The Magnificent MBE, part II: IRAc and Multiple Choice

The number one reason people get MBE questions wrong is because they miss the issue. Why do you miss the issue? Because you look for it in the answer choices. Don’t. The answer choices are not there to help you. In fact, three of those choices are there to distract you from the best one and seduce you away from it. Those answer choices are not your friends. The central issue is your friend and you will find it in the fact pattern. Identify the central issue in the fact pattern before going to the answer choices. The IRAc formula will help you work through the question  without getting distracted or seduced by those answer choices.

  • I: read the call of the question to get a sense of the general issue, then read the hypo and identify the central issue triggered by the facts.
  • It’s a good idea to write this down. It will serve as an anchor when those answer choices try to distract or seduce you.
  • R: once you know what the central issue is, recall the relevant rule.
  • A: apply this rule to the answer choices and eliminate those that aren’t both factually and legally correct.
  • Factually correct: addresses the central issue.
  • Legally correct: applies the relevant rule.
  • c: stay in control and don’t be distracted or seduced.
  • If this seems simple, it is. You need to control the question, not the other way around.

Tomorrow we’ll learn about the “MBE Vacuum.”

The Magnificent MBE, part I

In the next week or two you will take your simulated MBE. It’s ok if you haven’t done a ton of practice questions yet but do make sure to work in a few sets of each subject between now and then. Don’t focus on what you score you’ll get. That doesn’t matter. Instead, see this as an opportunity to practice under test conditions. This is an opportunity to simulate the environment:

  • Start at 9am and follow the time permitted (100 in the AM, 1 hour break for lunch, 100 in the PM).
  • Use a regular #2 pencil, but no pens, highlighters, separate erasers or pencil sharpeners allowed.
  • No notes, watch, cell phone, snacks, cell phone, ear plugs, or drinks other than water.

Remember that this is not the actual bar exam and even though you think you should know the material, you don’t. Your brain has been so busy taking in new information that it hasn’t had time to process it. You are not going to do as well on this practice test as you will on the actual bar exam. 45% or more correct is a good score. Just in case that didn’t sink in: Anything over 45% is a good score. Once you get your score, use it as a starting point and work on improving. A lot of learning will take place in the next few weeks so figure out why you missed questions- didn’t know the law, didn’t understand the question asked, misread something. These are the things you need to know in order to improve.
In the weeks that follow continue simulating the exam experience when you work through questions:

  • Do mixed-subject sets.
  • Don’t use notes/outlines. You need to force your brain to recall the information.
  • Be cognizant of time: 34 questions in 60 minutes.

Most important, keep the MBE in perspective. You don’t have to get an A to pass.
Tomorrow I’ll talk about how to approach the MBE just like an essay with IRAc.

Our greatest weakness lies in giving up.  The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.

Bar Exam Bard: Bar Exam From the Woman Lawyer’s Perspective

When I’m done with the bar exam
I guess I will be free.
Then I’ll spend significant time
getting back to being me.

I’m going to the Clinique counter
to buy a Chubby stick.
no more thoughts about the MBE
200 questions made me sick!

I’m going to sip a latte
and hang out at the mall.
no more practice MPTs
No more studying at all.

I’m going to head to Nordstrom’s
and buy incredible shoes!
Because I’m done singing
the sorrowful Bar Exam Blues!

I’m gonna talk all day to pals
on my I-6 cellular phone,
and then rest up and sleep in
before I pay my student loans.

I’m going to a zumba class
and then maybe out to dine.
I may even meet Mr. Right, and
have a glass of wine.

The bar exam is over
I tried to do my best
Maybe I will get the Gov’s political nod,
to write essays for this test!

No matter what the outcome
I’m going forward with big time pride.
It was a long journey
but still an amazing ride.

