Every year around this time, folks start releasing their bar exam predictions. I had a student last semester ask me why I didn’t blog about my predictions for the California bar exam. The reason? Predictions can be very misleading and can give studiers a false sense of security that someone knows what will be on the test.
Take an example from my bar exam. The bar review provider shared the “unofficial” prediction that it was highly unlikely that we would ever see a remedies question on this test. I know some of my fellow studiers took this prediction to heart and bet that there wasn’t going to be a remedies essay on the exam.
Was the prediction right?
Well, question four on the third day of testing was a remedies question. Oops! Does this mean that something was wrong with the prediction? No! It was just that — only a prediction! What was wrong was that people took this prediction seriously and changed their study habits accordingly.
No one has a crystal ball. Only those working on the bar exam know what is going to be on the test. So predictions are something you can listen to and keep in mind, but I wouldn’t make my study decisions based on whether someone says a given subject will or will not be on the exam.
What do I think you can rely on? — Studying hard for those subjects that are frequently tested. In California, for example, one is professional responsibility (it’s not that shocking that examiners always want to make sure attorney applicants are ethical!). But how do you know which subjects are likely? Well, probably your bar review provider will tell you or if you are in a state like California, you can check out old exams, which are published.
But not studying subjects because someone tells you they won’t be tested, that is simply a gamble. I wouldn’t recommend gambling on what will be on the bar exam. Take predictions for what they are, just predictions. Don’t let predictions get in your head and stand in your way of success.
Back to the story of my bar exam. Because I ignored predictions, I reviewed remedies over breakfast the morning of the third day of the test. Boy, was that rewarding — it was the first question that day. Lesson learned, study everything (at least a little bit).
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