Sunday, January 10, 2010

That Horrible Seven Letter Word!

Can only be: BARPREP!

I doubt anyone who has never had the pleasure of preparing for the bar exam can EVER understand how painful bar preparation is. I wonder if there is a similarly painful exam anywhere in the world? I don't know how board exams are for doctors so I really cannot compare.

So I started bar preparation this week and sometimes I feel so absolutely hopeless that I want to just abandon the idea altogether. It's like prison. Serious limitations on bodily AND mental freedom. It will last about 6-8 hours a day for 53 consecutive days. People, that's longer than the 40 days and nights Noah was stuck on that dang Ark! The horrible part is that when you are not studying or taking practice questions, the bar is all you can think or worry about. When I'm not commiting slow but inevitable suicide pouring over my bar material, I'm thinking that's exactly what I SHOULD be doing or else I'll completely fail the bar exam!

I'm doing the mobile version of barbri. It's kinda nice because I they lease you a fancy pants ipod touch and you can watch barbri lectures in (pick your favorite): (a) your jammies, (b) your panties, (c) the fleece pants and hoody you've worn ten days in a row without washing, (d) full body alligator costume with matching hat. I'm a personal fan of (c).

But barbri is so frustrating to begin with. It is full of contradictory instructions:
1. Review the subject outline before class. You can either do it or not do it but don't spend more than 30 minutes doing it.
2. Here are some already prepared outlines and checklists. You really should not use these.Create your own outlines. But I'll shove these in your face anyway.
3. Study 6-8 hours a day. You should study for any duration of time you feel necessary.
4. We provide sample student answers to past bar exam questions. They will contain wrong information but study them anyway.
5. Take the practice questions. You wont know the answers but just do it anyway.
6. Take practice bar exam questions found in the W.A.T. book. The book is called "Washington Essay Tests" (WTF? Isn't that WET not WAT?!)
7. You won't have to learn any rhymes or plays on words to remember this subject. Here is a song to help you remember the concept of Ultra Vires....

See what I mean? But my hate of barbri lives in symbiotic co-existence with my love of barbri. Because after the hell of my first week of bar prep, I've already taken ten practice exam questions and I actually can spot all the issues and cite the correct rules for Constitutional and Administration Law. Seriously, I feel like I know Con Law better now (after one week) than I ever did while taking the class. Crazy!

But seriously, this 6-8 hours of study a day, seven days a week is starting to get to me. How did other mothers survive bar prep? By the time I get myself and my baby fed, changed, and out the door and complete the 4o minute drive to his babysitters (my mom or mom-in-law) it's already noon and my day is shot.


Butterflyfish said...

Easy -- I absolutely did not do 8 hours a day. Well until the final two weeks when I did a few 12 hour days.
You'll never do everything in their paced program. It is impossible. But you'll do enough and you'll pass.
The law school mantra holds true -- you'll find a schedule that works for you.

Lyn said...

I agree with Butterflyfish. I ignored the paced program - at first it was stressing me out that I wasn't doing it all, until I read a blog post by someone who wisely pointed out that you already learned how to study in law school. Just listen to the lectures and do what you do for normal finals, just times 20 or so for the number of subjects!

I also didn't put in 8 hours a day - many days all I did was go to class, but I put in at least 12/day in the last 2 weeks before the bar. Those were some stressful weeks, but it was all fresh when I took the bar.

Allison said...

Yes, I also couldn't bring myself to study that much. I did start to panic the last 2 weeks before the Bar, and like Lin, put in a lot more time. Bar prep just sucks. There's no two ways about it. But at least you can be in your PJs.

Proto Attorney said...

I followed the paced program pretty closely, but that's also because I felt like I didn't really do enough work in law school, so I needed to put in 110% during bar prep.

If you listen to all of the lectures with the fill-in-the-blank outlines and do as many of the practice MBE exams as possible, you'll just need to study the subjects in the last month you seem to be struggling in, that's an excellent strategy. You definitely do not need to study 6-8 hours a day, at least until the month of the exam, when the panic sets in.

FSD said...

That seven letter word sends chills down my spine. I HATED everything about bar prep. EVERYTHING!!! I was a huge ball of stress the summer I went through BarBri. I cried more than I've probably cried in my lifetime because my biggest fear was failing the stupid bar exam. I really should've carved out time to exercise to relieve stress, but I was consumed with bar prep. Please don't follow in my footsteps. Carve out a little (but not too much) "you" time. I don't have words of wisdom or advice on studying for the bar as a mother. I know people who have done it though, so let me know if you'd like their input.

I didn't follow the paced program. I just followed my own schedule and did what felt right to me. That said, I still spent 6-8 hours, outside of class, studying. (The last 3 weeks I easily spent 12-14 hours/day studying) I actually went to classes, so my experience was different than yours. I found that I was better sitting through lectures at night and then using the following day to go over the previous evening's lecture. I just felt fresher in the morning to do the heavy mental work of outlining, preparing flash cards, memorization, practice tests, etc.

Good luck, Cee! You can do this. You'll do great! Just take it one day at a time.

LEO said...

I probably did half that...4 hours per day MAX during the week, a few hours on the weekend. I had planned to ramp it up the last two weeks, but then everyone in my house got sick. I was so nervous, but it all worked out fine.
Just do the lectures/handouts and the graded assignments on time/as on time as you can. Then fill in with MBE or practice essays when you can or if you have a really hard time with a subject. Use time with Jacob as your breaks, and absolutely carve out "you time" as someone else said. You'll do great, and remember that it's a marathon not a sprint! (Is that super cheesy to say to a runner?)