If you are reading this post, you are probably either related to me in some way (Hi, Mom!) or you are still religiously studying for the Bar Exam and about -THIS- close to a breakdown. If the latter applies to you, NEVER FEAR. Legally Katie is here!
I have had several people reach out to me about the dreaded Texas Essays portion of the Bar Exam. While there definitely wasn’t an easy day of the Bar, the third day was the longest BY FAR, for me. Hopefully, however, by using the Legally Katie Study Guides, you will feel totally prepared by the time July 26 rolls around!
Earlier this week I posted my MBE Study Guides that provided about one page of study-worthy information per subject tested on the MBE – Day Two of the Bar, for those of you still waking up. 😉 If you haven’t done so already, please check those out and start working with the material ASAP. They are on sale for $10 each or $50 for a set of six, but only for a few more days!! The first few purchasers have reported only good things so don’t miss out on a few valuable points!
Next week I will be adding a super hot commodity – Texas Essays Breakdowns. These bad boys will detail the questions most likely to be asked on the bar exam and how to answer them. They will be INVALUABLE. I have previously mentioned that I used these exact study guides/methods for my own bar and I was able to predict every subject’s topic, save for one, AND I knew how to get every single point possible. If you want that to be you… Pop back over in about 4-5 days and see what I have!
Today’s post is going to be a little longer than the last few (plz see above, and how many topics I have already mentioned lol), but I truly believe it can make a HUGE difference on how you test – so stick with me. It’ll be worth it.
Unless you have been studying under a rock, you know that there twelve (12) Texas Essays on the Bar. Six (6) for the morning and six (6) in the afternoon. You won’t know what order the essays will be given in, but they are always given in the following pairs:
- UCC (Contracts – unlikely; Secured; Commercial Paper)
- Wills & Estates
- Trusts/Guardianships & Consumer (DTPA typically)
- Real Prop (including one oil & gas)
- Family Law
- Business Associations
If your BLE Examiners (test writers) happen to be a special kind of crazy, you may have a question or two that don’t seem to fit the pattern. Check out Question 6 from February 2018’s exam. I work through tests backwards, so this little doozy was the first essay I saw that morning. If you’re like me, at this point you’re like… “Seriously, what the heck? I have studied my ass off and you’re throwing me this mess?!”
Luckily, by keeping in mind the pairs of essay questions, I was able to (somewhat) deduce that the question wasn’t about the corporation (who makes a hotdog corporation anyway?!) or land investments. It was a straight up Family Law question, asking who was getting what when the divorce dust settled. Was I able to understand that question quickly? Nope. Not at all. But eventually it dawned on me that while I was freaking the HECK out, the BLE is nothing but predictable.
That’s how I am able to give you the information I will be over the next few days. They are human. They follow patterns. You know that prof you had that everyone loved to hate on because he made zero sense while lecturing, but who gave you a million and one practice exams and opportunities to meet with him? Yeah. That’s the BLE Examiners.
Next Tuesday I will be focusing on the patterns of specific examiners, telling you who to watch out for and helping you better guess the topics covered. Today, I have two gifts for you! First, I have two charts I created to show the frequency of topics covered for the two essay pairs that include three subjects (UCC and Trusts/Guardianships). Commercial Paper was the only Bar-related course I didn’t take in law school, so those questions are labeled by topic within the subject. This was the only subject topic I guessed incorrectly about – partially because I didn’t know enough about the topic lol. Testing Frequency was vital to my study habits, and should be to yours as well.
The second gift I have for you is how I studied for the essays themselves. Without a commercial prep course, I was more than a little freaked out about what to do for these essays. After speaking to some amazing mentors, I summed the whole experience down to one sentence: Bullsh*tting is a lawyer skill. You may be like what??? But here’s the thing, the BLE Examiners are smart people, some of the top in their area of practice. The questions they ask may have hidden principles and weird nuances but guess what, you don’t have to recognize those. All you have to do is memorize straight law.
By this point in your career, you should know how to apply a statute or case law. Let’s say we are discussing a Family Law question, for example. What is practically the only Family Law rule you need to know? Everything done must be in the best interest of the child. So let’s say the question is totally random (see the hotdog corporation question again!!!!), and you have no FREAKING clue what you are going to write… I give you, “bullsh*tting is a lawyer skill.”
Take the one little piece of knowledge you have, no matter how small, and apply it to SOMETHING. Oh, the father of the child likes to gamble away his money the first day he is paid? Well, in the best interests of the child, this would be improper because baby’s gotta eat! Mom wants to bring little Timmy around her new friends at the biker bar down the street? I am not sure which rule the court applies to for biker bars, but I could guess that it wouldn’t be in the best interest of the child that he hangs around a bunch of booze at 5 years old.
It’s silly, but this is seriously how the BLE works. You don’t even have to know a specific rule to make this tip work. Let’s say you are like me and didn’t take Commercial Paper and get to the essay and are like…. wth. I didn’t know much about claims against a Bank, BUT I did know some ideals the Texas UCC follows and I knew some stuff about protecting consumers and and and… So do you know what I did? I swear on all things good and holy, I flat out made up rules to apply to the facts. Now, would I suggest doing this for every essay? Heck no. But would I suggest doing that when it’s the day of, your brain is exhausted and you can’t remember WHAT TWO THINGS MAKE A CONTRACT?!?!!?!? Yes. Yes, I would.
If you haven’t learned how to bullsh*t by now, you may not be in the right profession. Take what you know, even if it doesn’t seem relevant, make something up, and RUN WITH IT. Yeah, you may not get all the points that Mr. Commercialé Paperé makes, but who cares? You will get all the points for application and a solid amount for the structure of your answer and that’s what matters. Every little point counts, so get them where you can.
I am sure if you have been to any kind of Bar Prep course etc., you have been drilled over the correct format of your answers to the Essay questions (Hello: Under, Here, Therefore!). I followed this format and seemed to do alright, so I fully endorse this decision. One tip I learned along my studying journey, was to always include the title of the appropriate code book. For some reason, Examiners eat this up and have been known to give *extra* points for something as simple as saying, “Under the Texas UCC.” Go get those suckers!
For me, application was the easiest way to study for this portion of the exam. I knew a lot of general rules so I practiced bullsh*tting. I created this Essay Template from a similar version I was given in a lecture, and used this to drill essay rules and structure. I realized that even if I could predict specific topics (see next post!), I couldn’t predict every single rule application, so this was the best way I figured out to help boost my score in whatever subject.
There is a lot to be said about practicing the timing of every portion of the Bar Exam. I did plenty of timed tests and full-out practice essays, but when it came to figuring out WTH the examiners wanted, using this template was the best thing I found. I also appreciated the mobility of the template. I could pull up past examines online and type quick answers on my computer, or I could print out a few examples and take them on the road or to the gym. With so much information, making every second count is KEY (See: Hedge Your Bets).
Don’t be floundering this time next month. Get started on the “little things” know and keep trekking.
As I mentioned at the beginning of my post, the MBE Study Guides will not be on sale for much longer so grab yours while they are still only $10.
I also have private, remote, tutoring available for $20 an hour. This time can be used for a specific topic or subject, general study questions, anything you’ve seen on the blog, or anything else!
Next week, I will have the Texas Essays Study Guides, complete with the most frequently covered topics, the relevant rules, and insight on how to best prepare for each subject.
If you haven’t already, please go LIKE my page on Facebook and spread the word to your fellow bar takers. You don’t want to miss out on the big things coming up!!