Lee Burgess of the Bar Exam Toolbox (a great bar resource if you haven’t already checked it out) published a blog post on Solo Practice University - “We All Need Practice to Perform at Our Best”
I really appreciate the post because in it she discusses a hugely important key to bar exam success: practice. Practice, practice, practice! If you’ve read my book, or any number of my blog posts, you will know that I advocate taking practice exams - a lot of them. In fact, on my program, you will practice every. single. day. Whether it be MBEs, essays or a PT, you will be practicing.
Sounds sucky, right? And that is why so many bar examinees don’t do it. Lee states,
Want to know why I think students don’t practice? They just don’t like it, simple as that.
The truth is, it does suck. It is SO HARD to pull out the essay question, set the timer, and start typing. I’m not going to lie, and you wouldn’t believe me if I tried to sugar coat it anyway.
But that’s only one side to the story. The other side is this: after you get going - after you do the first few practice tests - it gets a LOT easier. In fact, I came to look forward to taking practice essays. That’s because the practicing pays off and you really start to know what you’re doing. It feels so satisfying to confidently answer an essay question...to know that if that had been the real bar exam you would have felt damn proud of what you wrote.
See, it all comes down to this: it could have been the real exam. Every former essay question you answer was the real exam for someone. And to know that you just nailed it makes a HUGE difference in your confidence. You will feel prepared, which is the name of the game when it comes to the bar exam.
I wish I could transfer to you the feeling I had as I was studying for the bar exam and doing a lot of practice tests. It was as if the bar exam was a big monstrous blob weighing down on top of me. It invaded every waking (and sleeping) thought, causing me physical discomfort (upset stomach anyone?) and anxiety.
For every practice question or practice test I completed, the blob shrank and had less power over me. And if I had a good long study session some days, the blob just left completely. I would feel so accomplished and confident after taking practice tests that I would - get this - be able to go home and watch TV without feeling any guilt whatsoever. I know, right?
It’s all because I was being proactive and actually doing something productive. I knew the practice test I just took was going to have a positive effect on the bottom line. I’d bet almost anything that you don’t feel this same sort of confidence and assurance by just reading outlines. Why do you think that is???
So I know there’s no way I can sweet talk you into believing that taking practice exams won’t suck. And I’m not even trying to do that. But what I am trying to do is give you a glimpse into how great the results are. Every time you sit down to practice you are in control of the bar exam blob and doing something about it. You will be getting better and better at performing on the exam and you really get the law cemented into your brain. Not to mention the fact that if you answer enough prior questions, there is a small likelihood that you will face something on the real exam that you haven’t already handled during bar prep.
In the words of Lee Burgess,
Bar essays, performance tests, and MBEs are boring and not fun to practice. But that is just not a quality excuse. True, most of you could come up with more exciting things to do than practice bar exam questions, but there just isn’t a more effective way to study and use your time.