3-for-3 Passing The Bar | Military Spouse Attorney Success Story

by C. Thea Pitzen
Attorney & Principal | Goodman Allen Donnelly

Life as a military spouse attorney isn’t always a straight line. I can personally attest to that, especially after taking three state bar exams and passing all three, the first time, using BARBRI Bar Review.

Attorney C. Thea Pitzen goes 3-for-3 on bar exams with BARBRI bar exam prep From Georgia … to Florida … to Virginia

My journey began at Emory Law in Atlanta, where I graduated in spring 2009. I signed up for BARBRI during my 3L year to prepare for the summer Georgia Bar Exam (having Emory Professor Rich Freer on the BARBRI faculty was a big draw for me).

I successfully passed and was sworn in to the Georgia Bar. Then a couple of months later, found myself engaged (happily, of course!). My future husband was active-duty Navy and stationed in Florida, while I was still living and working in Atlanta. Bonus points for me, I would have to retake the whole bar exam again. Unfortunately, there was no reciprocity moving from Georgia to Florida.

Now during my bar exam prep for the Georgia exam, I had studied much of the time at Emory Law, going to physical classroom locations to view BARBRI lectures. Less than a year later, I chose to use the online-only BARBRI Bar Review for Florida. I needed to be able to watch lectures on my computer because I was still clerking for a federal judge full-time in Georgia. By and large, when I got off work, I’d view a lecture in the evening to stay on pace. About six weeks before taking the summer 2010 Florida Bar Exam, I got married and then went on to pass my second state bar. Two-for-two so far.

A few years later, we found out that the Navy would be reassigning us to Virginia. And you guessed it. I had to take the entire bar exam once more. With work and a small child as new addition to the family, I went online-only again with BARBRI bar exam prep for Virginia and passed the February 2016 exam.

BARBRI hasn’t failed me yet in passing the bar

As an active member of the Military Spouse JD Network, I know first-hand just how many of us take the bar exam multiple times, traveling with a service member spouse from duty station to duty station. In our online forums, quite frequently there is discussion about bar exam licensing issues and which bar exam prep course to use. We’re fully aware of the choices. For some (whether military spouses or not), cost is a factor and they’ll go with the cheapest program. For me, the simplest answer is that BARBRI hasn’t failed me yet.

100% online bar exam prep was a huge convenience

There is a degree of comfort and familiarity in the BARBRI process. One of the benefits of doing BARBRI bar exam prep on-site is the solidarity aspect of it. There were so many of my classmates from Emory Law in the room, as well as others from the Atlanta area. Everyone was going through the same stress, working toward achieving the same goal. This helped immensely that first go-round with the Georgia Bar Exam. Being able to then switch to the online BARBRI Bar Review format for the Florida and Virginia Bar Exams was a huge convenience, particularly with having a job, a family and greater demands on my time overall. The lectures still felt engaging with the same top caliber of instructors delivering the content.

I always found that if you could study with discipline on the BARBRI materials, and reach a percentile ranking high enough on the BARBRI Simulated MBE subjects, you will pass the bar exam. The BARBRI course is rigorous. The way the MBE questions are set up and the depth of essay feedback you receive, which can be brutal at times, will position you to succeed.

BARBRI practice questions are shockingly accurate

BARBRI is spot-on in its MBE practice questions and practice essays. It’s shockingly accurate. This speaks to BARBRI’s experience and longevity. On the MBE – and I can speak to three administrations  in three different states – BARBRI has clearly figured out what the bar exam questions look like and the patterns you’ll encounter. It’s a successful formula they’ve hit on.

You spend a lot of money taking the bar exam – all the admission requirements, the travel, and other fees add up. It’s wise to spend your hard-earned money on a course that gives you the utmost confidence in passing the bar. BARBRI has done it three times for me. I don’t know why I would not continue to use them.

