(Mark M. is a 2005 graduate of the University of Texas Law School, as well as a high school classmate whom PG feels free to nag.)
This post should ensure that PG remains on speaking terms with me.
The bar exam marked the first time I've ever actually worked hard in my life. I've lied about working hard in the past: "Sure, mom, law school's got me working dusk til dawn... [giggle]." But, essentially, undergrad was a joke, law school was a lark, and every job I've had before was just a way to pass the time and earn CD money.
I studied hard for the bar exam. Relatively speaking. Generally spent 10-14 hours a day, every day, after July 4th. I realize some people surpassed that, but then, those people probably took law school more seriously.
And sometimes I've felt foolish during that process. I'm around the top 10% at a top 15 law school -- without putting any effort into law school, outside of generally doing the reading so long as it's interesting. And, after all, 80% of all first time takers pass the Texas bar exam. Well over 90% of takers from my school pass it. Surely I could half-ass it again, and succeed, right? The phrase "minimal competence" became my best friend.
Theoretically, perhaps. But the consequences of failure would have been too disastrous. So I worked. Ground out dozens of practice essays. Quickly got to about 85% on the practice multi-state, then panicked when I only got 80% on a 50 question sampler the week before the exam. And the sample answers in the back of the Barbri books tortured me. If that was maximum points, I figured I was doomed. I became a hermit, petulant with my wife, short-tempered with my friends. Joined the cult of "barzam." Visited blogs by other bar-takers. Only those who are taking the vile thing fully understand it.
I found myself tipping bigger at my local coffee shop on the rationale that they do have to put up with my shit, and I needed the karma. Found myself wondering if my walks around the wall school every couple of hours with my iPod were compromising my study routine. Found myself wondering if three beers before bed were good, because they relaxed me after a vile day, or bad, because they were rotting my mind.
The actual bar exam was mostly easy. The Texas procedure and evidence questions were pedestrian. I didn't know every one completely, but I had no doubt that I was proficient.
After the second day, I was even more confident. Even from the beginning, I'd never gotten fewer than 75% of the multi-state questions correct, so I always figured that would give me a good cushion.
On the essays, which I had been dreading, the first four seemed ridiculously simple. The fifth was slightly troublesome because it was an obscure twist, but the sixth was freaking impossible. Asked a question that hadn't really been asked before, so Barbri hadn't prepared me for it. It was dreadful. Regardless, after the exam, other people were all sweating it too, saying they'd just made it all up, so that was a relief.
The afternoon of the third day was OK, but fatigue began to get to me. I've always found both wills and BA quite easy - but had more trouble than I should have. Physically, I was exhausted. My back hurt, my fingers were sore, and my brain was getting fuzzy.
Oh well. It's over. I'm sure I passed. And when I get my score, I'll regret every second I spent that was unnecessary in studying.