Wednesday, June 16, 2021
Today AccessLex put on a great webinar, as part of their AccessLex Summer Webinar Series, about Bar Success. Sara Berman, of AccessLex, moderated a fantastic panel about bar success and early intervention. Some panelists included Afton Cavanaugh of St. Mary’s and Nicole Lefton of Hofstra.
Nicole mentioned that she found, in her data, that students that completed at least 80% of the bar prep program each week were most successful, and passed at a much higher rate. This has been consistent with my findings as well. This came right on the heels of seeing an email in the Academic Support Google group about “catching up” in bar review, and how to advise students. I’m also constantly seeing students on twitter ask about how much of bar prep they REALLY need to complete.
So here is my advice. To my colleagues AND to students. First and foremost, I absolutely agree that the greater percentage of your BarBri/Themis/Kaplan course that you complete, the better. The more you completely, the more likely you are to pass. But students are not statistics, and everyone is a bit different. Afton even ended his presentation with the hope that we remember that they are human beings that sit across from us, not data points. This is absolutely true! It should also be noted that there are always variations in this data. But, we ALL agree that practice makes progress. Not PERFECT – there is no perfect, and you don’t need perfect. But practice does make PROGRESS. So having said this, how do you “catch up?”
First, stop thinning of it as “catching up” and realize that it’s about making progress. Nicole mentioned that it wasn’t just 80% that did the trick, but rather a CONSTANT 80% over the weeks. So, no cramming at the end! But don’t give yourself the pressure of “catching up “ – work forward and do what you can!
Second, prioritize practice. Practice essays. Practice MBE. Practice MPT. Make sure you are doing something active. Yes, you need to learn the law – so videos, and taking notes, IS important – but you should really make active practice your number 1 priority. This means making perfect flashcards, or outlines, or “reviewing” premade outlines over and over again, are not as effective as writing essays. I even suggest that you write some essays as open note, because THAT is active review. You ca also turn multiple choice questions into “mini essays” by taking off the answer choices, and writing a paragraph long “essay.” Do this with open notes and it will help you remember the law, work on your essay skills, AND help you with multiple choice questions in general. So, even though they aren’t “assigned”, they are a great way to review law in an active way.
As a side note, there were fantastic conversations about how we, as various schools, can work together. Obviously this sometimes creates various challenges, but there are things we can do, especially in regards to advocacy.