Watch One, Do One, Teach One | Expert Bar Exam Study Tips

by Mike Sims,
BARBRI President


Now repeat that mantra: “Watch one, do one, teach one” and then go find a study partner to use it on during your bar exam prep. If you’re by yourself, on a computer or tablet or smartphone, sitting at the local coffee shop or in your room toiling away, working through the vast amount of bar review questions – I encourage you to try this interactive education model.

“Watch one, do one, teach one” originated in medical school and can effectively be applied to law school and bar exam studies. The idea is that seeing someone do something, then doing it yourself and being able to show someone else how it’s done leads to greater understanding and confidence. You just need to partner up with a fellow law student or someone to listen as you explain the rules and elements of the law.

Inherently, bar review starts out as an individualized experience. It’s you one-on-one with the BARBRI Personal Study Plan that guides you through the daily assignments and recommended homework. What you need to be keenly aware of is that you may, at first, be alone to focus on your studies but that can morph into being lonely. A study partner will keep you energized and motivated and, most of all, provide the dialogue and discussion necessary to comprehend the law.

If you have a bar exam study partner (and you really should at some point), learn a rule and teach it to that person. If you know a rule well enough to teach it to someone else, you know it well enough to pass the bar exam.

Plus it goes both ways. Your study partner can explain legal components to you, as well. Listen closely. There may be a nuance or even broader topic of the law you are grasping for the first time – after all, you’re taking three years of law school subjects and condensing it all into about 10 weeks of bar prep. Meet daily or weekly, at least, and discuss aloud – this will help with your understanding, retention and, ultimately, application when answering those multiple-choice MBE questions and essays.

Say it one more time: “Watch one, do one, teach one!”


BARBRI pioneered bar review and proudly celebrates 50-plus years of helping more than 1.3 million students pass the bar exam. BARBRI’s constant innovation, leadership and depth of experience based on 100-plus bar exams going back to 1967 influences all aspects of bar review – where it’s been, where it is today and the vast possibilities of where BARBRI will lead it next. Every year, the overwhelming majority of law students across the nation choose BARBRI Bar Review to prepare for the bar exam – and pass it the first time. Learn more about the nation’s #1 bar review at BARBRI.com.

Question The Question | Expert Bar Exam Study Tips

By Everett Chambers,
BARBRI Vice President of Institutional Programs


When it comes to the MBE, MPT and essays on the bar exam, you want to answer the question that is actually being asked. Many law students forget this and jump right in without identifying and fully understanding the call of the question. The key is to first “question the question.” Ask yourself: what exactly am I being asked to do? Then apply the law (with the call of the question already in mind) to arrive at the correct multiple-choice answer or construct a winning essay.

Sounds simple enough but this can be a little tricky to tackle, especially if you dive straight into a question’s facts and details. Beginning with the “call of the question” and grasping exactly what is being asked will ultimately save you time and energy. And you have a better chance at capturing those valuable, extra points on all areas of the bar exam.

The “call of the question” is your roadmap of where you are being asked to go. It will give you solid up-front direction for what to key on when analyzing the facts of the question. Using this roadmap will enhance your ability to quickly answer questions and will maximize your scores on essays and multiple choice questions.

Before deep-diving into the fact patterns and potentially wasting precious time on irrelevant details, make sure you know what you’re being asked to answer. Question the question and focus on the call. It’s a winning bar exam strategy.


BARBRI pioneered bar review and proudly celebrates 50-plus years of helping more than 1.3 million students pass the bar exam. BARBRI’s constant innovation, leadership and depth of experience based on 100-plus bar exams going back to 1967 influences all aspects of bar review – where it’s been, where it is today and the vast possibilities of where BARBRI will lead it next. Every year, the overwhelming majority of law students across the nation choose BARBRI Bar Review to prepare for the bar exam – and pass it the first time. Learn more about the nation’s #1 bar review at BARBRI.com.

Submit Practice Essays To Develop Skills | Expert Bar Exam Study Tips

By Steve Levin,
BARBRI Vice President of International Development and Legal Writing


When I ask students who scored lower on the bar exam or were just below the threshold of passing, whether they submitted practice essays during bar prep, often the answer is “no” or “not many.” I’ve heard from students, in the past, that they felt the need to know all the rules of the law before they could or should submit a practice essay during bar review.

