Practicing essays closed books is likely one of the scarier things you could be thinking about right now. Our outlines and our books are like security blankets when we are practicing essays. “I’ll just look up this one thing” is a common thought that runs through our heads. But – this is a critical week to begin practicing essays closed book, especially in the subjects you’ve covered in weeks one and two. Why is this so important to do?
First, practicing essays closed book allows you to also practice memory recall. It’s a way to let you know if your memorization strategies have been working, so you can self-assess yourself. Did you spend a lot of time memorizing civil procedure, but had a lot of trouble recalling these rules for an essay? You may want to change up your memorization routine.
Second, practicing essays closed book tells you what you do not know and what you do know. This is critical. If you cannot recall certain rules, or you completely missed issues, this shows you what you need to go back and study. Doing essays closed book will give you a false sense of security when you’re looking up the law and sense familiarity when you see it on the page, and the familiarity causes you to tell yourself you know it. Do not confuse familiarity with memorization. The two are completely different, and you need to have things memorized for the essay portion of the exam.
Finally, you need to prepare yourself for exam day. Every essay you practice timed and closed-book increases your stamina and puts you in a better position to take the exam than you were before you wrote it. This helps you work on your timing and your ability to think and write under pressure. Don’t sell yourself short of this practice, and don’t wait until last minute to do so.
I get that it’s scary. I get that it’s uncomfortable. I also get that it can even be miserable. However, when something scares you, it usually means that it’s worth it.
It was Eleanor Roosevelt that said the famous quote “Do one thing every day that scares you.” What she really meant by this, I think, was to do one bar exam essay a day, timed, closed book. So, face your fears, close the books, and constantly be one step closer to bar success.