FRE 106: The Rule of Completeness, Now Even More Complete!

Written by: Scot Goins, Assistant Dean of Academic Achievement and Bar Success and Associate Professor of Legal Practice

Future bar exam takers take heed! The Federal Rules of Evidence (‘FRE’) will receive three significant updates at the end of 2023. These updates will impact FRE 106, FRE 615, and FRE 702. As all of these are fair game to be tested on the bar exam in the future, it is important to be aware of these amendments (NOTE: The NCBE has provided guidance and insight regarding the three-year development process for questions, and it is difficult to determine exactly when these changes will be reflected in either the current or NextGen bar exam questions, but it is important to be aware of these changes nonetheless.)

These changes were recommended by the Advisory Committee on Federal Rules to the Standing Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure on May 15, 2022, after being unanimously approved. These amendments, after being approved by the United States Supreme Court, were submitted to Congress on April 24, 2023. Congress took no action to the contrary, and the new rules will go into effect on December 1, 2023.

The first part of this three-part series on the changes will address FRE 106.

Current title of FRE 106: Remainder of or Related Writings or Recorded Statements

The current language of FRE 106, colloquially and affectionately known as the “Rule of Completeness” reads:

If a party introduces all or part of a writing or recorded statement, an adverse party may require the introduction, at that time, of any other part — or any other writing or recorded statement — that in fairness ought to be considered at the same time.

The amended language, effective December 1, 2023, will read as follows:

Amended title of FRE 106: Remainder of or Related Statements

If a party introduces all or part of a statement, an adverse party may require the introduction, at that time, of any other part—or any other statement—that in fairness ought to be considered at the same time. The adverse party may do so over a hearsay objection.

So, what changed?

For starters, the name of the rule changed. As you undoubtedly noticed, amended FRE 106 will have a bit of a title shift. This reflects the changes made after public comment that specifically address the fact that the rule now covers all statements, including oral statements that have not been recorded, and statements made through conduct and sign language. In addition, the rule now explicitly states that there can be no hearsay objection to admitting the remainder of a statement or a related statement if in fairness, such statements ought to be considered. This change was made because “courts have been in conflict over whether completing evidence properly required for completion under FRE 106 can be admitted over a hearsay objection.” FRE 106 removes any potential conflict between courts in applying FRE 106 moving forward. See, Committee Notes to Rule 106 Proposed Amendment. See also, Hardly a Fait Accompli: Federal Rule 106 (elaborating on the previous court conflicts).

Remember, that despite the changes to both the title and the substance of the rule, a party “seeking completion with an unrecorded statement would of course need to provide admissible evidence that the statement was made. Otherwise, there would be no showing that the original statement is misleading, and the request for completion should be denied. In some cases, the court may find that the difficulty in proving the completing statement substantially outweighs its probative value—in which case exclusion is possible under Rule 403.” See, Committee Notes to Rule 106 Proposed Amendment.

What does it all mean?

The confusion surrounding the current version of FRE 106, considered a “partial codification” of common law, has led to uncertainty in courts and among practitioners. However, these amendments aim to definitively displace the common law, aligning FRE 106 with other FRE components. These changes address the admissibility of out-of-court statements, stipulating that introducing part of a statement misleadingly forfeits the right to prevent admission of the necessary remainder. Courts may decide whether the remainder serves a hearsay or non-hearsay purpose. Additionally, the amendment simplifies the handling of unrecorded oral statements under FRE 106, providing clarity and avoiding pitfalls. Importantly, the core rule remains unchanged, focusing solely on instances where a party creates a misimpression about a statement, and the opposing party offers a correcting completion. Mere probative value or contradiction alone does not warrant FRE 106 application. Id.

These changes to FRE 106 should limit potential conflict, avoid confusion, and provide clarification around the “Rule of Completeness,” making it now, in my humble opinion, “even more complete.” If tested on this material, the general gist is that we are simply not going to allow one party to mislead the court by introducing partial statements without allowing the other side to introduce other pertinent parts.

Part Two of this series will examine the changes to FRE 615 and Part Three will examine the changes to FRE 702.

Remembering Real Covenants: PINT + Wings

Written by: Scot Goins, Assistant Dean of Academic Achievement and Bar Success

When it comes to preparing for the bar exam, one of the hardest concepts for students is the dreaded ‘covenants running with the land.’ The terms ‘real covenant’ and ‘equitable servitude’ conjure up almost as much dread as the acronym ‘RAP,’ but the reality is that identifying and understanding these concepts to do well on the bar exam isn’t so bad if you have ever been to your local Wild Wings or Applebee’s, and you remember, ‘Pint + Wings.’

PINT + Wings

Although I do love wings, the picture above isn’t meant to make your tastebuds water, but rather to provide you a quick and easy mnemonic to remember the requirements for real covenants. PINT + Wings is an easy way to memorize the requirements for covenants running with the land, as follows:

P:Privity (Horizontal and Vertical)
N:Notice (burden only)
T:Touch and Concern
Wings:      Writing

As a starting point, remember that real covenants (and equitable servitudes) generally either restrict the right to use real property or, alternatively, impose obligations on the owners of real property. In a fact pattern, if you see someone seeking damages to enforce a covenant, that should be a tip-off that the covenant will be a real covenant. Alternatively, if an injunction is sought to enforce a covenant, then that will be an equitable servitude.

Law School Graduation: Appreciate the Moment

Written by: Scot Goins, Assistant Dean of Academic Achievement and Bar Success

Law school graduation is an easy thing to overlook. For the past years, you have been stressing about arriving at this point in your life, and yet now that final exams are over the entire world seems to be encouraging you to solely focus on the bar exam and your preparation process. And, in full transparency, I am one of those people who will be pushing you to put your time, effort, and energy into making the bar exam a successful experience. My belief in your abilities and my desire for your success mean that I will constantly push you to do more, to do better, and to achieve.

However, that said, I wanted to take a moment and encourage you to take time this weekend to reflect on all that you have accomplished to get to this point, all of the successes you have experienced along the way, and the amount of time and energy you have invested in becoming a law school graduate. Right now, your Juris Doctor status to be conferred on Saturday puts you in the top percentage of educated people in the United States, and that in and of itself is something to be proud of and appreciate. No matter how well anyone knows you, there are things that you have overcome, moments that you have experienced, and challenges that you have faced that no one else knows, and yet here you are, graduating. You absolutely should take time to be proud and pat yourself on the back for a job well done.

I also want to encourage you to take time, prior to getting fully immersed in the world of bar preparation, to take time to thank your significant other, your family, your friends, your co-workers, professors, staff members, and/or anyone else that has been part of your journey. It is all too easy to get focused on the “next big thing” and to forget to stop and appreciate the moment and the people that are a part of it. Graduation is a big deal, and I want you to see it as such.

I share these thoughts with you because time is the most important and precious resource we have, and this week marks the passing of my own father, who died shortly after I graduated and passed the bar exam. One of the most painful moments in my life was attending my own law school graduation and knowing that I was there, alone, and that my father was too sick to attend and unlikely to survive much longer. My mom could not attend because she was taking care of him, and a combination of other family factors meant that I walked across the stage, was hooded, received my diploma, and walked off alone. My friends and peers were there, but I remember watching with envious eyes and a lonely heart as others celebrated with family. All I was thinking then was how much I wished that my family could be there to see all of their hard work in providing me opportunities pay off beyond their dreams. It was a tough day, but it made me realize the importance of taking time to appreciate every single day, and more importantly, taking the time to appreciate those around you who are part of your journey.

The bar exam is a big deal and it is important for your career, but life is about balance. This weekend, regardless of where you are at in the beginning stages of your bar exam process, I highly encourage you to focus on the moment. Express your gratitude, show your love, and be proud of yourself for all that you have accomplished in getting to this point in your life. No one walks alone in this journey of life, and although the next milestone of the bar exam is important, do not forget to stop and appreciate the milestone you are achieving this weekend. I’m very excited for you, your family, and your friends as you move forward. I have no doubt that your graduation will inspire others to walk paths beyond what you can imagine.


Warmest regards,

Dean Goins

Fuel Your Fire: Avoiding Burn-Out, Mental Fatigue, and Keeping Your Eyes on the Prize

Written by: Scot Goins, Assistant Dean of Academic Achievement and Bar Success

It’s the end of September, and in normal circumstances, that means that many law students are experiencing fatigue, exhaustion, and burn-out, while simultaneously experiencing anxiety, fear, and worries about impending midterms. Add to that mix concerns about a global pandemic, navigating virtual classes, combine that with a sense of isolation that accompanies not engaging in normal routines and social interactions, and you have a recipe for mental fatigue and burn-out. It is little wonder that law students in the current environment find themselves worried about staying on top of their reading, maintaining motivation, keeping up their energy, and performing academically. 

Many students are asking themselves how they can re-energize, reinvigorate, and replenish their taxed mental faculties, emotional resources, and physical stamina.

If this sounds like you, then you have come to the right place. 

It’s Normal to Feel Bleh

First and foremost, let’s just take a moment and be realistic and let the proverbial cat out of the bag. Everyone experiences some level of mental fatigue and burn-out in law school, especially after the initial rush of energy that accompanies starting a new semester. If you are feeling this way, I promise you that you are not alone, although it may feel that way because there is the general sense that you are not allowed to have a down day or week.

One of the astonishing things about law school is that there is this atmosphere and mindset that everyone must suddenly become superhuman. If someone told you a story about someone not getting enough sleep, regularly staring at a computer screen too long, reading books all night, who is somewhat isolated, and who has an ever-closer approaching set of tests on his or her radar, you would expect that person to be fatigued and approaching burn-out. Generally, it is easier to give others solid advice and share wisdom, and I bet that if I asked you to give the aforementioned person in the story some advice, you would share your best tips and tricks to help them stay motivated, recuperate, and re-energize. However, when it comes to following that advice yourself, you may find that you are resistant to incorporating your own advice and best practices. This makes sense because we are often far harder on ourselves and tend to hold ourselves to standards that we would not expect others to meet. But if you pause and think, that advice that you would give to someone else is good, so maybe it would be helpful to hear that same or similar advice from an external source.

That’s where this advice comes in. It’s based on real world experience from someone who has been there, done that, in terms of both law school and working remotely. It will likely mirror advice that you would give someone else, but may be unlikely to follow yourself. Hopefully, you will find the advice below helpful to your pursuit of success in a very challenging environment, and will also be encouraged to engage in best practices to perform at your best.

Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself

This is one of my favorite sayings, and it perfectly applies to your experience in law school. We have so many competing aspects to managing our time effectively, and it quickly becomes easy to sacrifice things like sleep, nutrition, physical activity, and spending time with friends and family. However, like all things in life, balance is key, and if you do not take care of the fundamentals, then you will not be able to excel in other areas. Making sure you are doing the things that are at the core of being a happy and healthy human goes hand-in-hand with making sure you are a successful and high-functioning student.. 

One of the best ways to deal with mental fatigue and burnout is to actually rest. Get enough sleep, and try to get on a regular snooze schedule. This is especially important when the time changes, as you don’t want to fall off the success wagon just because time falls back an hour. Sleep has numerous benefits, and getting enough will keep you alert, refreshed, and ready to engage with law school materials and professors. Bonus tip: never overlook the power of the powernap.

Although this will sound obvious, eating regularly is important because you need fuel to keep your mental fires burning brightly. However, as someone who struggles with this personally, one of the first things that often goes when stress is high and time feels tight is quality eating (or eating at all). Skipping meals is a recipe to feeling fatigued, and if you find your mind wandering or food commercials diverting your attention, you will definitely want to take note and grab some grub. Try to eat a healthy balance of protein, carbs, and fats on a regular basis, and you will find yourself energized and ready to go.

Once you are rested and carbed up, you will find engaging in physical activity much easier. As someone who had a couple of surgeries during the pandemic, I definitely have experience with how a lack of activity and a failure to engage in normal routines can take a toll on your mental, emotional, and physical well-being. If you want your mental machinery to operate at the highest levels, you have to make time for activity. A brisk walk, yoga, a bike ride, or any similar activity will not only help you burn some calories, but it will also get your blood flowing and lead to the release of helpful neurotransmitters in your brain. Sunlight is your friend, so with the time-change impending, get out and enjoy yourself. A happy brain is your friend, so make sure to exercise regularly!

Speaking of not wrecking yourself, if you have ever seen the movie Castaway (Tom Hanks, Wilson the Volleyball, isolation to the extreme), you may be aware that too much alone time is bad news. However, when you are focused on a task or stressed about an outcome, it is easy to start sacrificing your most important meaningful interactions with friends and family. My advice is simply this: Don’t. If you treat law school like your job (which you should), then you should also enjoy the fruits of your labors. Although work may get busy, you still have to “go home” at some point and engage socially. This is easy to overlook, especially in the virtual world, where “going home” may involve shifting 9 centimeters to the left on the couch or hiding your laptop under the bed for a bit. However, you must make time for your mental and emotional well-being, and engaging with people who care about you is important. 

If you take care of yourself, you will be at your best to perform your best!

Limit Distractions

There is one thing that I can confirm about virtual studying, remote working, or being at home generally. You will always be able to find a distraction. It is guaranteed. Whether you have a family, a dog, a cat, a Netflix account, an imaginary friend, or a phone or other device generally, I promise that you will be able to find a distraction that can take you away from your work.