As many of you know, the written portion of the bar exam is critical to your overall score in every state and in some states, there is greater weight on the written portion compared to the MBE. (Download the BARBRI Bar Exam Digest for details.) Essay writing for the bar exam is quite different than the final exam essays you took in law school – it’s an acquired skill you must strengthen during bar prep.

On the bar exam, you’ll need to know how to provide an answer to the call of the question in the format bar examiners want to see. The best way to achieve proficiency is to tackle practice essays multiple times during BARBRI Bar Review and submit them for personal feedback – even while you are still learning the substantive material. This will enable you to continue your essay writing skill development.

Note that I said, “skill development.” Do not hold back on submitting a practice essay just because you are still learning the black letter law. When reviewing your essays, we aren’t just looking at your substantive knowledge – we also focus on feedback that helps refine your essay writing skills.

With each submitted essay, you’ll benefit from personalized input from a trained bar exam writing expert. You’ll come away knowing where you will capture points and where you may lose points, as well as how to frame a better essay answer. Submitting essays as they are assigned during bar review, over time, will allow you to incorporate previous feedback into the next practice essay. You’ll move along an upward trajectory of continuous improvement and bar exam readiness.


BARBRI pioneered bar review and proudly celebrates 50-plus years of helping more than 1.3 million students pass the bar exam. BARBRI’s constant innovation, leadership and depth of experience based on 100-plus bar exams going back to 1967 influences all aspects of bar review – where it’s been, where it is today and the vast possibilities of where BARBRI will lead it next. Every year, the overwhelming majority of law students across the nation choose BARBRI Bar Review to prepare for the bar exam – and pass it the first time. Learn more about the nation’s #1 bar review at BARBRI.com.

Grapple With The MBE Materials | Expert Bar Exam Study Tips

By Stephanie Goetz,
BARBRI Director of Publishing and Online Course Creation


In preparing for the Multistate portion of the bar exam, many students think the best strategy is to tackle the largest quantity of multiple-choice practice questions as if it’s a race to reach some magic number. The truth is, there is no magic target number of practice questions you should complete. Running through “thousands” of MBE practice questions does not automatically mean you’ll score higher on the MBE. Instead of focusing on more, faster, you should focus on grappling with each individual question with which you interact.

Rather than take on a large volume of MBE practice questions at one time, work them in smaller groups. Consider working 18 questions in a 30-minute session. Why 18? To finish the MBE’s 200 questions on time, you must complete at least 17 per half hour – you have just under two minutes for each question. You want to practice a little faster than what will be needed on the exam. This will get you into the rhythm of answering a question quickly, ideally in about a minute-and-a-half.


Another reason to work smaller groups of practice questions is so that you use each question as a real-time learning opportunity. If you answer a question incorrectly, understand why at that moment of study. If you answered one correctly, take a moment to ask yourself if you really know why that answer was correct.

If you missed one or don’t know why you got it correct, stop, take time to review the explanatory answer and delve deep into your BARBRI outlines to master points of law that are causing you trouble.

BARBRI provides 24/7 online access to hundreds of MBE practice questions so you have plenty of learning opportunities. Just remember to work a smaller group within a shorter timeframe and then take time to grapple with each one to truly learn.


BARBRI pioneered bar review and proudly celebrates 50-plus years of helping more than 1.3 million students pass the bar exam. BARBRI’s constant innovation, leadership and depth of experience based on 100-plus bar exams going back to 1967 influences all aspects of bar review – where it’s been, where it is today and the vast possibilities of where BARBRI will lead it next. Every year, the overwhelming majority of law students across the nation choose BARBRI Bar Review to prepare for the bar exam – and pass it the first time. Learn more about the nation’s #1 bar review at BARBRI.com.

