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First-time studying for February test while working

Posted: Thu Aug 24, 2017 10:24 am
by maxerab
Had major surgery and couldn't take the July bar exam. Studied for a while, but maybe got 20% of the way through my Barbri course before I was out of commission. I'm starting biglaw this fall, and I'm registered to take the February bar exam. Barbri online classes don't start until December, but I have the books and want to get a head start before work starts so I'm familiar with everything. Any advice on what to do? Run through the outlines and take notes? Anyone been in this spot before?

Re: First-time studying for February test while working

Posted: Thu Aug 24, 2017 10:31 am
by NonTradHealthLaw
I took two bars while working fulltime Biglaw. It's hard but doable. You can start early if you want to, though recognize that the real work won't begin until after the New Year. Set yourself a disciplined study schedule. Mine was as follows:

5am: Wake, grab coffee and play a lecture at 1.5-2x speed. Not really my learning style and I probably didn't gain much knowledge from doing this, but I didn't have the albatross hanging overhead of not keeping up with the daily requirements.
7am: Shower, get ready for work.
7:30am: Commute
8/8:30am: Butt in chair, start the day.
Lunch: Do 30 MBE questions
6pm: Leave the office.
7pm: Arrive home, heat up leftovers or eat cereal, study until 10/11pm.
Wash, rinse, repeat.

Weekend, catch up on everything, spend a few hours cooking food that can be heated up at nights. Lots of MBE questions.

Make sure your office knows that you are studying. Negotiate at least two weeks off before the bar (if possible) so you can just study. Be disciplined but listen to your body. It won't be fun, but it's in yours and the firm's best interest that you pass. You can make up your hours later. Don't get in your head. Don't feel sorry for yourself. Just keep plugging away.

Re: First-time studying for February test while working

Posted: Thu Aug 24, 2017 11:39 am
by maxerab
5am: Wake, grab coffee and play a lecture at 1.5-2x speed. Not really my learning style and I probably didn't gain much knowledge from doing this, but I didn't have the albatross hanging overhead of not keeping up with the daily requirements.
7am: Shower, get ready for work.
7:30am: Commute
8/8:30am: Butt in chair, start the day.
Lunch: Do 30 MBE questions
6pm: Leave the office.
7pm: Arrive home, heat up leftovers or eat cereal, study until 10/11pm.
Wash, rinse, repeat.


Not so bad, thanks. Did you study at all if you had downtime at the office? I'll be a first-year, and I've been told the hours take a while to pick up.

Re: First-time studying for February test while working

Posted: Thu Aug 24, 2017 11:45 am
by NonTradHealthLaw
Yes. If I was slow, I studied. But, that's probably an office- specific matter. It's also important to have face-time and social interactions so that when you are post-bar, the work starts flowing consistently. That's more of a practice pointer than a bar pointer, though, so proceed accordingly.

Re: First-time studying for February test while working

Posted: Thu Aug 24, 2017 12:12 pm
by dans1006
Honestly, I would just start doing MBE questions. You'll feel like an idiot because of how poorly you'll do at first but, then, when you go into deep study and review mode and you're going over the outlines, you'll be more inclined to associate the black letter law with various situational contexts. In essence, you'll read a line in the outline that might have seemed unimportant at first glance but, having missed a couple of questions based on that particular exception or distinction, you'll really key in on it.

That's just what I would do if I was doing it over. I took the bar while working too and found that stretching things out had its drawbacks. If you start too early, you'll end up deficient or revisiting the things you tackled first because there will be such a gap between the last time you focused on them.

Re: First-time studying for February test while working

Posted: Thu Aug 24, 2017 12:18 pm
by jdk
dans1006 wrote:If you start too early, you'll end up deficient or revisiting the things you tackled first because there will be such a gap between the last time you focused on them.


This is true, and it's the reason so many people struggle with subjects like property and contracts - it's been years since they've focused on them. If I were to put together an early study strategy it would involve going through those two areas specifically before the start of your actual review class schedule. Property and contracts pay big dividends on the bar.

Re: First-time studying for February test while working

Posted: Thu Aug 24, 2017 5:25 pm
by maxerab
Honestly, I would just start doing MBE questions.


Leaning toward doing that after going through the outlines. I guess I should save Barbri's materials for the class - any idea where to find good MBE question/explanation books that aren't Barbri?

Re: First-time studying for February test while working

Posted: Fri Aug 25, 2017 6:42 pm
by LockBox
maxerab wrote:
Honestly, I would just start doing MBE questions.


Leaning toward doing that after going through the outlines. I guess I should save Barbri's materials for the class - any idea where to find good MBE question/explanation books that aren't Barbri?


Do yourself a favor and just buy adaptibar and start on the questions.

