repeat essays. If you read the essay book like I told you, you should have easily spotted these and reaped the benefits. The remaining essays sounded fairly straightforward, with a mix of soft and hard balls. If you studied properly, this essay set sounded very manageable. 

The MBE was also pretty typical, with a healthy mix of easy, intermediate and difficult questions. And future interests presented a whole one or two questions, yet further proof that your study time will be better spent elsewhere. As for the difficult questions, I hope you read them, quickly eliminated answers, then picked one and moved on without hesitation. Really difficult questions do not test law; they merely suck up time. 

Overall, this bar was tough but fair. That's all you can ask for from bar examiners. More times than not, Virginia is a model bar exam. If you studied well and prepared smart, you will be fine. 

Second, let's briefly discuss how you feel now. All of you are exhausted and, hopefully, relieved. Some of you feel good, but I'm betting most of you just feel like an overcooked wet noodle. Maybe you're fretting over that one essay which gave you trouble. You might be bothered by the excess of one particular subject or the lack of another, or by some pesky short answer questions. For some of you, the MBE gave you trouble. And for others, the entire exam felt like a mess.

Gradually, these feelings will wear off. You will come to terms with the VBBE's essay selection. You will accept that the July 2014 exam was fair and is now out of your control. Some of you will put the whole exam in the back of your mind until a week before results are released. I applaud you. Others will not let your anxiety subside at all.

In many respects, waiting for results is harder than preparing for or taking the exam. You go from having no time on your hands, to having lots of time -- time to think, time to wonder, time to worry. But the same advice before the exam holds true now: you must keep anxiety and self-doubt in check. Otherwise, you'll go crazy. Before the exam, this was half the battle. Now it’s the whole battle. If you think you fared horribly on the exam, it’s because the wound is still fresh and it's all you can think about. You’re thinking about the things you did wrong or missed, and not about the things you did correctly or knew cold. Chances are, you're being too hard on yourself. I bet you did just fine.

The VBBE will post results in late October -- I believe, October 17th. The wait is long and arduous. My recommendation is to do everything in your power to distract yourself from thinking about the bar exam. Put those thoughts in a lock box and throw that box in the ocean. Because thinking will only lead to worry. And worry will lead to more worry. It won’t accomplish a damn thing.

If you can't stop yourself from thinking and wondering and worrying, or maybe if you're just curious or are simply passing time, by all means please use the discussion forums on here to converse with other examinees. Just don't use the forums to abuse yourself.

Again, congratulations! Celebrate your accomplishment, and then give yourself some much-deserved rest.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Last-Minute Tips


I trust that all of you are putting the finishing touches on your studying, and also preparing for your travel on Monday. Here are some last-minute tips I'd like to share.

First, about tomorrow night and Tuesday night. To study or not to study? 

That's up to you, really. If you would prefer to go for a run, get some dinner, watch some T.V., and then go to bed early, I think that's a great plan. If you would prefer to get some dinner, then do some light studying before lights out, I think that's a great plan too. It's like the moments before a big athletic event. What do you see athletes doing? Some of them laugh, joke around and goof off. They perform best when relaxed. Most athletes, however, jump or jog around, stretch out, and get pumped up. They perform best when they're mentally prepared. 

For the bar, many of you fall in the latter category. You will feel the need to review some material the two nights before testing. You'll be fidgety, still unsure about a couple issues, and will want to keep your mind active and thinking about the bar. That's normal. But just know that whatever you study is pretty much irrelevant at that point. What you're really doing is keeping your mind on the bar and not in relax-mode. That's the important takeaway. You never want to let your guard down, especially not the night before the exam.  If watching T.V. helps you do that, do it. If doing a quick set of MBEs helps you get there, then do that. 

If you want to study, make sure you cap yourself after about two hours. Don't go overboard! Again, you're not really "studying." You're simply keeping your mind on the bar and not in relax-mode. 

Second, sleep.

Don't be an idiot here. Do what you normally do. Do not change your routine. Because by doing so, you throw in a variable, and that's risky. 