Don’t Select Obscure Answer Choices | Expert Bar Exam Study Tips

by Roger Meslar,
BARBRI Vice President of Assessment


By now, you’re getting a very real understanding of the very large challenges presented by the MBE.  One big final exam covering all of your first year and more. You have only 6 hours to answer 200 questions, each of which have 4 answer choices. Or in other words, you have only 6 hours to sort through 800 answer choices trying to find the right ones. No wonder no one has ever gotten a perfect score on the MBE!

While the challenge may seem daunting, let me offer you a tip to make it a bit more manageable – one that I’ve used on all the MBE’s I’ve taken and passed. When you see an answer choice on the MBE that looks completely unfamiliar, more often than not, that answer choice is wrong.  The correct answer will probably be familiar to you. It will contain a rule of law or a use a line of reasoning you’ve seen before during your BARBRI Bar Review course. So don’t get caught up in wondering if the exam is trying to trick you. If you come across any obscure answer choice, don’t mark it. Trust what you know for sure.

The purpose of the MBE is to test your substantive knowledge and legal reasoning skills. It rewards both your understanding (not just memorization) of the law and your ability to apply that law quickly and expertly to 200 fact scenarios. You don’t want to spend your time second-guessing the bar examiners or spending too much time poring over an obscure answer choice. If an answer includes something you’ve never studied in law school or did not see in BARBRI, chances are it’s not the correct answer.

Keep that in mind and you’ll be one step closer to a great score on the MBE.


BARBRI pioneered bar review and proudly celebrates 50-plus years of helping more than 1.3 million students pass the bar exam. BARBRI’s constant innovation, leadership and depth of experience based on 100-plus bar exams going back to 1967 influences all aspects of bar review – where it’s been, where it is today and the vast possibilities of where BARBRI will lead it next. Every year, the overwhelming majority of law students across the nation choose BARBRI Bar Review to prepare for the bar exam – and pass it the first time. Learn more about the nation’s #1 bar review at BARBRI.com.

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.

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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

5 Reasons To Get Excited About BARBRI MBE Immersion

BLOG By Mike Sims, BARBRI President

MBE Immersion, included in your BARBRI Bar Review course, is one of the first things you will complete before you start your substantive lectures (with the exception of our friends studying for Louisiana). While we understand that you may not feel as excited as we do about studying for the bar exam, here are 5 reasons to get excited (or at least feel good) about BARBRI MBE Immersion:

1. Mean MBE scores are still some of the lowest they have been in 10 years.
As you’ve likely heard, students struggle with the MBE portion of the bar exam. BARBRI MBE Immersion helps.

2. MBE Immersion is built upon an evidence-based approach to improve law student performance on the MBE portion of the bar exam.
The deep-dive, online experience is designed to accelerate the pace you learn the law and, in turn, successfully answer MBE bar exam questions.

3. MBE Immersion starts with BARBRI’s Systematic Problem Solving approach to MBE questions.
You’ll learn secrets from MBE experts and have the chance to put those skills to work with a specially selected set of MBE questions.

4. It introduces you to the most frequently tested topics. 
MBE Immersion takes you subject-by subject through each of the MBE topics and is the best way to start acquiring, applying and assessing your MBE knowledge.

5. It provides you with a mental framework for the large amount of law you need to master for the MBE. 
Nothing replaces that work that you have to personally put into studying for the bar exam, but it, along with every part of BARBRI Bar Review, is designed to help you maximize every second of study time so you can study smarter, not harder.

Sign In to your BARBRI Bar Review account mid-December for winter takers or mid-May for summer takers and you’ll see the MBE Immersion assignment in your BARBRI Personal Study Plan. All of us at BARBRI look forward to helping you Own The Bar and to seeing your name on the pass list.

Waiting For Your Bar Exam Results

By Mike Sims,
BARBRI President

With the bar exam behind us, barpreppers across the country are discovering that while it was unpleasant to study for the bar, and exhausting to take the bar, now the truly difficult part has begun – waiting for results from the bar.

It’s almost impossible not to replay essay questions in your mind or to second guess your answer choice on a difficult MBE question. It’s even harder to quiet the voice in your head that keeps asking, “But what if I failed?” The good news is that if you are experiencing any of the stresses, you’re not alone and it’s completely normal.

