My Alternative Spring Break Experience

Guest blog by Courtney Boykin, 3L at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law

I’ve always seen Spring Break as a beacon of light in my dark, grim world of school.

Ever since the first spring break I can remember, the weeklong break has been both a desire and a necessity.

This year, I spent my Spring Break doing something that I’d never done. I opted to participate in my school’s Alternative Spring Break program and I can honestly say that I enjoyed the experience.

My school’s Alternative Spring Break program takes 4 out of the 5 days of Spring Break and provides area legal services through multiple tracks. This year, there was a range of tracks, including Health Law, Elder Law, and Voting Right Restoration. I initially signed up for Health Law, as that is my preferred legal area.

Instead, I was assigned to Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Education. For me, this was uncharted territory, something I’d NEVER dealt with before.

I spent the first 2 days getting an in-depth overview of domestic-violence-related legal issues. We spent hours going through the Violence Against Women’s Act, Child Custody laws, and Orders of Protection. We visited the court and saw how Courts handled the order of protection process. Quite Frankly, it was a lot of information.

After going through the training, we spent time creating brochures that outlined the legal rights of Domestic Violence victims and orchestrating presentations expounding on the related legal rights. We even included a mock trial video so that pro se litigants would know what to expect when requesting orders of protection.

Ultimately, I left the week with the knowledge of a new legal area. I felt as though I’d been a part of something that could truly help domestic violence and sexual assault survivors. Initially, felt a bit “down” that I was using my LAST Spring Break to provide “free labor.” I walked away knowing that my work had the potential to really help someone and that made the experience worthwhile.

5 Facts All Graduating Law Students Should Know About BARBRI

By Matt Mundo,
BARBRI Director of Legal Education

In my job as a Director of Legal Education for BARBRI, I get the pleasure of working with thousands of law students each year.

My job, every day, is to help students achieve the dreams for which they have worked so hard by succeeding in law school and on the bar exam.

Recently, I spoke with some students who had received some misinformation as part of their bar preparation research, so it prompted me to put into writing “5 THINGS ALL GRADUATING LAW STUDENTS SHOULD KNOW ABOUT BARBRI”.

As the nation’s #1 bar review course, there are so many things to talk about so often some of these features are overlooked; however, with the bar exam being the only thing between you and the career of your dreams, we want to ensure you have all of the information so you can choose the very best partner for your needs on this life changing exam.

FACT 1: BARBRI does not charge extra to grade extra essays.

During bar study, your goal is to write the best bar exam essays possible, as fast as possible. BARBRI knows from experience that a purely “unlimited” essay grading system does not provide the best results. Think about it. Writing and submitting dozens of essays a week for grading simply reinforces bad habits rather than correcting them.  Unlimited graded essays leads to spending a lot of time on many poor essays.

BARBRI has a better answer. It starts with Essay Architect, our exclusive powerful online platform that takes you through a series of steps to learn to critically read bar exam questions, enhance the speed of your essay writing and construct strong, winning answers. Then we assign a carefully selected series of specific essays for grading as well as many more essays for practice and self-grading.

And, if after all of that, you want additional essays graded, you can simply work with a BARBRI Director, like me, to get personal, 1:1 help, all free of charge!

FACT 2: You can do 100% of the BARBRI course online… but we won’t force you.

Actually, BARBRI Bar Review offers you the best possible learning experience by blending online, mobile and in-class study options. Each day you can choose whether to view the lectures on your computer, use the BARBRI Mobile App on-the-go or attend a bar review classroom location to watch a lecture in a structured environment with fellow students.

No matter which option you choose, you get the same great lectures. BARBRI lets you mix and match what works best for you – go to a classroom setting for your most challenging subjects, revisit specific topics and subtopics online afterward or speed through your best subjects online only at 1.5x speed.

It’s your time, your preference and your choice as to what works best for you to reinforce and recall the material you need to know to Own the Bar.