If you want to perform at the highest levels, you have to put aside the distractions and focus. This means turning off the phone notifications, turning off the tv, closing GroupMe, putting your cat down for the first time in five days, and telling your dog that fetch will have to wait 30 minutes. You will always perform better if your attention is not split between multiple activities, and even a momentary distraction such as a new Instagram post, the ‘ding’ of an arriving text message, or the new Taco Bell commercial on tv (I still do not know if it is a taco or a sandwich) can each impact your memory, retention, and engagement with materials. Work when it is time to work, and engage with social media and other distractors later. Focus is key.

Failure to Plan is a Plan to Fail

Speaking of engagement, one of the most distracting and mentally taxing things you can do in your life is trying to not do something you really enjoy doing. If you think that I am kidding, I highly encourage you to stock your refrigerator with your favorite food, and then try not to eat it. Not only will you mentally feel like you are missing out, but it will slowly become a bigger and bigger distraction (and by it, I’m talking specifically about you, Reese’s Cups that haunt me). So, how do you follow BOTH of the aforementioned pieces of advice and Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself AND Limit Distractions? You plan it out and you have a schedule.

If you schedule in your fun activities, your necessary activities (again, we are talking about sleep, eating, exercise, and spending time with friends and family), and your schoolwork, you will find it much easier to devote time to each and be fully present when you are engaging in each. If you know that you are going to eat a Reese’s Cup on Friday, it becomes much easier to avoid getting the King Sized version out of your refrigerator while you are trying to write an advice post. Too personal? Sue me (although if you’ve been paying attention in Civil Procedure, you may find standing to be an issue).

All kidding aside, it is much easier to engage in the study of law when you have a schedule. Beyond the times you have to attend class, you should make a schedule for studying, socialization, break times, watching your favorite football team or video, engaging in social media, or anything else that you want to do. The key to successful time management is to give each aspect of your life the dedicated time necessary to be happy, rested, and successful, without feeling like you are sacrificing something entirely. Balance and moderation are important, and you must make time for your well-being.

Know Your Purpose

Last, but never least, is knowing your purpose. If you wake up each day, go to sleep each night, and dedicate time throughout each day to reminding yourself of your purpose and goals, it is much easier to keep going when the going gets tough. Focus on why you are doing what you are doing, and try to maintain awareness of how each thing that you do each day is leading you on your personal journey towards success.

One of the things that I find most helpful in maintaining your path to success and your motivation is visualization. There are three types of visualization that I encourage you to engage in, and although this may sound like a Charles Dickens story, past, present, and future visualization are all valuable.

Past visualization references picturing a time in life when you were successful and happy. Sometimes in the midst of the rigors of law school, it is easy to forget all of the academic, personal, and professional accomplishments that led you to the opportunity to be enrolled in law school, and taking a few minutes to think about your previous success can motivate you towards continuing your success journey.

Speaking of, do not forget to think about the things you are accomplishing now. It is easy to feel like an endless array of cases, black letter law, studying, and writing are overwhelming you, but the truth of the matter is that each day you are accomplishing, learning, and growing. Remembering to give yourself kudos and acknowledging each day’s accomplishments can be both motivating and empowering, so I encourage you to visualize three things that you have accomplished each day.

Finally, remember to visualize your future success and accomplishments. Picture yourself successfully completing an exam, walking at graduation, passing the bar exam, inviting your friends and family to your swearing-in ceremony, and a host of other future events can provide fuel to reinvigorate your fire when it wanes, so make sure to always keep your eyes on the prize.

In Conclusion

On the surface, all of the above may seem like common sense, but it is often the little things that fly out the window when stress grows and time feels short. Please make sure to take care of yourself mentally, emotionally, and psychologically during the rigors of law school. You deserve to be here, you are capable, and you will be successful if you put the time, effort, and dedication into this experience that it (and you) deserve.

Burning-out  and mental fatigue are normal, but sometimes stress and problems can move beyond the normal and become problematic. Please always remember that you are never alone and that people care about you as an individual. If you find yourself in need of additional support and assistance, please visit our counseling resources page located at:

AABS Right Way Writing: Grammar Help

Written by: Scot Goins, Assistant Dean of Academic Achievement and Bar Success

Grammar. The word itself is often enough to trigger anxiety, and depending on your background and experience, you may have various concerns you want to address, but you may not be sure where to go to address those concerns. 

Never fear, AABS is here! Below, find a list of ten websites that you can peruse in your own time to work to improve your grammar, answer questions that you may have, and to improve your word wizardry.

Academic Achievement and Bar Success (AABS) Grammar Resources

1. Core Grammar for Lawyers

2. Purdue Online Writing Lab- Grammar

3. The Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction- Punctuation and Grammar Basics for Students; The Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction- Punctuation and Grammar ADVANCED

4. DYC’s Online Writing Lab

5. Excelsior Online Writing Lab- Grammar Refresher

6. The Punctuation Guide

7. Grammarly (guide that works with you as you write to develop best practices)

8. The Guide to Grammar and Writing

9. Common Grammatical and Punctuation Errors

10. The Grammar of Legal English

We hope that you find these links helpful, and as always you are welcome to reach out to our office if you need anything –

Zooming In, but Zoning Out? Top Ten Tips to Maintain Focus in a Virtual Class Environment

Written by: Scot Goins, Assistant Dean of Academic Achievement and Bar Success

The most frequent concerns I hear from students around any shift to a virtual environment are in regards to staying focused, paying attention, and making sure they continue to learn and expand their knowledge. Many students express frustration around the difficulties of concentrating in a remote classroom and are concerned that their performances may suffer. The good news is that although this learning environment can create new challenges, it is one that you can survive and even thrive in. These tips work great in any virtual learning environment, whether in law school or preparing for the bar exam.

Here are my top ten tips for maintaining focus, attention, and learning in the virtual world:

1. Designate a space.

One of the interesting things I’ve noticed about myself over the past year is my tendency to perform better when I set aside an area that is just for working. I think of it much like going to the gym. Once you walk in the door, you are likely to flip a mental switch and your expectations shift as to what to expect in that environment. When you hear the sounds of weights clanking, treadmills grinding, or someone like me complaining that I cannot get the double knot out of my shoes, you know where you are and what you are there to accomplish.

Virtual learning is the same way. If you attempt to work from a space where you often engage in other activities, whether it’s sleeping, watching tv, or reading a book, it can be hard not to let your mind wander. Set aside a space where you live to engage actively with your learning environment, and try not to do other things there.

That said, I remain very aware of the constrictions of working from home for many, and you may not have a space that is readily available to be set aside. In that case, I recommend that when the time comes for a class that you change the space around, effectively creating a work environment. This could be something as simple as setting out some highlighters and some books, moving a vase, or clearing off the table, but the key is that you have a transition moment for the space and your learning. When you know you are entering your proverbial mental gym, your expectations, mindset, and mood will adjust accordingly.

2. Turn on your camera.

Trust me, I know. The thought of making sure you are camera-ready can be concerning, but being on camera is important. For starters, it involves you directly in the class, as opposed to observing from afar. The awareness that others can see if you are paying attention operates similarly in class, and your tendency to avoid staring at the ceiling and singing show tunes will decrease dramatically when you know someone might see.

All kidding aside, being on camera also helps your professor to engage with you. One of the biggest things I struggle with within the virtual environment when engaging with students is being able to see expressions. Oftentimes, I assume that I am making my point, only to see looks of confusion in my audience, and that helps me realize that I need to try a different approach, speak more clearly, or revisit the differences between my base knowledge and what I think I am communicating, versus what my audience is receiving. Help yourself stay engaged, and help your professor to engage with you, and stay on camera.

3. Turn off your phone.

This is a big one. Turn off your phone (or at least silence it), turn off your notifications, and flip it upside down until class is over. Phones are a big distraction generally, and they tend to lead to rapid shifts in attention while simultaneously allowing opportunities to zone out. Buzzfeed has some top ten lists that are more humorous than this, but it won’t help you learn what you need to know for class. Give your phone a break.

Also, the urge to text, WhatsApp, etc., is another phone no-no that can prevent you from focusing in class. As soon as you send that first message or receive that first message, your attention is partially devoted to awaiting the next message, which makes it hard to stay in the present moment.

4. Do not browse the internet.

This is another danger zone (cue Top Gun music).

I avoided the urge to Google what year the movie Top Gun came out right then, but that only goes directly to my point. The internet is a lovely place full of a variety of sources of news, information, entertainment, and so much more, but it is also an easy place to mentally meander for hours exploring the history of the movie Top Gun instead of paying attention in class. Resist the urge to go on an endless search for the world’s best strawberry cheesecake recipe (but if you have one, feel free to let me know) and stay in the moment.

I am not oblivious to the fact that sometimes in class something may be said that encourages you to explore information or to search a definition, but I encourage you to wait and stay focused on your class. Instead of diverting your attention during class, do what I recommend in number 5.

5. Make a list and take notes.

In the modern world, we want what we want, and we want it now. Just ask anyone who has ever delivered Thai food to me at 2:00 a.m. However, pursuing knowledge by searching the internet or frantically flipping through a book can be a huge distraction from what your professor is saying/showing on your screen, so save that for later. Making a list and taking notes can also help you stay on track with your learning, ensuring that you complete assignments (it feels great to check off an accomplishment), and helps you stay accountable to yourself.

Not only does creating a list give you something to do later to ensure you are maximizing your learning, it prevents you from missing out on anything said in the present, and it also keeps you actively engaged after class is over. There will be plenty of time after your class hours to search out terms and explore cases (and you may even find time to track down that strawberry cheesecake recipe), so maximize your engagement in class.

6. Immediately review after class.

This should be on your list whether you are in-person or virtual, but it is something that students sometimes forget when online. When we are at home or in our own space, it is very easy to immediately click ‘end meeting’ and turn to a streaming service such as Disney+, but ‘What If?’ you didn’t? (That reference to a Disney+ Marvel show was 100% intentional).

Instead of immediately shifting your attention to the next thing on your to-do list, review what you just covered in class, your list, and your notes. You may find gaps in your note-taking, areas that you need to explore or uncover questions for your professor that you can make note of before you forget. Think of it like utilizing someone’s name in a conversation after you meet them – you are much more likely to remember a name if you use it when addressing the person, so make sure to actively engage with your material before you have time to forget (and if you are reading this, I’m sorry Taylor – I’ll remember next time!).

7. Join an accountability group.

Just as you want to maintain focus and review after class as an individual, you also want to have accountability with others to assist you in staying on track (and to assist them as well!). Knowing that you will be meeting with others to discuss cases, black letter laws, bright-line rules, and lecture notes help ensure that you stay on track. Discussing things with others is not only beneficial for your learning, but will help you fill in gaps, find new ways of thinking about things, and ensure that you are focusing on the right things.

When it is just you being accountable to you, it is easier to slip up, but when you know others will be counting on you and that you have a role to play in a bigger group it will help you perform better. This is beneficial if you schedule your group meeting on the same day that you have class, and has the bonus of serving as an additional review that will help you retain information in the long term.

8. Noise-canceling headphones.

Distractions are dangerous, and no matter how laser-focused your eyes are, if your ears are tuning into something else, you can rest assured that you are tuning out. I often think of my dog when she thinks someone might be dropping off a pizza at the door, no matter where her eyes are, her ear is up and her head is tilted. It’s hard to maintain focus on one person speaking when you are concerned about pizza delivery, and this carries over to class as well.

If noises, others talking, or your neighbor’s unrelenting bass (my issue) are a problem, then invest in some noise-canceling headphones. This will help you keep your focus on class, and not on plotting your next angry knock on your neighbor’s door. Listening with focus, combined with active note-taking and list-making, will help you learn and retain information better.

9. Snacks.

Eat. It should go without saying, but I often fall victim to the angry grumbling distraction that is my hungry stomach. Sometimes, because we are not following a live, in-person schedule, we do not plan the simple things like remembering to eat meals on a schedule. When you are at home, it is much easier to forget to pay attention to the clock, and you can find yourself struggling to stay focused in class when you know that extra-large pepperoni pizza is in the kitchen waiting for you.

It is always good to have a handy, non-distracting snack and beverage nearby, just in case. What do I mean by non-distracting? I mean that it shouldn’t be difficult for you to open, runs the risk of spilling all over your shirt, or requires 40 paper towels to maintain clean hands during class. Having something to snack on and something to drink can keep you mentally alert and focused during class, especially when you forget to eat the meal prior.

10. Exercise.

Let me be clear here. I am not suggesting that you attend class from a treadmill or while spinning away on an exercise bike. Instead, what I am recommending is that you remember to step away from your desk. One of the biggest pitfalls of remote learning or working is that you can inadvertently spend too much time in your workspace. You need to remember to take a break from the screen!

There are also a ton of benefits to exercise, from increasing feel-good neurotransmitters to cardiovascular health, and it also is a great way to relieve stress. If you are someone who has concerns about the virtual learning environment, finding good ways to release stress and relieve anxiety is important, and one of the best ways to do so is to exercise. Even if you just take a walk outside for 15 minutes or walk up a few flights of stairs, you will find plenty of benefits from exercise.

Hopefully, you found these ‘Top Ten Tips to Maintain Focus in a Virtual Class Environment’ to be helpful, and I encourage you to explore and develop additional tips to ensure that you make the best of the virtual experience. It is a different environment, but one that you absolutely can thrive in and where you can achieve a high level of learning and success.