After every exam I receive panicked emails and phone calls about the exam. I hear stories about essay questions that tested completely unknown rules of law. I have students tell me the MBE questions on the exam looked nothing like the questions they had seen in practice before the exam. In my experience the more someone is worried after the exam, the better they end up scoring on the exam.

On the essays, remember this one simple truth: If you did not know a rule of law, odds are no one else did either since the majority of students prepare with BARBRI. For the MBE, the practice questions you worked and the BARBRI simulated MBE that you took have helped hundreds of thousands of successful bar exam takers. That said, the one thing we can’t simulate in BARBRI is the pressure of the real exam. Think about it. How many times in practice did you skip over or guess on a hard practice MBE question, figuring you’d just learn it from the answer? On the real exam, you don’t have that luxury, but you do have the pressure of feeling like you need to get every question correct. You don’t. In fact, historically the average exam taker misses 70-80 questions and still passes the exam!

There’s no question waiting for results can be stressful. Between now and results day, do your best to relax, enjoy the rest of your summer and remember that the odds are VERY strongly in your favor.


BLOG by Roger Meslar,
BARBRI Sr. Director, Assessments & MBE Content

The National Conference of Bar Examiners has recently announced updated scoring information for the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE).

What Has Changed?

Previously, 10 of the 200 multiple choice questions included on each MBE exam were unscored, as they were being field-tested for possible future use. Starting with the February 2017 exam, 25 of the 200 multiple choice MBE questions will now be unscored. In other words, 175 of the 200 questions will be scored and used to determine the result of your exam going forward. The 175 scored questions will be distributed evenly among the seven subjects tested on the exam.

How Will This Affect My Bar Exam Preparation?

This will not affect your bar preparation. The MBE is still a 200 question exam, and the unscored questions are indistinguishable from the scored questions, so you need to answer all 200 questions. The Bar Examiners will convert your raw score to a scaled score based on a 0-200 range, and the scaled score is what jurisdictions use to determine whether you pass. For more information on the change, please feel free to visit the NCBE website here.

How Can BARBRI Help Me?

Every U.S. state bar exam, with the exception of Louisiana, use the MBE and it’s a critical component of the exam. Actually, many of our students have told us that the MBE is the scariest portion of the bar exam for them.

Mean MBE scores have been falling for some time – in 2015, they were the lowest they have been in over 10 years. This means that choosing your bar prep course – and knowing exactly how you, personally, are going to do on the bar exam, before you actually sit for it – has never been more important.

This is why, earlier this year, we introduced the exclusive BARBRI MBE Immersion as a new kick-off to BARBRI Bar Review. MBE Immersion is a deep-dive experience that spans the first two-days of the BARBRI Bar Review course and implements an evidence-based approach to accelerate the pace you learn the law tested on the MBE and, in turn, successfully answer MBE questions. It provides you with a mental framework for the vast amount of law you need to master for the MBE.

It’s also why your entire BARBRI Bar Review experience is presented to you via your own Personal Study Plan. Video lectures, outlines, practice questions and workshops build over time to create a highly effective bar prep structure. Then, your Personal Study Plan analyzes more than 1,000 points of data collected from your assignments, grades, practice exams and practice essays to hone in and improve on areas of law that need the most attention.

Lastly, it’s why we continue to provide the exclusive BARBRI Simulated MBE with Pass Predictor. This, by far, will be your best predictor of bar exam success. Our realistic 200-question Simulated MBE compares your test results with thousands of other BARBRI students – the largest, most statistically valid group of bar exam takers nationwide.

Only BARBRI has studied every single MBE since it debuted in 1972. In fact, the MBE portion of the bar exam has changed many times in recent years and so have our practice test questions. We’ve reviewed, edited and revised them to accurately reflect the most current MBE format. Every day at BARBRI, we are focused on providing a bar review course that continues to attract the overwhelming majority of law school students each year and one that has helped more than 1.3 million law students pass the bar exam. Now we’re here to help you #OwnTheBar.