So if you sleep on five hours every night, don't change your routine. If you try to get between 7-8 hours, try to get 7-8 hours. If you need 9+ hours, get 9+ hours. A word to wise, though: falling asleep before bar exam days is tricky, so just factor that in. Your mind will be racing, you'll be anxious, you'll be unsure. Try to put as many of those distractions out of your mind. Tell yourself that, by getting a poor night of sleep, you'll be jeopardizing tomorrow. Do you really want to jeopardize tomorrow?

Third, talking about the exam between sessions

This one's like studying the night before. If you don't want to, don't. If a person doesn't want to, respect that. But most of you will have to talk about the exam during lunch and at the end of the day. Don't suppress the urge; it will only distract you. But, like studying, don't get carried away. Talk about it -- then drop it and move on. 

Some other pointers here: First, just because someone had a different answer, doesn't mean yours was incorrect. For some Virginia essays, several approaches can be correct. You also don't know how the VBBE will weight the various issues within each essay. Second, answer what the VBBE asks you to answer, nothing more. Some examinees will write about extraneous issues, trying to show off to the VBBE. That approach will get them no love. Third, watch out for fellow examinees who try to scare you afterward by talking about irrelevant issues or making a big spectacle about the ones you forgot or the essay on which you struggled. They're only trying to psyche you out with hope that doing so will give them an advantage. Chances are, you're going to forget an issue or two. You're going to screw up on an essay as well. That's OK. Passing does not mean perfection; far from it, in fact. Don't let some stranger make you think differently. Don't let him throw you off your game. Stick to your plan.

Fourth, ABC: Always be Confident.

You can't pass without it. Tuesday and Wednesday will really test your confidence. You have to push hard through all of it. Messed up a morning essay? That was the morning. Now's the afternoon. Four more essays to make up for it. Messed up on an afternoon essay? Move on. Nothing you can do about it now. Get ready for the MBEs tomorrow. Messed up on an MBE question? Focus on the other 199 questions. 

We often fret over all the issues we missed, the questions we know we got wrong, but never about the majority we got correct. The essays we aced. The MBE questions we knew cold. Nope. All we think about is the negative. I'll talk more on that post-exam. For now, give it your best, keep your head up, keep moving forward, and let the chips fall where they may. 

Rest and relief await you in just a few short days. Good luck, everybody! You can do this. You will be fine. The bar exam is not the end all-be all. Life will go on, even if the worst happens. Keep telling yourself that. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Maximizing Your Last Week of Study

By this point, many of you have let your study plans fall to the waste side. Now you are studying like crazed lunatics. Practice questions, practice essays, outline after outline, or index card after index card – you’re desperately trying to drink a fire hose-worth of bar exam knowledge. With a little less than a week before the biggest exam of your life, you keep telling yourself that you must make the most of every hour leading up to it. All sound familiar? While I don’t recommend this plan, I do understand.   

Rather than lecture you about how you should have studied earlier, I’m better off helping you not totally screw up your last few days of study. All is not lost! This time is very important to your success next week! Here are six pointers to keep in mind.

1.  Review Smart 
  • Pop off 25 MBE practice questions per day—but review each explanation!
  • If you’re comfortable with all of the major issues for each subject, then focus on 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. If applicable, rifle through your index cards, three or four subjects per day. Better yet, just read the essay book. No outlining, no writing—just read the essay and model answers, one essay at a time. The model answers are chalk-full of law. More importantly, all of this law was actually, previously tested. In other words, all of the fatty, irrelevant details are by default trimmed away. Take note of any frequently tested issues in the essays. These subject-specific patterns will show you the law that the examiners think is important!
2.  Recharge Your Body
  • You can’t afford to get strung out or sick. You’ll risk carrying your exhaustion or sickness into the exam days. Now is the time to begin physically preparing for your exam days. 
  • Study no more than 8 hours per day. Trust me, it's plenty. And do not stretch 8 hours of quality studying over 12 hours, as this approach will burn you out.
  • 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
  • Emotional meltdowns are the enemy! Avoid crying in a stupor about your preparation or progress, or lack thereof. At this point, those issues are behind you. 
  • Also, avoid crying in a stupor about the bar exam. Fretting over it won’t make it come sooner and go away or get any easier. It’s coming. Embrace 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 chess player. 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, get up and take a break. Then smack your anxiety back with a pep talk.
  • If you walk into the bar exam under-confident, chances are you’re not going to pass. You can do it. Believe in yourself!
5.  You’re on the Home Stretch
  • You’re almost there! Take a minute to appreciate just how much effort you gave this summer, how you put your mind to taking the bar, and just how much law you now know. Honestly, you know more law right now than you may 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.

