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.