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May 30, 2005 7:35 PM   Subscribe

BAR-Filter: So I just graduated from Fancy East Coast Law School and have started taking Barbri in preparation for the NY Bar at the end of July. The course started on the 26th, but so far I (like everyone else I know) haven't really studied yet. Should I be worried? Any helpful study tips? Bonus question: a friend of mine is applying to law school and wanted advice on an LSAT course. I think she probably doesn't need it (high SAT scores, etc.) but her mom's willing to pay. Course recommendations?
posted by kensanway to Education (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Do you mean the 26th of May? Are you serious? Study, but relax as well. Don't get behind, but don't get overwrought. If you have a firm job lined up, these are your last few months of freedom. Study to pass, but enjoy your free time as well.
posted by caddis at 7:49 PM on May 30, 2005


Don't worry mate, I've got UK law school finals (LPC) in a month and we've only just finished teaching. Using my crystal ball though, I can see a few 10 hour days in the library for you in the near future. Best of luck!

Going to law school, how about qualifying elsewhere? Much, much cheaper over here (like seriously, under 1/4 the price!). BPP and College of Law are excellent about but Oxford and Nottingham are worth thinking about.
posted by dmt at 7:52 PM on May 30, 2005


LSAT - I took the Kaplan course and added 8 points to my score(160 to 168 which is on the low end for someplace like Yale I believe).

Bar - I attended the bar review class with pretty good regularity up until about two weeks before the bar. I just went and sat thru the class and didn't do much of anything outside the class until about a 3 or 4 weeks before the exam when I began to do some outside the class studying. The two weeks before the exam I hit the Multi-State materials hard (Seems like it was 10 or 12 hours a day - I think I probably did more than was necessary but I don't know because they don't release our scores in my state). But, of course, I didn't go to a fancy school (feel the jealousy). I went to one of those 2nd/3rd tier schools where the basic subjects tested on the exam were required courses - we spent zero time on the sociology of law. I think it's a good idea to stay connected by attending the bar review class but I would save the manic studying for the last 3 weeks ( and take a day or two off before the test).

If you are sitting for the famously difficult New York bar YMMV. I took the exam in 97 in TN. I think the state wide pass rate here is usually around 75%. Good luck.
posted by Carbolic at 8:08 PM on May 30, 2005


When I took the LSAT, several people recommended PowerScore, which publishes the excellent and indispensable Logic Games Bible; they also run an LSAT prep course. I've also heard good things about Testmasters.
posted by Dr. Zira at 8:34 PM on May 30, 2005


LSAT - I think the review classes can be great, if just for the imposed discipline of scheduled lsat study time, but if she's at the point where she's shooting for 170+, I don't know if the techniques taught by Princeton Review or Kaplan can really help that much. I signed up for a Princeton Review course and after my diagnostic test, they were honest with me that they weren't really going to help me improve my score by much, refunded my money, and that was that (as it turned out, six weeks of pretty intense studying - atleast for me - I took the test and got the same exact score as I got on the diagnostic I took cold)

Bar - I'm studying for the NY Bar right now as well and last week just wasn't very productive for me either. I'm not taking a bar review course (no cash) so I know I really need to get going starting tomorrow. However, fwiw, in one of my frequent moments of procrastination last week, I looked up NY Bar Passage rates for first-time takers during the Summer and I think in the last two years, the percentage of passers is around 75%, which is a lot less intimidating than the 60% total passage rate that gets thrown around.

Good luck to you!
posted by buddha9090 at 8:36 PM on May 30, 2005


I swear by the practice tests -- as many as you can get your hands on -- but that could just be a reassurance thing. Not that that couldn't help, too.
posted by dreamsign at 9:40 PM on May 30, 2005


Please don't take this as a snark, but man, chill the fuck out. You had a course that started late last week (on Thursday). You then had a long weekend. Today is your first day back at the course, and you're worried if you're studying enough to pass?! And, bonus, that you went to a "fancy east coast law school"?!?

You're certainly smart enough to get out of law school and certainly smart enough to pass the bar, but seriously, know thyself.