What Will Taking the Bar Exam Be Like?

Here's a brief run-down of what to expect in Roanoke, VA next week:


First, the Drive

If you're traveling from the Washington, D.C. metro area, the drive is roughly four hours, all highway - all the way west on I-66, and then all of the way South on I-81. The drive, at least, is gorgeous and runs through the heart of the Shenandoah.

Second, Roanoke

City slickers will look down on the small city of Roanoke. Sure, it has a civic center, but so does Richmond, so does Norfolk, and Fairfax, Reston, Charlottesville, probably Virginia Beach too. . . . Of all the places to hold the July bar exam, why Roanoke? At least Richmond would make sense - it's the capital, and it's centrally located. But Roanoke, really? I read somewhere that W. Scott Street, the Secretary-Treasurer of the VBBE, is a Roanoke native. If that's true, I doubt there's a coincidence. . . .  Anyway, no matter. Roanoke is where you were called to test; Roanoke is where you will pass.

Third, Lodging

A lot of examinees obsess over the proximity of their hotel to the civic center. Some want a place close enough to walk to the civic center. That's not necessary. You drove hours and hours to get to Roanoke. Another ten minutes won't kill you. Don't be surprised if Roanoke hotels jack up prices for these two nights. But the closer you stay to the civic center, the steeper the prices. And for what? There's no credible reason. It will not be any more convenient. Do you really want to walk in the July heat in a suit carrying a laptop under your arm?

I recommend finding any decent hotel within a 15-minute driving radius. You should save money, too, and don't worry about being alone. Everybody else in the hotel, whichever one you pick, will be there for the bar exam. Just be sure to account for morning traffic, which, in Roanoke, shouldn't be too bad. But better safe than sorry. You'll be up early anyway. Light sleep, morning jitters, ready to rock. . . . Hard to avoid them.

Fourth, the Civic Center

The first day, the state-specific essay day, is laptop day. A thousand-plus examinees will line up outside - in suit-and-tie, on unshaded concrete, in July heat, holding laptops and a Ziploc bag of bare essentials. You will arrive when the VBBE instruct you to arrive, and you will proceed to stand there for 40 minutes, like an idiot with everybody else, until finally the VBBE open the doors. Hot, sweaty, and annoyed. Great way to start the morning. Thanks, VBBE!

Once inside, you will quickly realize that the civic center is a worn and dated, minor-league civic center. The first half of the alphabet will proceed to a large, convention hall-type room. The second half of the alphabet will proceed to the floor of the hockey rink.

As you walk into your respective room/rink, you will see fold-out tables lined up in rows, row after row after row. A sudden wave of anxiety might rush in. OMG. This is really happening!

Don't panic. Breathe and relax. The find-your-seat process is actually very quick and easy. A big sign will direct you to a row of tables where your last name, and those closest to it, are assigned.  Go there. Your I.D. card (showing your name and photo) and several instructions will be waiting for you at the very seat to which you are assigned. This seat will be your seat for the next two days. Boot up your laptop, follow the instructions, and remember to keep breathing. Technicians will be all around to help you.

Fifth, Attire

In case you haven't noticed, the VBBE requires courtroom attire to sit for the Virginia Bar Exam. For women, that's a suit. For men, a suit and tie.

The VBBE also lists on their website things that you may bring into the testing room - and only those things! Cellphones, wallet, lip balm (and a lot of other everyday items) are OFF the list. Carefully read the list. Leave prohibited items in your car.

Sixth, Exam Logistics

Essay Day

Laptop day is the longest. A proctor will get on the microphone and direct everybody through a step-by-step process. Directions for registering and testing software will seem dumb and redundant, but just be patient. Then the VBBE will pass out of the morning essay questions. (By the way, you may have noticed that the VBBE, throughout the application process and in their regular communications up to this point, were a bit cold and grouchy. They're the exact opposite at the actual exam - very friendly and helpful.)

