It’s been a few weeks since the Florida bar exam results were released. Many students received exciting news and are now practicing Florida lawyers. There are also those of you that may have received disappointing news and are now gearing up to study again. In order to succeed at retaking the bar exam, it’s important to understand what went wrong the first time. In this post, we are counting down the top four reasons students don’t pass the Florida bar exam.
4. Students underestimate the importance of ethics
Ethics is easy. It is obvious. Just don’t commingle funds and you’ll be fine!
These are all statements I hear from students telling their friends NOT to study for ethics when it comes to bar prep time. Yes, ethics is straightforward and there are many rules of law that are repeatedly tested throughout the years. So why not make yourself an outline of what is commonly tested in essays and then use that outline when practicing your essays?
Ethics is tested nearly every exam, but many students do not gain any of those points for two common reasons:
- They never get to ethics (run out of time on the essay)
- They are too succinct when it comes to ethics and not in the “good” way. That is, they don’t know enough rule of law and, therefore, do not write enough and do not spot enough issues.
So give yourself a boost when it comes to essay writing and incorporate ethics into your studying! Create an outline and use it every time you practice an essay. If you still find yourself not getting to ethics in the one-hour time frame, then start your essay with ethics and get it “out of the way” right at the beginning of the essay!
3. Students do not review answers and explanations for ALL questions
If I do 1,000 MBE questions I’ll be fine, right?
Well … no, especially if you are making the same mistakes over and over again and do not realize why! AND especially if you do not know the black letter law “cold” (see reason #1 below).
But I studied SO HARD … why did I not pass?
Because you need to study SMART and not necessarily HARD.
Doing 1,000 questions is not the same as doing half of that in addition to reviewing each question/answer methodically and carefully. Now, I am not saying you only need to do 500 questions to pass the bar exam – what I AM saying is that studying SMART means reviewing all of your answers. Reviewing your answers entails asking yourself some mental questions:
- What was the call of the question?
- Why was the wrong answer that I picked … well, wrong?
- Why was the right answer that I picked … right?
- Did I know the black letter law for this question?
Also, sometimes it is best to do one question and then review the answer immediately; sometimes it is best to do 10 questions at a time and then review, and so forth. It really depends on your learning needs and your progression throughout your studying. If you feel like you need a personal touch or mentor to figure out your MBE plan, check out Celebration Bar Review.
So remember to study smart and review ALL of your answers – even the ones you got RIGHT!
2. Students do not write essays. At all.
It is estimated that up to 1/3 of the bar takers sitting in that room with you have NOT written a practice essay!
Would you take a driver’s exam without practicing driving the car?
Of course not because you would want to get your driver’s license after just taking the driver’s exam once, correct? Well, why would anyone take the bar exam without practicing essay writing first?
The most common answers:
- I already know how to write an essay.
- I did it all through law school, what’s the difference?
- I just do not have the time! I am not ready and I don’t know the law yet.
So what is the solution?
- Write an essay before you start your day
- Create a calendar/schedule of essays
- Time yourself
- Use your outlines (open-note)
Still need some guidance? Look at some more tips on how to prepare yourself to write essays.
Even though ¼ of the bar exam is writing essays – it still does not “scare” some students straight into writing practice essays! Instead, the most common mistake I have seen is students only reading and reviewing previous model answers. Don’t make that same mistake and instead, WRITE, WRITE, WRITE as many essays as possible!
1. Students do not know the Black Letter Law COLD!
This is the NUMBER ONE mistake students make. They do not take the time to memorize the black letter law “cold.” Why not? Because there is just no time, right?!
But there is time!
During your last semester of law school, you can create flashcards or outlines for MBE and for Florida essay writing. Further, many law schools have bar courses that are either optional or required for the last semester of law school. Take advantage of these courses and start working on your flashcards or outlines slowly and methodically.
Don’t know what to memorize? Try this book – 100 Rules to Know for Passing the Bar Exam
Still need extra guidance? Try a personal approach with MBE expert, Jonathan Grossman.
Get your black letter law organized and memorized before you graduate if at all possible. As you are creating your flashcards/outlines, remember to be concise and precise, while maintaining the integrity of the rule of law. Putting it in your own words will also help you memorize.
Instead of automatically doing 1,000 questions without really thinking about it, handwrite the black letter law in a separate notebook. Doing 1,000 questions without taking the time to memorize the black letter law will not help.
Memorize and be confident! You can do this!
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Did you find this post helpful? Check out some other great articles:
- Yikes! I Failed the Bar Exam. Should I Take It Again?
- You Failed the Bar Exam! 5 Tips to Get Ready to Study Again
- Coming Back After a Bar Exam Failure — Gearing Up to Study Again
- If At First You Don’t Succeed … Cry, Whine, and Then TRY AGAIN!
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