Book Review: Bar Exam Mind

Bar Exam Mind bookMatt Racine has published the second edition of his book, Bar Exam Mind, which covers some key aspects of studying for the bar exam that are often overlooked by students. Sure, we all know that reviewing lectures, writing essays, answering MBE’s, and memorizing is mandatory, but how much importance do we really place on our state of mind?

When I took the California bar exam, the day before I was scheduled to fly to Los Angeles, I came down with pink eye! Now, this is something I haven’t had since my children were in pre-school (and they are now in college) as it’s quite common among youngsters and it can be contagious. At the time I didn’t even realize what it was except that I woke up with a red eye that morning, grabbed some eye drops and figured it would go away. I got through the three days of the bar exam with my eye slowly getting a bit worse each day, but it didn’t hurt so I was able to manage. When I returned home I saw a doctor who prescribed antibiotics and it thankfully went away. After reading Bar Exam Mind I believe that stress may have caused my body to be more susceptible to infection. Read More →

I remember Thclock - freedigitalphotose Wait.

Yeah, that wait.  Bar exam results.

Is results day weighing on your mind?  Do you have a feeling one way or the other?  Understandably, many bar candidates don’t.  After the 3 day mental marathon that is the California Bar Exam, you may have lost all perspective.  Many walk away thinking, “Huh. I hope that was enough.”

If you’ve since come to the conclusion that your exam score is probably going to be right on the line, hovering around that magic number of 1440, you may or may not have given this some thought.  With 65% of your score based on humans reading your written work and assigning a numbered grade to it, what if one grader gave you a 60 but another would have seen a solid 65.  Okay that’s 5 points.  Now multiply that by 8 answers (6 essays, 2 PT’s) and that’s 40 points.  And 1440-40 = close but no cigar.  You see where I’m going with this?

Apparently the bar examiners have thought about this too.  So they have a mandatory second reading built right into their protocol.  For applicants who came in right on the line it’s a way to make sure the 40 point scenario above didn’t happen.

Here’s how it works: Read More →

Pass or FailCome bar results day, how will you take the news? Will you be victoriously screaming, “I passed, I passed!” or, will you be crippled by the devastating news that you failed. Well, it doesn’t have to be quite so dramatic, if you can visualize each scenario in advance and plan for whichever takes place. That’s how I came up with my Plan A and Plan B for bar results day.

I was inspired by the blog post from Bar Exam Mind: Fear of Bar Exam Failure where I learned about Tim Ferriss’ technique for defining your worst case scenario by listing all the things you could possibly do to keep it from happening and then define how you will recover if the worst case scenario actually comes true. In my case, having already written the bar exam, I certainly couldn’t do anything to change my results now, but I could use this method to face my own fears of what if…. Read More →

flowers on deskLets face it, studying for the bar exam is incredibly monotonous and boring. You can’t be creative, there is no opportunity for self-expression, and there’s no need for research. Basically just the same mundane rules of law over and over again. So, how do you stay motivated and interested? Some will tell you that fear of failing is the motivating factor! Perhaps this works to some degree, but I found that to be the most productive and keep up the bar prep pace, I needed some inspiring techniques during this arduous process.

Here are the 6 best tips that helped me stay focused and productive. Read More →

Jumping Man By imagerymajestic

The application period for the February 2015 California Bar Exam begins October 1, 2014.  Be one of the first to apply and you’ll have a better chance at getting your desired test center location.  Just go to the State Bar website registration page and follow the instructions there.  Within a few days of October 1, they’ll also post the hotel accommodations for each location, as bar takers receive a special State Bar discount. Be sure to watch for this if you want to take advantage – the discounted rooms closest to the testing centers usually sell out fast!

Making your plans early and following through will be keys to your success on the bar exam…  and for life in general!  Whether you’re taking a bar review course, using alternative bar prep tools or a combination of both, be sure to include a subscription to in your study toolbox to accompany your other resources.  Act now and plan to pass the California Bar Exam!

Be sure to sign up for our monthly newsletter to get lots of helpful study tips for bar candidates.

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic

online learning in parkFor some of us, getting a higher education through an online university may be the only way to achieve our goals. But can you really juggle work, family and learning all at the same time?

