The [Big Bad] Bar Exam

February 23, 2009 stephhwilliams 1 Comments

My keen organizational skills (sniff sniff…can you smell the sarcasm?) have been the subject of more than one post already. Here, let me explain how I attempt to organize my own thoughts…my attempt at compartmentalization. You see, as I think about what I’ll be doing over the next couple of days I understand more and more what it means to “sweat bullets.” The [Big Bad] Bar Exam is looming overhead, and it’s making my stomach queasy, my head pound, my heart race, my nerves rattle, my skin crawl and my fuse short.
One would think that having taken and passed two state bar exams would somehow alleviate the pressure associated with an exam, and “one” would be wrong. I don’t think it ever gets any easier or less stressful. Believe me, though, I feel no desire to prove myself right or further test this theory. This is it for me…no more really…I mean it this time.
So, in an effort to keep what sanity I have and avoid a nervous breakdown, I am refusing to think about The [Big Bad] Bar Exam as a whole. Instead, I’ve compartmentalized it. I am not preparing to take a two-and-a-half-day exam; rather, I’m preparing to take four much smaller, much more surmountable tests.
On Tuesday morning, I’ll be sitting for the MPT (the Multistate Performance Test). This is the first time I’ve had to take this portion. Alabama adopted it the testing cycle after I became licensed and Tennessee still doesn’t utilize it. Despite it being a test, the MPT is the probably the most applicable of all the test portions. I’ll have three hours to perform tasks commonly required in actual practice; which is actually more time than you sometimes have in practice. There is no substantive law to study or memorize for this test. It is self-contained in that everything you need to perform the task required is presented in the “case file” and “library excerpt” provided. That doesn’t sound so bad.
On Tuesday afternoon, I’ll be sitting for the MEE (the Multistate Essay Exam). Similarly, this is the first time I’ve taken this portion. I don’t think Alabama or Tennessee have ever adopted it for their use. I’ll have three hours to write four essays on four known topics of substantive law. So I have to study and prepare four areas of law for Tuesday. Cool.
On Wednesday, I’ll be sitting for the MBE (the Multistate Bar Exam). This one I’ve taken before. It’s 200 multiple-choice questions (100 in the morning, 100 in the afternoon) covering six areas of substantive law. This is a crap-schoot. While multiple-choice is a format that invokes less pressure than having to comprehensibly compose a lengthy response, I have a history of not faring so well on the process of elimination game. Nevertheless, fear of the unknown is the biggest cause of failure and this time, the MBE is nothing new to me. Way to look for the silver lining.
Finally (aahhh, finally…), on Thursday morning, I’ll be sitting for the Arkansas state essay portion. I’ll have three hours to write four essays on four known topics of state-specific substantive law. So I only have to study and prepare four areas of law for Thursday. Sweet.
Hmph…when you look at it this way, it doesn’t seem so bad. Yeah, right. This could all just be stalling or wasting precious mental energy or the beginnings of an already spiralling nervous breakdown. Only time (and the exam results due out sometime late March) will tell.

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