Re: First-time studying for February test while working

Posted: Sat Aug 26, 2017 10:31 am
by LandEsquire
maxerab wrote:Had major surgery and couldn't take the July bar exam. Studied for a while, but maybe got 20% of the way through my Barbri course before I was out of commission. I'm starting biglaw this fall, and I'm registered to take the February bar exam. Barbri online classes don't start until December, but I have the books and want to get a head start before work starts so I'm familiar with everything. Any advice on what to do? Run through the outlines and take notes? Anyone been in this spot before?


I just did this. I had a little more flexibility because I run my own law firm, but I started the videos early. I knew that I would not be able to stay on Barbri's schedule, so I started the videos two or three weeks early and by the end the schedule caught up with me. Also, if I had to do it over (hopefully I don't), I would have done the released MBE questions for practice. Even if just 5 or 10 a day.

Re: First-time studying for February test while working

Posted: Sun Aug 27, 2017 10:20 pm
by maxerab
Thanks everybody - adaptibar is just what I'm looking for.

Re: First-time studying for February test while working

Posted: Mon Aug 28, 2017 4:34 pm
by ur_hero
I personally studied while working to retake the test. From December-January I studied mornings, nights, weekends, and during any down-time in the office. I used Themis the first time and had no issue with their materials, but did not follow the program the second-time around. Rather, I skimmed the outlines and focused on writing practice essays (a small minority graded by my tutor, and many many many many more just written or outlined as practice on my own) and doing ~1500 Adaptibar practice questions.

I also worked with an awesome tutor who reviewed/graded 3-4 essays and a PT each week with deadlines - really helped to keep me accountable even during busy times at work. Took off the last 3 weeks before the exam to grind and solidify everything and HIGHLY recommend you do this.

It's really totally do-able, especially if the Partner's you work with are (1) aware of and (2) understanding of your situation. Just be very open about it, so no false assumptions are made about your work ethic or anything.

Re: First-time studying for February test while working

Posted: Mon Aug 28, 2017 4:46 pm
by ur_hero
LockBox wrote:
maxerab wrote:
Honestly, I would just start doing MBE questions.


Leaning toward doing that after going through the outlines. I guess I should save Barbri's materials for the class - any idea where to find good MBE question/explanation books that aren't Barbri?


Do yourself a favor and just buy adaptibar and start on the questions.


Also gotta strongly second this. I believe that most people will learn way more from doing questions and reviewing the answer explanations than from reading your outline. It is somewhat helpful, especially if you have a good memory (this is the case for me) but I still think you will get more mileage out of practicing regardless. In my opinion, a large portion of doing well on the MBE is recognizing patterns in the questions for each particular subject and this comes from a critical review, analysis and answering of a high-volume of questions (the same can be said of the essays as well). Yes, quality of quantity - but you should have done enough to be comfortable with timely finishing a 3 hour MBE session and churning out an essay without too much thought.

Consult the outline as you go generally if you just don't recall/understand an area of the law. When you're starting, I would also not bother paying attention to how much time you spend on each question - just make sure you're learning and understanding everything.

Lastly, as a forewarning, Adaptibar explanations aren't always the best and sometimes even suck, but usually it's enough to at least make you get why the right answer is right. If not, again you've got your outlines to then review.

Re: First-time studying for February test while working

Posted: Mon Aug 28, 2017 4:56 pm
by Damage Over Time
Yeah I spun my wheels for about 3-4 weeks "studying" by watching lectures. I should've just skipped this entirely, pretty sure my performance on MBE actually went down after spending weeks just watching lecturers drone on and taking mindless notes

Re: First-time studying for February test while working

Posted: Mon Aug 28, 2017 9:09 pm
by CAnow
I listened to the lectures while at the office. It was a good way to get a lot of studying done while working, although I wouldn't consider it a full 8 hours of studying since your mind won't always be focused on the lectures, but you will pick up some things here & there that will be reinforced when you do practice questions after work. Avoid the accompanying handouts, as that will just tempt you to fill in the blanks and distract you from your work. Also, as someone said before, make sure your co-workers know and understand your situation.

Re: First-time studying for February test while working

Posted: Thu Aug 31, 2017 2:32 am
by nada123
In the same situation, thinking of starting on the adaptibar questions now but would like to know if the adaptibar questions are 1 attempt only or unlimited?

Re: First-time studying for February test while working

Posted: Thu Aug 31, 2017 1:24 pm
by SilvermanBarPrep
Very much recommend a read-through of your outlines. Try to get a big picture understanding of these subjects that you will later be required to study in detail. There is less stress now, and I wouldn't even bother with MBE question or practice essays. Just read through the outlines, and set yourself up so that when it comes time to really dig in you won't be seeing the material for the first time.

