Updated: Jul 11, 2020
Let me get right to it - you have to truly understand the law to pass the bar. This is the one thing I wish I knew before taking the bar exam the first time. It sounds obvious but there is a difference between studying endless hours and studying to understand the law. The latter means studying the law until you can explain it to yourself and to others in your own words.
After all, bar exams are designed to measure whether you are ready to go out into the world to practice law. Take hearsay and its exceptions, for example. How the heck would you explain it to a client with no legal training? One who is outraged (and scared) because those out of court statements could be used against him at trial. Regurgitating legal mumbo jumbo to him, would be like a doctor spewing Latin terminology at you, when all you want to know is why you are sick, if it will kill you, if it will go away, and how to treat it, in words you can understand.
Getting to that place, where you understand the law until you can first explain it to yourself in plain language, requires time and effort. It requires you to unpack many layers until you understand why the rule is designed the way it is, how it works, and why. This is good news because if you are serious about passing the bar, you already spend a lot of time and effort studying.
I urge you to use your bar prep materials differently, so you get to a place of understanding the law. Bar prep courses, online MBE simulators with fancy algorithms and digital flashcards, etc., get you familiar and comfortable enough to take the bar exam. They won’t get you any closer to understanding the law if you don’t use them correctly. The bar exam pass rate nationwide tells the same story.
On bar exam essays you must show the exam graders you are knowledgeable as to the tested material. Your answers must also be concise. Doing both at the same time will earn you the most points. This is how I passed three bar exams. However, “knowledgeable” and “concise” is only possible if you truly understand the law.
Only then will you be ready to tackle ANY set of facts presented on bar exam essays, under pressure, in exam conditions. Only then will you be ready to explain the law to your clients in the future. I guarantee it will make all the difference in your bar exam essays and your score.
You’ve got this!
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