FACT 3: BARBRI is the only bar preparation course that will truly allow you to see where you sit on the bar exam curve

If you look at the MBE National Score Distribution from the National Conference of Bar Examiners, you will see the score distribution of the 2015 scaled scores. Results of the MBE fall in a pattern that look like a bell curve. This is why you often hear of people who fail the bar exam by just a few points. A large number of examinees are clustered right around the top of the curve – right around the score you need to pass the bar exam.

During the BARBRI course, you’ll have the chance to sit down and do a full simulated multistate bar exam. The simulated MBE has exam-like questions and we treat it just like the bar so you’ll know exactly how it feels to survive the multistate bar exam.

We also take your results and provide you your percentile ranking, by subject, so you know exactly where you are sitting on the curve in comparison to every other BARBRI student and where you need to focus your efforts between that time and the actual bar exam.

Since the vast majority of students sitting for the bar exam choose to partner with BARBRI, this will be your best predictor of bar exam success by far.

FACT 4: BARBRI makes it easy to take lecture notes by hand or on a laptop.

In order to provide the structure necessary to be organized as well as the flexibility that best fits your learning style, BARBRI provides lecture handouts in hardcopy AND as fillable PDF’s each day.

If you prefer to hand write your notes, then the pre-printed handout volume is there for you. If you prefer to use your laptop, download the fillable PDF’s so that you can type as much as you’d like for each blank, highlight text and use “sticky notes” for the occasional sidebar that you want to make a note of during class.

FACT 5:  BARBRI’s Personal Study Plan organizes your study time from Day 1 straight through to the day of your bar exam.

Screen Shot 2016-10-26 at 4.13.59 PM
The BARBRI lectures conclude two weeks prior to your exam but your Personal Study Plan does not. Once you’ve been taught all of the law that you need, your Personal Study Plan continues with homework, personal assignments, and practice exams to make sure that you are applying the law and memorizing the material during those critical final weeks and that you are focused on your personal areas of opportunity.

And, of course, my BARBRI Director of Legal Education peers and I will be there to support you right up to and during the exam. BARBRI’s study schedule and practice exams are the result of a dedicated academic team combined with the experience of training over 1.3M attorneys for the bar exam.

When it comes to your bar preparation and this critical decision, we want you to have all of the facts. Thousands of students have already chosen to prepare with BARBRI in 2017 – we can’t wait to welcome you to that group and help you Own the Bar.

About BARBRI Bar Review:

BARBRI pioneered bar exam preparation 50 years ago and our gold standard reputation continues to attract the overwhelming majority of law school students each year. BARBRI has helped more than 1.3 million students pass the bar – more than all other courses combined.

BARBRI focuses on you the entire way, using innovative new learning technologies that personalize your bar study. Add to all this our elite faculty of highly-respected law professors and top legal minds that know the law and especially how to teach it for you to Own The Bar.

Also, with the BARBRI Guarantee, if you take a BARBRI Bar Review course for the first time for a particular state and you do not sit for or do not pass that state’s bar exam, you may repeat the same course online once for the same state, the next time a course is offered, without paying additional tuition.

We have the longest history of pass rate success, going back 80-plus bar exams. No other bar prep program comes close.

Enroll now

9 Tips To Keep Your Over-Stressed, Over-Worked “Lizard Brain” At Bay

When law school graduation arrives, it’s time to relax … right? Not so fast. Not when the bar exam is on the not-so-distant horizon. One last hurdle to becoming a licensed lawyer, your ultimate personal and professional goal.


There’s so much pressure surrounding the bar exam. Passing means everything – mostly the opportunity to actually practice law and make a decent living doing it. Before that becomes your reality, you have to deal with the major stress of preparing for the bar exam. You are now on a deadline because the bar exam is happening on time, as scheduled, whether you are ready or not. You fear failure, which is totally normal. All this causes chronic sympathetic nervous system arousal – in other words, “lizard brain.” It’s a fight-flight-freeze survival mode that goes way back to our prehistoric days as Paleolithic humans.


It’s likely that you may already have experienced chronic stress during law school. According to the Mayo Clinic, “lizard brain” symptoms include headaches, muscle aches, fatigue, increased illness, upset stomach, chest pain, sleep disturbances, anxiety, lack of motivation or focus, irritability, restlessness, depression, angry outbursts and social withdrawal.


