New York, NY10036
I took the NY bar examinations using the BARBRI method. I'm basically a fan of it because I passed on my first attempt, which means they are actually doing something right. :-) Also, I thought that some of the instructors really tried to make it interesting especially the Torts lecturer who quipped "nothing in New York should surprise you. If while riding the subway, someone tosses you a decapitated head, you just toss it back". Due to the number of attendees to the lectures, logistical problems arise, especially in using the ladies' room. It gets crowded and as a consequence, you miss some portions of the lectures. If you don't need to attend the lectures in person, just buy the DVDs and listen in the comfort of your living room. At any rate, the secret to passing the NY bar exam is not in the lectures but in doing the practice exams.
Today, I found out that I passed the NY bar exam. I did so on my third attempt. I previously took Barbri for the NY bar in February and July 2014 (both of which that I failed...miserably). I also took Barbri for the NJ Bar in February 2015 (which I failed by 7 points). Before I took the July 2015 bar in NJ, I decided to cut ties with Babri. I passed, albeit barely. Initially, I didn't plan on taking the NY bar for a third time. After getting rejected by jobs all over the Garden State, however, I finally got the balls to take the NY bar for a third time. I passed the July 2017 NY bar with a 149.3 MBE, which was MUCH higher than I expected (my overall UBE was a 278). When I took the July 2014 NY bar, my MBE was a pathetic 118.6. I didn't take a commercial bar prep courses this time around (though I did take Mary Campbell Gallagher's MPT prep course, which was semi-useful). Instead, I bought some used Barbri books on Amazon and printed out some free outlines from the internet. I then used those materials to MAKE MY OWN outlines. You won't learn the material by passively listening to boring lectures. You learn by actively engaging in the material. I can't give advice for the MPT since I fucked up on that section. My MBE score saved me. I prepared for the MBE by using Strategies and Tactics for the MBE, Strategies and Tactics Finz, and Kaplan's infamous red book. DO EVERY PROBLEM. I also used Emanuel's MBE Bootcamp. It's a series of books that tells you how to approach MBE questions for every MBE subject except Civ Pro. If you want more advice, feel free to send me a private message. Barbri books are good for learning the material (don't read the full book- you won't finish. Read the Conviser). However, the actual Barbri course is a waste of money.
I'm not a big fan of Barbri. In my opinion they load you up with far too many books. They also taught material that they said "grey out" in your notes; meaning, we'll teach it to you, but it won't be tested. (Why bother teaching?). I also found the array of instructors to be somewhat of a comedy show. Some are good; others rather annoying. What really gave me a hard time with Barbri is the way they tend to tap-dance around rules with hypos instead of just teaching the black letter of the law. They also use celebrity names in their hypos and use words like "dough" instead of money. If you want to sound like a lawyer, it helps if you're taught like a lawyer. I understand the idea of making the subject matter as light as possible, but I prefer rules, and then hypos to support the rule, not the other way around. I'm a person who learns nothing during a lecture. I have to outline and teach myself. Their lecture handout book creates your notes/outlines. You fill in blanks within the book as you attend class. They have solid MBE practice questions, which are not what you'll see on the bar exam, but they make you think very hard and understand the law. Their essay book is nothing short of golden. They also provide a "conviser" book, which is concise outline of all of the bar subjects. The other books they load you down with aren't work much time. My biggest recommendation with the Barbri material is get your outlines organized and master the law. In addition, do at least 3,000 MBE questions (you'll need other sources), which amounts to at least 500 questions per MBE subjects. If you put in nine solid weeks of study, you'll be just fine. I also recommend reading the last 10 years of actual bar exam essays. (separac.com is a great source). You can actually just read the essay answers (no questions) and do just fine on the exam. You'll discover that 70% of the exam is retested material. If you got through law school, you're smart enough to read essay answers and understand what's taking place. I find reading essay answers is an easier way to remember the law. While multiple choice questions drill the law into your head, reading essay answers seems to make things much more practical in terms of expressing the law. You'll also discover that many of the model essay answers are very short and basic, almost high-school like. You'll actually be shocked to learn that some model answers are no more than three sentences, depending on the topic. In fact, it appears if you write too much, and go too in-depth, it can work to your disadvantage. You may have a grumpy exam grader who doesn't feel like reading what amounts to an A-level law school answer. Basically, they just want the question answered with the proper rule. My last bit of advice is this - if you're having difficulty recalling certain rules (and you will), record them on your phone and listen to them with headphones over and over and over. If you create a model answer, say for commercial paper, you'll be amazed at how easily you will remember the law when you hear it in your own voice. Something magical occurs when you create a model answers, read it into your phone, and then listen. It also works for the MBE. Con Law is my most dreaded subject, but when I broke down all the subjects separately on my iPhone, I suddenly found that the MBE questions became a breeze because I listened to everything over and over and over and over. Finally, 80% of Barbri takers pass the New York bar exam, so ultimately, you will have the tools necessary to pass. Personally, I recommend Pieper for New York test takers - they take a much more tailored approach in teaching the material. Whatever you choose, if you enter the exam fully prepared and confident, you'll do just fine. (Again, practice no fewer than 3,000 multiple choice questions - the MBE can make or break you. I managed to do 4,000 practice questions and scored a scaled 152 on the MBE, and I'm far from a genius).