Bar Exam July 2021: Your Best is Yet to Come

Written by: Scot Goins, Director of Academic Achievement and Bar Success

The July 2021 bar exam is right around the corner, and this is a stressful time. As the bar exam dates get closer, future examinees tend to put a lot more emphasis and react more strongly to how they performed ‘today.’ The sense of time running out, combined with the elusive (and impossible) search for perfection on practice questions and essays, leads to people suffering as they strive to understand why today they scored x, but yesterday they scored y. Furthermore, this leads to fears about what is going to happen in the future when they might get z score. These concerns are normal in the process, but not realistic as a method of approach and to perform your best.

I attached the graph above to remind you that your best is going to vary daily, and although you have invested plenty of time and effort up to this point, you will still have days that are up and down in terms of your daily scoring. Please remember that your up days shouldn’t lead you to be overconfident, and that your down days shouldn’t destroy your confidence. Instead, I encourage you to simply keep in mind that each day is an opportunity to improve, and fluctuations will occur. These are normal, and one single day will neither make nor break you when it comes to ultimately being successful. Additionally, if you step back and think about it rationally, each day you are encountering different items, specific nuances, varying levels of difficulty, and will have varying levels of mental energy and focus. You are not a machine, and you should not expect bar prep to be an assembly line process where everything looks the same at the end of each day.

“Success is not built on success. It’s built on failure. It’s built on frustration. Sometimes it’s built on catastrophe.”

~Sumner Redstone

Remember that bar exam preparation is not about being perfect and knowing everything. Bar exam preparation is about studying, putting forth the effort, and learning from your mistakes as you progress. In fact, making mistakes and learning from them is part of the path of progress. 

What many people see as failure on any particular day is not that at all, but rather it is an opportunity to learn a nuance, uncover a misunderstanding, or gain an insight. It is an opportunity to see a literal red X in your bar prep programming now so that you can eventually get the proverbial green light of success notification from the Board of Bar Examiners later. This is a difficult time period, but it is one of opportunities that you have worked towards for years, and now is your time to shine. See each day as an opportunity to gain knowledge and set your sights on success.

I know that you can do this. Strive to learn something new each day and improve, dedicate your time to bar preparation, and treat yourself with kindness. You have been successful your entire life to arrive at this point, and you can continue to be successful moving forward. The bar exam is a difficult challenge, but it is an achievable goal for you to accomplish. You simply have to keep working hard and believing in yourself the way that I believe in you. 

You can pass the bar exam! You’ve got this! Keep working hard and take advantage of each day on your journey to successfully becoming an attorney and receiving that celebratory news letting you know that you passed the bar exam!

Keep working hard and turn your dreams into reality!

Advance Bar Prep Part Two: Friends and Family

Written by: Scot Goins, Director of Academic Achievement and Bar Success

In Part One of this series on Advance Bar Prep, we discussed the importance of “Understanding Your Why” to help you maintain motivation, to encourage daily success efforts, and to help you avoid creating mental barriers to your own success. Part Two of this series will discuss another oft overlooked component of bar exam success, “Friends and Family.”

If you step back and think about your life on any particular day, you will quickly realize that other people and your interactions with them play a big role in your day. Positive interactions can lift you up and inspire, and alternatively, negative interaction can drag you down and demotivate you. It makes sense that if your normal daily life can be positively and negatively impacted by others, if you then add bar exam study and stress into that mix, these interactions will have increased weight. A positive interaction can lift you up when you feel like you cannot possibly watch another video, do another practice question, or read one more outline. On the other hand, a negative interaction can distract you from your work, make you question how you are balancing your life, and lead to feelings of frustration and guilt. It makes sense to think about your relationships early.

Obviously, despite the beginning of your bar preparation, you will still interact with other people and be impacted by them. The key to enhancing the positivity and supportive nature of these interactions, while simultaneously minimizing any negativity, frustration, and guilt, is to do some early preparation. By having conversations with your friends and family about your journey and the time requirements of your studies, setting aside time in advance to spend with them, and managing others’ expectations of your time and availability, you can save yourself stress and frustration down the road. Here are three tips to help you be successful on the bar exam by actively managing your relationships in a way that supports your success.

1. Let your friends and family know what you are doing.

This may sound obvious, but taking the time to communicate with your friends and family about what you will be doing from graduation until you take the bar exam can help you avoid a lot of pitfalls down the road. Although it may seem like everyone should understand that you will be busy studying as you prepare for the challenges of the bar exam, the truth of the matter is that anyone who hasn’t engaged in such a rigorous undertaking may not understand why you need to spend so many hours every single day studying. It may seem instead that you are neglecting them, have poor time management, or that they are just not your priority. If you take the time in advance to discuss what your daily schedule will be like, let them know a timeline, and ask them for their patience before you begin your studies, you will potentially avoid a lot of problems and stress down the road.

2. Make your friends and family a part of your weekly schedule.

Generally, the importance of time management during bar prep is understood, and ensuring that you have time to watch lectures, review your notes and outlines, engage in practice questions, write essays, and other important things is simply a matter of assigning a time and day to them. This process is important as it helps you stay on the right track to success, but it is equally important to schedule time to spend with friends and family as well. Bar prep is time consuming and intensive, but it should not encompass every hour of every single day. Instead, treat it like a job, and when you are not working, make time to reconnect with friends and spend time with family. This will not only help you maintain positive relationships, but it will help keep you healthy, supported, and balanced as you engage in the rigors of preparing for the bar exam. If you get in the habit of scheduling and valuing others’ time before you start prepping for the bar exam, you will find that it is much easier to continue that habit during your prep.

3. Remember that other people have lives outside of bar prep.

This is one of those things that makes sense when you stop and think about it, but is not so easy to keep in mind when you are preparing for perhaps the most important test of your life. If you think back to the beginning of law school, you will likely remember a sense of disconnect with those who were not in law school because of how embedded you were in the process of legal education. No one outside of law school understood the perils and fears associated with the Socratic method, why you feared losing a highlighter, or why the letters IRAC made you cringe. The bar exam process is the same while you are in the middle of it for you, but it is also the same for those that are outside looking in at you. Just as they may not understand what you are going through, try to keep in mind that you may not understand what they are going through as someone who supports you and cares about you, and try to be open to communication and also inquiring about things that are not related to bar prep. Not only will it give you a nice break, but it will also help ensure that you stay connected with the people that matter most. Make sure that you actively engage with others before you begin your process, and it will be easier to maintain that communication and stay engaged during your preparation.

The aforementioned things are important for your mental and emotional well-being, but they will also help you on the exam. One of the most common refrains I hear from bar exam takers is about how lonely the process is, and how cut-off they feel from friends and family. If you actively engage in the aforementioned before (and during) your bar prep, you will find yourself better prepared and better able to handle the stress and rigors of the process.

In Part Three of this series, we will take a look at how you can “Make Your Commercial Course a Success Before Day One” and discuss a variety of ways that you can ensure you hit the ground running when your commercial course starts.

Advance Bar Prep Part One: Understanding Your Why

Written by: Scot Goins, Director of Academic Achievement and Bar Success

In part one of this series on advance bar prep planning, I want to discuss the importance of engaging in a thoughtful, purposeful approach at the beginning of the bar preparation process. Too often, recent law school graduates wait until the start date of their commercial bar prep course to engage in the bar preparation process, neglecting to engage in advance planning and then struggling with time management, motivation, anxiety, and an overwhelming sense of being behind. In this segment of the series, I want to introduce the first of four key components to successful advance planning in order to optimize your chances for being successful in your studies and passing the bar exam.

The first of these early planning components is ‘understanding your why.’ 

‘Understanding your why’ is a phrase that I utilize to assist students in preparing for the rigors of bar preparation. I truly believe that one of the reasons that students flounder and struggle with fatigue, self-doubt, frustration, and fear is because they lose sight of why they are participating in the process.

I’ll give you an example. Picture yourself watching a man in a suit pull up in a Tesla, jump out, and immediately dive into a dumpster. This behavior is perplexing on the surface, and you may find yourself pondering what in the world this gentleman is doing. However, if I told you that he accidentally threw his wallet away, along with his life savings that he was taking to a new bank, this behavior would quickly make sense. Understanding the man’s ‘why’ helped you understand what he was doing and his motivation for doing so.

However, many students forget to engage in this self-reflection before and during their bar prep process. Instead of thinking about everything that motivated them to be successful prior to the start of bar prep, many students instead think about the barriers between them and success, such as the long hours of study, the drudgery, essay writing practice, the possibility of failure, and a plethora of other unhelpful things. Not only does this not assist law school graduates in passing the bar exam, it actually demotivates them because they get too caught up in the day-to-day instead of focusing on the ‘why’ they are doing what they are doing. If you do not fully understand why you are doing something, it is hard to be motivated to engage in that activity for hours each and every day.

This then leads us to the question of how do we get students to successfully engage in changing their patterns and effectively engage in understanding their why?

“Stop rehearsing life’s failures. Use your beautiful imagination to visualize success.”

~Cheryl Richardson

As the above quote reflects, instead of getting caught in the mental trap of thinking about all of the barriers between you and success, let me encourage you to instead engage in the following mental exercise at least three times a day during the days leading up to the start of your bar preparation course, and to continue engaging in a similar manner daily during the bar prep process. As part of your daily schedule, I suggest that you perform the following mental exercise:

Take a deep breath and close your eyes. Think about every success that you have had that has led you to reaching this moment in time. Next, think about the most important people who sacrificed or assisted you in getting to this point. Then, imagine what it would be like to triumphantly tell those people about successfully passing the bar exam. Finally, try to feel your joy and happiness when you imagine receiving your passing score, and think about how proud you will be of your success.

Although this is a simple exercise, when performed regularly, it keeps you focused on several key things. It reminds you of your past success, and gives you confidence that you can be successful in the future. It helps you to appreciate where you are and how you got to the point in your life where you have the opportunity to realize your goals and become an attorney. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, picturing yourself being successful on the bar exam and sharing that moment with others is a powerful visualization technique that will instill confidence and motivate you.

Don’t believe me? Try engaging in that exercise now and write down how you feel afterwards. I think you will be pleasantly pleased. You will come to realize that you have a choice in how you approach bar prep, and that the coming months are not full of barriers to your success, but are instead paved with stepping stones on your path to achieving your goal of passing the bar exam.

Denis Waitley has a famous quote which sums it all up nicely, “When you visualize, you materialize.” Remember, you have the power to make your dreams a reality, and you control your journey to success. Put the work in, and you will succeed.

In the next part of this series, we will examine another often overlooked factor in bar success, ‘Friends and Family’. Until then, work hard, and remember to visualize daily to assist you in making your dreams of becoming an attorney a reality.

Georgia Bar Exam News, Graduating Students Workshops, and Bar Preparation Information

Written by: Scot Goins, Director of Academic Achievement and Bar Success

It is hard to believe that the bar exam is already on the horizon, but remember that July is only a few months away. There have been many questions about whether the Georgia Bar Exam will be in-person or administered remotely, and today the Georgia Board of Bar Examiners announced that the July administration will be given remotely. You can see that official announcement here, and the Office of Academic Achievement and Bar Success (AABS) recommends that you review the Georgia February 2021 Remote Bar Exam FAQ’s to help begin developing a sense of what that has previously entailed, and to provide some insights as to what that might mean for bar examinees in July. If you are sitting for a different state bar exam, please visit the NCBE July 2021 updates website for the latest updates for your particular jurisdiction.

Speaking of the Georgia Bar Exam, there are a variety of opportunities for you to get assistance in the application and bar preparation process. The first workshop series is coming up on Monday, April 5, at 5:00 p.m., and Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School is fortunate to have a presentation from the Georgia Board of Bar Examiners around the application process and to share some insights about what graders are looking for when grading the bar exam.

You will receive this invitation directly, but here is a copy for your convenience:

“Mark your calendars! The first of a series of events for graduating students intending to take the bar exam is coming up soon. The Georgia Board of Bar Examiners will be joining us Monday, April 5, 2021 at 5:00 p.m. via Zoom. During the presentation, the examiners will discuss important information for students to remember in applying for the exam and things to remember on exam day(s). You will be able to access the meeting here

There will also be a bar examiner there to debrief a bar exam question that they recently wrote and scored for a past exam. Once we receive the question they plan to walk through, we will be sending it out so you have an opportunity to complete it before the actual presentation. This will be a great tool and learning experience to better understand how the Georgia Bar Exam is testing, and what the examiners are looking for when grading bar questions.

If you have any questions or concerns, please let us know. There will be additional reminders closer to the event, and more announcements to come. We look forward to seeing you at the event!”

If you are sitting for the exam in other jurisdictions, relevant links for deadlines and other information can be found on the AABS website.

Additionally, please keep in mind that our summer bar supplemental programming will be starting soon, and that not only you will have access to a variety of workshops and programming to supplement your commercial bar preparation course, but that you will also have the opportunity to directly work with members of the AABS team. Keep an eye on your inbox for additional information, invitations, and know that we are excited to work with you on your path to success.

Last, but certainly not least, at this point you should have received your information to access your commercial bar preparation course. We highly encourage you to go ahead and login to get a sense of how the course works, a better understanding of the interface, and to give yourself an early opportunity to ask questions or address issues before your commercial bar review course starts.

Remember, the bar exam should not be viewed as an obstacle, but rather as an opportunity and stepping stone on your path towards becoming an impactful member of the legal profession, and that AABS is always here to assist you on that journey. You are always welcome to contact us at

The Day Before the Bar Exam: Finish Your Journey Strong

Written by: Scot Goins, Director of Academic Achievement and Bar Success

Today, I wanted to share with you a quote from Herb Brooks, who was the head coach of the 1980 U.S Olympic Hockey team that defied the odds and won the gold medal. He said:

“Great moments are born from great opportunity.”