Considering the laundry list of symptoms, your body expends quite a bit, if not all, its energy to keep you going. It’s survival, literally. And that level of energy consumption doesn’t leave much for anything else, especially when you need to be able to memorize black letter law, take practice exams or simply remain upright during lectures. The lizard is driving your bus with the pedal to the metal. As you might imagine, a frazzled lizard driving a bus can be detrimental to everyone and everything nearby, including the bus itself (that’s you).


  1. Be Grateful. Every day, find time to reflect on 3-5 things you appreciate. Lawyers tend to be world-class pessimists. Remembering things that really matter can help you focus on the positive and, in turn, improve your overall physical health and much-needed energy levels.
  2. Make time for family and friends. Stay connected with the important people in your life. Your support system will help you feel less alone, or isolated, and keep your outlook positive.
  3. Smile. Research has shown that the simple act of smiling can slow your heart rate and reduce stress. Smiling more may even help alleviate depression.
  4. Meditate. Take a few minutes each day. Be still and focus on your breathing. Research has shown that meditation can help prevent mind-wandering, increase focus, reduce stress, improve sleep and strengthen the immune system. Om … Om … Om …
  5. Plan the day. Map out time for studying, eating, sleeping, fun activities and exercise, for example. You’ll feel prepared and ready, less anxiety, greater control and, ultimately, get the most important things completed. It will save you time, too.
  6. Eat, sleep, play. Smart food choices, enough sleep (seven hours minimum) and exercises that you enjoy (could be a nice walk outside or dancing at home, when nobody’s watching) are important to your health.
  7. Be your own cheerleader. We’re often quite critical of ourselves. Become aware of your self-talk, challenge it and replace it with a positive mantra. Research shows that people with a positive outlook can fight off colds, handle stress better and – bonus! – even live longer.
  8. Laugh. Laughter has shown to lower cortisol in your bloodstream, relax your muscles and improve your overall well-being.
  9. Eat 1.4 oz. of chocolate: Doing this every day for two weeks can actually lower your stress hormones. How much is 1.4 ounces of chocolate exactly? Google it and you’ll see there are many choices and brands you may like.

Knowing the law vs. Practicing the Law

Guest blog by Courtney Boykin, 3L at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law

When I first started law school…

I, as was any other typical 1L, was confused as can be. I wasn’t abreast to the culture of law school. Despite my school’s attempt at introducing me to the culture through orientation, I couldn’t quite get into a steady rhythm. I spent most of my time plowing through cases and trying to figure out what I needed to know. Even after passing all of my exams, I felt like I knew absolutely nothing. I’d memorized enough to get me through the tests, but beyond that, I felt that I couldn’t actually articulate what I’d “learned.”

Interestingly, leaving the classroom REALLY helped me master certain topics. Once I started interning at different legal placements, things started to make sense…at least a little bit. (I always joke that it took me getting out of “Contracts” to actually learn the basics of “Contracts.”)

I said all of that to say, it’s really difficult to gauge whether or not you can be a successful lawyer without actually “doing” lawyerly things. In my experience, I’ve found that Final exams, while VERY (VERY!) important, only test your ability to regurgitate and apply the law, not necessarily the practicalities of the law. It’s only when we see and experience the practicalities of the law at work do we really understand it.

If there’s one piece of advice that I’d give a 1L, 2L, or someone interested in law, it’d be this: Capitalize on experiential learning opportunities.

If your school has an externship program, utilize it. If your school offers simulation courses, take them. If your school provides resources for internships, use them.

Take your core classes, but don’t underestimate the power of those experiential courses. They really help bring the law to life.

Data From The ABA Proves It: When More Students Take BARBRI, More Students Pass The Bar Exam

In a recent study, BARBRI’s data scientists evaluated pass rates reported by EVERY ABA accredited law school, in every jurisdiction for the past 3 years*. We then looked at results for students at those schools who studied for their first exam with BARBRI Bar Review vs those who studied with some other course or method.

