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hogwartslawyer

Failed the Bar - Which strategies worked for you?

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Hi everyone, 

So as the title states, I'm going to be on of the "lucky few" who will be rewriting the in November. Definitely a bummer but I know I'm certainly not the first nor the last, so it is what it is at this point. 

For those of you were successful in June/previously, can you please share some tips which you feel helped you?

My biggest issue was timing, I think with only 1 month to prepare after final 3L exams, I felt exhausted and simply did not have enough time to thoroughly read through all of the material (literally had to skip sections) meaning I was too reliant on my book in the exam for virtually every single question, even with that excel time sheet. I ran out of time at each break with ~30 questions remaining meaning with my final 2 minutes I would be randomly bubbling so atleast not to leave anything blank. I also did not use one of those practise exams because I was concerned that they were not genuine, as per how LSAC releases official LSAT exams we can practise with for the LSAT. 

I was hoping to have begun restudying by now but got sidetracked with Articling, I'm hoping to start studying again this week. My plan is to review all of the material by November with a few hours every morning and more so over the weekend... I calculated that with almost 3 months to go it shouldn't be problem really getting to all of the materials and playing with my index so that I get comfortable/efficient with it. I've also signed up for the free tutoring service with the LSUC so hopefully that will help.

Thx!

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Do you need an explicit strategy in order to fail the bar? I mean, good on you for being organized, but that seems a bit excessive. Most of us just fail without a plan. 

Sorry man. Facing a rewrite sucks.

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Obviously, you need to take practice tests and get comfortable with the correct timing. You need to average 1 minute 45 seconds per question in order to answer everything. It seems like you were way off. 

From reading this board It seems like the vast majority of failures are people who ended up guessing on 20+ questions at the end of the test. Timing failures.

If you find yourself spending too long on a specific question, you need to be comfortable making an educated guess and moving on. You can flag the harder questions and double-check your guesses at the end if you have any spare time. How long is "too long" on a question will depend. Obviously, some of the questions are either designed to take longer or will simply be harder for specific people based on their knowledge base.  

I would suggest reading through the sections of the materials you skipped last time, but I would not suggest obsessively trying to read through the entirety of the materials cover-to-cover. It's good if you can get through it all, but I think your priorities should probably be more in line with developing familiarity with your TOC/Index and working through practice questions and drilling the correct timing. I read through the materials once and it was a mind-numbing grind and I'm not all that sure that it was necessary; certainly I forgot the vast majority of the content almost immediately. It's just too much to absorb. 

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I'm a volunteer tutor through LSUC, if you're in Ontario you can get up to 5 hours of free tutoring from lawyers if you failed an exam. It's free, go for it.

I've given advice previously about test-taking strategies re time-management and spending less than the average time on easy questions first, without looking up, and then more on harder ones.

Even though practice tests are (since not official, etc.) not generally considered as difficult as the actual ones, and some seem to be very poorly written, they're still practice. They give you practice in your test-writing strategy and looking things up (and what you can answer without doing so), etc. as @beyondsection17 notes.

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6 minutes ago, epeeist said:

I'm a volunteer tutor through LSUC, if you're in Ontario you can get up to 5 hours of free tutoring from lawyers if you failed an exam. It's free, go for it.

I've given advice previously about test-taking strategies re time-management and spending less than the average time on easy questions first, without looking up, and then more on harder ones.

Even though practice tests are (since not official, etc.) not generally considered as difficult as the actual ones, and some seem to be very poorly written, they're still practice. They give you practice in your test-writing strategy and looking things up (and what you can answer without doing so), etc. as @beyondsection17 notes.

In fairness, when I wrote them, the same could be said of the actual bar exams.  

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Everyone has give or take a month to study but this was my approach.  I passed both in June, on my first attempt, I didnt read weekends and I left the testing centre before the 15 minute warning on both exams.

1. Find an index group or use the indexes you already have, make sure those are done way before the exams.

2. Read the material once, make a schedule and stick to it - for instance 300 pages a week or something of that nature. Also make a schedule for the test by allocating yourself an amount of time per question.  Since your timing practice while giving yourself less time per question.

3. Have your material organized in binders for easy use.

4. Do a practice test under real test conditions and dont second guess yourself.  Since you have more time, do more than one.

5. Re read professional responsibility, the rules and the ethics parts of the practice material several time.  These are the questions I found came out the most.

