Today I wanted to share with you my thoughts about The Multistate Digest – Passing the Bar Exam by Alfred Zappala (affiliate link). I am always interested in checking out MBE tools because the MBE is such a struggle for most of us. Mr. Zappala was nice enough to send me a complimentary copy so I could let you know my thoughts on this as a preparation tool.
Who is Alfred Zappala?
He is someone who has been helping people study for the bar exam for a really long time. He has lectured for Bar/Bri bar review and also teaches bar review at Northeastern University School of Law and Suffolk University School of Law. You can learn more about him here on his website.
What is The Multistate Digest?
The Multistate Digest is an MBE preparation tool that can be used electronically (there is a Kindle version) or in hard copy (you can purchase that through Mr. Zappala’s website). I reviewed the hard-copy version, so I can’t comment on the Kindle version (but I do love my e-reader, so I am sure it is fabulous as well).
The digest comprises 212 pages of MBE strategies, tips, and outlines. The first seven pages focus on Mr. Zappala’s general thoughts about studying for the bar exam and also outline the “Sequential Learning Method,” his specific approach to studying the MBE subjects. I think one thing that can be frustrating about the MBE is that different people need to study for it differently. I liked the Sequential Learning Method and think for some students it could be really effective.
What did I like about The Multistate Digest?
I really liked Mr. Zappala’s introduction, where he discusses his perspective on the bar exam.
Instead of engaging in the fear tactics surrounding studying for this exam, he encourages students to maintain perspective and remember that “you simply have to pass a test.”
The introduction also does a good job of giving you an overview of the MBE. I think this would be really helpful for students pre-bar review to get their feet wet and start thinking about how this portion of the test is administered. He not only presents a recommended approach to studying the substantive material but he also breaks down how to answer and study multistate questions. Again, as different approaches work for different people, I always like to see different suggestions that students can try.
But let’s be honest—substantive outlines for the six MBE subjects make up the bulk of the material (almost 200 pages of it). Although you may already have commercial outlines for these subjects, I think his outlines can be a helpful addition. Specifically,
- The outlines all start with an overview of the areas of law you must know for a given subject.
- The outlines include study and exam tips throughout the document that highlight areas of substantive law that can be confusing or need clarification.
- The outlines include examples, which many students can find helpful as they are trying to memorize the law.
- There are a number of mnemonics in the text of the outlines that can help you study.
- I found the outlines pretty easy to read and the statements of law easy to understand (this is not the case with all bar materials).
Although the outlines are very complete, they can be somewhat overwhelming and hard to read. I felt that the outlines would have been more helpful had the formatting been a little more standardized and fonts or style used to make the presentation more aesthetically pleasing. With the text not broken up with fonts or style, I found it too long and difficult to break into identifiable sections. Some folks may not care about the aesthetics of their study materials as much as I do, but I think easy-to-read and nicely formatted materials are easier to use.
Who would benefit from this tool?
I think this tool could benefit a lot of students. If the outlines in your commercial course are not working for you, I think these outlines could give you a good study foundation (and you can even build your own study materials focusing on the “need to know” areas of the law included at the beginning of each section).
I think it could also be a great tool for students who want to study the MBE before the bar prep period commences. This is a tactic we have talked about in the past for students who are really concerned about this portion of the bar exam, and these outlines would be a great basis for reviewing the substantive law before bar prep (given the multitude of exam tips and explanations).
And lastly, when I was reviewing these outlines, I felt they would be great for law students studying some of these subject areas during law school. So often it is hard to find easy-to-follow commercial outlines on these subjects (especially evidence). (Luckily for law students, Mr. Zappala releases the outlines subject by subject if you want to purchase them to study during law school.)
All in all this is a good tool with useful content. Have you used The Multistate Digest? If so, share your thoughts with us in the comments below.
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Want information on other bar exam tools? Check out these posts!
- BarEssays.com (California)
- Bar Exam Mind: A Book Review
- Critical Pass Flashcards
- Smarter Review
- What NOT to Write: A Book Review