I’ve never been a big fan of school. I view it as a necessary, even worthwhile, evil. I tend to perform at a much higher level with more reasonable (read less) effort in a career setting rather than in the classroom. Perhaps my skill set isn’t aligned with education or maybe I just find school boring. Whatever the reason, I was growing weary of my education during my final year of law school and had a great idea for a software. So, I decided to start Attentiv.
I didn’t drop out of school for a lot of reasons when I started the company – opportunity cost, paid tuition, finishing what I started – that sort of thing. But instead, decided to do school and startup together (I was also the Editor-in-Chief of one of the journals at the school. Needless to say, my final semester was insane). After Attentiv was built, things started going well and, just as I was graduating, it looked like I’d be able to work on Attentiv full-time after classes had finished. But that left the bar in question. Do I pull my focus away from the fledgling company for the summer to study for the bar? Definitely not. Do I just skip the bar altogether? No. Going to law school had benefits, but being able to call myself an attorney would be immensely valuable in many situations, business or otherwise. Then what in the world should I do?
The answer: continue to work on the company like crazy, don’t take a bar prep course, buy a short and slim study outline, and take a few practice tests. And it worked. I know a lot of people are in a similar situation, whether it’s starting something new or working full-time, so I thought I’d share what I did. Not that it’s particularly novel or anything. I just want to show that passing the bar can be done without a prep course and even while you’re working full-time.
Here’s what you’ll need
- A short, dense review guide (I used the 45 page Leansheets review). The key here is that I didn’t want to spend my time bogged down in reading huge explanations of how the law is applied. I wanted to know the black letter law and apply it myself using practice exams.
- Actual questions from past bar exams (MBE and essay). I used the free online resources provided by my state’s Bar Association as well as official MBE resources.
- “Practice questions” to supplement the real questions you find. I used Bar Prep Hero, but any practice tests that are similar can do the trick. The key for me was to get immediate feedback as to whether I got the question right or wrong.
Here’s the schedule
- 2 months before the bar started, on a Saturday, I took a few practice essays and 1/4th of a practice MBE so that I could get familiar with the bar’s format.
- 1 month before the bar I started reviewing an extremely dense outline of “all-state” topics for an average of 30 minutes a day, usually in the evenings after work.
- 2 weeks before the bar, I started taking 30 practice MBE questions every night and checked my answers.
- 2 Saturdays before the bar, I started taking 1 self-timed 100 MBE question practice test and 1 self-timed essay practice test each Saturday (so two “halfsies” practice tests).
- The night before, I reviewed some practice MBE questions and touched up on my weakest subjects for about an hour.
- The morning of the first day, I looked at past essay “model answers” for about 30 minutes.
- The evening of the first day, I went for a long run.
- The morning of the second day, I looked at past MBE questions and answers for about 30 minutes.
- The evening of the second day, I started to forget about the bar and went to bed early.
And that’s it.
Here’s the provisos
I studied to the test. I read/heard this a lot during college and law school, and it’s just as true for the bar. The reason I took the first set of practice questions 2 months before the exam was to familiarize myself with the bar’s question and answer format. That way I could study my black letter law materials by mentally formatting them into bar-like questions and answers.
The way I studied will likely not work for everyone (or perhaps even most people). This method was half forced upon me by my time constraints, and half my method of choice. As I mentioned earlier, I don’t love school, so I often find myself allocating the minimum amount of resources to it. I’ve practiced this minimalist approach a lot and probably have more experience with it than many.
Is this the most surefire study regime? Probably not. But if you’re in a pinch and don’t have time to give the bar a full summer of attention or maybe just don’t want to spend a few grand on a bar prep course, you can give my study schedule a shot. It’s at least worked once.