The results were clear: When more students at a school study with BARBRI Bar Review, the overall school pass rate is higher – regardless of the amount of work each student completed.

The diagram below shows that for every 10% of students who enrolled in BARBRI Bar Review over the last three years, the overall school pass rate increased by 2%:

The converse was true as well: For every 10% increase in the number of first-time takers who did NOT choose to study with BARBRI Bar Review, overall school pass rate decreased by 2%:


In the 50+ years we’ve helped students prepare for every U.S. state bar exam, thousands of students have asked, “does it really matter which course I choose?”  Now data collected by the American Bar Association answers this question with a resounding, “Yes, BARBRI works better.


The reality is that about 9 out of 10 BARBRI students who do the average amount of work in our course pass the bar. That’s impressive … but we don’t care, and neither should you.

Don’t forget, our earlier studies have shown that, for a similar amount of work, students who study with BARBRI score more points. With BARBRI, you’ll study smarter, better utilize your precious, limited study time, and have a greater cushion and more confidence on exam day.

It’s not about bar review company pass rates…it’s about YOU passing YOUR exam. Learn More about how BARBRI will help you do that – the first time.

*Source: ABA 509 reports filed by every ABA accredited law school each year.


How are you doing? Self care.

Guest Blog by Courtney Boykin, 3L at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law

So, how are you?

We’re at the midpoint of the semester and I have ONE question: How are you doing?

I’m not asking about whether you understand the substance of your classes or whether you’re understanding legal doctrines or whether you’re still briefing cases…or whether your outlines are up to date (because let’s be honest we know they’re not).

I’m asking about YOU.

How are YOU doing?

Think about it. Are you physically tired or mentally exhausted? Are you burning out?

If so, I encourage you to take some time to recuperate. Just take a moment and unwind. You’ve been working really hard and you’ve earned it.

Here are a few quick ways to take a breather:

  • Take a walk (outside or around your)
  • Watch a movie
  • Read a non-law related book
  • Take a trip back home
  • Exercise
  • Go shopping (retail therapy!)
  • Go eat your favorite sweet treat
  • Color in a coloring book (just try it!)
  • Sit and “people watch”
  • Take a nap
  • Do nothing (which works just as well)

So, whether you’re burnt out on studying or reading, just take a moment and step back. I know we all like to think we’re superhuman, but even superheroes have their limits. There’s no need to “burn the midnight oil,” when there’s no oil left. Your body and mind will thank you for it!

MPRE: My Experience

Guest Blog by Courtney Boykin, 3L at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law

So if you’re anything like me, you came into law school not totally knowing what you’re getting yourself into. I was aware that I had to take a bar exam, but people tend to overlook the fact that a multistate professional responsibility exam is required, as well.

I took the MPRE March 2018 and here’s my recount of what happened.

So, my states MPRE score requirement was originally around 70. After passing new regulations the passing score increased to 82. Our school informed us that if we took the MPRE in March of 2018, we’d be able to use the lower passing score as our benchmark. Well, I had no idea what was on the test, nor had I ever even taken a Professional Responsibility class, as I was about 2 weeks into the course. Nonetheless, I decided that I wanted to get the benefit of the lower score. I scrambled to register for the exam. Just a few weeks after registering we were informed that we wouldn’t get the benefit of the lower score and that we’d have to score at least an 82.

Insert MAJOR anxiety.

I was registered to take an exam for which I had never taken a class and had no idea what to expect.

The days prior to the exam, I spent studying the professional rules of responsibility. I made flash cards, charts, worksheets, watched videos and read books. I didn’t know if I was prepared or not, but I knew I’d tried my best.

On the day of the exam, I arrived early to the testing site. Amongst my other required materials, I had 3 major tools with me, Kleenex, cough drops, and Carmex. When I got into the building, there were about 5 other students. We had no idea where we were going. 5 eventually grew to 30. Imagine 30 students walking around a building trying to figure out what’s happening. (Yes…a mess.) Eventually, we found our check-in stations and got our room assignments.

There was nothing special about my classroom. I only remember that it was an engineering classroom and it was cold…really cold (take a jacket!)