The day before the bar exam is one that can lead to a lot of anxiety and fear. Thoughts of what can go wrong, what law you may not know, fears of the test, worries about the future, and all kinds of other negative emotions can quickly take root in your mind, and quickly grow into a consuming beast that can overwhelm you in the final hours before you take this exam. I get it, the exam is stressful and can produce anxiety, but you have a choice in whether to let these negative emotions take root and grow out of control.

Instead, let me encourage you to look upon the exam as an opportunity for greatness. The bar exam is an opportunity for you to shine and see your dreams come true. It is an opportunity to put all of your studying and hard work on display, showcase your knowledge and the efforts you have put in over the last months, and for you to achieve success.

The bar exam is not something to fear. The bar exam is a great opportunity for you to experience a great moment that unlocks an array of future great moments. This is an opportunity for you to achieve, but if you think about it, there can be no real sense of true achievement without the accompanying fear of failure. You cannot stand on top of the mountain and enjoy the view without taking on the challenge of climbing the mountain to start with.

And that, future attorney, is what you have been doing these past few months. You have been climbing the mountain, building your knowledge, working on your multiple-choice testing skills, practicing your essays, and putting the time into your performance tests. You aren’t standing at the bottom, trying to peer through the clouds, and attempting to imagine where the apex of the mountain is somewhere high above. Instead, you are right on the cusp of standing at the top, triumphantly raising your arms and shouting, “I DID IT!”

The bar exam is a journey, involving a lot of studying and hard work, but you have put that time in and you endured the climb. Now that you are at the top, I encourage you not to worry about falling, even though that fear has lingered during your entire climb. Instead, now is the time to be confident because you have already come so far, and the end of your journey is within your reach. You just have to push a little more, and finish strong.

Breathe deeply today. Visualize your success. Do not let fear and anxiety overcome you when you are so close to your goal. Take your final steps on Tuesday and Wednesday, achieve your goal, and stand proudly at the top enjoying the view.

Embrace the challenge, do not fear it. You started your journey towards this moment years ago, and now is your time to complete it. 

Finish your journey strong. You deserve to enjoy the view and celebrate your success.

A Decade and a Dream: Let Evelyn Uba Be Your Inspiration to Succeed

As the bar exam draws ever closer, nerves, anxiety, and fears of failing often begin consuming bar takers, and that is why today I wanted to share the story of Evelyn Uba with you.

You likely don’t know Evelyn, and in fact, you may have never heard of Evelyn before today. However, over the past ten years, she has shared something in common with you, and that is a dream to succeed and pass the bar exam.

Evelyn’s road wasn’t easy. She graduated law school in 2011 and failed the bar exam multiple times – and by multiple times – a quote from her sums it up nicely, “I took the exam more than ten times. I stopped counting after a while but giving up certainly wasn’t in my dictionary.” Evelyn was a full-time working mom, while also raising a family of four, so it would have been easy for her to give up. She was strong though and kept pushing past her challenges, fighting through adversity, and she didn’t let anything stand in the way of her accomplishing her goals. She had plenty of excuses, but she didn’t let all of the reasons why she should not be successful stop her, and she persevered.

On January 9, 2021, Evelyn received notification that she had passed the bar exam, almost ten years after graduating from law school. You can see the video here of when she found out the results, and I highly encourage you to watch it and read about her journey.

I’m sharing Evelyn’s story with you to put things in perspective for you during this stressful and anxiety-ridden time of the year, and to remind you of one thing. You are in control, even when it feels like things are out of your control as you prepare for the bar exam. Ultimately, no one can stop you if you commit to your goal and reach for your dream.

Like Evelyn, you cannot control what appears on the test, but what you can control is your commitment to succeed and your daily work ethic. Recommit yourself today to the realization of your goal to pass the bar exam. Leave nothing on the table over the next few days, focus on doing what you need to improve, and believe in your ability to be successful. Dedicate yourself to working hard, visualize yourself being as happy as Evelyn when you receive your passing score, and make your dream a reality. 

Work hard this week, and believe in yourself. You can do this. I know you can. Be like Evelyn, and don’t let anything stand in the way of your success.

Bar Prep in February: Finish Epically

It’s hard to believe, but February is here! It is with that thought in mind that I share this quote with you:

Starting off strong is good. Finishing strong is epic.” ~Robin Sharma

This is a peculiar time of year. Those with their eyes forward on the February bar exam find themselves often wishing they had done more, whether it was starting studying earlier, devoting more hours, utilizing a different method, reading more outlines, doing more practice essays, reviewing more MPT’s, etc. I promise you that if you look back in time, you will always find the opportunity to have done something differently, wasting time and energy worrying over something that you cannot change.

Guess what? Right now, it does not matter. What you did in December and January is irrelevant in terms of what you will do in February. No matter what you have done well, poorly, or wish you had done differently, that time is in the past and it cannot be changed. Looking back on the past with wishes and regrets does nothing for you in the present. Your time to shine is now in the present.

Regardless of what you have done previously, whether you have performed beyond your wildest expectations or not engaged in the manner that you had hoped, that is all in the past. The only thing that you have control over is what you do moving forward.

I encourage you to take a moment today and re-dedicate yourself to your bar exam preparation. Commit to yourself now to make the most of each day between now and the bar exam. Do not waste a single day, and approach each and every day with an appreciation for the opportunity that it provides for you to learn and grow. 

Instead of looking back in a month and wishing that you had done more, do more. Rather than looking back in a month and wishing you had reviewed more essays, do so. Do not look back and wish you had engaged more with your outlines, but rather start engaging more today. This is your time, and you have to own it. You have to seize the opportunity that the next weeks provide, and use that time to lift yourself to bar exam success.

The only person who can ultimately be responsible for your success is you. Your bar prep programming, your academic supporters, your friends, your families – we are all rooting for you to be successful.

However, your destiny is in your hands. Only you control how much you put in, how hard you work, and how driven you will be for success.

Do not look back on this time and say, “I wish I had…” Look back on this time and know that you did everything in your power to be successful. You can do this. Work hard every single day. Finish epically!

Bar Prep Motivation: Almost There

It is that time of year. Bar preparation has been in full swing for a good while now, and your motivation might begin lacking. You might be getting tired of reading, and the thought of writing another essay or doing another question set may seem like daunting tasks. You might be asking yourself when will you have done enough? How long do you need to keep working this hard?

My personal belief is that each and every day is an opportunity to grow and learn, and that this is no time to rest on your laurels. Now is the time to work even harder than you did previously. This is your time to achieve.

There is a (slightly modified) quote I love to share at this point in the bar preparation process, and it comes from Herodotus:

“Some people give up their designs when they have almost reached the goal; while others, on the contrary, obtain a victory, by exerting, at the last moment, more vigorous efforts than ever before.”

Let this quote define you and your efforts over the next few weeks. Over the past months you have been putting in the time and effort to pass the bar exam, and now you have almost reached the goal. However, now is not the time to take your foot off of the gas or slow down, but rather instead it is the time for you to redouble your efforts and exert even more. You can see the finish line, and although you may be fatigued and exhausted, you must push to cross that finish line and achieve the result you have dreamed of so often.

Work hard, and don’t leave anything in the proverbial gas tank. Do everything in your power to learn, take every opportunity to improve, practice often, and leave nothing on the table as you study and prepare for your future bar exam success.

This is your time. You are writing the story, and you control the narrative. Make your dream come true. Obtain your goal, achieve your victory, and pass the bar exam.

Bar Exam Motivation: MLK Day 2021

Written by: Scot Goins, Director of Academic Achievement and Bar Success

Martin Luther King, Jr, once said the following:

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

On this day honoring and remembering him and his legacy, I encourage you to keep the above quote in mind as you go through your bar exam preparation. It is not how hard you study on any one day, how well you perform on a single quiz, or how eloquently you write a single essay that matters during this time. Rather, it is your consistent effort each day that ultimately will result in your success. You have to keep moving forward.

Some days you will perform well and you will fly high. Some days you will perform decently and feel as if you are running quickly towards success. Some days you will trudge at a frustratingly slow pace towards your goals. Some days you will crawl slowly forward, inching your way towards success. 

Regardless of whether you soar quickly in your learning or crawl towards knowledge painstakingly slowly, always remember to keep pushing yourself to continue to consistently move forward. Progress is progress, no matter the speed, and what matters is that you always stay in motion with your eyes on the prize. Believe in yourself and believe in your journey, because you can do this. Work hard each day to be successful on the bar exam, and you will never have to look back on this time with regret that you did not put forth your best effort.

Always keep moving forward towards the success that awaits you. I believe in you. You can pass the bar exam. Do whatever you have to do, but always keep moving forward.

Bar Prep Advice: It’s Okay to Hate Bar Prep

One thing you may not know about me is that I am a huge fan of sports – all sports – from the mainstream to the obscure, I really enjoy the thrill of both competing personally and watching others in their athletic pursuits. As you also may or may not know, I’m in the midst of recovering from a pretty horrific mountain bike accident that I experienced during my race training in October 2019, and, have recently had multiple surgeries to put ol’ Humpty Dumpty back together again.

Today, I was thinking about how far I have to go on my comeback trail, and wondering if I’m ever going to be able to race again. I was thinking about the state championships I won previously, how out of shape I am now in comparison, and just dreading the idea of getting my arm out of this sling and beginning the dreaded process of training. I was full of self-doubt, anxiety, and concerns that I’ll never be successful again in the future, but I was also filled with the overwhelming thought of how much I hate training. I wondered if it is even possible for me to ever be successful on the trails again, and that also makes the idea of training even more difficult. This is not to mention that I am also worried about my skills deteriorating, and whether I will ever feel confident and capable enough to ride again.

Why am I telling you all of this personal information? How does this relate to you and your bar motivation? Like me, you may be feeling discouraged, and the thought of another day, week, or even month of bar prep may seem overwhelming and daunting. You may be exhausted, and saying to yourself each day, “I HATE BAR PREP!” You may wonder if you can pull this off, and your dread of the day to day may really be weighing you down.

I’m here to tell you that it is okay to hate bar prep, and that liking bar prep isn’t a prerequisite to being successful. Rather, it is what you do after you make that statement that matters.

In fact, it is the next step that I took today that I want to highlight, and I encourage you to do the same thing whenever you are faltering. I pulled this quote out from Muhammad Ali, who once said, “I hate every minute of training. But I said, don’t quit. Suffer now, and live the rest of your life as a champion.” 

I felt my anxiety drop today about my recovery when I read that quote because I then remembered that it is okay to hate training. Training isn’t the goal, it’s just a necessary part of the journey. Success in daily pursuing your goals, working hard to give yourself a fighting chance, and knowing that you did everything possible to win – all of these things require that training must be endured. Nothing says that you have to like it or that you can’t get tired of it, but rather what matters is perseverance. Reading that quote reminded me that I’m going to be tired and frustrated, that I am not always going to enjoy the process, but the process is important if I want to be successful and ever have the opportunity to achieve my goals and realize my dreams. I also remembered that there is a reason I mountain bike, I love a lot of things about it beyond racing, and recognized that I am getting too caught up in thinking about a binary event that is taking away from my focus on my daily recovery. I need to live in the present and focus now, versus being worried about the future.

This mentality applies directly toward bar preparation. Although there are undoubtedly aspects of the law that you will enjoy during the process, other aspects will feel like a grind and you will struggle at times to force yourself through your daily activities. Every video that you watch takes effort, every multiple-choice question that you carefully review and study will require concentration, and each essay will engage your mental faculties in ways that can leave you exhausted. Like me, you may find your tasks daunting, and you may hate the thought of another day of studying. In essence, you may find yourself like Ali hating every minute of training and preparation. You may worry so much about the future exam that you fail to recognize the leaps and bounds in learning that you are achieving each and every day.

I encourage you to keep Muhammad Ali’s words in mind and realize that this is all okay. Your feelings about your day-to-day activities, your short-term stumbles, and your mental fatigue may all lead to you hating your own bar exam “training.” These thoughts are normal for everyone, and even the greatest of champions feels this way, so you shouldn’t expect yourself to feel any differently.

However, remember what he said, “…don’t quit. Suffer now, and live the rest of your life as a champion.” Put your hard work in now, study outlines, practice, write and review essays, and do everything in your power to be successful no matter how hard it is each day. Work hard, and pass the bar exam. Train now, to later become a bar pass champion. Focus on what you need to be successful each day and accomplish your tasks for that day, and whether you find yourself hating bar prep or not, you will assuredly find yourself on the road to improvement and eventual success.

Work hard. Train hard. Be a champion like Ali. You can do this. You will never look back and regret trying your best, but if you do not put forth your best, you will live your life with regret.

Learn Hearsay the Easy Way: 7 Simple Steps


When it comes to the bar exam, one of the areas that students struggle with the most is evidence, and within that topic the biggest struggle seems to occur in the world of hearsay. This article will teach you how to take hearsay from an area of concern into an area you look forward to, by providing guidance on how to handle this area of the black letter law (for purposes of this writing, all references refer to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (‘FRCP’)).

At first glance, hearsay can be overwhelming. After all, when it comes to the topic of hearsay, there are seemingly an endless array of definitions, exemptions (referred to as exclusions in FRCP 801), exceptions, and possibilities for potential questions and answers. However, I’m here to tell you today that hearsay is actually not that complicated, and as long as you follow these seven simple steps you will be able to do well when it comes to hearsay on the bar exam.

