Tuesday, March 4, 2014

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!

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