The exam itself wasn’t extremely gruesome. It was nothing like the LSAT (which I think was TERRIBLE!). The questions were typically straightforward, but the answer choices had a few nuances here and there. It’s kind of one of those things where one answer choice may not be “moral” to you, per se, but it’s not “illegal” or “unethical.” You know…the typical questions/answers, but nothing too difficult. (Looking back, my PR class final exam was MUCH harder than the actual MPRE…yeah.)

When I finished the exam, I kid you not, I had NO idea how I did. I knew I either did REALLY well or REALLY poorly.

As it turns out, I did well, REALLY well. Keep in mind I was currently taking PR and hadn’t had any previous exposure to professional responsibility scenarios. I scored much higher than what was required and now, I can sit for the bar in any state.

Here’s my advice… study. That’s it, short and sweet. There’s nothing special. Just study. Sure you might feel like you know nothing going in our coming out of the test, but if you study, hard, trust that everything else will be fine. GOOD LUCK!


Driven By Data: What To Expect During BARBRI Bar Review

At BARBRI, data drives everything we do, and we are guided by one principle: It’s not about pass rates. It’s about passing.

As in YOU passing YOUR bar exam.

There are three overarching ways we keep YOUR INDIVIDUAL SUCCESS front and center:

  • We focus your attention on the material you are most likely to actually see on your bar exam
  • We adjust your schedule based on your strengths and weaknesses as you progress
  • We present content in the best way to maximize learning and retention


During BARBRI Bar Review, everything assigned in your online Personal Study Plan (or “PSP”) is carefully curated by an engine we call ISAAC, your Intuitive Study Assistant And Coach.

ISAAC combines proprietary algorithms with our 50+ years of bar exam data and expertise to drive your BARBRI course.

ISAAC keeps you on track, effectively scaffolding your knowledge and skills. It’s meant to motivate and keep you accountable. Remember, generally the higher the percent of course completion, the higher the average bar exam score.


During our summer 2018 BARBRI Bar Review course, ISAAC assigned more than 7.5 million learning activities. That sounds like a lot, but don’t worry, that’s not any individual student – that covers the tens of thousands of students studying for that bar exam with BARBRI. Let’s dig into the data.

Check out the chart below and see, on average, you’ll spend about 24% of your total bar review course study time learning the law with lectures. About 28% of your time working multiple-choice practice questions. And about 19% of your time in our Directed Essay Grading process (Essay Architect, Practice Essays and Graded Essays). Most importantly, each of these align with the top activities correlated to increased points on the bar exam and, ultimately, bar passage.

That’s interesting, yet it’s not just about the type of assignments you do, but also the sequence and timing in which you do them. The chart below shows how the assignment types will progress and change during your bar review course.

Notice the blue line – early on in the course, you’ll spend the majority of your time with lectures, acquiring knowledge from the best U.S. law professors and legal experts.

Then, you see from the light green and yellow lines, you are reading and reviewing your notes and also start to ramp up on multiple-choice learning and practice questions.

Two dark green peaks stand out – that’s for the BARBRI Simulated MBE (which by the way is as correlated to the real MBE as the PSAT is to the SAT, and it is the single best way to know where you are on the curve before sitting for the exam. Don’t miss the opportunity to experience the Simulated MBE).

Then notice the peach line, which indicates movement into our Directed Essay Grading process and practice essays.

None of your precious study time is wasted on activities that won’t help you maximize your point potential on the bar exam. To see how it all works together, check out this 5-minute video: Meet the BARBRI Course.

All this is why, year after year, the vast majority of graduating law students choose BARBRI Bar Review to Own The Bar.

Studies Show BARBRI Students Score More Points On The Bar Exam For A Similar Amount Of Effort

The bar exam is arguably the most important and most difficult test of your life. Nobody wants to fail. Everybody wants to walk in to the exam with the confidence that they are going to pass, the first time. BARBRI students are best equipped to perform at the highest levels on exam day.

In all of the studies conducted by our BARBRI team of data scientists, at schools across the United States, it was clear. For similar course completion rates, BARBRI students achieved a higher average score on the bar exam than students using other bar prep courses.

