Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Multitasking and Bar Review, or the case for "Mini Essays"

If you are taking the Feb Bar Exam (or even if you are looking ahead to July), you might be wondering about the best ways to study. You might also be wondering about how to increase your studying without increasing your study hours. Remember, self care is important!

To this end, I present to you....."Mini Essays".  Mini essays are a very simple, yet effective, way to multitask while you study.

Step 1: Choose an MBE question that you got wrong. Or even one you got right, but are a bit uncertain as to WHY you got it right. Maybe you guessed, or were unsure of the answer. (On a side note, any MBE you get right, but feel like it was a lucky guess, or anything short of feeling 100% confident that you know why you were right, you should STILL review). 

Step 2: Eliminate the answer choices.

Step 3: Write an IRAC answer to the question. 

This should not take longer than 5-10 minutes, and your essay should not be more than half a page or so. Ideally, it's a paragraph.

This is effective because you are doing multiple things at once. First and foremost, you are mastering the law. If you are struggling with an MBE question because you don't remember the law, or you were unsure about how to apply it, writing it out (with your notes) is a great way to help remember and master that law. This is far more effective than simply reviewing or rewriting an outline.

Next, you are practicing your essay writing skills in a timed setting. This should feel less daunting than writing out full 30 minute essays. You can do these in 5 minutes! But, you are practicing writing out an analysis, as well as your time management and general writing skills. It's a win all around!

Finally, if you can write out an answer, and do it well, to a multiple choice question, chances are you going to get the answer right next time you see a similar question. 

Remember that you don't always need huge blocks of time to study. Many students get frustrated because they are working, or have family commitments, that prevent them from carving out hours at a time.  Mini Essays are a great way to fill those 5-10 minute blocks.

Finally, as you are almost halfway through bar review, keep in mind that it is a marathon, not a spring. Take care of yourself physically and mentally, and go into the exam with confidence!

(Melissa Hale)

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