July 28, 2006

Bar: My take

I've heard many people describe the bar as an endurance test. I disagree. An endurance test is merely one of length and stubborness. It's you versus something you know and have the will to endure.

The bar on the other hand isn't actually that long. Maybe the studying is an endurance test. But, after 2.5 months of studying, the 6 hours a day of testing and 1 hour of listening to instructions for 3 days isn't that taxing. Sure, it's tiring, but it's not the test itself that's tiring you out.

What is taxing, instead, is the mental warfare. BarBri will succeed in their best efforts to freak you out -- that's how they make their money -- off the paranoia. I hate them. There are plenty of strategies that could help people learn about and understand how to take this test for exactly what it is -- a stupid test of tactics and a little bit of knowledge. BarBri does not teach any of those things. Instead, they will assign you to do things you are bound to fail at, which will freak you out. They will assign too much work and not enough strategy. Your fellow test takers will add to your stress levels with their comments and demeanor as well as the tales of their mishaps. And no matter how serene you generally are, you will wage mental warfare with yourself.

Finally, you should expect the worst because some of it will probably happen. How you handle these things is much more indicative of whether you will keep it together than how many of the BarBri assigned questions you did.

So, for what it's worth, in hindsight, myself and/or people I know would have been better off if we had made the following assumptions:

  1. They will start the test late and you will be surrounded by 1800 freaking out JDs waiting outside the doors that won't open. For an hour. With no explanation. In the heat wave.

  2. Your 3 least favorite subjects are going to come up 1-3 on the first day of essays.

  3. You will realize halfway through a performance exam that you are doing it ALL WRONG. If you keep your cool, you will have time to fix it. If you don't...

  4. At times, the air conditioning system will suck, alternatively cooking you and freezing you.

  5. Some proctors will think it's funny to make jokes like, "how do you think you are going to pass this test if you can't even get the right form in the right envelope?"

  6. Your computer will freak out and you will have to hand-write.

  7. You will get food poisoning on the night after the first day and you will puke all night, getting no sleep.

  8. You will be completely unable to sleep the night before the first day, no matter how well you handle stress.

  9. You will get in a car accident on the drive home from the bar exam (This one is a serious one to consider. Think about getting a ride. Many of my friends and I were brain dead and had tales of almost causing accidents. One of us did.)

This is not a test of anything other than your ability to put up with shit that sucks, a bit of legal knowledge, and your ability to write for people who aren't reading (a skill I'm betting most of us never really tried to develop before). I'd say it's 1/3, 1/3, 1/3.

BarBri and the California Bar would have you believe this test is mostly about the law. They lie. You can get the law wrong and pass. You just have to spot the issues they want you to spot, keep your cool, and get lucky on your MBE guesses and the grader who reads your essays. What a great filter for entrance to the noble profession! NOT!

Of course, if I pass, I'll probably move on with my life without doing a single thing to fight the obviously horrid process and make it better for those who come after me. Life is just too short. Sorry guys.

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