It's been an intense couple of days as I've managed to massively increase my productivity. I've synthsized a bunch of notes (though I still have more to do, having gotten behind at the beginning), I've done a bunch of practice questions (210 total, 105 of them yesterday), and simultaneously made some headway on some unrelated things I need to take care of. The result: my brain's tired. Very. But there are some hopeful signs:
Yesterday was a practice essay-writing session. I don't think I did very well on the essays - I couldn't remember the NY Practice materials, and I have almost no Wills and Trusts material stored in my head anywhere - but it was the first time I'd done an MPT. I'm very curious to get my score back, but I feel like I did pretty well. I didn't write an introduction, which may have been bad, but I think I caught all the issues and it was appropriately organized. I hear that's all you need to do ok. And in a weird way, it was kind of fun. With the MPT you don't need to know any law. You just have to demonstrate that you can think like a lawyer by parsing some law and facts (that they give you) into a sensible written communication. I like doing this; it's one reason why I want to do more appellate advocacy because brief-writing taps into these skills.
Then today we all migrated to the World Trade Center in South Boston for a simulated MBE, the 200-question multiple-choice part of the bar exam. It was 3 hours before lunch and 3 hours afterwards. On the way home I graded myself. I got a 116. While this isn't high enough to pass, it's good news anyway:
- For one, they say that the average score on this practice test will be about 105, and I beat that.
- They said that the average increase is 28 points between now and test day, which is enough to pass even with a 105.
- The actual score will be scaled, which tacks on even more points.
- There's still three weeks of study time left, plus the PMBR for more review. (And that's a pretty good score considering how much I haven't studied...)
- Most of my wrong answers tended to clump around certain subjects. So getting a better handle on any one of just a few subjects should get me several more correct questions.
- My score tends to suggest that when I'm unsure, I'm making good guesses.
- My accuracy got better as the exam went on, which suggests I was learning more than fatiguing.
- I'm not having any time problems either. I'm fast on my practice questions, and today I finished both the morning and afternoon sessions with 30-45 minutes to spare each.
Now, in theory going fast could be a little bad because I wouldn't want to rush too much and miss important details that an answer turns on. But I don't think I got more than a small handful of questions wrong because I went too fast, and I think the speed will be good for me. And not just because it'll mean I'll be able to get a jump on my commute down from Albany to New Jersey* for day 3 of my exam... I think it's good to be fast as an antidote for brain fatigue. Even today, as I was experiencing the symptoms of it, I was able to press through, and the momentum I had helped insure that I didn't stall out. It's really easy when you're tired to just glaze over and stare at a page without processing it. And there's just not enough time in the test to spare for that. So instead the speed helps feed my curiosity. I read the question, ponder an answer, and then get curious to find out what the next question is all about. That curiosity is a good thing, as it keeps me turning the pages. (200 questions are a lot to get through!)
I also don't seem to be having time problems on the writing parts either. I'm having law problems on the essays because I'm unfamiliar with the New York materials still, but otherwise I'm able to stay within the recommended parameters. I finished the practice MPT with about 5 minutes to spare following a pretty complete answer.
Obviously it's no time to rest on my laurels. But I was feeling tired, stressed, behind and worried about what my performance today would be like... so it's nice to see some sign that maybe I can pull this off after all.
* By the way, the New Jersey locations were finally announced this week**. Secaucus, here I come! That's not so bad, actually. Better northern New Jersey than southern given the shlep down from Albany. However, where in Albany is still a mystery, which is kind of annoying given the imminence of the exam.
** Before Trenton flooded and before the government shut down...