Does something ever strike you as so simple yet such a To Do™? I’m talking about the situation where a parent asks you to defrost a food item before they return from work and you think, “of course,” then the next thing you know, you forgot?
This is the analogy I think about when I think of how I was told over and over to do “real life examples” of the Bar exam essays (aka MEEs) and multiple choice questions (aka MBEs). It sounds great in theory, and then I started to panic – Well I don’t know everything! I can’t do real practice if I don’t know everything! Where do I find the easiest essays! I can’t do this!
Pure panic, I am telling you. One day it was so bad I think I laid down for a nap because the thought of opening up my book to a real essay, or downloading one from a site with released MEE questions was anxiety producing.
But let me share something: I would rather have that panic in the safety of my home 6 weeks out from the actual exam, then find myself dripping sweat on my keyboard come the day of the bar exam.
You may have already experienced this if you took a past exam given by your then current law school professor prior to taking your own exam. In my experience, practicing a Real Life™ exam question was how I was successful in law school. Checking my first semester grades was, how do I put it, unpleasant. I didn’t take a single practice law school exam, and it showed. I was not going to make the same mistake when studying for the bar.
Let me put it another way simply for the effect. You wouldn’t go run a race without ever running in your life would you? That is . . . a b s u r d (extra spacing intended). So, here is my 2 cents (get it? because there are two reasons) on why you should sit down and get your panic on and out of the way early and take those MEEs or do a batch of the MBEs.
If not Now, then When
If you don’t practice real MEEs and/or MBEs before the bar exam, when will you? Will your first test drive be when it really matters? I can’t remember who said it, I’m sure I could look it up, but someone more famous than me once said “Fail and fail often.” How fitting. Except for the day of the bar exam.
By pulling out whichever resource you want to use, and diving head first into either mimicked MEEs or true released MEEs, you will get to see what the task at hand is. You will have the opportunity to fail miserably, and know that such failure will only groom you for success later. I’m sure you are compelled to fall prey to the myth that, “I have to understand all the law before I take a Property Essay.” I promise you, you don’t. You may actually learn about real covenants better by seeing them in action. Seeing how examiners may test land sale contracts is certainly going to be more helpful than trying to understand every detail and expression on a lecturer’s face when they try to explain mortgages.
There are already so many new emotions and experiences when you’re on that testing floor. One experience you don’t want to be brand new is staring blankly at a word document because you haven’t practiced getting the mild-panic-space-out time down to about 5 seconds before you pull yourself together and at least start writing an issue statement for your IRAC formula.
This is the time to fail! If not now, when?
If not You, then Who?
If you aren’t the one to force yourself to incorporate real life MEEs and MBE batches into your study time, then who will?
One of the hardest things to self-regulate (even if it is on your study schedule) is to sit down without notes, and take practice MBE sets, or MEEs. It is SO hard. Why? Well, it’s the equivalent of apparently taking the chicken out of the freezer like your mom told you so it would be defrosted for dinner. It’s the principal of getting out of your comfort zone – or in the chicken instance, the comfortable blanket.
By forcing yourself to dive into MEEs/MBEs, you will learn the mechanics, the focus, the timing needed and all of those little things you can prepare for without knowing the subject. Practice, and fail. Practice and fail some more. And by doing that, you will set yourself up to succeed when it matters. You may never feel like you pass any given essay, and that is normal. Just try to keep in mind that to pass the bar exam, your essay doesn’t need to be an A+. It doesn’t need to be the equivalent of the bar examiners example. Remember, they got to sit down and write with all the time in the world plus a Starbucks latte sitting next to them. It just has to be law on a page in a coherent organized manner that applies the law you know to as many facts as you can get down – in a nutshell.
So go forth, crack that book open and fail miserably. It is one of the best ways to practice. Fail, and fail some more. Because when the time comes to pass, you’ll be as cool as a cucumber.