I know more law than I’ll probably ever know
so to quote Dr. Seuss
Oh the places I’ll go!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Maintain (or regain) Motivation and Focus

Today’s post is about maintaining (or regaining) focus and motivation. It is the last full week of June, the halfway mark for bar study. This is a crucial week because it is easy to lose sight of the goal. You are studying all the time but your motivation and focus might be faltering a bit:

  • You are sick of the lectures: you’ve been watching them forever but there’s still two more weeks to go. Will it never end?
  • You feel like Hercules cleaning out those Augean Stables: you work non-stop and yet the next day, there is another giant pile of work waiting for you to tackle. You feel animosity towards the progress meter.
  • You think about the bar exam a lot but not in a good way: you’ve contemplated suing the bar examiners for IIED, you have social media posts like: “Who owns blackacre? I don’t care. I would like to burn blackacre to the ground,” and #Ineedtostudy. You’re even having dreams about it (weird ones, too).

Putting in the work is not enough. You need motivation, the psychological drive that compels you toward a certain goal.  I can tell you to get motivated but this is extrinsic and only somewhat effective. Your motivation must be intrinsic. It must come from within. This means you must attribute your results to factors under your control and believe you have the skill to reach your goal. You can jumpstart this with some help from others:

Now that you’re fired up, it’s time to focus that motivation on the bar exam. Make a list of all the things you are doing to pass the bar exam and then list the skills it takes to do those things. Hang this up some place conspicuous and look at it every time you have the urge to take and post a picture of your cat or dog (the #!) “helping” you study.

Challenge: stop lamenting about how hard this is, stop posting pics of caffeine and bar outlines (so unoriginal), the gorgeous day you’re missing (as if everyone else your age doesn’t have a job), and screen shots of your progress bar (no one’s buying it). Instead post or tweet a photo of your list: #futurelawyerlist @ksilverkelly.

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Failure Friday

Don’t be this person:

Screen Shot 2015-06-18 at 5.53.44 PM

1. Don’t waste time making a sign, just explain to your family and friends that you’re going to be busy during this time.

2. Don’t waste time setting up your study area so you can take a picture.

3. Don’t waste time on Twitter waiting to see how many re-tweets and favorites you get.

You don’t need to let the world know you are studying. You just need to study.

Have a good weekend!

Address the Stress

Yesterday’s post was about winning the battle of contradictions by embracing the E + R = O mindset. Here are some additional tips to help you address the stress:

  • Re-work your study plan and get rid of busy work. Stop “actively reading” the bar company outlines as if they are novels. Outline books are encyclopedias and we don’t read them from cover to cover. We use them as reference tools when we don’t know something.
  • Stop micro-managing yourself. Yes, you need a daily schedule but some days are better than others. Set goals in terms of ranges instead of absolutes (40-60 hrs/week, not 10 hrs/day); track what you have accomplished instead of what you haven’t, and accept that you are human and no one (even the bar examiners) expects perfection.
  • Focus on practicing how to learn. You don’t know the material yet so stop trying to answer questions from memory. Use your notes and outlines to answer questions and learn in context. You will go off-note after the 4th of July when your brain has had time to process the material.
  • Know your limits. Every day you will reach a point where your brain doesn’t want to cooperate. Your brain is trying to tell you that it’s done for the day. Listen to it. Stop studying and find something else to do: head outside for a walk/run, clean the apartment, spend time with friends, play with your dog, go see a funny movie.
  • Take care of yourself. Eat right and exercise. You don’t have to give up caffeine or run 10 miles a day. Just drink a glass of water every now and then, have an apple or carrot, walk around the block during study breaks. You will be amazed at how much more energy and focus you have.
  • Take care of yourself. Get enough sleep. Sleep makes an enormous difference in being able to manage stressful situations. It gives your body the defenses to fight disease. Getting sick will only add to your stress so get to bed before midnight and sleep 6-7 hours a night. Every night. Playing catch-up with sleep does not provide your body with the rest it needs.
  • Avoid external stressors. If someone stresses you out because of their attitude, competitiveness, panic, etc. then stay away from that person. You can use the “it’s not you, it’s me” speech and (nicely) say that you are having trouble studying/focusing and are going to find another place to study.
  • Believe in yourself.  Enough said.