The last few minutes are agonizing. The entire room waits until everybody has successfully uploaded the software and are at the screen where you type-in your essay answers. The Windows folk will take longer than the Apple folk. Older laptops will take longer than newer ones. Somebody's computer might take exceptionally long. Your exam is lying face-down in front of you. And you're just sitting there, ready to go. Again, just remain calm. Say a prayer, meditate. . . Do whatever you do.

And then the proctor tells you to begin. Each session, morning or afternoon, will fly by. In fact, the essays will feel like a time crunch. I expect all of you will have enough time to finish, but you'll have to hustle to get there. Read my previous posts here on timing and here on short answers. Remember: 35 minutes per essay! You must stay on schedule!

(You repeat this entire process in the afternoon session.)

MBE Day

The MBE day is more streamline - no laptops, just pencils! The proctor will get on the microphone and direct everybody through a similar, step-by-step process where you fill in a bunch of registration bubbles. Then the VBBE will pass out of the morning MBE questions.

Each session will fly by again. You might also feel a time crunch on the MBE questions. Again, I expect all of you will have enough time to finish, but you'll have to hustle to get there. Read my previous post here about basic MBE tactics. Be smart with your time. Don't fall behind!

(You repeat this entire process in the afternoon session.)

Seventh, Food

If you're an alum of a big Virginia or D.C. law school, be sure to sign up for their hosted lunches. They're quite convenient.

If you're not from such a school, several lunch options are nearby - mostly fast food, I think. But the VBBE gives everybody ample time for lunch, specifically for people like you who might have to drive somewhere to eat.

For breakfast, I recommend eating at your hotel. Again, just more convenient. For dinner, Roanoke has some decent options. But treat yourself to a good meal. You need the energy!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

My MBE Flash Card Set is Now Available for Purchase

I have finally formatted and made available my personal set of MBE flash cards for purchase as you prep for the MBE. See the tab above for more details.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

So You Didn't Pass. . . Next Steps

If last week's results brought you the good news for which you were hoping, I send you my congratulations again. Excellent job! But if you did not see your name on the list, and you’re reading this post, then please keep reading. This post is for you.

Step 1: For many of you, not passing will be a difficult event with which to cope. You may be mad your friends passed but you didn’t. You may be disheartened that your efforts were all for naught. You may be overwhelmed by the thought of repeating the process. You may be embarrassed to face your friends and family and coworkers. And you may feel like a failure. All of these emotions are natural, mostly unwarranted, but natural. Don’t suppress them either; you need to release them. If you didn’t get that energy out of your system last weekend, do so now. Have a good cry.

Step 2: Cut off Step 1 after a week. Step 1’s necessary, but only to a point. Any longer, and it will become a cancer. After a week, accept the news, pick yourself up, and turn to Step 3.

Step 3: Think about what went wrong. Review your scores – did you miss passing by a lot or a little? Did the MBE kill you, or was it the essays, or both? Were you unprepared? Did you over-study? Did you burn yourself out with anxiety and stress? Did you try to learn everything? Did you walk in under-confident? Did an unrelated event – perhaps a death in the family, divorce, or serious automobile collision – derail your preparation? Was this just a bad time all around to sit for the exam? Think about what happened.

Step 4: Now decide whether you’re going to retake the exam. Will you retake the exam in July or at a later date? Will you retake the exam in the same state or in a different jurisdiction? If in a different jurisdiction, why? Are you switching for the right reasons?

Step 5: If you decide to retake the exam, but you repeat your same preparation as before, expect the same results. I recommend trying a new approach entirely. You need to shake yourself loose of bad study habits. A new approach might mean speaking with a tutor about strategies, using different study materials, or applying new self-study methods. You also need to take the new approach seriously. Make time, not necessarily more time, but just time – and make that time count. No distractions, no excuses – just focusing on one step at a time.

Step 6: Don’t just tell yourself to have confidence. Give yourself reason to have confidence. If you’re serious about Step 5, you will have that confidence. And don’t let that confidence fade away at any point. Keep it strong up to the exam, through the exam, past the exam, and after results. Remember: You can do this. Don’t let the bar exam define you! Don’t let it beat you! Turn your despair into determination. Rise up with a full heart and bury the bar once and for all. 

