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.

Headed into Bar Review Crunchtime, the BARBRI Simulated MBE is Crucial

BARBRI Simulated MBE

GUEST BLOG by Sara Valentine, Graduate of Capital University Law School

Okay, let me just be the first to thank BARBRI for the Simulated MBE. I know, that seems like an odd thing to say, but nothing could have better prepared me for the bar exam than to sit down for six hours and do 200 multiple-choice MBE questions.

Yes, it was awful. Yes, I was tired. However, now I know what to expect on the bar exam. We’re getting into the home stretch here, and I feel confident in my ability to perform well. Why? Because I’ve been practicing (and you have, too!).

SO HOW DID YOU DO?

I’ll be honest, there were some questions on the BARBRI Simulated MBE that I definitely should not have missed. I knew the answer to them and I could recite the correct answer now for you with the correct rule statement.

Why did I miss the question? Because of reading comprehension. I know that you’ve heard “reading comprehension is key” or something to that effect since Kindergarten and it seems redundant, but seriously, the majority of the questions that I missed were because I was rushing. I got in the heat of the moment, had a knee-jerk reaction and picked what I thought was right. Sometimes I even did that without looking at the other answer choices. DO NOT DO THAT.

BARBRI Simulated MBE

Regardless of how you did, even if you did really well (yay, go you!), your scores are going to go up if you put in the time to get them where you need them to be.

The best part about the BARBRI Simulated MBE is that you get a chance to not only see how you did and where you could improve, but you also see how you react under pressure for six hours. Tbh, I have test anxiety so I knew that it would come up. However, I didn’t expect myself to get so tired through the exam. Answering 200 questions is easier said than done.

It is difficult to sit and look at questions with intense focus for hours on end.

It is difficult to keep focused and ensure that you’re doing what you need to do to answer the questions on the page.

If you need some help staying focused, I’d like to offer some advice. To ensure that I’m reading and understanding all of the important parts of the question is to underline and circle the things that are important. I underline the topic of the call-of-the-question so I know exactly what to look for when I’m reading the question. Also, if you read the call-of-the-question and you don’t know what subject it’s referring to, skim the answer choices. It’s a waste of your valuable time to read the question without knowing to which subject it’s referring.

The bottom line is now you know what it’s going to be like to sit in a room while focusing intently in three-hour blocks. We can do this.

DID YOU WATCH THE REVIEW VIDEOS?

Let me just say this: you aren’t going to get better if you don’t know what you did wrong.

Let me repeat it: you aren’t going to get better if you don’t know what you did wrong. These videos are GOLD. Not only do you get the chance to review all of the material, but you also get some GREAT tips and tricks for approaching questions. You also get some incredibly helpful mnemonics to remember crazy rules and exceptions. You know that you need to watch the videos. If you haven’t yet, you need to.

DID YOU WATCH MIKE SIMS’S WEBINAR?

Y’all need to watch Mike Sims’s webinar. Here’s the link to the on-demand replay. I don’t care if you are one of the super impressive people who got 100% on the MBE (like, how…?). Even if you did, the webinar put me at ease and gave me some peace of mind going into my last couple weeks of bar prep. It’s worth your time. Maybe you didn’t do the best on the BARBRI Simulated MBE.

Maybe you’re a little lower than you would like and you’re slightly freaking out, etc. Okay, look, we have over two weeks until the bar exam. Your scores are going to go up if you put in the time to review what you did wrong. The webinar definitely helps with that.

Y’all, we are almost there. Now we’re in crunch time and need to do what we need to do. We got this! Put in the work and you’ll #OwnTheBar.