Jeremy's Weblog

I recently graduated from Harvard Law School. This is my weblog. It tries to be funny. E-mail me if you like it. For an index of what's lurking in the archives, sorted by category, click here.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The Bar Exam, Day Two

I'm done! Congratulations if you're done too. It's a little exhausting. By MBE question #160 or so, my eyes were really struggling to stay open and my mind struggling to keep focus. I'd start reading a question and completely lose track of what was going on and find myself thinking about whether or not the fact that Starbucks says on its menu that its new Green Tea Lemonade is "shaken" actually means anything, and whether "shaken" lemonade is somehow better than unshaken lemonade, and worth the dollar premium over regular lemonade anywhere else in the universe. I mean, compared to that riveting line of thought, how could Dora and her defeasance, Victor and his vested remainder, Mark and his mortgage, Wanda and her wife, and Andy the Arsonist compare. Seriously, some of these questions... Mary grants an easement by prescription to Fred, who sells his property to Sue, who's married to Sam, who hit Lucy with her car... too many people to keep straight! And no logical diagram at all to make it make any sense. What does the arrow for "granted an easement" look like, as compared to the arrow for "killed in a barfight" or "hired a contractor"? And it's so much gossip anyway. In an improv class I once took, the teacher was really big on us not gossiping on stage -- talking about people who weren't there. It's boring to the audience. They want to know about the people on stage, not the people they'll never get to see. Same thing on the MBE. Tell me what the guy next to me is doing, not Terry the Trucker or Robby the Rapist. You're just gossiping. It's not nice.

But the MBE is without question a more fun (okay... that's the wrong way to put it... less un-fun is better...) day than Essay Tuesday. Essay Tuesday was brutal. Multiple-Choice Wednesday was just tiring. Tiring is better than brutal. No real surprises in the questions today. If you take a practice test, you know what it's gonna look like. I mean, I guessed on pretty much every answer, but there was never a point where I was thinking, "this isn't somewhere in the book." Every question had an answer someone could have reasonably known. Just not me. Or anyone else who had something else to do the past twenty-five years besides learn the details of law in a jurisdiction that doesn't even exist.

Announcement Man was totally on fire today. I didn't mention Announcement Man yesterday, because he was really boring, but basically they've found the man with the most soothing monotone on the planet (first runner up in the "You Can Be The Moviefone Man" competition), given him a really boring script to read, recorded his voice, and they pipe it through on continuous loop for the thirty minutes before each section starts.

"In front of you is a test booklet. Please verify that the number printed on the upper right corner of the test booklet matches your seat number."

And now his wife's favorite part:

"Now, without breaking the seal, slide your answer grid out from underneath the top cover of the MBE booklet. Slide that answer grid out. Baby. Without breaking the seal. Slide. Slide that grid. Come on, you can do it. Slide that grid out. Don't break the seal."

Wow, I'm on some other planet this afternoon, sorry.

Anyway, he went on to admonish anyone who's snuck in any contraband (like beepers, cell phones, untransparent bags, or -- gasp -- newspapers), and then had a whole bit about the copyright restrictions on the MBE exam. Don't write anything down, anywhere. Don't tell anyone the questions. Don't tell anyone anything. The first rule of the MBE is no one talks about the MBE. My favorite went something like this: "Revealing any of the MBE answers in any written, oral, electronic, or other medium is a violation of the copyright and grounds for failure of the exam and disqualification in the character and fitness portion of the evaluation...."

The questions I understand they want to keep secret. Although I find it hard to believe they really use them again, since enough people fail the test that someone'll recognize them next time. All you need to do is take it five times and you'll be golden then -- answer A for everything the first time, then B, then C, then D. Get your scoresheets back, memorize the answers, and the fifth time's a charm.

So the questions I understand are secret. But the answers? What are they worried about? Here, you want to know the answers? A. B. C. Sometimes even D. A. A. B. C. D. D. D. D. C. B. B. C. D. A. A. D. B. C. A. D. Those are some answers. Actually, that's really just the Bar/Bri acronym for "WAS THERE ANY ACRONYM THAT EVEN MATTERED ANYWHERE ON THE TEST???? IS THERE ANYTHING ANYONE TOLD ANYONE TO MEMORIZE THAT ACTUALLY MATTERED???? WHERE'S THE ACRONYM FOR 'BUYING YOUR BOOKS ON THE BLACK MARKET WAS ENOUGH; I CAN'T IMAGINE ACTUALLY SITTING THROUGH YOUR CLASSES AND THEN PAYING EXTRA MONEY FOR A SESSION WITH SOME MAGIC MAN MARINO WHO GUESSES THE ESSAY TOPICS AND GETS THEM ALL WRONG!" Seriously, that's the report. This clairvoyant Marino dude is no John Edward. He didn't get any of them. That's a hundred bucks you could have spent on flash cards instead. Flash cards. Ha.