Hang in there, and don’t beat yourself up. This kind of bad news is not the end of the world. It’s very manageable. You’re going to be fine.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

February 2014 Virginia Bar Exam Results -- RELEASED

The VBBE released the February 2014 Virginia Bar Exam Results this afternoon. Click here for the results.

In summary, the overall pass rate was 59.41%, with first-time takers topping off at 69.96%. Congratulations to the College of William & Mary and Regent University law schools for having the highest statistical passage rate among first-time takers (100.00%), and to the University of Virginia and George Mason University law schools for having the highest overall passage rates (72.73% and 72.00%, respectively).

Please note that there are two pass lists. If your name is on the first list -- Pass List One -- then you met all requirements and are licensed as of today. If your name is on the second list -- Pass List Two -- then you achieved a passing score on the bar exam, but other outstanding requirements in your file remain (e.g., the MPRE exam). Names on Pass List Two are not licensed as of today.

To those examinees who did not pass, I will post more soon. In the meantime, the important thing to remember is that today's news is a setback -- that is all. Not passing is not a reflection of your abilities or your potential as an attorney. With the right combination of strategy, discipline and restraint, you will pass in July. Keep the faith!

Admissions Ceremony Information
For more information, click here. If you wish to be admitted to the Supreme Court of Virginia (and all lower courts), the admissions ceremony will be held at the Greater Richmond Convention Center in downtown Richmond on Tuesday, June 3, 2014. The VBBE will send successful applicants a packet of information within the next few days. Be sure to notify the VBBE of any address changes.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Results Are Around the Corner

Well, it's that time of April. In about one a week, the VBBE will release results of the February 2014 Virginia Bar Exam. Chances are, the VBBE has internally drafted the PASS/FAIL lists, and they are now cross-checking their grades and tallies.  For you, the last week or so will likely be a miserable one - the worst period, in my opinion. But the reality is, nothing's actually changed. Again, what’s done was done back in February, and all the hope in the world won't change anything.

More to the point: whether you pass or fail, bar exam results will never define who you are, neither personally nor professionally nor any other way. You are ten times better than the bar exam to allow it to bring you down to a level of constant despair and anxiety and self-pity. Especially in this last week, you must not forget that. Pass or fail, you are still you.

I have one closing thought about the date of release. April 24 is not a hard-and-fast date. Historically, the VBBE either posts results on the stated day or else the day before; in this case, April 23. Either day is fair game, but don't expect any results before April 23.

Good luck, everybody! Hang in there, and remember to keep this next week in perspective. Please, just trust me on this one.

Sample Answers to February 2014 Virginia Bar Exam

All,

A collaborative effort by faculty at William & Mary, George Mason, Regent and Richmond law schoool posted sample answers to the July 2014 Virginia Bar Exam. They answers are comprehensive and very nicely explained.

Please see the link below:

http://law.wm.edu/academics/howto/prepareforbar/pastexams/Feb2014QAnswer.pdf

Best,

VaBarTutor

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

February 2014 Virginia Bar Exam -- Release of Results Date


The VBBE will post results on April 24th, which means they will post results on April 23rd or 24th, but not before then. 

The wait is long and arduous. In the meantime, chill out. Spend time with family, friends, and significant others. If you can, get away for a weekend. Go anywhere, do anything -- just get your mind off the bar exam. Keep yourself distracted from thinking about it. Because thinking will only lead to unnecessary worry. That's my recommendation.

On the other hand, I understand that some of you will go insane by not thinking about the exam. So if you can't help yourself, or maybe if you're just curious or need to scratch an itch or simply pass the time, that's why I created the discussion forums. By all means, use them! Just don't use them to abuse yourself. 

The February 2014 Bar Exam is Behind Us!

First, congratulations! Over the past few months, you sacrificed time, sweat and money. You sat for a difficult exam, but now you're done. Great job!

