The New York Bar Exam – Part 2

The walk back to the hotel was miserable. The day was already a blur. All I remembered was that it was freezing in our testing room and that I didn’t even eat half of my roast beef sandwich during the lunch break.

The New York day went by so fast. I guess the bar exam itself (both days) went by quickly, but to me, time was not on my side on the first day of testing. Those damn New York multiple choice questions. During the last two weeks of review, I’d put off going through practice multiple choice questions for New York day. Preoccupied with memorizing every detail of my outlines, I paid no attention to those gnarly practice questions. And I’d pay for that mistake.

Compared to to the MBE, New York multiple choice questions are more detailed and knit picky. They are annoying. Not necessarily hard- if you know the law, and if you’re used to the formatting. Sure, I had the MBE down. As you probably know, the MBE questions have a certain flow, a certain ring to them. Maybe a certain predictability can be detected, after you go through your twelve-hundredth practice question (as recommended by BarBri). Same thing for the New York questions. BarBri actually assigned significant amounts of these bastards, especially towards the end of the review. But hell, I barely had time to go through the other one thousand MBE questions and all the essays that I had pushed back. So I figured the fifty New York questions wouldn’t be so bad. It’s just fifty questions, right?

The problem for me was that I did those questions first. Pro and con to that. Going through the multiple choice questions can serve as a mental warmup, jogging your brain before you take on the heavy blows of the essays. The con for me was this: if you’re guessing on three, four, five questions in a row, that is no mental warmup. No better way to start the first hour of the bar exam bent over and taking it up the alley. I recognized some familiar rules here and there, but for the most part, I was running blind, to a point where I just giggled like a little girl, amazed at my stupidity, cursing at my procrastination.

The essays themselves were not that bad, at least while I was typing away. The property question was decent- there was no RAP! A little crim pro here, a little wills and trusts there. One truly annoying sound was that of my next door neighbor’s typing. She was a Duke grad, Korean-American, looking definitely prepared and confident. I swear she didn’t bother to outline any of her essay answers. She would glance through the questions in no more than three, four minutes, and off to the races she was, crunching away on her laptop as if she was performing Beethoven’s Fifth. The typing was obnoxiously loud, half machine gun and half helicopter. What was more annoying was that she always had time left over to actually edit her work. Me? I was just happy to get my thoughts onto the computer screen in a semi-coherent manner before time ran out.

One tip about lunch: know your food options before the test begins. Explore the eateries around the testing center, ask if they take orders for sack lunches beforehand. I tested at the Desmond Hotel, so I figured I could grab something quick in one of the hotel restaurants. Apparently, so did a hundred other testers. It took nearly a half hour to grab a roast beef sandwich. I didn’t have much of an appetite, but figured I’d better eat something if I wasn’t going to pass out during the afternoon session.

I dragged myself outside to soak some sun while I ate, but after a few bites, I really couldn’t force myself anymore. Nerves can get the best of some, and it did sure got me. Eating between sessions is important. You don’t want anything too strong and exotic that will send you to the crown, but you want to make sure you have good carbs. Fruit is always a good choice (although I should say, I did have a mad craving for a hot bowl of pho..).

The afternoon session was tougher. I didn’t really know the rule to one of the essay questions (I don’t even remember the subject). But you have to improvise and sound like you know what the hell you’re talking about. When you don’t know a rule on the bar, you still want to construct a logical answer, and make up a rule if you have to. Just be sure to logically apply your made-up rule to the given facts. Sure, I did that. I was kicking myself while doing it, but it’s better than leaving a question blank.

Then came the MPT. Talk about having fun. In my opinion, the MPT is something you can really prepare for, to a certain extent. There are only four or five types of formats they can throw at you, and if you go through enough of the practice MPTs provided by your barprep service, you should be fine. Or you can be like me and not do the practice questions, in which case you’ll be cursing yourself for the entire ninety minutes. Going through the File and the Library took so much time, and I didn’t have enough time to really organize my answer. My rule statements were unclear, and some paragraphs were totally illogical and incoherent.

When I got back to the hotel room, things got worse. That’s when you start discussing your answers with your roommate. By the way, you should never be doing that, period. All throughout law school, most of my friends did not utter anything about an exam once it was over (with the exception of one good friend who seemed to take great pleasure in rehashing every painful detail of the fact patterns). I don’t know what got into me, but the next thing I know, my roommate and I were slapping ourselves silly after every realized mistake. For me, I found out that I had completely left out an issue in one of the essays, and that I had stated a completely wrong rule for another. Ouch.

The mood was generally gloomy, and I don’t even remember what we had for dinner. Cheeseburgers at a sports bar maybe?

But the MBE was coming up, so the best I could do was get a good night’s sleep. After glancing through some outlines and looking over a few sample questions, I was out.

To be continued…

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