I am an Associate Professor at CUNY School of Law, and I co-direct the bar support programs. I've helped many students pass the bar exam. I'm hoping to share some of what I've learned through that process, and help give you the confidence that you, too, can pass the bar exam. I also want you to know that the struggle will be worth it in the end.
The Association of Academic Support Educators‘ Bar Advocacy Committee released its best practices guide for online exam administration. It is definitely worth a read for anyone who cares about the integrity of the legal profession.
Congratulations and thank you! Congratulations on getting through the longest bar season ever! We’re used to long hard summers that lead into tough fall semesters. But, having to continue to support all of our bar studiers while welcoming 1Ls and teaching our other courses took things to a whole new level this year. We also had to respond to the increased emotional, physical, and financial needs of our bar takers while trying to figure out how to navigate our own lives in a COVID-19 world. It hasn’t been easy.
Yet, despite all that we were dealing with, the kindness and support that the academic support community showed one another was unparalleled. Thank you to all ASPers for the work that you do, and your unwavering support of your colleagues across the country. I feel extremely grateful to by part of this community. I have learned so much from so many of you, and have grown as a teacher because of every interaction I have with one of you.
I know the the bar ending has come just in time to help students prep for midterms, and February feels like it’s just around the corner. But, take a moment – or even a whole weekend! – to recognize how much you have done over the past several months and to celebrate you. The legal profession and the legal academy are so much better because of you.
Congratulations to everyone who took the bar this week. You did it! You got through the most grueling and horrendous bar season in history. You pushed through and you took the exam. You should be very proud of yourself!
Give yourself a chance to rest and to celebrate. You are amazing!
You may not be sleeping very well at this point. The bar exam is only a few days away and you may not have the healthiest routine. That’s ok, but now is the time to try to get yourself ready for exam day.
If you’ve been staying up late studying and sleeping late, try to get yourself on your bar exam day schedule. Gradually begin to go to bed earlier and wake up earlier so that your body gets used to it.
You will probably not sleep well the night before the bar exam. That’s ok, but it can be disastrous if you also haven’t slept for several days before. Sleep is not only important for focus, it actually aides in memory retention as well.
Now is not the time to burn the midnight oil. Now is the time to move yourself into a regular sleep pattern so you can be fresh for exam day.
I’ve heard from a lot of people in the past day or so who are very concerned because their practice MBE scores are going down. Unfortunately, this is very common. It does not mean that you are forgetting everything, or that you are going to fail the bar. It happens to plenty of people, and they go on to pass.
There are a number of potential reasons for this decline, but the important things to remember are 1) you’re in good company, and 2) you’re still going to pass the bar.
Keep pushing forward. Try switching the source of your MBE questions. Try focusing on essays. You want to see as many fact patterns as possible, so read through several essays every day, issue spot, and read the model answer. You can even copy down the model answer if that helps you learn.
Be active. Don’t just read and re-read your outlines. Talk, write, test yourself.
You’ve only got two weeks left. Don’t try to master everything in a subject before moving on. You’re better off seeing everything more times, than spending 3 days on contracts/sales and never getting to wills and family law. Move through the subjects quickly, practicing to break up the memorization throughout the day. Follow the method of spaced retrieval. Here’s an article about it.
Most importantly, just keep going. You don’t have to know everything, and indeed it’s impossible to know everything. You will know most of it, and that will be enough.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg died tonight. The country lost a shero. There is real fear about the days, months, and years ahead. But we can look to her life as an example of what we should do now.
She would want you to keep going. Justice Ginsberg fought and led for you to be where you are. I know it may feel absurd to pursue a law degree or license right now when it feels like everything is being dismantled. But that is exactly why we need you right where you are right now.
I know everyone needs to cry tonight. She deserves to be mourned. But tomorrow, pick up those books again. She made it possible for you to be in this space in this moment. She believed in the power of education and legal advocacy. She changed the world. Your presence in the legal profession matters just as much as hers did. We need you too.
At this stage, it’s common to feel like you’re missing something, or doing something wrong, and everyone else is on a better path than you are. They’re not. Everyone is doing things in their own way. Everyone still has to memorize and practice more.
The important thing is to trust yourself and trust the process.
Be active when you memorize. Don’t just read. Speak, write, test yourself.
Practice MBEs and essays every day.
That is all that you can do, and that is enough. There is no magic, and no one else is any better at this than you are.
Your bar company will include the most heavily tested material in the lecture outline. However, they cannot include absolutely everything that can be – or has ever been – tested on the bar exam. As a consequence, you will come across additional rules as you do MBE and essay practice. Make sure you find a way to incorporate those rules in your memorization materials. They are important.
It’s not a glitch or a failure on the part of your bar review company. It’s all part of the process. Trust the process, and trust yourself. You’ve got this!