I passed the NY bar with a 176.6 scaled MBE by following Barbri's program (and nothing else), with the following changes and clarifications: - For "active review", I eventually outlined comprehensively, albeit I should have been doing this from day 1 - I incorporated learnings from wrong multiple-choice and essay answers into the outlines - I never "refreshed" AMP - I didn't outline on the actual exam -- just typed feverishly - I sometimes listened to lectures at high-speed and/or while multitasking, only the former of which I recommend - When "reviewing" CMR in the home stretch, I often just skimmed - I ignored Barbri's advice as to which MPQs to do in which format - I occasionally studied with friends In order of more important to less important, with 1- to 5-star ratings for each section and subsection: ****LECTURES: *****Generally clear, concise, well-researched, well-organized, helpfully repetitive, and often amusing -- this is really the bread and butter of Barbri, and just listening and writing detailed outlines of them will get you half way there *****Website's video player is stable and has useful speed controls **Sometimes inaudible -- the volume on the recordings needs to be increased significantly ****LECTURE HANDOUTS: *****Track the lecture well ***Require filling in some blanks, which improves focus and retention. However, often, the fill-ins are missing (as in Property) or too small -- a self-inflicted wound ***Long -- boil them down to outlines 1/5 as long to review *****MULTISTATE MULTIPLE CHOICE: *****Ample practice questions *****Very similar to the actual exam ****Clear answer explanations, but verbose ***The mixed sets at the very end of the course are the least helpful ****ONLINE MULTISTATE MULTIPLE CHOICE: *****Helpful percentile rankings *****Helpful performance break-down by sub-field **Web-based MC interface is too small (it should fill the whole screen, perhaps by popping out or opening in a new tab), the UEX for crossing out a wrong answer needs much more usability testing across browsers and screens, and the UEX for returning to a started test is totally broken *****Hyperlinks to relevant outline sections in explanations *IOS APP: *Plagued by stability bugs that cause it to fail frequently during or while navigating towards lecture playback, especially when not connected to wifi (but even when not using a feature that should require connectivity) *No visible progress or updates on these critical bugs, despite detailed bug reporting **ESSAY FEEDBACK: **Very cursory (I've given Barbri more feedback for free than it has given me for $2k) **RESPONSES TO QUESTIONS: ** Very cursory; 75% of the time seems to be boilerplate copy-and-paste responses rather than actually thoughtful * Ticket management interface foolishly requires an "email" address field even though this information is already on file ***IN-PERSON ACTIVITIES: **Class: Poor A/V consistency -- only went twice, one of which times, the video started 20 minutes late. Poor A/C ****Multi-state practice test: Useful to see Javits Center in action. Should impose testing conditions for authenticity **NY MULTIPLE CHOICE: **Often very few questions ***Sometimes clear, sometimes poorly written explanations -- combine the conciseness of NY MC with the clarity and rigor of the MBE MC *Answers are visible when taking test **Not enough practice questions are assigned to actually prepare for the exam ****WEBSITE: ***Nice checklist-style timeline to track progress, but I'm pretty sure it doesn't actually take account of the varying length of time different assignments take -- i.e., differences of orders of magnitude! This easy fix should be made promptly *Session time-out is far, far too quick (this is foolish) -- follow instead the practices of industry leaders like Google and Facebook ****OUTLINES: ****Clear and well organized, but I find them so dense that I retain little of them, compared to good retention from the example-based video presentation and handout *TRADEMARK MANAGEMENT: *It's bizarre that Barbri alternates between all caps ("BARBRI") and all lower-case ("barbri"). Neither should be use; instead, title-case ("Barbri") should be used consistently
the customer service people are horrible, the website design is preposterous (which makes customer service crucial), and don't even get me started on the $250 book set, which isn't even properly paginated. i would recommend pretty much any other bar prep course. i'm definitely failing the bar because of these people update: yep, i failed. thanks barbri. Another update: i had to unsubscribe from their emails, because they kept spamming me with ads for personal barbri tutors (which of course cost extra) - because EVEN BARBRI knows that barbri doesn't work.
They give you the tools to build the words "Congratulations you passed the bar" you hope to see three months after you take the exam. Because the majority of students taking the NYS Bar will be taking BarBri (85%) what BarBri teaches can create the curve. And, believe me, you want to be in that curve. I listened to everything they told me, studied my tushy off, did as much of the scheduled work as I could and I passed. BUT, you have to do the work. I know a couple of people that came to class, took notes, but didn't' take it seriously, and...they didn't pass. Obviously this is the only bar prep course I have experienced so I cannot compare, but because so many test takers use this system I think it's the better system. You see, if a large % of people put the same wrong answer down on a question, the exam graders will re-key the exam. Henceforth, if 85% of the people taking the exam are all putting down what BarBri taught...the test key will likely change and if you took BarBri it will change in your forever. Good Luck! And if anyone reading this will be taking the bar soon, feel free to e-mail me with any questions. I still have all of my outlines on my computer and would love to help anyone out!
I passed the New York bar despite having skipped half of an essay question that I didn't know was there. Due to Barbri, I'm quite certain. The vast majority of people who take Barbri and study semi-seriously according to its shepherding detailed study program do NOT need supplemental MBE prep. Barbri prepares you plenty well for the MBE, and the software you can download from their site has everything you could possibly need or want, including narrowly-tailored statistics. Down sides: (1) it's really really expensive and they constantly find ways to make more money off you through add-ons to the basic course. (2) they lowball on essay grades to light a fire under your ass.
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