Quick recap for readers who didn't take the Virginia bar: On the essays, we saw a lot of the usual suspects (surprise, surprise!) from Tiers 1 and 2 (Virginia Civil Procedure, particularly detinue, Wills, Criminal Law, Equity, U.C.C. Art. 3, and Professional Responsibility); a nice little mix from Tier 3 (Real Property, Corporations and Creditors' Rights); and a token piece from Tier 4 (Suretyship). The short answer section diverted from the typically impossible set. We saw some soft balls and a couple of nearly repeat questions. Overall, it was a very manageable set. 

The MBE was also pretty typical. A healthy mix of easy, intermediate and difficult questions. Up to a dozen questions were recycled from previous MBEs. That's low-hanging fruit; you can't miss them. And just two questions related to future interests, yet further proof that your study time will be better spent elsewhere. As for the difficult questions, I hope you read them, quickly eliminated answers, then picked one and moved on without hesitation. Really difficult questions do not test law; they merely suck up time. 

Overall, this bar was tough but fair. That's all you can ask for from bar examiners. More times than not, Virginia is a model bar exam. If you studied well and prepared smart, you will be fine. 

Second, let's briefly discuss how you feel now. All of you are exhausted and, hopefully, relieved. While some of you feel good, a greater majority probably feels overcooked and unsure. Maybe you're fretting over that one essay which gave you trouble (that's normal). Or you might be concerned about the excess of one particular subject over the lack of another. Others, too, might be at a loss over the MBE. 

Gradually, these feelings will wear off. You will come to terms with the essay selection and the MBE. You will accept that the exam was fair, is now out of your control, and that you gave it your best shot under the circumstances. Some of you will put the whole exam in the back of your mind until about a week before results are released. Others will not let your anxiety subside at all. While I do not recommend the latter approach, I understand why it is hard to shake off. While preparing for the exam is hard, waiting for results is even harder. You go from having no time on your hands, to having lots of time -- time to think, time to wonder, time to worry. But just like any anxiety or self-doubt you had before the exam, you have to keep them in check after the exam, too. Otherwise, you'll go crazy. If you're concerned about your performance on the exam, that's because the wound is still fresh and it's all you can think about. I bet you're being too hard on yourself. You probably did fine. Perhaps in a month or two, you'll agree with me.

Again, congratulations! Now relax and celebrate!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Good Luck!


All,

Unfortunately, I am getting this post out a little later than I preferred, but it will still have relevance for the MBE day on Wednesday (and any early risers tomorrow). 

By now, all of you have put the finishing touches on your studying. All of you know what you need to do, and how you need to do it, so I have just a few last-minute thoughts to share.

First, about tomorrow night and Tuesday night. To study or not to study? 

That's up to you, really. If you would prefer to go for a run, get some dinner, watch some T.V., and then go to bed early, I think that's a great plan. If you would prefer to get some dinner, then do some light studying before lights out, I think that's a great plan too. It's like the moments before a big athletic event. What do you see athletes doing? Some of them laugh, joke around and goof off. They perform best when relaxed. Most athletes, however, jump or jog around, stretch out, and get pumped up. They perform best when they're mentally prepared. The point is, everybody's different. 

With regard to the bar, most of you will fall into the latter category. You will feel the need to review some material the two nights before testing. You'll be fidgety, still unsure about a couple issues, and will want to keep your mind active and thinking about the bar. That's normal. But just know that whatever you study is pretty much irrelevant at this point. What you're really doing is keeping your mind on the bar and not in relax-mode -- and that's the important takeaway of studying now. You never want to let your guard down, especially not now.  If watching T.V. helps you do that, do it. If doing a quick set of MBEs helps you get there, then do that. 

If you want to study, make sure you cap yourself after about two hours. Don't go overboard! Again, you're not really "studying." You're simply keeping your mind on the bar and not in relax-mode. 

Second, sleep.

Don't be an idiot here. Do what you normally do. Do not change your routine. Because by doing so, you throw in a variable, and that's risky. 

So if you sleep on five hours every night, don't change your routine. Sleep five hours. If you try to get between 7-8 hours, try to get 7-8 hours. If you need 9+ hours, get 9+ hours. A word to wise, though: falling asleep before bar exam days is tricky, so just factor that in. Your mind will be racing, you'll be anxious, you'll be unsure. Try to put as many of those distractions out of your mind. Tell yourself that, by getting a poor night of sleep, you'll be jeopardizing tomorrow. Do you really want to jeopardize tomorrow?