1. You must know the terminology. 

Quite simply, you have to know what a statement is, who falls under the definition of a declarant, the definition of hearsay, and always be on the lookout for whether the statement is being made in court or was made out of court. This is the foundation of everything, and if you consistently overlook the basics, you will struggle, guaranteed. You must memorize these definitions verbatim and always be aware of who the declarant is and where the referenced statement took place.

2. You must understand hearsay and the rationale behind its potential exclusion.

What is hearsay? Broadly speaking, hearsay is an out of court statement offered for the truth of the matter asserted. As such, it is generally inadmissible unless an exception or an exemption applies.

You have to know that definition, but you also must understand why hearsay is potentially problematic in court. Imagine how unreliable the judicial process would become if anyone could come into a court and claim that they heard someone say something without proffering proof. What if someone misremembers? What if someone intentionally lies? This is the whole point of the rule against hearsay, in that the law strives to prevent unreliable or unprovable out of court statements from being used as evidence in court.

The best way I have found to teach students this rationale is to have them take on the mindset of a party in a trial. Imagine how it would feel to have hearsay be used as evidence against you without limit. Anyone could walk in and say whatever they wanted, claiming to have heard you say something or claiming to have said something, and offer it as truth of the matter asserted against you. The courts would potentially be filled with make-believe lawsuits, prosecutors would be able to get convictions based on the flimsiest of basis, and our judicial system would fall into turmoil. No one would be safe! You can also flip this around and place yourself in the mindset of the prosecutor or plaintiff, and just imagine what things could come into court that would prevent any successful court appearance because the defendant would be able to bring any number of people in to refute most evidence.

All of that said, you must also understand that despite this underlying rationale regarding hearsay, there is a competing rationale to allow credible evidence into court. This is the basis for the exemptions and exceptions to the rule against hearsay, where courts have more than just a statement to rely upon, and instead can somewhat lean on the surrounding circumstances that make the statement more likely to be reliable. And, this leads us to step #3.

3. You must think about the circumstances surrounding the potential hearsay. 

Do these circumstances in the fact pattern tend to lend credibility to the statement or make it more reliable? If so, it makes it much more likely to come in under an exception or an exemption. Alternatively, if the circumstances seem to indicate no increase in credibility, or seem to add nothing to giving a sense that the statement is more reliable, your odds of such a statement being admitted decrease. This can serve as an early warning radar to help point you in the right direction when it comes to selecting the proper answer.

4. You must divide and conquer.

One of the issues that I consistently see students struggling with is keeping track of the relatively long list of exemptions and exceptions when it comes to determining whether or not a statement is hearsay, whether it falls under an exemption, or whether an exception is required.

However, I’m here to tell you that there is a relatively easy way to handle this with relatively little additional effort on your part. All you need to do is divide hearsay into three categories, and you will soon be able to confidently handle this material. The first thing you do is take three separate papers (or pages in your document, but I recommend separate papers) and create broad overview sheets. Label them as Hearsay Exemptions (things that would be hearsay but-for (as mentioned previously, sometimes referred to sometimes as exclusions)), Hearsay Exceptions: Declarant Unavailable, and Hearsay Exceptions: Declarant May or May Not Be Available.

After you make these headings, the next step is to fill in under each heading the full list of what falls under each. The idea is that you create a very basic, one to two-line indicator of what falls under each heading (labeled a., b., c. or 1, 2, 3). After you finish this task, I recommend that you then count everything that falls under each specific heading, and place the total number applicable in parentheses next to each heading. Next, I suggest that you color code each of three three categories and each indicator. Example: Hearsay Exemptions (8).

5. You must take the time to learn and memorize!

Now that you have your lists made, the next step is to work on learning and memorization. This is one of those areas of that law for the bar exam where memorization is especially important, so you want to proceed with a plan. First, take each of your headings and short indicators from your overview sheet and expound upon them in a different document or on a different page.  (You’ll want to keep your initial list relatively clear for memorization of what is under each category). Specifically, you want to go beyond the topical nomenclature and dive into the exact elements of these exemptions and exceptions. I highly recommend that you separate your work into three separate sections, piles, or documents (depending on your strategy and preferred methodology). Color code each page and part of your list according to the broad overview heading that it falls under (this will help you keep track of what you are working on and learning, making it easier to apply and retain). It is very important to memorize each and every element of each exemption and exception, as most bar exam questions come down to a missing element being the difference between an answer that is right and one that is wrong.

Now, you are set to begin the next aspect of learning through memorization, which occurs through repetition and review. Although normally trying to learn hearsay can feel overwhelming, now that you have divided it into categories you will find that you are able to concentrate on one of the three specific areas, boosted by the knowledge of how many exemptions or rules should fall under each heading, and with the color code assisting you as a reminder. You can also make your own mnemonics (make them personal to better remember). Additionally, you should either bring with you or make copies of your initial overview list, and you should review them on a regular basis. This will help you learn the law, create a manageable approach to this important topic, and help you also to keep track of which things should be under each category heading. Put some time into this, and you will be pleasantly surprised at how quickly you develop this knowledge.

Bonus tip for flashcard lovers: Although I seldom recommend bar students reinvent the wheel outside of their commercial courses, this is one area where I do highly recommend making your own flashcards. It’s a relatively small amount of flashcards, and if you ensure that you keep the heading, full exemption or exception (broken down into all elements), and color code this side of the flashcard, you’ll find that this builds nicely on the above.

6. You must make examples and engage with practice questions.

There are three final tasks in terms of becoming strong in this area of the law, assuming you have engaged in everything I have suggested. The first is to personally create one or two examples under each exemption or exception that will help you learn and understand the material. Next, whenever you are engaging in practice questions (which you should be doing regularly and with purpose), make note under your own examples of examples you see in questions to build your pattern recognition and cognitive abilities to increase awareness of pitfalls and red herrings. The last must-do is that whenever you stumble with a question, you must then engage directly with your created hearsay review materials to increase your memorization and understanding (for example, if you missed an element, work on memorization for that exception or exemption).

7. You must continuously review on a weekly basis.

You should never be “done” when it comes to studying for the bar exam, and hearsay is no exception. After you find that you have mastered the materials, make sure that you schedule at least a 2-3 times short review of the materials that you have created and continue to work on some practice questions. This will ensure long-term retention and increase your ability to find the correct answer.


If you do everything that I’ve written here, you will be able to confidently approach and get correct multiple-choice hearsay questions, while also improving any relevant essays that you may encounter on the bar exam. Your confidence, performance, and knowledge will grow rapidly, and you absolutely will improve your performance in this area. Try these techniques, and I am certain that you will see rapid improvement after you put in the time and work following the steps put forth here. Good luck, and I encourage you to reach out to me and let me know about your improvements and success!

Failed the Bar Exam? Don’t Worry. It’s Going to Be Okay.

Written by: Scot Goins, Director of Academic Achievement and Bar Success

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.” 

~Winston Churchill

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama, and John F. Kennedy, Jr., all have something in common – they failed the bar exam. The fact of the matter is, no matter how smart you are, how hard you study, or what great things you are destined for, sometimes you fail the bar exam. Sometimes, in fact, you’ll fail it more than once.

The important thing to remember is that this is not the end. Just as success on the bar exam would not be your final step on the path towards being a practicing attorney, failure is not the end nor is it fatal to your chances of becoming a lawyer. Instead, failure on the exam is a momentary setback, but it does not have to, and should not, end your journey. You can, regardless of anything that has happened before this moment, pass the bar exam in the future and fulfill your dream of being a licensed, practicing attorney.

But, let’s take a moment and be realistic. If you are reading this right now, the odds are that you do not feel very good about yourself or your odds for future success. You are disappointed, upset, possibly questioning your life decisions, your study habits, your intellectual abilities, and may also perhaps be facing a whole host of other overwhelming doubts and fears that have been lurking in the dark recesses of your mind as you awaited your results. The notification from your respective board of examiners that you failed the bar exam hurts. It makes you feel like you let yourself down, like you disappointed friends, family members, employers, and all kinds of other people that you felt had some type of investment in your success. Right now, you are likely in a dark place, and it may feel hopeless. You may feel like your dreams are dashed, all hope is lost, and that there is no light at the end of the tunnel. This is natural. This is okay.

However, as I referenced above, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. In fact, the good news is that you aren’t at the end of the tunnel at all. As a specific reference, I’ll tell you about one of the numerous times that I was on the subway in NYC and we came to a halt between station stops. The power then shut off on the train. Darkness was all around us, it felt like I couldn’t breathe, and whether it was seconds or minutes (or once it actually lasted an hour), it felt like time had ceased moving and I was going to be trapped in that moment of darkness forever. 

Guess what though? The train got moving again, and although I was delayed and felt powerless when that subway car was sitting in that dark tunnel, everything worked out and I got to my destination. The same is going to be true for you. You are going to escape this time of self-doubt, anxiety, and worry, and you will be successful on the bar exam. Sometimes a journey does not go exactly as planned, but that does not mean that you will not reach your destination.

I do not have to personally know you to say this. I do not have to know your score, have ever seen a writing sample of your work, or listened to you discuss torts until I want to accuse you of battery upon my ears. It doesn’t matter whether you failed by a few points or by a lot. The fact of the matter is that you can pass the bar exam. 

I’ve seen people fail multiple times, but ultimately be successful. I have seen people on the verge of giving up, who then choose to give it one more try and really buckle down, and then put the time, work, and effort in to be successful. In the end, I have seen it pay off. I have seen them pass the bar exam. You can pass the bar exam as well.

That is what I am telling you today. You can make changes, adapt, work harder, differently, or utilize different techniques. You can study more, do more practice questions, write and review more essays, or work on more performance tests. You are not stuck in this moment. You are merely at a pause, and when you start your journey again you have control of your own success. It is up to you to dedicate yourself to working hard and holding yourself accountable. It is up to you to utilize the resources provided to you by your school and to let the people who care about you assist you, mentor you, tutor you, and guide you. I believe in you.

I also want to make sure that you know that the people at your law school believe in you. Here in Academic Achievement and Bar Success (AABS), we are all here because we are passionate about seeing our students successful, and because we believe that you can and will achieve. The Deans, professors, staff, and alumni all believe in you, and we all want you to be successful. 

Personally speaking, I care about your goals and I am passionate about your legal career dreams. Your ultimate success fuels the fire of the passion that brought me here, and my favorite aspect of being the Director of AABS is when I see someone graduate law school, pass the bar exam, and celebrate all the hard work and dedication paying off. The joy of seeing someone pass the bar exam never gets old to me, and each time a student gets that ‘pass notification’ is equally amazing to me and also makes me appreciate the astounding amount of time, work, diligence, and effort that goes well beyond that individual’s success at that one moment. It encompasses the realized hopes and dreams of families, represents overcoming obstacles, following passions, and is the crowning achievement of your law school career as you transition into your professional role. I want you to feel the joy that comes with passing the bar exam.

Over the next few days, you will be hearing from me personally about assisting you as you prepare for the next exam, but I wanted to remind you today that you are not alone. I believe in you. The school administration, faculty, and our alumni believe in you. We are to do everything in our power and work with you to help you be successful.

Relax and breathe. Prepare to re-dedicate and perhaps try new things that are outside your comfort zone. Take it easy on yourself and realize that you are not alone, even though it often feels that way, and know that someday this will likely be a story you tell to an aspiring law school graduate about how you overcame adversity and this obstacle (and others) to ultimately realize success. Rest now, recuperate, and be prepared to come out with your best efforts for the next round. Your fight isn’t over. Be courageous, and continue forward.

*One final note: sometimes, finding out that you were unsuccessful on the bar exam can be especially overwhelming, and you may find that you need to seek professional help to deal with your troubling thoughts, anxieties, or worries. I highly encourage you to remember that AJMLS has resources, that there are professionals that are only a click or a call away, and that this time of seeming despair will pass. The unfortunate thing getting through something and processing is that it takes time, but everything will be okay. However, if you find yourself considering hurting yourself, please know that you can always contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline (1-800-273-8255), utilize the lawyer’s assistance program in your state, call a friend, or even dial 911 if you are in crisis. The bar exam results in the now do not define your tomorrow, so take a deep breath and know that everything will be okay. I promise.

Monday Motivation: Woman Takes Bar Exam While in Labor, Gives Birth, then Finishes the Exam the Next Day – and Passes!

Written by: Scot Goins, Director of Academic Achievement and Bar Success

Happy Monday! I hope that this Monday following this all-too-short weekend finds you healthy, well-rested, and with your eyes firmly on the prize of your ultimate goal – passing the bar exam!

There are a variety of factors and obstacles that can impact your journey towards success, and one of the things that I always try to make abundantly clear to examinees is that with determination and grit, you can overcome anything and be successful. In order to highlight this, today I wanted to share a story with you about a woman who graduated from Loyola University School of Law.

When Brianna Hill was originally scheduled to take the July UBE bar exam in Illinois, she knew there would be challenges with being around 28 weeks pregnant. However, with all of the uncertainty around COVID-19 and the challenges surrounding a safe exam administration, the exam ended up getting pushed to October. Suddenly, that manageable 28-week pregnancy was going to be a 38-week pregnancy. Determined to success with her goals and motivated to become an attorney, Brianna pushed on and was ready for on October 5, 2020, the first day of the two-day test period.

