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No Longer Bar-red

by muaddib at 03:03 AM on March 02, 2002

mg wrote me a couple of weeks ago to tell me he'd hooked me up to post on BS:TNG. But with the Bar Exam coming up soon, he didn't want me to take time off of studying to post at either site. In fact,, he said, if I find you posting on either the new or old bad samaritan in the next two weeks, I will disable your ability to login.

Who knew that being barred, at the risk of my much-loved - if infrequently used - privileges to post on bad samaritan, would make me want to so badly? I go days, even weeks, without thinking of a single BS-worthy topic. Sometimes I say screw it and post anyway. But, I guess I haven't finished growing up yet, because as soon as mg told me not to, I was itching to post every day.

So now that the Bar Exam is over and I've had a couple of days to recuperate, I thought I might as well tell you about it. Most states have two-day Bar Exams (they're three days in a few especially sadistic states like California and New York and, apparently, no Exam at all in Wisconsin for in-state graduates - a fact I didn't learn until much too late!). In Kentucky, where I live, the first day is all essay questions, the second is all multiple choice.

I like essay questions. Well, let me rephrase that: If I have to answer exam questions, I'd rather answer essay questions. The shotgun approach affords the opportunity to at least pick up partial credit for decent analysis or by throwing so many possible rules into the mix that one of them happens to be right. Not so with multiple choice - you either know the exception to the exception to the rule that the question requires or you don't. IOW, there's no room to bullshit one's way into a couple of points; it's all or nothing. Since I'm a pretty good bullshitter, I prefer essays.

Tuesday morning was a three-hour session of six Kentucky law essays. I won't bore you with the specifics, I'll just say that three were fairly easy, two were written so poorly they were almost incomprehensible (this happens every year), and on was a bit odd but not really hard. So I felt pretty good coming out of that set.

Then I got to the afternoon session: Six more essays in three hours, written by the National Conference of Bar Examiners. Technically there were seven, administered in every state that gave an exam that day, but each state chooses one to throw out. I have no idea why. Two of our six were easy, two challenging but amenable to bullshitting, and two so narrowly drawn that they might as well have been multiple choice - they were hard and were phrased in a way that left no room for me to bullshit my way into some points. I walked out of that set certain I'd failed.

Well, I can be somewhat anal-retentive (sometimes, when it's important), so I looked up the answers later. Turns out my wild leaping guesses weren't too far off the mark. I might actually pass. And, even better, it seems that a lot of people screwed up one of the ones I thought was moderately easy and got right. So I felt a bit better psychologically. Unfortunately, I was coming down with a nasty cold, and I was only half done.

The Multistate Exam is two three-hour sessions of 100 multiple choice questions each. As I alluded to before, these are not like the cheesy multiple choice questions the overworked TA in your 200-level English class wrote back in college. These ask things like, "Which of the following is LEAST wrong?" They're all wrong, but one's just more so, and you have to pick which. Legal multiple choice questions are a great way to test very fine points of law and the people that write them enjoy using footnotes from obscure treatises to come up with the finest possible points. Most aren't unreasonably hard if you've prepared, but some not even the professors that teach the stuff could get right.

The hardest part for me was maintaining my focus. I'd done hundreds of practice questions in the couple of weeks leading up to the Exam (and may I say that I have the best employer in the world: They let me spend all day every day since mid-February sitting in my office studying and doing practically no work at all and paid me just the same), and that helps. But somewhere around question 76, the eyes started crossing and the words stopped making any sense. They might as well have been written in Greek. It also didn't help that, in addition to the cold, I somehow got the chorus to "Octopus' Garden" by the Beatles stuck on continuous loop in my head a couple of hours into it.

But I survived. I probably even passed, though I won't know for seven more (very long) weeks. And I learned something, or, rather, relearned it: The Exam wasn't nearly as bad as I had expected. Things rarely are. But the eight weeks of having no life except review classes, studying, and stress leading up to it was much worse than I'd expected. I could definitely take a Bar Exam again, but I don't ever want to have to get ready for one again.

comments (6)

In junior high, I took a test for one of the best high schools in NY - it was 900 questions in three hours. I passed, and was asked back for a personal interview.

In high school, my biochemistry teacher used tests meant for med students. No one passed (really, it was impossible), but with the curve, I did very well.

I've never taken the bar exam, though my journalism law prof in college used questions from bar exams, and liked to make kids cry in class when they didn't know the answers. I got an A in that class.

Can you tell I really miss taking tests?

by mg at March 2, 2002 11:20 PM

Either that or that there's something very, very wrong with you.

by Muad'Dib at March 3, 2002 4:21 AM

I feel your pain. Texas does a two-day.

by Charles at March 4, 2002 1:53 AM

Really?? I heard it was three in Texas - and that one was required to learn Oil & Gas.

by Muad'Dib at March 4, 2002 2:20 PM

I'm proud of you man! You'll make a better attorney than most.

by Brent at March 4, 2002 9:27 PM

My two cents: You did great Dodd, not to worry!

by Pristine at March 5, 2002 10:17 PM

comments are closed