Third, Talking About the Exam Between the Exam

This one's like studying the night before. If you don't want to, don't. If a person doesn't want to, respect that. But most of you will have to talk about the exam during lunch and at the end of the day. Don't suppress the urge; it will only distract you. But, like studying, don't get carried away. Talk about it -- then drop it and move on. 

Some other pointers here: First, just because someone had a different answer, doesn't mean yours was incorrect. For some Virginia essays, several approaches can be correct. You also don't know how the VBBE will weight the various issues within each essay. Second, answer what the VBBE asks you to answer, nothing more. Some examinees will write about extraneous issues, trying to show off to the VBBE. That approach will get them no love. Third, watch out for fellow examinees who try to scare you afterward by talking about irrelevant issues or making a big spectacle about the ones you forgot or the essay on which you struggled. That person is what we call insecure. They're only trying to psyche you out with hope that doing so will give them an advantage. Chances are, you're going to forget an issue or two. You're going to screw up an essay too. That's OK. Don't let some stranger make you think differently. Don't let him throw you off your game. Stick to your plan and ignore him/her.

Fourth, ABC: Always be Confident.

You can't pass without it. Tuesday and Wednesday will really test your confidence. You have to push hard through all of it. Messed up on a morning essay? That was the morning. Now's the afternoon. Four more essays to make up for it. Messed up on an afternoon essay? Move on. Nothing you can do about it now. Get ready for Wednesday. Messed up on an MBE question? Focus on the other 199 questions. 

We often fret over all the issues we missed, the questions we know we got wrong, But never about the majority we got correct. Never the essays we aced. Never the MBE questions we knew cold. Nope. All we think about is the negative. More on that after exam. For now, give it your best, keep your head up, keeping moving forward, and let the chips fall where they may. 

Rest and relief await you in just a few short days. Good luck, everybody! You can do this. You will be fine. The bar exam is not the end all-be all. Life will go on, even if the worst happens. Keep telling yourself that. 

Best,

VABarTutor

Thursday, January 16, 2014

February 2014 VBBE Laptop Registration Deadline

The regular registration deadline to register your laptop for the February 2014 Virginia Bar Exam ends on Friday, January 17. The fee is $125.00. If you plan on typing your essay answers (and most of you should), register now! The process is fairly quick and painless.

Late registration starts the following day, January 18, and ends January 31. The fee for late registration will spike up to $175. If you do not register your laptop after January 31, you will be handwriting the exam. Unless you prefer to handwrite, don't handwrite the bar exam.


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Norfolk, VA -- Where to Stay?


I'm getting questions again about lodging in Norfolk, VA. The VBBE will hold the February 2014 Virginia Bar Exam at the Norfolk Waterside Marriott (see map here). The actual testing room will be a single, conference-type ballroom in the Marriott’s conference center, which internally connects to the hotel. (Handwriting examinees will be in a much smaller ballroom, one or two floors above.)

I recommend booking a room at the Marriott. It’s pricey, and you will have to pay for hotel garage parking for two days. Also, bar examinees will be crawling everywhere, in every restaurant, at every table, on every floor and in every available room. But it’s extremely convenient and well worth the little extra. Other benefits include the calmness and tranquility of your hotel room between session, which will beat your miserably-cold car or whatever random cranny you can find on the lobby floor or near the ballroom (good luck). Also, depending on elevator traffic, the commute from your hotel room to the ballroom will probably take all of five minutes. Best of all, you’ll never have to step outside in the cold or rain. 

If the Marriott's all booked up, try the Sheraton behind the Marriott on the other side of Waterside Drive (see map here). It is not more than a ten-minute walk to the Marriott's conference center. If the weather is rubbish, the Waterside Festival Marketplace, which is next to the Sheraton, connects to the Marriott complex by way of a covered overpass. Keep in mind that, if you opt to stay at the Sheraton, you probably will not have enough time to return to your hotel room between sessions.

Best,

VABarTutor