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Practice for the Bar Exam Like an Olympic Diver
The 2012 London Olympics seem so long ago, but this year’s Olympics turned athletes into overnight celebrities. Just as an athletic competition can change the life of many, for law school graduates, passing the bar exam can mean the end or beginning of a flourishing attorney career.
At the beginning of an Olympic ceremony, an athlete lights a flame. Many law schools such as Santa Clara University and McGeorge School of Law, UOP, are creating new programs to assist students to pass the bar exam on their first attempt.
Santa Clara University recently hired a former bar examiner for its bar preparation program. McGeorge lets BARBRI teach free bar exam subject workshops to third year students prior to graduation. In the Olympic games, the flame is a symbol of spirit and burns from the opening ceremony until the end of the games.
As the February 2013 bar exam approaches, preparing for the bar exam is like training for the perfect Olympic dive. Just as an athlete flips, twists, and then combines these moves through thousands of repetitions for the gold, a bar candidate must turn each section of the bar exam into a routine to pass. How a bar applicant practices each section of the bar exam is equally as important as how often. Many law school websites such as UC Berkeley and UCLA give tips on how to prepare for the bar exam, similar to training like an Olympic diver:
Enjoy the Process: Becoming a gold medal diver can be deadly, but mistakes are part of learning. In February 2013, bar candidates all over the U.S. will be taking a stab at passing bar exam. Mastering each bar exam section will require struggle, but a bar applicant can find out what the applicant does not know while preparing, rather than on exam day by focusing on reading the answers while practicing, as much as doing as many questions as possible. A person should read the answer explanations even when a person has a correct answer on a practice test. This ensures awareness of test patterns, and helps a person make sure he or she is getting a question right because of understanding the question, rather than luck. Practice means doing enough questions to recognize the limited ways bar examiners introduce issues and test rules.
Cross Train: Divers rollerblade, bike, and play other sports. While these exercises may not be related to diving, they maintain body fitness. When studying for the bar exam, alternate between the MBE, essays, and performance tests if required to take several portions of the test. Engaging in each part of the exam breaks the monotony, and raises awareness in issue spotting, rules recall, and facts analysis. It also gives a fresh start each time a person tackles a section.
Improve Speed: Divers keep a log of their daily workouts, including the number of dives and types of dives. Practice for the bar exam under timed conditions. For example, train for the MBE in 34 question increments, and track the subjects done, answers, the correct answers, and reasons for why a question was answered wrong (e.g. do not know the law, assumes facts improperly, do not read carefully). For the MBE, a bar candidate needs to average 34 questions per hour to answer all 100 questions in the allotted 3 hours. While it is important to answer each question correctly, it is pivotal to answer all questions. There is no penalty for guessing so each unanswered question means a wrong answer.