Here's an email I received from a repeater who is facing many challenges studying for the exam:
Good afternoon Jessica:
Just saw your materials on the web and loved them. I am a struggling bar exam repeater who is trying to balance a professional fullt-time career, family, and passing the Massachusetts bar exam. To date, I have not been successful in balancing all three so I can pass this thing. Due to work and a tight budget, I am self-studying for the exam.
I read that you recommend using flash cards to learn the substantive law. I would like your thoughts on flash cards called "Critical Pass Flash Cards?"
I am under a tight budget and would appreciate your thoughts on them. They are much cheaper than Law in a Flash.
Also I am thinking of taking the Feb 2013 exam and would appreciate your thoughts on a study schedule. I last took the exam in Feb 2012 and had weaknesses in both the MBE and the essay sections.
I would appreciate your thoughts. Thanks, M
Here's my reply:
Thanks for your email!
Yes, the bar exam is extremely difficult to study for when you have outside responsibilities that prevent full attention on bar prep. I wish there were an easy solution, but the only solution I know of requires sacrifice. There's no way to do it all - something's gotta give.
I think the first thing you need to do (which you are already doing right), is skipping an administration of the exam to give yourself enough time to do part-time study. So waiting until February is a good idea. There is enough time to get well prepared if you are disciplined about scheduling your study time. I'm not sure if you have my book, but I go into detail about how to schedule study blocks for part time studiers.
As far as the "critical pass flash cards" go, I don't know anything about them so I can't comment. The law in a flash flashcards ARE awesome, and they are what I recommend. But to save $, you can try to source them at law libraries, or perhaps you have some law school friends who have a few packs lying around? Also, if you can invest in the cards initially, then re-sell them after you're done using them, you can recoup much of what you paid, which brings down the final cost significantly. They are very popular & I had no problem reselling mine on Amazon.
For improving your MBE scores, you need to practice, practice, practice. The materials you practice with make a big difference, too. You need to get practice MBEs that have really good explanations. Strategies & Tactics for the MBE is the absolute best book if you can get your hands on it. The other key is making sure you rotate MBE materials. You need to be working from at least 2 different sources, ideally 3. This helps you not get stuck into 1 style of MBE question (each source will tend to have its own style). Some MBE materials will seem harder to you, which is great. This makes you better. Lastly, be consistent with your MBE practice - do the same number every day. And don't forget to throw in a few full-length MBE practice exams so you can get better at building your mental stamina.
For improving essay scores, you also need to practice. But here it is really important to make sure you have the proper writing skills so you're not entrenching bad habits. I don't know about Mass, so I can't go into much more detail here. I know more about CA essays & where you can get practice essays scored, but you're in a different state so I'm not sure where you can your essays scored. I'm sure there are books for Mass that have sample essays & model answers. Get your hands on some of these & emulate how the model answers are written.
I have a lot of info in my book that I think would help you a lot. I obviously can't give you all that info in an email, and I understand how hard it is to do what you're doing & the expense that accompanies it.