The remote exam in Illinois was divided into 4 90-minute sections, and 30 minutes into the test Brianna felt a sensation that led her to think, “I really hope my water didn’t just break.” However, due to the exam software proctoring, she couldn’t even get up to go to the bathroom and check. Clearly, this was an opportunity to panic and abandon the exam, but Brianna held fast to her ambitions and dreams, persevering until the break. 

During the break, Brianna realized that her water had indeed broken, and called her husband, midwife, mom, did some crying, but after some discussion around her current state, realized that she had some time before she needed to be at the hospital. Incredibly, Brianna decided to complete the second 90-minute section in the afternoon, before then heading to the hospital where she arrived around 5:30pm. A little under 5 hours later, Brianna and her husband welcomed a new baby boy to the world.

This story could stop right here and already be pretty inspiring, but Brianna, with the support of hospital staff and family, decided to finish the bar exam the following day. Having just given birth, and aware of the strict requirements of the bar examiners, the hospital provided Brianna with a private room, hung a ‘do not disturb’ sign on the entrance, and fully supported her finishing the exam. You may be wondering about the new baby boy during all this, and amazingly, Brianna was feeding the baby during breaks!

Months later, Brianna got news that probably wasn’t quite as exciting as the birth of a new baby, but had to be satisfying in an entirely different way. Last week, Brianna found out that she passed the Illinois Bar Exam! Can you imagine overcoming all of that, successfully performing on the test despite giving birth, changing locations, and literally having all of your plans upended? It’s really incredible.

I hope this motivates you to remember that anything is possible, no matter what the obstacle or obstacles that you face or must overcome. Remember that people here at the Office of Academic Achievement and Bar Success (AABS), your friends, and your family all want you to succeed, and we all believe in you. And most importantly, you should believe in yourself, because if you put the time, effort, follow a plan, adapt, and believe, you will succeed. 

Brianna had this to say: “I’m so thankful for the support system I had around me. The midwives and nurses were so invested in helping me not only become a mom but also a lawyer,” She added. “My husband and law school friends provided me with so much encouragement so I could push through the finish line even under less than ideal circumstances. And my family, especially my sister, just kept reminding me how I could do it even when I wasn’t so sure myself.” (as reported by CNN)

Remember that you have a support system that is always here for you, the Office of Academic Achievement and Bar Success. Not only are we here to provide guidance and support, but we are also here to provide belief in you and encouragement when you are struggling. I personally believe that each of you has the ability to be successful on the bar exam, and that if you dedicate the time, energy, and effort, you will be successful.

On a personal note, the best moments of my year are when I receive a call, email, text, or note from a student informing me that they have been successful and are going to become licensed attorneys. There is no better feeling than helping someone to achieve their dreams, and I want to help you achieve yours.

Have a wonderful Monday, and remember to stay motivated and believe in yourself. If Brianna Smith can go into labor and give birth in the midst of the bar exam and pass the bar exam, you can overcome obstacles and challenges in your life and also be successful.

I believe in you. You can do this. You will be successful.

You, Me, and the MPRE: 2021 Dates and Deadlines

Written by: Scot Goins, Director of Academic Achievement and Bar Success

One of the key things discussed in our original You, Me, and the MPRE series is the importance of allocating a proper amount of time to study for the MPRE exam. Of course, how can anyone plan accordingly if they don’t have the dates and deadlines?

No worries, as the information for the MPRE dates and deadlines for the 2021 administrations are available now at, and you can learn about them below.

As a brief overview of the dates and deadlines, this year there will be six total administrations of the MPRE, however unlike last year, these dates will be grouped in three back-to-back dates (you’ll only take the exam on one of the six dates). Remember to ensure that you know the registration deadline for the administration that you want to take. Also, it is important to note that there is a difference between the registration deadlines and the recommended accommodation deadlines, so you will want to make sure to pay close attention to both if you intend to apply for accommodations.

The first administration of the 2021 MPRE will take place on March 29th or 30th, and the deadline for registration is January 28, 2021. If you are seeking accommodations, it is recommended that you submit those requests no later than January 4, 2021.

The next administration of the 2021 MPRE will take place on August 11th or 12th, and the deadline for registration for this exam is June 10, 2021. If you are seeking accommodations, remember that it is recommended that you submit those requests no later than May 4, 2021.

Your final opportunity to take the 2021 MPRE will occur on November 4th or 5th, and the deadline for registration for this administration is September 17, 2021. The recommended submission date for those seeking accommodations is August 2, 2021.

Remember, that the MPRE score requirement in Georgia is 75 (if you are intending to become licensed in a different jurisdiction you can find your specific requirements here). Regardless of where you intend to practice or what score you require, putting in the proper amount of study and utilizing the correct resources are both key to your success.

If you are looking for advice on how to be successful on the MPRE exam, including information about the content, free resources, and studying advice, check out our You, Me, and the MPRE series.

AJMLS Project 470: Supplemental Bar Success Program for First-Time Takers

Written by: Scot Goins, Director of Academic Achievement and Bar Success

When it comes to the bar exam, there are a lot of factors that come into play in order to achieve success. However, one of the biggest indicators of success is the amount of quality study time that students invest in their preparation. Time and time again, statistical indicators show that students who approach the bar exam in a structured manner and put in sufficient hours perform better than their peers who do not have a plan. Additionally, hitting certain quantifiable milestones in terms of time invested combined with study guidance leads to better bar success outcomes. Generally speaking, students who have an adaptive study plan with enough quality study hours dedicated to learning and skills-improvement perform better than those without such a plan and dedication.

This is where Project 470 comes into play. The numbers 4-7-0 represent more than the new area code that Georgia got on February 26, 2010. They also represent the optimal number of hours for students to study to help ensure they successfully pass the bar exam, and this time commitment is the foundation for Atlanta John Marshall Law School’s Project 470.

The general guidance for most first-time bar exam takers is vague, with guidelines, study plans, and subject order varying depending on which commercial bar course students are enrolled with. This leads to confusion, and can sometimes cause difficulty due to the lack of individualization. Students are also confused about strategies, as there are those that claim you need to only do x amount of practice questions, study y amount of hours, or take z amount of essays. These claims can be misleading, because bar study is not a linear path, and what works for one may not work for another. Further, merely checking off a particular box is not sufficient to indicate understanding and skills development. The ability to course-correct and change in response to progress is of additional paramount importance. There are things that are absolutely necessary for success, it is true, but paying attention to any single metric will not be sufficient to ensure an individual’s success. This is where Project 470 enters the picture.

Project 470 is more than a plan to study for a stated number of hours. As mentioned previously, the time commitment is just the foundation. Project 470 goes beyond taking a certain amount of questions, studying a certain amount of hours, or practicing with some amount of essays. It is a guided, structured program designed to coincide with and supplement your commercial bar preparation course. It includes time management strategies, individualized adaptive study plans, workshops, small group sessions, multiple-choice strategy guidance, performance test practice, essay writing tips, writing review, and individualized tutoring. The commercial cost of this program would be expensive, but first-time bar takers at Atlanta’s John Marshall will receive the entire program at no cost, so long as they agree to adhere to the program guidelines and keep pace with the Project 470 requirements. Participation in the program requires commitment and active participation.

The goal of this unique pilot program offering is straightforward: Project 470’s goal is to help every first-time February 2021 taker who participates in the program to pass the bar exam. Our goal is to be one and done, and we will aim for a 100% pass rate for program participants.

As stated above, Project 470 requires dedication and a firm commitment to participate in the program. All program participants will be expected to fully complete their commercial bar prep courses, attend Motivation Monday check-in activities, attend “Saturday Score More” workshops, and to complete a rigorous, directed program that will be a combination of individually developed guidance, one-on-one tutoring, and directed group sessions. Optionally, Small Group Sundays, Tuesday Tips and Tutoring, and Friday Friends Advice programming will be available and recommended to students.

If you want to achieve bar exam success on the February 2021 exam, and are willing to dedicate your time, effort, and energy to passing the bar exam, then Project 470 is for you. All Project 470 participants will be required to attend a mandatory meeting and to sign a memorandum of understanding regarding the program’s requirements. Additionally, all Project 470 participants will be required to adhere to attendance policies, achieve performance metrics (a combination of attendance at workshops, review sessions, tutoring meetings, assignment completion, and satisfactory progress in a commercial bar review course).

Contact Scot Goins, Director of the Office of Academic Achievement and Bar Success, to join the initial Project 470 cohort. Indications of interest must be received by Sunday, November 15, 2020.

Wondering If You “Belong” in Law School? Feeling Like an Imposter? Part 2

Don’t worry. It’s completely normal.

Part 2

Written by: Scot Goins, Director of Academic Achievement and Bar Success

Introduction: Law Students and Impostor Syndrome

In Part 1 of this post, we discussed how students here at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) or any law school, can fall victim to negative self-talk and doubts. The stress and new challenges associated with a law school education can lead many to suffer the aptly named Imposter Phenomenon (also referred to as Imposter Syndrome). Below we discuss helpful strategies that you can utilize to be more realistic in assessing your own abilities and to increase your confidence.

Recognize That You Are Not Alone In Feeling Like an Imposter

Sometimes, a simple reminder of the fact that a student is not alone in feeling this way is all it takes to shake them out of these impostor feelings. It is easy to self-isolate when feeling discouraged and overwhelmed, and then to develop a sense of being the only one in the proverbial boat. It can be helpful to take time to look around and realize that self-stigmatization is something internal, and then to focus externally and realize that others are very likely feeling the same way. Communicating with other students generally quickly reveals that other people are also experiencing doubts and struggling with similar feelings.

Talk To Your Mentors

Although reading about feeling like an imposter and developing a cognitive understanding that you are not alone in feeling this way is important, there is something to be said for talking and sharing with someone who has ‘been there, done that.’ Sharing your feelings with someone who has likely experienced similar feelings can be cathartic, and can help you realize that although your feelings are normal, they are also irrational. Here at AJMLS, the Peer Mentor Program can be an excellent resource for students to benefit from social and personal support, and the Office of Student Affairs encourages students to reach out.

Practice Recognizing Your Own Expertise

Although looking to others who are more experienced can be helpful, so can working with your peers. You may find yourself surprised to realize how much you actually have learned and retained, or how in-depth your understanding actually is, upon engaging with a study group or in a discussion about your legal learning with others. This can often be an eye-opening experience and help you to realize that you know more than you think, or that others are also struggling with the same things you are. Not only will this assist you in realizing that you aren’t alone in your feelings, it may also help generate new feelings of support and decreased isolation by opening doors to communicate with others who are similarly situated.

Remember What Got You Where You Are Today

Although you may be currently struggling with self-confidence or experiencing self-doubt, your life before this was likely filled with many academic achievements and personal successes. Sometimes, it is helpful to remember this and reinforce your awareness of everything you have done well that has put you in position to embrace your current opportunities. It can be helpful to write down accomplishments you have previously realized, moments where you have been fearful but ultimately succeeded, and even to make a realistic list of things that you feel are your strengths. An additional opportunity is to also make a list of areas that might be a weakness and to write down things you can do to improve those areas, or to seek out guidance for assistance in those areas. Being proactive in your approach can help you regain a sense of control and confidence. The Office of Academic Achievement and Bar Success at AJMLS is composed of caring and dedicated professionals who are passionate about helping you to succeed on your learning journey, and if you want to seek out assistance you can fill out this form and start the process.

Look Around You and Realize that No One is Perfect

I’m not perfect. You aren’t perfect. No one is perfect. If you aren’t certain of this, I highly encourage you to do an internet search for ‘fails’ for a reminder. The truth of the matter is that everyone makes mistakes, and no one person is perfect at everything. Everyone has their areas of strengths and weaknesses, as well as their good days and bad days. Albert Einstein has a famous quote that says, “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” Remember that law school is a new experience, and like any new endeavor, may take some time to adjust to and become proficient at, and each individual will have different experiences for how long this process takes. Be patient with yourself.

Be Aware of Your Internal Monologue

Professional athletes and coaches often laud the virtues of a positive internal monologue, or self-talk, and this makes sense on every level. It is difficult to imagine someone catching a successful touchdown pass, hitting the game winning free throws, or pitching a no-hitter if all of their internal monologue is a constant refrain of, “You aren’t good enough. You can’t do this. Everyone is better than you. You are a failure. You might as well give up.” In contrast, making efforts to become aware of negative self-talk and instead substitute it with positive self-talk is more likely to lead to success. When we consider professional sports, something as simple as, “I can do this!” makes sense, but many law students fail to consider that the same is true for them. Positive self-talk can be extremely beneficial for anyone struggling, and it is helpful to practice engaging in such when you recognize that you are engaging in negative self-talk. It is also helpful to visualize success, as opposed to focusing on potential negative outcomes.

Counseling Services

Sometimes, being a law student can lead you to have a vast array of conflicting thoughts, feelings, self-doubts, both in terms of feeling like an impostor and beyond. Here at AJMLS, you always have professional counseling resources that can assist you in dealing with any feelings of inadequacy, self-doubt, or really anything else that you have going on. Being proactive in dealing with your mental and emotional well-being can help you be the best version of you!


Although it seems likely that everyone will experience some combination of fatigue, self-doubt, and concerns about belonging at some point in law school, the good news is that there are a variety of ways to proactively take of yourself and to put yourself in the best position to continue achieving success on your academic journey.


Wondering If You “Belong” in Law School? Feeling Like an Imposter? Part 1

Don’t worry. It’s completely normal.