It’s a significant differential. For example, in one study, the non-BARBRI student group cleared the pass line by six points on average. The BARBRI students scored 31 points above the passing mark. That’s 5x the cushion for a similar amount of effort.

On a test where most people who fail do so by just a few points, how thin a margin is worth the risk?


Our in-house data scientists have analyzed four years of BARBRI student data and continue to work closely with law schools nationwide. Among the tens of thousands of data points gathered, they spotted an eye-opening pattern: BARBRI students scored more points on the bar exam compared to non-BARBRI students for a similar amount of study effort.

This means you do study smarter, not harder, with BARBRI. In fact, all activities assigned to you during BARBRI Bar Review, through the powerful ISAAC engine that runs the course, are positively correlated to increased points on the bar exam and, ultimately, bar passage. To  read more about that, click here.

BARBRI students are better prepared among all bar takers and walk into exam day with far greater confidence to pass the bar.


Here is a closer look at one study we conducted in summer 2018. First, we see that a greater percentage of assignments completed, within any bar prep course, will generally correlate to a higher average bar exam score. It’s pretty obvious.

In the chart below, all the blue dots are BARBRI students and the dotted line represents the relationship between bar review course completion and final bar exam score. The dotted line slopes upward, which means the higher percentage of BARBRI course completion, the better students do on the bar exam. Simple enough.

When we look at the group of bar takers who did not study with BARBRI, we see a similar upward trajectory.

When we combine both BARBRI and non-BARBRI student scores within the graph, it reveals the true BARBRI advantage – BARBRI students score more points for the same amount of effort and percentage of the course completed as non-BARBRI students.


Now think about the bar exam curve. Generally, when you hear of someone failing the bar, many do so by 10 or fewer points. Wouldn’t you rather go in with the confidence of knowing you’re going to get the most points possible and give yourself the best chance possible?

Another reason why the majority of graduating law students, every year, go with BARBRI to Own The Bar.

About 9 Out of 10 Average BARBRI Students Pass the Bar … But We Don’t Care and Neither Should You

It’s easy to get caught up in state bar exam pass rates when considering your bar prep options. The reality is that about 9 out of 10 BARBRI students who do the average amount of work in our course pass the bar. That’s impressive … but we don’t care, and neither should you. Don’t put too much stock in a pass rate – BARBRI’s or anyone else’s. That is not a good indication of how YOU will actually perform on the bar exam.

What you really need to understand are the bar prep activities that are most important, and what YOU need to do, to get your highest bar score possible and pass the bar.


Let’s start where our in-house data scientists did – combing through four years of BARBRI data and working with law schools nationwide to uncover what truly drives bar passage.

BARBRI data scientists researched all activities completed by tens of thousands of BARBRI students, segmenting by UBE /non-UBE states and looking state-by-state to determine the activities and experiences that are more or less important to bar passage. We also looked at the effects of studying overall with BARBRI vs. other courses and you can get that information here.


The great news is that all activities that were assigned by ISAAC in the BARBRI Personal Study Plan are positively correlated to increased points on the bar exam and, ultimately, bar passage.

Some assignments have an even greater impact. These are a darker shade of green, which means they have an even higher correlation to bar passage.

The data scientists have found the BARBRI Simulated MBE to be one of the most powerful and statistically significant experiences one can have in preparing to pass the bar exam.

In fact, the BARBRI Simulated MBE is as correlated to the actual MBE as the PSAT is to the SAT. There are many reasons why an individual preparing to pass the bar exam should not miss out on the BARBRI Simulated MBE. Check out this blog to learn more.

One more important note: It’s not just about the type of assignments you do, but also the sequence and timing in which you do them. ISAAC, the engine that runs the BARBRI course, takes all of this into consideration as it drives your Personal Study Plan.

We want to ensure you focus exactly where you need to get the most points possible on your bar exam. That’s a measure of success you can trust with a great deal of confidence. It’s also a compelling reason why the majority of graduating law students, every year, go with BARBRI to Own The Bar.