Good luck!
posted by zpousman at 7:35 AM on May 31, 2005


Actually, my problem is the opposite of what you guys take it for: I'm too chill. In the last week, I've gone to Boston, bought like 20 books, saw a movie or three, ate out every meal, showed up to class late each time, etc. I've been pretty laidback about the whole thing. (Note: the typical Bar course wants you to put in 8-12 hrs a day.) I wasn't really feeling terribly guilty about that and was rather more interested in if you guys had anymore strategies for studying (i.e. slacking off). For example, most people I know say that all the real studying occurs a few weeks before the exam (cf. Carbolic). That being said, I don't really know anything about the law, so any more stories or tips would be helpful.
posted by kensanway at 7:53 AM on May 31, 2005


So I just graduated from Fancy East Coast Law School
then:
That being said, I don't really know anything about the law, so any more stories or tips would be helpful.

Here's hoping you meant the -bar- :)

If you're concerned about being too chill, schedule some time to study/review and if you don't have anything you feel you need to do in that time this close to the beginning, just do some review/read ahead/something. Just get yourself into the habit of committing the time. That's usually my biggest problem - once I sit down to do it, I do it.

For an example, examine my AskMeFi time while I am at work :)
posted by phearlez at 8:20 AM on May 31, 2005


Tell your friend that any practice -- so long as it's using real LSAT problems and not "simulated" questions cooked up by the people who put out some test prep books -- is beneficial. Prep course or otherwise. However, if your friend is specifically looking for a prep class, Testmasters consistently gets the best marks.

And tell yourself not to stress too much over the Bar. You probably know more than you think you do. Your fancy-schmancy school has a bar passage rate that hovers around 99% doesn't it? I like your chances.
posted by herc at 9:37 AM on May 31, 2005


I certainly didn't study 8 or 12 hours a day, but I did have a pretty routine schedule. I made a point of starting my day with exercise so that I wouldn't get all antsy sitting down to study. I did put in a solid 4 to 6 hours a day, however, and I had a study buddy to help me stick to it. Do the reading, definitely do the practice tests, chip away at it gradually, and you'll likely be fine.

Good luck!
posted by ambrosia at 9:42 AM on May 31, 2005


How much you need to study depends on multiple factors.

Do you preform well on "standardized" tests in general?
Was grasping the law and legal reasoning easy for you in class?
Are you paying attention in the Bar/Bri class?
Does what they teach in Bar/Bri make sense to you?
Are you able to perform under pressure without locking up?
Are you satisfied with just passing as opposed to trying to see the high score?

If the answers to these questions are all yes, (as they were for me), then you only need to study a cumlative of about 40 hours to pass. I say that from experience.

The key is how good you are at tests and how well you understand the concepts behind the law. The Bar tests concepts and then minutia. No matter how much you study, you will never learn all the minutia that you will be tested on. To try to do that, you will ultimately burn yourself out and do worse. The key is understanding the concepts. If you *get* commercial paper, then that is key. If you can regurgitate specifically the 8 components of negotiablity (or however there are), then you are all the better.

So that is why I asked how easy law school was you conceptually and how easy Bar/Bri is for you. If you can sit there in class and hear a guy explain a concept that you never heard of before, like a secured transaction, and it makes sense to you, then you are likely going to do well enough to pass. So you learn all the concepts in Bar/Bri, and then you sit down and spend about 40 hours trying to grasp as much the minutia and lists of elements as you can based on your guesses about what you need.

Just remeber to tell yourself: "I only need to pass." And don't study too hard: you will burn yourself out and be mentally exhausted by the time the test comes. Evaluate yourself; your the only one who can do that. After all the schooling you have, you should know what it takes for *you* to pass the test. Don't stress yourself out. You will do better doing low stress studying in small blocks of time than to cram for 2 months straight.

I studied no more than 40 hours for the bar outside of law school and Bar/Bri. I passed. I have two friends who studied hundreds of hours (8-10 hour days, 7 days a week, 3 months straight) and they failed. But, of course, the other 10 or so people I know who did that passed. But I think those two overstudied and killed their brains and locked up trying to remember every single detail.
posted by dios at 11:38 AM on May 31, 2005


After seeing your second note, I would recommend the chill of it. You will be well served doing everything you can to avoid stress. I didn't study a lick 72 hours before the exam. I went to a bar the night before and had 2 drinks, saw some movies in the days leading up, etc.

Do not overwork yourself, whatever you do. And you sound like you have a good grasp of understanding how much work/relax time you need.

