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Arizona Bar Exam

Unsolicited Advice: Don’t Open Your MBE Score

This was my actual MBE score, still in its envelope. I did not open until after I found out I passed the bar exam.

It’s been about a month since the February 2012 Bar Exam. That means some people will be getting their multistate bar exam (MBE) results in the mail soon. My advice is do not open this envelope!

The MBE is the multiple choice section of the bar exam. Each state determines how much weight it will give to the multiple choice, essay, and performance test sections of their bar exam. In Arizona, the MBE counts for 50% of your score. It is still possible to fail the bar exam regardless of your MBE score. For some, learning that their score was above average on the MBE allows them to breathe a sigh of relief.

Arizona sends out MBE scores 5 weeks after the bar exam and posts the list of who passed 10 weeks after the bar exam. Do you want to find out that you’re in the lower half and have to wait another 5 weeks to see if your essay and performance test scores are high enough to give you a passing score?

If you get your MBE score before you find out if you passed the bar, I recommend that you take the unopened envelope, shove it in a drawer, and forget about it. That’s what I did, and I was a lot less stressed as a result. Opening the envelope would have increased my anxiety because it would have made me think more about my bar results and would have freaked me out if I was below the average.

My job was done when I turned my test in. There was nothing more I could do. Thinking about the results was not going to change anything.  After I learned I passed the bar, I did open my MBE envelope and saw that I performed above average. I still think I was less stressed and detached by not knowing any part of my score in advance. (I generally don’t talk about grades, but I thought I’d pre-answer this question.)

Making the commitment not to open my score was probably easier for me than most people because I didn’t look at my law school grades for my last 2.5 years of law school. I still don’t know how I did in law school except that I passed every class.

I made an offer to a friend of mine today who took the February Bar Exam. I told her if she didn’t want to see her MBE score when it arrives and she didn’t trust herself not to open it, she could give it to me and I would hold onto it for her.

I’d like to extend that offer to anyone who took the February 2012 Bar Exam or who is taking the July 2012 Bar Exam. If you don’t want to see your MBE score, but you don’t trust yourself to resist the temptation to look, feel free to give or send it to me. I will hold onto it for you until you tell me to return it. Send me an email if you’re interested.

Undeniable Recap of 2011

It’s been quite an eventful busy year. Thank you to all my family and friends who supported me through this year, even during my moments of pure stressed out insanity. Here are my top five events and experiences of 2011.

Photo by AJ Grucky

  1. I Passed The Bar! The process of graduating from law school, studying for, taking, and passing the Arizona Bar Exam and the process of applying and being admitted to the State Bar of Arizona took about 7 months of my year. It was exceptionally stressful – easily the hardest thing I’ve done in my professional life. It was a huge relief when I learned that I passed the Bar and Character and Fitness.
  2. Personal Record at the Half Marathon Injuries prevented me from training the way I would have liked for the 2011 Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in Arizona. Despite being in pain starting at mile 2, I had the same rule for this race as my previous half marathon – no stopping or walking. Around mile 9, I realized that I was close to being on pace for a personal record, so I kicked my speed and finished 3 minutes faster than the previous year.  I was in so much pain by the end of the race, but it was an incredible lesson in determination.
  3. Sponsor A Law Kid I succeeded in getting my blog sponsored for 46 days during the beginning of the year to offset the cost of my last semester of law school. It was a challenge to create quality content every day and to face the backlash from some members of the legal community. I love that I was able to do this. My only regret is not doing it sooner.
  4. I Wish Your Wish One of the most powerful experiences this year was attending Rivane Neuenschwander’s I Wish Your Wish exhibit. It took me down to my core level and connected me with what I want for my life. For over two months, I had a pink ribbon tied around my wrist that said “I Wish To Die With No Regrets.”
  5. Photo by Jamey Peachy

    Big Brain Award Nomination I was shocked and overjoyed when I learned that I was nominated for a New Times Big Brain Award for my work behind the scenes with Improv AZ, the flash mob/prank troupe I co-founded in Phoenix. Ever since I expressed interest in flash mob law, I questioned whether it was a viable area of law. Just being nominated validated my professional aspirations and showed me that there is a need for the work I’m interested in.

 

Celebrity Encounters in 2011:

 

Firsts in 2011:

I Passed!!!

The wait is finally over – I Passed The Arizona Bar Exam!!!

I was pretty nervous for the week before the Arizona Bar scores were posted. I’ve already made the decision to open my own law firm, so not passing the Bar would have put a severe kink in that plan. Reminding myself that there’s nothing I could do to change the outcome calmed my fears a bit, but I constantly had the what-ifs running through my head.

The Arizona Courts website told us that scores would be posted at 4:45pm on Friday, October 7th. I do contract work with a lawyer, and I had a meeting with her and a client that day. I watched the web all day hoping that the State would post results early. When that didn’t happen, I had a friend watch the website for me while I was in my meeting. My meeting ended at 4:30. My friend called me while I was on the road home to tell me that I passed. I was so relieved.

When I tell people that I passed the Bar, a lot of them say, “I had no doubt.” I appreciate their confidence in my abilities, but I wasn’t going to relax until the pass list was posted. While I was studying for the Bar and while I was waiting for my score, I took comfort in a story about someone who mismanaged their time during the test and had to leave an entire essay question blank, and he still passed. However, there are really smart people who don’t pass the Bar. Only 434 of the 612 people who took the Bar Exam in Arizona passed it, which means 178 didn’t, including at least three of my classmates – and all them are wicked smart.

(cc) Rob Boudon on Flickr

And in case you were wondering, once I saw that I passed the bar, I opened my MBE score. If I had opened my MBE score when it arrived, I would have felt good about my results. Despite everything I know after the fact, I think it was the right choice to not open my MBE score when it arrived. The stress I would have felt if I wasn’t happy with my score would have been terrible. It was better to know nothing than to risk making my stress level worse.