Beware that it won’t be easy, however, finally getting that JD or Masters that you always wanted can be extremely rewarding and best of all, very affordable. On the other hand, it could be a total waste of time and money if you realize half-way through that you are just not cut out for this and decide to quit. Read More →

Blacks Law Dictionary AppWhat’s one of the first books that law students are told to buy? If you guessed Black’s Law Dictionary, then you are correct! The editor of Black’s Law Dictionary, Bryan Garner, calls it “the most widely cited lawbook in the world” and for law students, it’s definitely one of the most important books in the world. Knowing that you are going to be using this book each year of school and knowing that this book is available as an app, why any law student would consider purchasing the paper version, I will never know.

Back in 1L when I was issued my first law school book list, I figured that a law dictionary would be essential. I admit that I first bought the paperback version, not having discovered all of the wonderful technology apps that existed for law students until 2L. Plus, in 2009 I was a fairly new iPhone user myself. But once I discovered that I could have all of the legal terms at the touch of my finger, including hyper-linked cross references and even audio pronunciations, I was sold. I delegated my paperback Black’s to the shelf and sprung for the $55 to buy Black’s Law Dictionary as my first legal app.

Since then, any new edition update has been free and with each new iPhone or iPad I acquired, my Black’s law dictionary was always available. And for those non-iPhone users, the app is also available for Windows and Android phones.

Check out the complete review of this app by the popular blogger, iPhone J.D. who similarly bought the paper book in 1990 while in law school but soon found that he hardly used it. He now uses the iPhone app a few times a month.

Black’s Law Dictionary may be one of the most expensive apps you will ever buy for your phone, but you sure will get your money’s worth during law school and beyond!

Hand writing on the Bar ExamWho remembers using a typewriter? Well, I do! When I was growing up, having a typewriter in your home to use for school was a big deal and I was one of the lucky kids who had one. In typing class I was usually the first student to finish my speed-writing assignment – the teacher made us jump up out of our seat when we were done with the paragraph. It was the only race that I ever won (not being the athletic type), and to this day I would much rather type than hand-write anything at all.

So, when one of my fellow law students told me she was handwriting her essays on the California First Year Law School Exam (“Baby Bar”), I was totally shocked and somewhat perplexed that she would even consider this.

Read More →

Clock by stockimages at FDP

Taking the Baby Bar this year?  If you haven’t registered yet, the final deadline to to register for the October 2014 FYLSX  is Monday, September 15.  Law students are often so busy keeping up with studies or trying to decide if they’re ready to take a state-required #barexam that they don’t realize a sign-up deadline is fast approaching – until it’s too late.

So if you’re planning to sit for the October exam and haven’t registered yet.. . NOW IS THE TIME.  Just go to the State Bar website registration page and follow the instructions there.

Although technically the California State Bar requires all candidates to take and pass the FYLSX (First Year Law Student Exam) a/k/a “the Baby Bar”, those who complete 1L and advance to 2L at a CA-accredited or ABA-approved law school qualify for an exemption.  Students enrolled in unaccredited or correspondence law schools, or in a law office/judge’s chambers study program do not qualify for the exemption. These students must pass the  Baby Bar within the next 3 administrations of the exam subsequent to completing 1L.  Some students in “exempt” law schools must also sit for the Baby Bar if they do not meet minimum GPA requirements. The exam is administered each year in June and October.

Be sure to sign up for our monthly newsletter to get lots of helpful study tips for law school and bar exams.

Image courtesy of stockimages/


Katie blogSomething I would have never guessed going into law school was that my favorite “study buddy” would be my canine companion, Katie.  She recently departed this earth and I miss her dearly…but this isn’t about my loss. This is about something I realized toward the end of law school and definitely during my 4 long months of bar prep.  Something that deserves recognition.

I had human study buddies off and on, joined a few study groups throughout school which were helpful, but none were as supportive as my furry friend at home who was willing to hang out with me through hours of endless reading, writing, and reciting rules.  Sure, Katie couldn’t brief cases or argue legal issues with me.  But what she could do was keep me company, smile at me with those big brown eyes and appear interested in what I was learning no matter how long it took or what day it was.  I think if she could talk, she could have recited the Rule Against Perpetuities like a champ (although neither of us would be able to explain it or apply it to a fact pattern).

Studying for the bar exam is a lonely but necessary process.  My family and friends gave me the space I needed – and naturally I felt pretty isolated during those last few months.  They cheered me on for my hard work, but it seemed like no one “got it”.  Except for Katie.  She was there by my side through it all – not telling me that she was “..sure I would pass” or “Don’t worry – you can always retake it, no big deal..”  Nope – none of that from Katie.  Just her loyal company and silent encouragement, and that was all I needed.