Part 1

Written by: Scot Goins, Director of Academic Achievement and Bar Success

Introduction: Law Students and Impostor Syndrome

If you are like many law students over the years here at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (‘AJMLS’), you can probably relate, at least in part, to the following quote:

“I would sit in class, desperately hoping and praying to any deity that would listen that I wouldn’t get called on. Before, during, and after class, my stomach would be in knots and I would be filled with dread and a sense of impending doom at the mere thought of any of my professors directing their attention towards me. When my classmates were called upon, I would marvel at their answers, certain that if I were to be posed the same question that I would miserably and memorably be unable to deliver a comprehensive answer. I was certain that I didn’t belong. I lived in fear of being found out, and that the law school would figure out that they had made a mistake in admitting me. In my heart and mind, I was a law school imposter, and I was just waiting for everyone else to figure it out. I felt like a fraud, and worried constantly about letting down my family and friends. Everyone thought I was on top of it academically and in life, but I knew better. I was an imposter and didn’t belong.” ~Anonymous Law School Graduate

The above quote resonates, especially with first-year law students who are struggling to adapt to the rigors of law school. Whether it is the Socratic method, time requirements, case-briefing, self-imposed pressure, or any of the other numerous law challenges that can present themselves to new law students here at AJMLS (or really any law school), almost everyone faces multiple scenarios that can potentially create self-doubt. Students can find themselves questioning their abilities, their intelligence, and even their decision to attend law school. However, despite this seemingly bleak picture, there is some great news.

It’s perfectly normal to feel this way!

It surprises many students to learn that they aren’t the only ones that feel like imposters. Too often, individuals get lost in their own thoughts and think that they are the only ones that suffer these doubts and feelings of inadequacy, but in fact the reality is that it is fairly common, especially during the first year of law school. There is even a term for it, ‘Imposter Phenomenon’ or as it referred to more commonly in law school circles, ‘Impostor Syndrome.’ (Note: I’ll use these terms interchangeably throughout.) It is indeed entirely normal to have these feelings. Students tend to focus inwardly when struggling, whereas an external focus would reveal that others feel the same.

What is the Imposter Phenomenon?

Although not officially recognized in the DSM-V or the ICD-11, psychologists such as Pauline Rose Clance and Suzanne Imes have been researching the Imposter Phenomenon since the 1970’s, and it is generally said to occur among high achievers who are unable to internalize and accept their own success. Students suffering from this syndrome often attribute their accomplishments to luck rather than to ability, and fear that others will eventually unmask them as a fraud. Law students fit nicely into this general student definition as a population subset, as these students are those who generally have achieved success on the undergraduate level, but when faced with the pressures, uncertainties, and challenges of obtaining a legal education, experience self-doubt and lose confidence. This can be further compounded by the limited exposure to feedback typical of many law school environments, where students may only receive midterm and final exam grades, leaving them floundering to develop a sense of where they are at any time during their courses. Further, the issue-spotting skills and analytical reasoning required by law school can be a challenge for many law students. Unlike many undergraduate courses which have a clear right or wrong answer, the legal analysis and the “it depends on” scenarios that present themselves in the study of law can lead students to develop a sense that they will never be able to arrive at a correct answer or gain a firm understanding of what law applies in what situation and when. Finally, the pressures of being called upon by professors and participating in the Socratic method in front of peers can lead students to feel that all of their studies are for naught, especially in comparison to what others may respond when volunteering or called upon.

The Imposter Phenomenon Versus Reality

Although students, again, especially first-year law students, often have moments where they feel like so-called impostors or worry about not being up to snuff, the reality is that their intelligence and abilities are up to the challenge. Although law school does present unique hurdles to overcome and requires the development of new ways of thinking and skills, it is important to note that students are evaluated substantively before being admitted to law school to ensure that they are capable of academic success. The law school application process, through a variety of metrics, assesses and ensures that law school students are in fact suited for the study of the law. By reviewing essays, undergraduate transcripts, letters of recommendation, and LSAT scores, law school admissions teams ensure that students who are admitted possess the requisite intellectual skills and abilities to be successful in law school. 

The simple truth and reality is that if you are a student in law school, you have previously worked hard and your labors have borne fruit. You wouldn’t be an enrolled law student unless you were both intelligent and capable of being successful. It may be helpful to realize that about 40% of people who apply to law school don’t get in anywhere (see here for more info). So the truth is if you have been feeling like an imposter, you actually are not.  Instead, you are just a successful, capable individual experiencing the typical doubts that almost every law student faces at some point, again most often in the first year.

That’s great to read, but I still feel like an imposter

Although self-awareness is a great first step in overcoming feeling like an impostor, there are definitely more proactive, positive steps that you can take to help deal with these feelings and to boost your confidence. Check out Part 2 of ‘Doubting Yourself and Your Abilities? Wondering If You “Belong” in Law School? Feeling Like an Imposter? for helpful advice on overcoming this negative mindset.


You, Me, and the MPRE – Part 4

MPRE Study Timelines and Review Strategies

Part 4

Written by: Scot Goins, Director of Academic Achievement and Bar Success

In the previous parts of this MPRE series, we have had an introduction to the MPRE, looked at the 5 W’s, reviewed the four free recommended resources, and generally gotten a good sense of what you will need to know to attain the score you need in your relevant jurisdiction. In Part 4 of the series, we will bring it all together and discuss study timelines and review strategies.

MPRE Study Timelines

The typical ‘how long should I study for?’ questions that arise around the MPRE are nothing new. Generally, as I have mentioned previously, students tend to both overlook the importance of studying for the MPRE and the time requirements that success on this exam takes. Furthermore, almost everyone has heard a rumor of someone who studied for a day or two, or didn’t study at all. Some students believe that completing a professional responsibility course during law school is all that they need, while others erroneously believe that their own personal ethics and morals are enough to guide them.

All of this brings us back to the original question asked, and that is how long should you study for this exam? The answer, like so many things in law school, is that it depends on a variety of factors:

  1. Professional Responsibility Class (PR): The first thing to consider is whether or not you have taken a PR class? If you have not, or if your class was more focused on case law than the model rules and code referenced in Parts 2 and 3 of this series, then you will want to schedule additional time to give yourself time to get familiar with these resources.
  2. Standardized Test-Taking Skills: Are you a good standardized test taker? Do you normally do well on multiple-choice style exams? If the answer to either of these questions is no, then you will want to give yourself additional study time.
  3. Pass Urgency: Given various timelines and the requirements by almost all jurisdictions to obtain a passing score on the MPRE, the closer you get to your required deadline, the more urgent it is to obtain a passing score on the next administration of the exam. If you want to ensure that you pass on the next administration, you must give yourself adequate time.
  4. What Else Is Going On?: Take a look at your life, be it socially, academically, professionally, or any other area that requires your time and attention. Are you going to be busy? Can you afford to allocate enough hours to the MPRE and take focus away from these other areas, or do you have less available time to devote to this exam? Understanding your various time commitments can help you get a head start on your studying and ensure you put yourself in a position to experience success.
  5. Failure to Pass the MPRE Previously: This one should seem obvious, but if you have previously failed the MPRE, then you need to make sure that your next attempt is successful. If you look back on your previous attempt, almost always you will find that you didn’t allocate enough time to your studies. Plan to do things differently this time.

Keeping those five factors in mind, my generally recommended study time is a minimum of 40 hours to guarantee success. This obviously can vary individual to individual, but allocating a minimum 40 hours to this process will put you in the best place for success. This breaks down as follows:

  • 12 hours of commercial bar vendor MPRE course videos
  • 15 hours of practice tests (minimum 4) and review of these tests
  • 8 hours of outline and notes review (provided by commercial bar vendor)
  • 5 hours of model rule and code review (including focus on comments)

Individuals will vary, so if either of the five factors above are an issue for you, it is likely that you will want to devote additional hours to each of these areas to maximize your chance for success. You can break this down however you like, but I would recommend a minimum of two weeks of study at 20 hours a week, up to a maximum of 4-6 weeks (allocating the appropriate hours for your needs). Creating a plan for your studies in alignment with the aforementioned factors and the review strategies that follow will put you in a position to succeed. Remember that a failure to plan is a plan for failure, so make sure you plan!

Review Strategies

As indicated in the previous section, I generally breakdown MPRE study into 4 component parts, and my review strategies align with those.

  1. Commercial Bar Vendor MPRE Course Videos (12 hours): These courses provide lecture-style videos and accompanying notes that will cover the most heavily tested topics on the exam. Watch them at least once, and you may want to re-watch any heavily tested area or areas that you struggle with.
  1. Practice Tests and Review (15 hours): Much like the bar exam itself, all of the knowledge in the world is useless if you cannot apply it, and the MPRE is no different. Not only will practicing help you get a sense for what will be on the exam, but it will also help you to apply the knowledge you have learned and also to identify any gaps in that knowledge. A careful review of the answers and explanations will assist you in focusing your review, and also help you to understand the distinctions and nuances that will help you correctly identify the right answer.
  1. Outline and Notes Review: This goes hand-in-hand with strategies 1 and 2. It isn’t enough to mindlessly read outlines, but rather you need to engage with the material. By watching lectures and taking practice tests, you will enhance your review of the material by allowing yourself to focus on shoring up your weaknesses and building upon your strengths. Identifying where you need work, researching nuances, and clearly understanding distinctions will help you be successful. Lastly, it is important to firmly establish an understanding of the outline material, which will cover most of what appears on the exam.
  1. Model Rules, Code, and Commentary Review: This is what I like to call low-hanging fruit that is often overlooked. The vast majority of the MPRE comes from the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct and the ABA Model Code of Judicial Conduct. Thus, it only makes sense to spend some time reviewing the heavily-tested areas at the least, and also to focus on the commentary in those areas. When you take your practice exams, you will develop a sense of where to focus, and you can also refer back to Part 2 of this series. Remember, the commentary provides insight on how to deal with potential problem areas, insight into the mindsets of the drafters, and generally will be beneficial to study.


If you have explored the MPRE series in its entirety, then you will find yourself well-situated to be successful on this important exam. Remember, however, that merely reading through this and gaining the knowledge of how to be successful is not enough. You have to take this information and apply it to your life, your approach, and your studies. If you do that, and invest the time into obtaining new knowledge, enhancing your understanding, taking practice tests, and reviewing the materials appropriately, you will be successful on the MPRE. 

Good luck and best wishes!


You, Me, and the MPRE – Part 3

MPRE Resources

Part 3

Written by: Scot Goins, Director of Academic Achievement and Bar Success

After introducing you to the MPRE, in Part 1 of this MPRE series we partook in a high level overview of the exam. In Part 2, we reviewed what subjects are tested. Today, in Part 3, we will take a look at some available resources that will enable you to successfully pass the exam.

First and foremost, I DO NOT recommend attempting to study for the MPRE on your own utilizing case books, law school outlines from professional responsibility courses, or just by heading to the library and looking up various items. The resources I list, especially in #1 below, provide a comprehensive overview of everything you need for the exam. These resources are FREE, and you should take advantage of them.

Before delving into the resources themselves, I want to provide a caveat about certain resources available on the internet that are available for you to buy. In most cases, for most people studying for the exam, there is ABSOLUTELY NO NEED to purchase any resources. There are so many options that are free that it sometimes can lead takers to think that they need to buy something additional to get an edge. This is especially true of that minority of students that fail the exam, although as you will see in Part 4 of this series, it most often is not the lack of adequate materials to prepare for the exam, but is instead a lack of preparation that leads people to fail to meet their jurisdictions requirements for passing. All of that said, there may be some examinees who struggle with certain materials, timing, test-taking skills, or other issues. These takers may benefit from tutoring or other options, but it should not be your automatic default option until you have utilized all of the other free resources available, and it is unlikely a first-time taker will need anything beyond these resources. A taker who has been unsuccessful multiple times may want to consider additional resources or engaging a tutor to work on strategies and mindset.

Now, let’s take a look at my top recommended free resources:

#1 Recommended Resource: Commercial Bar Vendor MPRE Course *MOST IMPORTANT*

It may surprise you to learn that most commercial bar vendors offer free MPRE courses. After all, the cost of a commercial bar course can be quite expensive. However, if you approach this from a logical perspective, you will quickly understand why a commercial bar vendor offers a free MPRE course.

If you are preparing to take the bar exam with such a course, how will you ever know anything beyond the marketing about any of these commercial courses? Attending a tabling session (in today’s world often virtual), a course demonstration, or talking with those who have previously taken an exam can be helpful, but the only real way to get an effective feel for the courses is to get some firsthand knowledge and experience. Since the MPRE is sometimes considered the ‘baby-bar’ by many, it makes sense to get exposure to bar vendors’ offerings through their MPRE course. Therefore, these companies generally offer a free course to allow students to experience their systems, methods, and interfaces, with the eventual hope that a student will select them for their bar preparation down the road. Additionally, since the MPRE administered does not vary state-by-state, and is instead uniform across the jurisdictions regardless of passing score requirements, an excellent MPRE course is a relatively inexpensive product that serves as both a study aid and a marketing tool for these companies.

My personal favorite free MPRE course is offered by Kaplan Bar Review, and when I last took the exam, this is what I utilized to attain one of the highest national scores (top 10%). I found the lectures, notes, outline book, practice questions, and practice exams left me more than prepared for the MPRE, to the point where I felt extremely comfortable during the exam.

