We are pleased to welcome Jonathan Grossman to the blog. Jonathan is a bar exam tutor and MBE expert whose company, What’s the Issue, has a practical, down-to-earth, and personal approach to the bar exam that helps either first-time takers or repeaters prepare without being bored. He’s here today to answer a few questions about himself, his approach to bar exam study, and his top tips for bar exam success. Welcome, Jonathan!
1. Tell us a bit about yourself?
Upon graduating from Nova Law School (Ft. Lauderdale, Florida) in 1988, I took the California bar exam and failed. My job in Los Angeles had fallen through, so I came back to Florida to become a sports agent. I had no interest in taking another bar, but I took the Florida bar under pressure from my parents and failed that miserably. I tried to become another Jerry McGuire, and 13 years later when I had not, I attempted to take the Florida bar once again. I was too old to sit and study all day, and could not afford to anyway. So I came up with techniques and study habits that made sense to me and that I could tolerate. After I passed that exam, a friend who worked for one of the commercial courses suggested I try to help others who had failed. I quickly realized many people had the same issues that I experienced and responded positively to my own methods. A few students led me to becoming a full time tutor, and law school instructor for bar prep.
2. You work with first-time takers and repeat-bar exam takers. Are the struggles the same with both groups of studiers?
Yes, in that almost all anyone studying for the MBE does not know enough black letter law COLD! Many people know a lot of information or “stuff” about key issues but most cannot spit out the elements of law to enough rules by heart. The other common problem for both types of students is that they do not have a consistent, sane method of HOW to read an MBE question. Everyone can “get it down to 2,” but then most are just making “educated guesses.” I teach a simple 3-step approach on how to do any MBE question so you know why you are picking “B,” and why A, C, and D are not the correct answer.
No, in that first timers are struggling with how much to learn, falling behind, and the overall fear of the unknown about test day. The repeat takers are insecure about the past failure, the blow to confidence and ego, and scared about “what happens if I fail again.” So I am more of a shrink for the repeat takers than the first timers.
3. You have developed substantive lectures on the MBE subjects that can be purchased on your website and through AdaptiBar. What drove you to develop these lectures and how are they different from what students might find at another bar review course?
I found that students would review the same outlines and still not know the core elements of law and so many of the issues were mixed up in their heads like alphabet soup because of trying to read too many pages of stuff! So I had to help detox them one by one while “lecturing them” and I thought I could give them three-times the amount of information on a video and they could watch it over and over again.
The main difference from the commercial products is time. While the other videos average 10-12 hours per subject, my videos average 3-3 ½ hours per subject. That is because I only discuss what they NEED to know, rather than all the other stuff.
Secondly, I tried to present the material as a discussion between myself and the student, and really show them what the rule looks like on an MBE question and how to apply it, rather than just a litany of rules.
Third, I allow the student to either watch the whole subject or select individual areas of law that may be a weakness for them and only purchase that chapter. Lastly, I do a lot of confidence building throughout my videos and try to show the students where they can more easily pick up the points necessary to pass!
You can read our review of the AdaptiBar videos here. In addition, if you’d like to try AdaptiBar, we’ve negotiated a $30 discount! Just sign up via our special link, and you’ll get $30 off. (This is an affiliate link.)
4. Do you have any advice about how students can stay sane and avoid the “culture of fear” while studying? How do they get comfortable with not being able to know all the possible law that will be tested?
The most import thing is to keep in mind that it’s still “just a test” and to learn HOW to take this test. It is not law school, and to just try and focus on the skills necessary to get enough points! It’s also very important to try and build confidence day-by-day, and not think it is going to be a constant feeling. As they say, it’s a marathon not a sprint and each person needs to understand that 30 minutes of quality studying is better than 2 hours of staring at the book at 11pm and not remembering what you read the next day!
I preach that “it’s not about what you don’t know, it’s about what you DO know,” and make sure you know that cold! Know what you need to know to get enough questions correct and know the rules for your essay and build confidence from there. Most students who fail miss too many questions on the “easy rules,” but they think they are failing because they don’t know the executory shifting spring interest question (whatever that is!). Once they start to feel better about what they do know and they are confident in that material and score better on the questions, they are ready for the exam.
5. If you could give your top three tips to those studying for the July bar exam, what would they be?
- Memorize the black letter rules! The MBE tests in definitions and know the elements as cold as you can.
- It’s not about how many practice questions you do. It’s about how many you read correctly! Develop good reading skills, practice reading the questions slowly so you are not missing the key facts and 20 -25 per day while you are lucid, sane and rational are better than 50 at midnight when one eye is closed and you make too many silly mistakes.
- Spot the issue in the question, and when you know what answer look like, SHUT UP AND PICK IT!uation!!
Want to learn more about Jonathan’s tutoring programs? You can learn more here.
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