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Rob McGee

We’re Done with the Bar Exam

The first rule of the bar exam is you don’t talk about the test after the test.
The second rule of the bar exam is you don’t talk about the test after the test.

Having said that, Rob and I are done with the California Bar Exam.
We gave it our all. We feel good about what we did. We hope it’s enough.
We’ll find out in about 4 months.

Reminder: Rob-tastic and I teamed up with Barbri to document and share our stories from studying for the July 2017 California Bar Exam.

Off to Ontario!

Last Minute Studying
We flew into Ontario, California on Sunday afternoon. We spent Sunday afternoon and most of Monday alternating between meals and studying – reviewing our notes one last time. On Monday, we also took a walk over to the Ontario Convention Center so we’d know where we needed to be on Tuesday.

I didn’t study at all on Tuesday morning. I didn’t want to freak myself out heading into the test. Either we knew it, or we didn’t, and I was surprised by how many people brought notes to breakfast.

Last few hours of studying

California vs Arizona Bar Exams
We’re not discussing the contents of the bar exam. (I was annoyed with anyone who talked about the test after the test.) While we were waiting to go in for the second session on the first day, people were talking about the exam, and I muttered, “No no no no no…talk about puppies, clowns, or anything” to Rob who obliged me.

Thousands of people took the California Bar Exam at our testing center. Rob and I couldn’t figure out how testing numbers were assigned. We were seated a row apart even though our last names are half the alphabet away from each other. It was nice to give each other a high five before each session.

Unlike Arizona, we did not have to be wanded down before we walked into the testing room, and we were required to bring our own writing implements. We could also bring in pillows, lumbar support cushions, and foot rests if we so desired on the essay day. (Yes, we saw a handful of people walk in with pillows.)

Celebratory beverages: IPA for Rob, club soda for me

One-Day Test for Me
I’m so grateful I only had to take the essay portion of this bar exam. Those of us taking the one-day test had a green dot on our name tags and at our assigned seats. There were a handful of us near my assigned seat. I saw at least four green dot seats where the person didn’t show up. We wondered what would make someone sign up for the bar exam and then back out. I hope none of them were in a car accident on the way to the test. Rob and I couldn’t fathom the idea of signing up and not seeing this through.

Glad to be Done
It feels great to be done. We’re looking forward to going home, seeing our friends, and doing the things that we haven’t had a chance to do since early May.

We’ll check in again to let you know how life after bar prep is going, and probably not again until after we get results. Of course, I’ll keep writing about thoughts and activities in my life here on The Undeniable Ruth.

Positive Thoughts for Bar Exam Domination

During my first week of studying for the California Bar Exam with Barbri, I went to a valuable seminar called The Zen of Passing the Bar Exam taught by Chad Noreuil.

Reminder: Rob-tastic and I teamed up with Barbri to document and share our stories from studying for the July 2017 California Bar Exam. Back to the story . . .

Noreuil’s pretty awesome. He’s a Barbri instructor (Criminal Law and Procedure), and he teaches legal writing at Arizona State University. I had the privilege of taking his class my 1L year.

I should have asked Noreuil to take a selfie with me.

Lessons from The Zen of Passing the Bar Exam
Since Noreuil wrote the book, The Zen of Passing the Bar Exam, I figured this seminar would be a good way to prime my brain for the marathon of bar studying – and it was! He shared three lists of top ten tips: for bar exam essays, for the MBE (multiple choice), and for the MPT (performance test). While this information is useful, the best advice I got at this seminar came from his reminders about how humans get their energy. We can get energy from four sources:

  1. Diet – food is fuel.
  2. Exercise – simple walking or stretching makes a difference.
  3. Sleep.
  4. Thoughts – even if you have bad diet, exercise habits, and sleep, your thoughts can carry you through challenges.

One of the biggest challenges I have during bar prep is managing stress. Noreuil reminded us that it takes discipline to keep out negative thoughts. Whenever I start feeling stressed about studying, I force myself to take a deep breath, sit up tall and confidently think, “I’m going to kick this bar’s ass.” I’m also trying to avoid negative energy – including listening to the news too much and sad or degrading music. Happy ’80’s dance music is my friend right now.

Setting up the coffee at Castle Carter before bed.

Decreasing Caffeine
You might think I’d be increasing my caffeine these days, but here’s another take-away I got from this seminar: caffeine has a six-hour half-life, and if you have more than 15mg of caffeine in your system, it can prevent deep REM sleep. I immediately started crunching the numbers on my coffee habit. I usually drink two or three cups (200-300mg) a day. (I also have a history with insomnia.)

Let’s do the math: If I drink 250mg of caffeine by 6am, I’ll have 125mg in my system at noon, 63mg at 6pm, and 32mg at midnight. My levels won’t drop low enough to achieve deep REM sleep until the next morning when I’m up again and already re-caffeinating.

After this seminar, I completely changed my caffeine intake. Each morning, I pour myself 8oz of coffee (using a measuring cup), add 6oz of cashew milk, and a spoonful of sugar. Since making this change, it’s been easier to fall asleep, stay asleep most of the night, and I don’t have any more problems than usual feeling alert during the day.

Where’s Rob?
No, that this Rob, our Rob. As far as I know, Rob-tastic is at the INTA conference in Barcelona. I sent him a note asking how things were going and I didn’t hear back – but I know he has a full schedule there, and he’s allegedly been in contact with some of our co-workers about client cases. If he doesn’t resurface in Budapest next week, then I’ll worry.