Sean (Silverman Bar Exam Tutoring)

Re: First-time studying for February test while working

Posted: Thu Aug 31, 2017 2:35 pm
by LockBox
nada123 wrote:In the same situation, thinking of starting on the adaptibar questions now but would like to know if the adaptibar questions are 1 attempt only or unlimited?


They're unlimited and you see what you answered previously (after answering again).

Re: First-time studying for February test while working

Posted: Tue Sep 19, 2017 6:32 am
by hockeyman969
I worked full time, am a single parent, and passed the Florida Bar.

Personally, my routine was highly disciplined starting on April 1. It was lectures, MBE Questions, more MBE questions then sleep including binge watching and absorbing lectures.

At strategic stopping points, I would work my rear off to condense subject outlines to less than 20 pages then write essays cold to see where I am with each topic.

I finished the course about a month ahead and worked up until 5 days before Florida.

I did not sacrifice my life or ruin my child's summer as we were still able to go to all of the local fairs and down to the boardwalk 3 times.

I've passed studying full time and working full time. It's about working smarter, not harder. The biggest adjustment is being disciplined about making your outlines as you go...then again I worked full time and went to school nights.

Re: First-time studying for February test while working

Posted: Tue Sep 19, 2017 3:24 pm
by cnk1220
maxerab wrote:Had major surgery and couldn't take the July bar exam. Studied for a while, but maybe got 20% of the way through my Barbri course before I was out of commission. I'm starting biglaw this fall, and I'm registered to take the February bar exam. Barbri online classes don't start until December, but I have the books and want to get a head start before work starts so I'm familiar with everything. Any advice on what to do? Run through the outlines and take notes? Anyone been in this spot before?



I did the Feb. exam (2017) for my first bar- had something happen where I couldn't take july in 2016 and withdrew. I wasn't working full-time so it may be a little diff. for you but I began in oct. with barbri's CMR and just did an overview (highlighted, notes in margins, etc.) as I went through to get familiar with everything- then I started practicing MBE questions in nov. with emmanual's mbe book and barbri's early start practice mbe Qs you should have access to those soon if you don't already. When the barbri program began in dec. I was already well into mbe prep so I was routinely doing adaptibar mbe questions, barbri's mbe questions in the practice book, and using barbri's essay book (I did not listen to any lectures- but I'm also not a audio learner). Hope this helps! If you start now you can pace yourself and not get (as) overwhelmed come Dec/Jan/Feb.

Re: First-time studying for February test while working

Posted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 8:16 am
by maxerab
Update! I'm about 800 questions deep in Adaptibar and have outlined the MBE and state subjects using the Barbri books. The Barbri online class just opened up, and I've started blasting through the lectures on 2x speed. Work has picked up, and I'm only finding 3-4 hours a day to study. Anyone else cosign cnk's notion that the Barbri lectures aren't really necessary? What're you other first-time Feb takers doing?

Re: First-time studying for February test while working

Posted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 10:41 am
by notDINGBAT
maxerab wrote:Update! I'm about 800 questions deep in Adaptibar and have outlined the MBE and state subjects using the Barbri books. The Barbri online class just opened up, and I've started blasting through the lectures on 2x speed. Work has picked up, and I'm only finding 3-4 hours a day to study. Anyone else cosign cnk's notion that the Barbri lectures aren't really necessary? What're you other first-time Feb takers doing?


You've probably already put more work into it than I did.
I maybe did half the lectures, if even, but I don't recommend skipping them. You'll never know when you come across that one rule you're not familiar with, or worse, understood incorrectly.

Also, for most of the past decade, MBE scores have trended upward while pass rate has trended down. Make sure you spend enough time on essays - it's a different skill set.

Re: First-time studying for February test while working

Posted: Wed Dec 13, 2017 6:32 pm
by RCinDNA
maxerab wrote:Update! I'm about 800 questions deep in Adaptibar and have outlined the MBE and state subjects using the Barbri books. The Barbri online class just opened up, and I've started blasting through the lectures on 2x speed. Work has picked up, and I'm only finding 3-4 hours a day to study. Anyone else cosign cnk's notion that the Barbri lectures aren't really necessary? What're you other first-time Feb takers doing?


I totally cosign that notion. But FWIW cnk said they were not an audio learner. In my case, I think the only reason I got so close to passing was that I stopped listening to lectures and basically re-read outlines and did a lot of real MBE questions.

Re: First-time studying for February test while working

Posted: Wed Dec 13, 2017 6:44 pm
by pancakes3
lectures aren't necessary at all. for MBE, just do practice questions (and flagging and reviewing your wrong answers). for essays, read model answers and look at how they wrote it and do your best to emulate them. if you're totally lost on the BLL or can't track how the facts apply to the law, review the conviser as necessary.