So what’s next? I wait for the Character and Fitness Committee to approve my application. I hope to be sworn in to the Arizona Bar by the end of the year.

Thank you to everyone who supported me for the last four years. Your love, guidance, patience, and ice cream have helped me tremendously.

Congratulations to my friends who have passed the bar so far and special congrats to my classmates Melissa Bogden and Emily Gildar for getting the second and third highest scores on the 2011 Arizona July Bar Exam!

Recap of the July 2011 Arizona Bar Exam

I survived the July 2011 Arizona Bar Exam!   I never want to do that again.  I’m grateful for the love and support of my family, friends, and professional mentors during this time.  I wanted to share my top 5 tips of what I’m glad I knew or wish I knew going into the test.

  1. An assortment of Jolly Rancher candies

    Image via Wikipedia

    Eat a Filling Breakfast: We had to be at the convention center at 6:45am on Day 1 of the test and we weren’t going to break for lunch until 12pm.  In the week before the exam I did a breakfast experiment and found that oatmeal made with ½ cup water, ½ cup milk, raisins, sliced almonds, and brown sugar kept me full all morning.  I was so nervous on both mornings of the test that it was hard to force myself to eat, but I knew that would be better than getting half way through the morning and being starving.

  2. Sleep:  I’ve heard it takes the body 2 days to feel tired after a bad night of sleep so the night that really mattered was 2 days before the test.  I often have insomnia, especially when I’m nervous.  I took a sleeping pill 2 nights before the test to ensure that my body and brain would get adequate rest.
  3. Take the Free LunchASU did a very cool thing and provided lunch for us during the bar exam.  It was nice not having to worry about getting lunch in just over an hour and having to deal with the general public.  ASU even humored a superstition that many people in my class have and provided Jolly Ranchers for us.  It was also nice to see some friendly faces from the school.
  4. Prepare for Arctic Conditions:  When the Arizona Bar Exam is in Phoenix, it’s held at the convention center, and it’s freeeeezing.  I heard about this and wore jeans, a t-shirt, and a sweatshirt on Day 1.  By lunch, my lips were blue and I couldn’t feel the tips of my fingers.  I asked a proctor if we could raise the temperature in the room and she dismissed my request saying that “It’s always this cold.”  For Day 2, I wore a thicker fleece and I was more comfortable, thought by the end of the day, my feet had started to go numb.  I should have brought an extra long-sleeved shirt, fingerless gloves, and a lap blanket.
  5. Do What Works For You:  When I’m running in a race and being passed by other people, I often remind myself that I need to run at my pace.  The same idea works for the bar exam.  It didn’t matter how fast or slow the people around me were going.  There was no need for me to freak out when someone finished and walked out of the room with an hour left on the clock.  All that mattered was that I was thinking clearly and answering the questions to the best of my abilities, and ultimately passing.
Standardized Test

Image by biologycorner via Flickr

I gave it my all on this test.  When I walked out, I had no brain power left.  Since the test, I have been sleeping a lot and slowly been regaining my cognitive functions.  I’m glad that I’m spending my first week after the test on vacation where I don’t have to see anything related to law school or the bar exam.

To the loved ones of people taking the bar exam:  The best thing my family did for me during my bar prep was to give me space.  From the time I graduated until the bar exam, my family never called me.  I occasionally called them to let them know I was alive.  They knew to leave me alone and let me do what I needed to do.

I need to give a special shout out to the woman who went into labor during Day 2 of the New Jersey Bar Exam.  She calmly finished her exam, walked across the street to the hospital, and delivered a healthy baby boy 2 hours later.  You are a phenomenal person.  I hope the labor pains didn’t interfere with your ability to pass the test!

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Guidelines for Studying for the Bar Exam

Today is my first day of BarBri class.  For the next 10 weeks, I will be on a regimented schedule of going to class and studying as I prepare for the Arizona Bar Exam.  Thankfully, I am a person who thrives in structure, so being on a strict schedule should work well for me.  I have been thinking about what guidelines will apply to my life during Bar prep.

  1. A Student of the University of British Columbi...

    Image via Wikipedia

    Stick to the BarBri schedule – go to class every day and study for a total of 8 hours a day, 7 days a week.  It’s better to be over-prepared than under-prepared.

  2. Use study techniques that work for me: class, outlines, and flash cards.
  3. Everyone is banned from the house unless they have an invitation.
  4. Do 30 minutes of walking, jogging, swimming, biking, or yoga every day.
  5. Eat a balanced diet – lots of fresh fruit, veggies, and protein; minimal sugar; & plenty of water.
  6. Get at least 7 hours of sleep every night.
  7. Avoid people and places that bring excessive drama to my life.
  8. No TV except for my weekly indulgences of House and Deadliest Catch.
  9. When I’m studying, I cannot have my cell phone where I can see or hear it.
  10. When I’m outlining on the computer, stay off of email, Facebook, and Twitter.
  11. If I realize that I’m just staring at my books without doing any productive work, STOP and take a break.
  12. The default response to any invitation to social events until the Bar is “No;” however there must be the occasional fun event to maintain my sanity.

I’ve spent the last few days getting the house in order so that I will have as few distractions as possible while I’m studying.  I have also been reading Chad Noreuil’s The Arizona Bar Exam: Pass It Now.  I’m grateful that my family and friends are being supportive of me and my process.  One of my friends has already put me on notice that if I’m too non-responsive to the point that he worries that I’m getting unbalanced, that he’ll stage a raid.  I doubt that will be necessary but it’s good to know that people care about me enough that they would be willing to do that.

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