Thursday, June 19, 2008

Making progress, I am.

I'm going to compare my studying this time to what happens to a Thanksgiving turkey after everyone has eaten and it's time to clean up the kitchen.

The first time everyone was sitting down to eat, you carved the nice big meaty parts of the bird because there was plenty to cut and it was easy to get to. This is equivalent to studying for the July 2007 exam for me. There was plenty to study and everything I picked up was useful because it was all fresh.

Back to Thanksgiving now... When the big eaters came around for second servings, you had to dig a little deeper and poke around a little more to find enough meat to satisfy these two-timers. This is me in February 2008. I had to make more of an effort to find study material that I hadn't already consumed on the first attempt.

And now, the holiday guests are leaving and you're trying to pick the bones clean because you know that if you don't send a little bit home with everyone, the leftovers are going in the freezer, never again to see the light of day. Well, this is me now. I'm picking at the bookshelf, digging into the corners, in an attempt to find resources that were hard to understand, or too difficult, or too cryptic, or too boring the first two times I hacked at that big ol' body of study material. But the difference now is that the stuff I'm finding is proving very useful. It's the foundational material that I assumed I had a good grasp on back in June of '07.

I'm pretty sure this stuff is the key to my success. I hope it is. Because if it's not, I'm going to have to start again with the turkey analogy. But this time I think I'll have to try something different. Maybe one of those Tofurkeys.

Or, maybe a nice ham. Yeah, that's the ticket!


Anonymous said...

Hey....don't knock the Tofurkeys...they are pretty good, and noone gets hurt.

legis said...

I must be at the bone marrow by this point. :-(

Kris said...


I've taken more bar exams than the entire Kennedy family.

I'm American with an English education and thought I'd have a go at the NY Bar. 3 close calls later, I realised that I needed to give myself the time to pass. (I am of a similar age to you and work full time)

I joined Gray's and got stuck in. I am pleased to say I was "published a Barrister" during the Trinity Call 2007.

It was a struggle to keep the mascara from streaming down my white bands.

Go for it and hunker down. The photo isn't of me - it's Roy Keane - and I've drawn alot of never say die inspiration from him.

With kindest regards and good luck!

Anonymous said...

lol, good story. GP: if you are out there--do you think that you can make a fundamental change in your writing in time for it to be second nature in the exam?

Why I ask this, is so many of these bar outfits are running seminars late--some into July and 2-3 weeks before the exam.

How do you practice to make what you have learned be part of your way of writing out the essays now?

Marsha said...

Good luck with your stamina and determination, Poobah!

I think I'm going to take another bar exam next February - and I noticed at the Separac (NY) website, he stresses that the MBE tests on "fine distinctions" among rules. I'm going to keep that in mind as I re-study the MBE topics.


CalBarNone said...

Good luck as well. AS you find the meat, how are you compiling it? Outlines ? Flashcards? Writing on your arm?

Anonymous said...

lol, calbarnone. Yes, GP, let us know your pearls of wisdom!!!

The Grand Poobah said...

FINE! Since you MUST know.

I'm not changing my strategy all that much because I seem to have little trouble finding the issues. The biggest change is that I'm make a conscious effort to do a proper analysis. I'm writing an expanded IRAC. At least, it's expanded to me. I'm doing more of an iRAFc. Instead of simply stating that Here, Because, Therefore, I saying Here, Because (and this is why), Therefore. It's intended to be a remedy for my tendency to get too fact oriented come exam time.

How am I compiling this stuff? Well... are you old enough to remember the wood burning sets that used to be sold as toys before the PC safety police stuck their noses into every aspect of American life? They were basically soldering irons for wood. I'm using the soldering iron part from my old wood burning kit to burn the new guidelines into my arms. And I'm writing them backwards so they read properly when viewed in a mirror. This way, when the proctors take a cursory look at my arms and ask what all the scarring is about, I just tell them I was the victim of an industrial accident and, yes, it's painful, but I'm not going to let it make me miss the exam. Then, during the exam, I'm going to pick the scabs off the burns, blot the blood from the open sores with scratch paper, then use my now readable guidelines to help me stay on track. Of course, you can't tell anyone or I'll be issued a Rule 12 violation.

James said...

i'm having some issues with issue spotting. i get the major ones, but miss a medium or minor issue in almost every essay. any constructive ideas to improve my issues with...issues? gp, you seem to be a good spotter, what's the secret?

also, has anyone taken the performance test/essay class with vivian dempsey? how is her method of performance exam taking any different than others? on her website it says she teaches how you can easily find the rules within the cases. any truth to this?

Anonymous said...


What I found that helpful was to use a checklist for each the checklist down on scratch and quickly determine whether the issue is being raised in the fact pattern. Sometimes the issues don't POP out at me, actually most times never, so this helps me cover most my bases. Hope this helps.

Another determined bar taker!

Anonymous said...

James: Here is a short exercise. Take a sheet of paper and draw a line down the middle. On one side write facts and the other side, write issue.

Go through one essay, read the call of the question (that will give you a big clue where the issues are going to be focused) then read the fact pattern to put it all in context.

Now go sentence by sentence in the fact pattern and write in the issue column what issue this fact points to.

For instance, it could be an element of a defense, a subelement to one of the major issue's elements, etc.

If the call of the question is about negligence, then the issues will be in that context. (maybe that one fact is about proximate cause, or assumption of the risk, whatever). Really push it.

Or take a sample answer from the CA Bar and sort of reverse engineer it. Compare the fact pattern to the sample answer. See how the specific facts played out in these little subissue discussions.

You will see that the facts trigger a discussion (maybe only a small one) for a certain issue, or subissue.