Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Starting to Click - Too Late?

I feel like I'm starting to click on this law study thing. Read the topic outline; rewrite it, slowly, in my own words, memorizing as I go; do some practice multiple choice questions; do a practice essay; accept mediocrity; move on to the next topic. I have now plowed through some approximation of the above method with: Consitutional Law, Contracts, Sales (UCC Article 2), Torts, Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, Real Property, and Evidence. These are all eight of the topics covered on the national six-hour multiple choice exam (the MBE).

I don't yet know more than 1 or two of them well enough to pass, not by any means -- but at least I've been over them once through, and nothing besides the Real Property rules is completely unfamiliar. True, I never took criminal procedure or evidence courses in law school either, but I worked for eighteen months in a federal trial court, so I have a good feel for how those rules play out, even if I have not yet memorized all the details that never come up in practice.

I've been at this three weeks so far. At the end of this week we take a practice MBE (to highlight weak areas, or, if its all weak, maybe just to scare us into ratcheting up the effort bigtime). If I could then go back and dig into the national topics for another three weeks, I know I'd feel pretty good about them. But instead, we must go on immediately to the seven "State only" topics: Civil Procedure, Community Property, Corporations, Professional Responsibility, Remedies, Trusts, and Wills. The only two courses I ever took of this whole group in law school were Civil Procedure and Corporations -- and Corporations was taught by a crazyman who made sure to avoid any black letter law for the entire semester.

Somehow I need to review Civ. Pro. and learn seven new topic areas -- and then go back and master the eight national topics -- all in five weeks. This seems impossible. The problem is not that any part of it is inherently hard, because its not -- its just that there is much too much of it to do adequately in the very limited time available. I seem to have an upper bound of about five hours a day for memorizing new things -- beyond that I can continue working, but I just don't absorb anything more. This is not a new infirmity; it was the same when I was a probationary graduate student, cramming German vocabulary in preparation for the Language Proficiency Exam, or, for that matter, when I was in law school. At the rate I'm going I will be properly prepared to take the Bar Exam by early September -- but it will all be over by July 28th.


Blogger Eve said...

I think we are all in the same boat right about now.

BTW, glad to find your blog!:)

11:10 PM  
Blogger Mobius Mundi said...

Pick one area to study until you know it cold; for everything else, just study enough to pass. Your ability to memorize should follow a damped exponential in T-t where T is a constant and t is the time until the exam--so don't worry if your preperation is not a linear function of time. The damping factor, however, is a function of your age, so you can't count on as powerful an increase in efficiency as you may have obtained previously, in the day or two before a big test. Try to convince yourself that the true deadline is really a day or two before the exam; this can sometimes "fool" the autonomic nervous system to release norepinephrine earlier in the studying process and could, hopefully, give you at least a day to relax before you actually take the test.

10:06 PM  
Blogger Rebecca said...


1:41 PM  

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