I also really like BARBRI’s free MPRE course, and have also used it successfully in the past. (NOTE: MPRE scores expire over time, so you may find yourself taking this exam more than once if you move around or decide to change jurisdictions before meeting certain requirements). I’ve also reviewed BARBRI’s materials more recently, and would echo what I said about Kaplan Bar Review in that the BARBRI course will also leave you more than prepared for the exam.

Themis Bar Review (part of what I consider the ‘Big 3’ in terms of commercial vendors currently) also offers an excellent free MPRE course. Although my personal experience is not on the same level with this product, I have reviewed many of the materials and believe that this course will also provide more than adequate materials for any examinee to be successful.

There are other quality free resources from other bar vendors out there, but my personal experience with them is limited. The three aforementioned are ones that I feel comfortable recommending to anyone.

#2 Recommended Resource: The Model Rules of Professional Conduct and the Model Code of Judicial Conduct 

As I referenced in Part 2 of this MPRE series, the model rules and code are heavily tested on the exam, and although a commercial bar vendor’s offerings are generally sufficient for passing this exam, you can assuredly improve your score by studying both the model rules and code. The more heavily tested an area is on the exam (also explained in Part 2 of this series), the more time you may want to invest in reviewing that area in the model rules and code. Additionally, and perhaps the thing you can do to increase your score the most, I strongly encourage you to read the comments on specific rules. Not only will this help you gain a deeper understanding of any rules, but it will also help you to understand the mindsets behind the rules, likely leading you to get more items on the exam itself correct.

You can find the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct here and the ABA Model Code of Judicial Conduct here.

#3 Recommended Resource: NCBE MPRE Sample Questions and Answers

The NCBE has released sample questions (and answers) to help examinees develop a sense for what will be on the actual MPRE. You can find these sample MPRE questions and answers here. It makes sense to take a look at what the folks who design the exam put out. It should also be noted that the NCBE does offer other materials for purchase, but as I stated above, it is my personal belief and opinion that the vast majority of examinees do not need to spend money on preparation materials.

#4 Recommended Resource: Your Law School’s Academic Achievement, Success, and/or Bar Prep Programs

In the modern era, a large portion of schools have administrators, staff, professors, and/or other professionals who are dedicated to helping students be successful achieving certain milestones on their journeys to becoming lawyers. Although these programs are often focused on either academic programs and support or bar exam success, often they will also have individuals who are more than happy to assist you with advice and guidance on preparing for the MPRE. Here at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School, the Office of Academic Achievement and Bar Success provides our students with such support. However, if you are a student or an alumnus of a different law school, I highly encourage you to reach out to similar offices at your respective law school.

If you utilize the four recommended MPRE resources that I have identified, in conjunction with the study timelines and review strategies in Part 4 of this MPRE Series, you will be well prepared for success on the exam. Remember to check out Part 4: MPRE Study Timelines and Review Strategies to see the final part in the series that will help you to achieve the results you want.


You, Me, and the MPRE – Part 2

What Is Tested on the MPRE?

Part 2

Written by: Scot Goins, Director of Academic Achievement and Bar Success

In Part 1 of this 4-part series, we took a high-level look at the MPRE, reviewing the exam basics and the requirements to achieve a passing score. In Part 2, we will dive deeper into the content of the exam, and review how the exam breaks down into its component parts in order to help guide your studies. The percentages indicated are general guidelines, but remember that specific administrations can vary slightly.

A good starting place to reviewing what is tested on the MPRE comes from the NCBE which states that the exam ‘is based on the law governing the conduct and discipline of lawyers and judges, including the disciplinary rules of professional conduct currently articulated in the American Bar Association (ABA) Model Rules of Professional Conduct, the ABA Model Code of Judicial Conduct, and controlling constitutional decisions and generally accepted principles established in leading federal and state cases and in procedural and evidentiary rules.’

One question that arises for exam takers is ‘what about changes to either the model rules or the model code?’ The good news is that any amendments won’t be reflected on the MPRE any earlier than one year after the amendments receive approval by the ABA. The bad news is that you have to keep in mind that any such rules or code that are amended may be tested by questions that reflect the aforementioned prior to being amended. It behooves an examinee to review any amendments by visiting the respective ABA sites referenced previously, just to make sure that one is aware of any potential changes that may be ripe for testing (or alternatively, that will not be ripe for testing and require adherence to rules or code that exists in its pre-amended form).

It should be noted that the NCBE states that questions outside of the conduct or disciplinary context are designed to measure an exam taker’s understanding of the generally accepted rules, principles, and common law regulating the legal profession in the United States and apply the majority view of cases, statutes, or regulations on the subject. To the extent that questions of professional responsibility arise in the context of procedural or evidentiary issues, such as the availability of litigation sanctions or the scope of the attorney-client evidentiary privilege, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the Federal Rules of Evidence will apply, unless otherwise stated. As a general rule, particular local statutes or rules of court will not be tested on the MPRE; however, a specific question may include the text of a local statute or rule that must be considered when answering that question.’

Before we breakdown the MPRE based on this extremely helpful subject outline that the NCBE provides (which is a one-page summary overview of the exam that is helpful to review on a daily basis), there is an additional document that the NCBE provides. This helpful review tool for the MPRE relates to important distinctions regarding what I refer to as ‘may versus must’ and ‘should versus shall’ language distinctions. Much of the language in the rules and code has important modifiers, and this is an opportune time to conduct a highly encouraged review of the key words and phrases document that the NCBE provides for MPRE takers.

Without further ado, let’s examine the 12 MPRE topics prevalence breakdown: 

  1. The Regulation of the Legal Profession (6-12%)
  2. The Client-Lawyer Relationship (10-16%) 
  3. Client Confidentiality (6-12%)
  4. Conflicts of Interest (12-18%) <Highly Tested>
  5. Competence, Legal Malpractice, and other civil liability (6-12%)
  6. Litigation and Other Forms of Advocacy (10-16%)
  7. Transactions and Communications With Persons Other Than Clients (2-8%)
  8. Different Roles of the Lawer (4-10%)
  9. Safekeeping Funds and Other Property (2-8%) <Easy area to get maximum points)
  10. Communications About Legal Services (4-10%)
  11. Lawyers’ Duties to the Public and the Legal System (2-4%)
  12. Judicial Conduct (2-8%) <In my experience, often overlooked by MPRE takers>

Although this list appears short, remember that the topics themselves are internally broad and require the appropriate time and study devoted to each. As you can see from the percentage breakdowns, there are several areas that WILL be worth 10% or more of the entire exam (the lawyer-client relationship, conflicts of interest, and litigation and other forms of advocacy). In fact, those three areas alone could potentially account for anywhere between 32-50% of the entire exam, so make sure you concentrate especially on them. However, given that there are only 50 tested questions that count towards your score, you don’t want to ignore any topical area.

Remember to checkout Part 3, where we will discuss resources for your MPRE preparation, including free MPRE courses, and also Part 4, where we will discuss study timelines and review strategies to ensure that you achieve success on the MPRE.

You, Me, and the MPRE – Part 1

The 5 W’s of the MPRE

Part 1

Written by: Scot Goins, Director of Academic Achievement and Bar Success

Previously, in the introduction to this MPRE series, I engaged in a brief overview of the exam, including what states require a passing score, what kind of mindsets students approach the exam with, and then provided an advance overview of what this series would cover. In this section, we cover the 5 W’s in order to get an understanding of where the MPRE comes from, the makeup of the exam, and to provide a firm foundation for Part 2, which breaks down the exam into its component parts. Remember also that Part 3 of the series will cover the resources available for MPRE preparation, and that Part 4 of the series will help review study timelines and strategies to help ensure you are successful on your first take.

Let’s now take a look at the 5 W’s of the MPRE:

Who: The MPRE is developed by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) and (currently) is administered by Pearson Vue. Beginning in 2020, the test will be administered entirely on a digital platform, thereby removing old worries about sharpening pencils, erasure marks, and accidentally getting tears on your scantron (just kidding, it’s really not that bad!). In 2019, 54 jurisdictions required the MPRE.

Where: Test takers visit a Pearson Vue testing center (if you want to locate your nearest testing go here) to take the MPRE. 

When: Previously, the MPRE was administered on the weekend generally, but that all changed in 2020. During this calendar year, the MPRE takes place during the week and you can see that schedule here. An important thing to note about the MPRE registration deadlines is that they often occur more than a month before the exam. So, if you are thinking about registering for the March or August 2021 administrations, make sure to do well in advance. Also note that unlike 2020, there is no October administration of the exam in 2021 (instead, there will be a November administration).

Registration for the 2021 MPRE administrations opens on December 14, 2020, and is currently slated to have a fee of $135. It also appears the exam will be shifting to a two consecutive day format, unlike the staggered schedule seen in 2020.

Why: The MPRE is administered to test examinees on their knowledge and understanding of established standards and rules related to the professional conduct of lawyers. It does not test an individual to determine his or her personal ethical values and morals. Since lawyers can serve in a variety of roles, including as judges, counselors, legal advocates, and so forth, it is important to ensure that attorneys have an understanding of rules and expectations for them. The test questions generally deal with circumstances

The law governing the conduct of lawyers in these roles is applied in disciplinary and bar admission procedures, and by courts in dealing with issues of appearance, representation, privilege, disqualification, and contempt or other censure, and in lawsuits seeking to establish liability for malpractice and other civil or criminal wrongs committed by a lawyer while acting in a professional capacity.

What: The MPRE is an exam administered over two hours that consists of 60 multiple-choice questions. Of these 60 questions, only 50 are actually scored, and the other 10 are considered pretest questions and are generally said to be indistinguishable from the scored questions. Your takeaway from that is simple: treat all 60 questions like they count. The scaled score that takers will receive can range from a low of 50 to a high of 150.

Scores to pass the MPRE vary based on jurisdiction. Georgia requires a minimum passing score of 75, which ties with Alabama, the District of Columbia, Mississippi, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Palau, and the Virgin Islands for the lowest required score for passing. In order to provide some perspective, the mean scaled score for the entire group of MPRE takers in 2019 was 94.9. Although this number is higher than Georgia’s required passing score, that does not mean that you can overlook this exam. Regardless of your intended practice state’s requirements, this is a test that you have to prepare for to be successful, and approaching it with the mindset that the average score is higher neglects the fact that about 20% of takers (almost 12,000!) fail to achieve a score of 75. Don’t be part of that group, and make sure you take this test seriously.

The majority of future examinees at this point, having reviewed the respective score required by their state, will then ask how to achieve that score. This is tough to state accurately because the NCBE equates the scores, so there is no hard and fast answer. However, you can approximate that a required score of 75 requires about 56% correct and an 85 requires about 60% correct. Remember, however, this is a statistical proximation and SHOULD NOT be the metric that you shoot for generally. Like the bar exam, the MPRE is somewhat a test of minimum competence in terms of scoring, but why risk failing by aiming low? My advice is always to put the time in to achieve the best score that you are capable of and EXCEED the minimum requirement, as opposed to aiming low and potentially falling short. Put the time in!

Remember to check out Part 2, where we will breakdown the different areas of professional responsibility that are tested on the exam. As I stated previously, this will help you focus your studies and maximize your time as you pursue attaining a passing score on the MPRE.

You, Me, and the MPRE – Introduction


One of the hurdles that the vast majority of law students will face on their journeys to becoming licensed attorneys here at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (‘AJMLS’) is the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (the ‘MPRE’). In fact, unless you are intending to practice in the jurisdictions of Wisconsin or Puerto Rico, every other jurisdiction has a MPRE requirement (although it should be noted that both New Jersey and Connecticut allow law students to bypass this requirement via the successful completion of a professional ethics course in law school). However, despite the fact that almost every future lawyer will have to take this exam, it is often one of the most often overlooked and underprepared for tests that students will face. This can lead to students failing an exam that is perhaps the most straightforward and easy to prepare for exams that they will take. This failure often doesn’t serve as a long-term barrier to becoming a lawyer, but it does cause delays, anxiety, and results in costs both in dollars and time that can easily be avoided.

Given that we are a few weeks out from the October administrations of the MPRE, most students find themselves with one of three mindsets. Some students will find themselves wondering how much they need to study (if at all), and whether or not their professional responsibility class in law school or their own personal morals and ethics will be enough to carry them through. Others will have committed to a solid few days of study, likely utilizing a free MPRE course provided by a commercial vendor (recommended to use), and will just hope for the best studying when they can. Lastly, some students are full of anxiety about the MPRE and fear that no matter what they do, success may elude them on exam day.

Regardless of which mindset you have, the good news is that this series will ensure that you are on the correct path to success on the MPRE. After this introductory post, later in Part 1, we will review what the MPRE is and what score is required for your jurisdiction (here we will focus on Georgia, which is where AJMLS is located, and where the majority of our students take the bar exam). Next, in Part 2, we will breakdown the different areas of professional responsibility that are tested on the exam, in order to help you understand where to spend the majority of your study time. Then, in Part 3, we will discuss resources for your MPRE preparation, including free MPRE courses (Disclaimer: I have a favorite, but there are several nice options). Finally, in Part 4, we will review an appropriate timeline and review strategies for your studies (although individuals vary a great deal, so you may have to adjust your timeline according to your own progress).

The MPRE can be a hurdle, but the reality is that it should not be much of one. By preparing correctly, allocating adequate time for preparation, and engaging in the appropriate practice and review, this test will be one and done for you (unless you need your score later – in most jurisdictions, your MPRE score will expire after a certain amount of time). Put your time in before the test and ensure you are successful the first time you take this exam.