Of Allison and Ashley, Scaled Scores, Bell Curves, and Failing the Bar Exam…3x.

Yes.

You read that correctly, 3x. I, Sharon Gardner Lloyd have failed the Texas Bar Exam three times.

Some like to phrase it a little differently, they say, “you have been unsuccessful in your attempt.”

Please. Get the fuck over the language already.

Call it what it is. If you are going to administer the exam, and not allow those with a score of less than 675 to get a law license, lets not sugar coat it shall we? I failed. Period. To do otherwise minimizes the success of those who PASSED. It also conjures images of a poor customer service representative whispering “sorry” with an ever slightly tilted head, but I digress…

The minimum score for passing in Texas is 675/1000. This too has some verbal baggage attached. It is frequently referred to as a number that reflects  “minimum competency”, or even better, a C-.

Slightly below average, Oh Ouch.

Oh how my unsuccessful spirit loves those phrases, for I have been weighed and measured and found to be neither minimally competent or  capable of achieving a C-.

Thank you for playing.

It has been a week since I finished the July 2015 Texas Bar Exam, my fourth and last attempt to pass the bar. Although technically I am allowed a fifth try, so come November 6th if my name is not on the list published for the world to see, or not see, at least I could take it again, but as of today I  don’t think I have the heart to give it one more go.

I know I don’t have the ass for it, mine is now flat and square and has assumed the shape of my office chair as is what happens when one sits and studies for 10 to 12 hours a day for two months… times 4.

I have begun fielding the question …come on, you know which question I mean.

The QUESTION.

“So… how do you think you did?”

In all honesty, I have no idea. My previous attempts I missed the score, by a few points each time.

In February 2014, I scored a 662, missed passing by 13 points, which is 1.3%, OMG did I just do math!

I took it again in July 2014, the year of upload-mageddon.  Remember the software failure heard round the country resulted in panic? Here the final score was  651, 2.4% off the mark,

I especially loved the February 15 taking. Cars sliding off freeways, Ice Storm cancels the Cowtown Marathon, Schools closed, but the Bar exam must go on… The Fort Worth Convention Center, without heat. In sub-zero temperatures,  (it was 28 inside) we all crammed in the same arena where horses and cattle were shown…moo.

I felt very much like a character in a Charles Dickens novel for the first two days of that taking, as they had the blowers going full-bore, blowing  said sub-zero temps from outside, frozen fingers typing …two shirts a sweater and coat, looking rather like the stay-puff-marshmallow grannie…grey short scalp exposed as no hats allowed!  But alas I fell short again, with a 658, 1.7% off the required 675.

Which brings us to July 2015. Arlington Convention Center…All I know is I prepared,  I followed the plan, I worked hard. But there are factors over which I have no control, by which I mean the scaled score, the bell curve and other students performance.  ( good for them I say, you pass by huge margins? Good,  all the better for the profession.) Everything is graded on a scale and a curve and that depends greatly upon all those kids that took the bar exam with me…yes kids. I am a 53-year-old grandmother of two, have you not been following along? 

So Day Two in Texas is the ever thoughtful gift to law students everywhere the MBE.

THE MULTISTATE.

It is given on the same day around the Country, the Wednesday of the last week in February or July and consists of a six-hour 200 multiple choice exam on 7 subjects, contracts, torts, constitutional law, criminal law, evidence, real property, and the new darling Federal Procedure. It is tough. Seriously I have given birth three times, twice without any anesthetic, been in Reagan’s Navy and boot camp, and sat the naturalized citizenship exam to become a citizen of the United States. MBE in particular and bar exam in general are by far the hardest mental challenges of my life.

It is made that way. I know now after taking it now more than once; the morning session is filled with questions that make you wonder if you ever went to law school, it makes you doubt your very existence and will to live…then you break for lunch and hit it all over again in the afternoon, and then at least sometimes you seem to understand the questions…

So this happened…that Wednesday night after the horrible terrible not very great feeling MBE day.

I’m back in the hotel room…yes we stay there because who wants to miss the bar exam because some idiot was texting and crashed and closed the highway….so I’m in my room getting ready for a full day three of the Texas Bar Exam,  Texas Essay day.

My room has an adjoining door, I’ve seen the young ladies who are staying there pass me in the hall, I know they are fellow bar takers… total strangers, but then I hear it. That sound.

The sound mothers everywhere know.

It’s a different type of cry. Its instinctive and different and I instantly know someone is in deep distress.

Like when you have a baby and you know its hungry, or wet or just needing to be held. I stop looking over my essay outlines and listen. It is crying, coming from next door. I hear the muffled sounds of crying and hear a few words…then I hear a knocking and others entering…friends trying to comfort.

The fucking MBE it does just wipe your confidence out…it leaves you with nothing. And there is a full day of essays ahead…

The momma in me just took over.

I grabbed an index card, the essential tool of law students everywhere…I paused to think about what to write.

In the end it was something like, “It will be ok, I have failed this thing, (I believe I fibbed and said only twice, as really, who would take anything  I said seriously If I had said three times…)  and I said “it is the nature of the beast. It makes you doubt yourself. Chin up, you will pass…” then I slid it under the door.

 

I woke up the next morning to this slid under my door…

IMG_7345

 

I didn’t think about the curve, or how someone elses lower score might be beneficial, that is not how I roll. For almost a decade I worked with a non-profit that represents children in the court system, and  I believe with all I have that being an Attorney is a job  that brings with it a deep social responsibility. It is a job of service to others. With the knowledge gained we are meant to serve others, to help them and guide them when they need it most. That type of thinking is not congruent with my belief system, we help each other, we don’t look away, even on the bar exam.

So when you ask me how it went, I think it went well. I do hope Allison and Ashley pass.

As for  my passing, …that will be up to the holders of the scale and the curve to decide whether I have what it takes to be declared minimally competent…as for me, I believe I have already passed the only test that matters.

 

 

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Filed under Failing the bar exam, Law School, Texas bar exam

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