At one point, whichever technologically-competent day laborer was manning the switchboard pressed the wrong button and Mr. Disembodied Voice, five minutes before the morning session started, announced, "STOP! Stop your writing. Put your pencils down." Uh, wrong one. I was hoping they'd press the one where he reads the answer key. "In the space marked 103, fill in the circle marked B. B for Baby. Slide that grid out, baby. 103. B. Don't break the seal."

[In the video version of this post, an animated seal will now dance across the screen. Try to imagine it.]

The MBE form also had a section where we had to write something, so they can see if it matches the handwriting sample we submitted four months ago when we signed up. Like I remembered whether I'd printed or written in script. The disembodied man told us about it, but no one caught it. So the proctor comes around to check, and I ask her what we need to write. "I don't know. Ask the guy behind you. He knows." Thanks. Not to rag on my proctor though. I thought she was very nice. Very friendly. As I handed in the exam yesterday afternoon, since obviously I was in the mood for idle chitchat, she asked what the exam cost to take. "Two-fifty," I said. "Each session?" "What?" "Each of the four sessions?" What I should have said: "I don't think they sell them separately. I think it's a package deal." What I said: "No, all four."

The guy sitting next to me was less of a fan of the proctor. Yesterday she wouldn't let him go to the bathroom. It was the last fifteen minutes of the afternoon session, and the last fifteen minutes of any session, due to the critical national security implications of the exam collection procedure, are quiet time. No getting up. So he asked, and she said no. He said he really had to go. Sorry.

See, as I figure it, the proctors didn't really understand him. They don't remember what it's like to actually feel the urge to go to the bathroom before you go. They're a good twenty or thirty years past all that. It's all foreign to them. "You have to go? How do you know?" Someone told me at his bar exam a few years ago someone wore an adult diaper. That's commitment. Or that means you should be committed. One of the two. I'm not quite sure.

More about the bathroom, actually, since it's the most interesting story I've got. So I was fortunate enough to be seated near one of the bathrooms, which was nice only because it means I have a story. I went before the exam started this morning, and the bathroom was fine. There was one stall and two urinals, and it all seemed to be in fair working order. And then about halfway into the morning session the drinkable yogurt I had for breakfast finally made its way through my system and I had to go again. So I raised my hand and they let me go (she liked me more than she liked the guy next to me... I mean, obviously, after her great pick up line yesterday about how much the test costs), and I went in... and the stall door had been pulled off its hinges and was angled sort of lopsided braced against the ceiling. Now, maybe it just fell off or something. Maybe this was all innocent. But I have to hope -- I have to imagine, for the sake of this being a story -- that some frustrated fellow just went in there and tore it off the freaking hinges in a fit of MBE-induced rage. Please let me keep that image. Please.

So I leave the bathroom, and there's some guy in a suit outside. An inspectorly-looking man. A bar official, perhaps. And he's staring incredulously at the door. And the proctor manning the bathroom is nodding disapprovingly at the state of the door. How could someone do this? Luckily, it seemed pretty clear this had happened some amount of time before I used the bathroom and there was no suspicion that it was me or anything like that. The suit man had already been called to deal with this. Perhaps, in fact, he was Mr. Disembodied Voice. Maybe he was a celebrity. Oooh. That would have been neat.

Anyway, that's my bathroom story.

The one thing I made a point to look for today was specific details of the law school t-shirts people were wearing. I missed it yesterday, picking up on the trend but having nothing in the way of examples -- Fordham Students For Choice, or whatever -- yet today the trend was noticeably muted. Not as many of those shirts. But a lot of law-themed shirts, actually. One guy with the word "Homicide" on the back of his shirt. I wonder if there's any restrictions. Could I screen-print up a shirt listing the elements of crimes on the front? Is that fair game? How about one of those concert date t-shirts but instead of cities it's just one long Bar/Bri acronym. It's the TSLEGUPLOGPIT tour. Is that legal? Mr. Disembodied Voice said nothing, so I can only assume....

So maybe I passed, maybe I didn't, but who the heck cares at this point. It's done. I have a floor slightly littered with outlines I can toss, books I can burn, and some scraps of paper that turned into these last two weblog posts. They'll all be gone real soon. No more evidence I was ever a law student. Gotta erase all of it. Never want to know about any of this ever again. Or at least not until South Dakota in February. :)