Don't let everyone freak you out. It isn't impossible. Put in the time that you can tell you need, and thats all you need to do. I just worked through sample questions in the BarBri books. But figure out what works best for you, and then do as much of it as you can without wearing yourself down or stressing out.
posted by dios at 11:43 AM on May 31, 2005


Herewith the MattD pass-the-New-York-bar-plan:

* Do not panic. When you pull into line in Albany or the Javitz Center and start to listen in to the conversations of the people ahead of you and behind you in line, you'll quickly grasp exactly how drunk and lazy your summer had to have been not to be breeze past most of your competition.

* Now through July 4th -- go to BarBri faithfully, but don't bother studying at night or on weekends ... unless our diagnostic MBE that you take in the third week of class is alarmingly low.

* July 5th through 24th -- ten hours per day seven days per week, counting BarBri class time until your BarBri course finished up.

* Monitor your practice exam performance aggressively. Do not devote significant time to state law topics until you're getting 3/4ths of your MBE questions right consistently.

* Devote minimal time to the form of essays. Referring once again to the low grade of competition, realize that the lion's share of the low essay scores are already assigned to the many, many test-takers who simply lack the capacity to assemble a decent paragraph of professional English.
posted by MattD at 3:21 PM on May 31, 2005


Herewith the MattD pass-the-New-York-bar-plan:

* Do not panic. When you pull into line in Albany or the Javitz Center and start to listen in to the conversations of the people ahead of you and behind you in line, you'll quickly grasp exactly how drunk and lazy your summer had to have been not to be breeze past most of your competition.

* Now through July 4th -- go to BarBri faithfully, but don't bother studying at night or on weekends ... unless the diagnostic MBE that you take in the third week of class is alarmingly low.

* July 5th through 24th -- ten hours per day seven days per week, counting BarBri class time until your BarBri course finished up.

* Monitor your practice exam performance aggressively. Do not devote significant time to state law topics until you're getting 3/4ths of your MBE questions right consistently.

* Devote minimal time to the form of essays. Referring once again to the low grade of competition, realize that the lion's share of the low essay scores are already assigned to the many, many test-takers who simply lack the capacity to assemble a decent paragraph of professional English.
posted by MattD at 3:21 PM on May 31, 2005


I'm currently also studying to take the (Illinois) bar, so I'm just watching this thread for study tips. For the LSAT, my personal opinion is that the vast majority of the prep courses out there are pretty useless, especially for people like your friend who generally do well on standardized tests. The only one I've really heard good things about is Testmasters. Personally I just bought a bunch of previous real LSATs and did one a day and I ended up with a 168.

PMBR: yes or no?
posted by gyc at 4:46 PM on May 31, 2005


PMBR: yes or no?
posted by gyc at 4:46 PM PST on May 31


PMBR: yes or no?
posted by gyc at 4:46 PM PST on May 31


Just depends. Take a practice multistate exam and self-evaluate. If you don't get 50% of the questions right, then maybe take PMBR. PMBR does help some people who would do crappy otherwise on the MBE; its probably a waste/overkill for most. But if you can get 50% of the MBE right the first time you take it, then don't worry about PMBR.

I think BarBri gives you a good progress chart (though I can't remember the specifics.) It's something like getting 50% right 8 weeks before; 60% right 4 weeks before; 75% right 2 weeks before or something like that. If you follow that, you will do fine.

Also, since it is equal to the state questions, remember if you are strong in those areas, you can tolerate a not-so-great score on the MBE.

Remember, the objective is to pass. Passing is a low bar. Only 1 out of 4 people can't do it. Determine your strengths and weaknesses. If all the studying and PMBR classes in the world aren't helping you understand to the difference between substantive due process and equal protection or what the battle of forms is or when the risk of loss passes, etc., then don't waste your time trying to learn something you aren't going to grasp. Spend more time and pick up more points on that family law essay that you understand.

I was of the opinion that I had to grant a certain of questions to the bar exam. There were some concepts that I didn't know, and wasn't going to kill myself trying to figure out (i.e., income tax, bankruptcy). I could have spent 40 hours on income tax and still got the question wrong. Or I could spend 40 hours elsewhere and shore up the stuff I knew and sort of knew. One thing that I think is absolutely essential that people must spend time on is basic property concepts because they underly everything. Wills and trusts, matrimonial property, land use, secured transactions, bankruptcy, etc. all require a basic understanding of property. So make sure you know enough to at least fake that one topic. Other than that, just choose your strengths and don't try to figure out all the stuff that you don't get.

You can't beat the bar. It will beat you, but all you have to do is pass. Grant that, and you will go a long way to getting the job done.
posted by dios at 12:24 PM on June 1, 2005


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