Don’t worry. I did not author this article! Instead, I asked my good friend and Florida bar guru, Jackson Mumey, of Celebration Bar Review, to provide some insights into passing the Florida Bar Exam. Full disclosure: I used Jackson’s program to pass the Florida Bar in 2008 and it was sensational. And by sensational, I mean, it made an absolutely miserable experience pretty tolerable and it kept me on track. The year by year bar passage rate for his students is just about 100%– and for further disclosure, he’s not paying me to say that. As the kids like to say these days, Jackson Mumey is the truth.
Tips to Passing the Florida Bar Exam
The bar exam is getting tougher, there’s no doubt about it. For many years now, one of the hardest bars to pass has been in Florida. That may be even more the case in 2013 with the addition of new subjects and the revision of several others.
So, should you think about taking a different exam? Not at all! The Florida Bar Exam can be successfully managed. Here are a few simple tips that will help you prepare – and pass – the Florida Bar…
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is waiting too long to begin. This test is state specific and idiosyncratic. It takes time to master the arcane Florida distinctions in subjects like homestead and procedure…and you’ll need to know them.Starting 6 weeks before the test and trying to cram (what I call “binge” studying) is a recipe for disaster. The better strategy? Start 4 – 6 MONTHS before the test and study 20-25 hours per week during that time. You’ll learn more and retain more information with spaced learning…and still have a life!
[pullquote]One of the biggest mistakes you can make is waiting too long to begin. This test is state specific and idiosyncratic. It takes time to master the arcane Florida distinctions in subjects like homestead and procedure…and you’ll need to know them. [/pullquote]
Learn to speak “Florida”
Many Florida bar takers are successful attorneys from other states who are surprised when they don’t pass the test here. What’s the reason? A major factor is that they try to use the approach and law they learned in their old state rather than Florida. This is a jurisdiction that prides itself on the “Yankee Go Home” question like the Log-Rolling Statute (yes there is such a thing and it’s been the sole topic of a 1-hour essay) or deliberately tests rules that are different in Florida than in many Northeastern jurisdictions (I’m lookin’ at you New Yorkers). You simply have to learn the Florida law to pass this test. A general statement of rules and elements is usually not enough on the Florida exam.
Don’t Ignore Multiple Choice
The structure of the Florida Bar Exam is pretty standard, but the scoring is anything but transparent. One (intended?) result is that applicants often misunderstand what they have to do to pass and consequently don’t spend enough time on the Florida multiple choice questions. The three subjects that are tested on each Florida exam in the multiple choice format are ridiculously hard (and poorly written) but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t study the subjects thoroughly. Your goal should be to get about half of those questions correct. If you do that, you’re well on your way to passing. Unfortunately, many applicants take these subjects (including FL Civil and Criminal Procedure, FL Evidence, Business Associations and FL Wills) too lightly and consequently fail.
Be Prepared for the New Subjects
Any time a jurisdiction adds new subjects to their test, there is uncertainty and anxiety. In February 2013, the Florida exam will be adding UCC 3 (negotiable instruments), UCC 9 (secured transactions) as well as some minor changes in Domestic Relations and Professional Responsibility. In our view, the UCC subjects are the major change and we expect those 2 subjects to be tested in an essay format rather than multiple choice.
As for the Domestic Relations and Professional Responsibility changes, they are also “fair game” to be tested and you should be prepared for them.
Take a Reputable and Trusted Bar Review Course
I’ve been teaching the Florida Bar since the early 1990’s and in that time, I’ve seen a lot of bar exam tutors come and go (mostly go). Unfortunately, most of them have very little experience beyond their own personal exam administration and know little or nothing about how to write and prepare for the exam. If a bar tutor doesn’t have their own copyrighted materials, stay away from them! Use courses that have taught successfully with their own materials for many years. You have plenty of choices ranging from large classroom courses to smaller, more personalized home study like Celebration Bar Review. Check the reviews of past students and talk to the owners or operators. Find a course that makes sense to you and can work within your schedule and needs.
If you’ve had success with this or another bar review program, please share your experience in the comments.
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