 

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Thanks everyone - yes I'm referring to the Ontario Bar. Perhaps I'll give practice exams a chance then, seems like they were helpful. And I agree about the content - there's definitely big holes in my mind of areas I couldn't get to so I'll try and do a better review this time around, but I didn't have any time at all in May to actually play with my index and become efficient with, something I'll try differently now. 

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4 hours ago, Bure10 said:

Everyone has give or take a month to study but this was my approach.  I passed both in June, on my first attempt, I didnt read weekends and I left the testing centre before the 15 minute warning on both exams.

1. Find an index group or use the indexes you already have, make sure those are done way before the exams.

2. Read the material once, make a schedule and stick to it - for instance 300 pages a week or something of that nature. Also make a schedule for the test by allocating yourself an amount of time per question.  Since your timing practice while giving yourself less time per question.

3. Have your material organized in binders for easy use.

4. Do a practice test under real test conditions and dont second guess yourself.  Since you have more time, do more than one.

5. Re read professional responsibility, the rules and the ethics parts of the practice material several time.  These are the questions I found came out the most.

 

Thanks! I already indexed with a group so I have that taken care of 

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One piece of advice I would give is to know the RPC inside and out! I found that when I was behind a minute or two per 10 questions (every 10 questions I looked at my time sheet), I made up for it when there was an ethics question. 

If you know the RPC materials well enough to at least make an educated guess for every ethics question, this will give you more time to spend either doing substantive questions or going back and re-checking your answers at the end.

Oh, and the $150 I spent on the Ontariolawexam practice exams was probably one of the best investments I ever made (do them specifically to practice using your index and timing)

Edited by Plinko
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2 hours ago, Plinko said:

One piece of advice I would give is to know the RPC inside and out! I found that when I was behind a minute or two per 10 questions (every 10 questions I looked at my time sheet), I made up for it when there was an ethics question. 

If you know the RPC materials well enough to at least make an educated guess for every ethics question, this will give you more time to spend either doing substantive questions or going back and re-checking your answers at the end.

Oh, and the $150 I spent on the Ontariolawexam practice exams was probably one of the best investments I ever made (do them specifically to practice using your index and timing)

It's been a while, but as far as I recall, the ethical questions all default to the most restrictive and conservative answer possible. Basically, as soon as anything at all happens that triggers an ethical concern, you need to resign from all files, inform your insurer that you may have committed professional misconduct, report yourself to the Law Society, and box up your computer for later use as evidence against you. Assume that's always true, and it's a useful guide.

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11 minutes ago, Diplock said:

It's been a while, but as far as I recall, the ethical questions all default to the most restrictive and conservative answer possible. Basically, as soon as anything at all happens that triggers an ethical concern, you need to resign from all files, inform your insurer that you may have committed professional misconduct, report yourself to the Law Society, and box up your computer for later use as evidence against you. Assume that's always true, and it's a useful guide.

That's pretty much how I felt, unless it was a very technical question the default answer always seemed to be confer with client or something similar. I felt comfortable with PR but I wish they actually sent an objective scoring to see where I went wrong

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19 minutes ago, hogwartslawyer said:

On another note, that scared shitless look the staples people get when you ask for 2000 pages to be printed lol

Damn, how much did that cost?!

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Add text from the Materials to iTunes as a 'spoken track' chapter by chapter. I didn't really have to 'read' my Materials... I just went about my day listening. I also sat the practice exams for both. I did an online test that provided me with an analysis of what sorts of questions I got wrong, a percent for each section and an explanation for the correct answer. I made notes summarizing my wrong answers that cross-referenced the location of the correct answer in the Materials. That wrong-answer summary (based on the practice test, one for each exam) helped me find around ten answers per exam. I don't remember what ten answers are worth but it could have made a significant difference. As soon as I read a question that was similar to one I had answered incorrectly on the practice, I used a sticker-tab, flagged it, proceeded to answer other, easier questions and then came back and looked to the wrong-answer summary. 

Triage the questions: I don't know if this was mentioned above, but... if a question is giving you any trouble, skip it and come back. This is something everyone who has ever taken the LSAT knows, but quite a large number of NCA candidates did not sit the LSAT so it's probably worth repeating.

Good luck.

 

 

Edit: I wrote both exams in June, passed both on the first attempt - somehow left the Solicitor 45-60 minutes early and still passed... 

 

Edited by Zarathustra
added info re: my bar results and advice for those who did not write the LSAT
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