As you may have gleaned from other posts and pages, I am studying for the NALA CP Exam. I am completely freaking out! Prior to setting this goal for myself, one I had contemplated for years, I took an online sample exam. I did excellent! I felt very confident after that exam and was prepared to “take the plunge” so to speak.

I bought the Certified Paralegal Review Manual (Fourth Edition), downloaded some blank study guides from Pinterest, and set to work. And then my balloon popped. I feel overwhelmed, under-educated, and ill prepared. The study guides are not helpful (to me – but they may be helpful to someone else on this journey), and it’s been soooo long since I have been in school that I could not begin to tell you what a past participle is. Apparently, though, I need to know this for the exam.

This post is not to say that I am incompetent but rather that I feel complacent. I write rather well. In family law in California, most of the hearings are ruled on based upon the pleadings. Because of this, having strong pleadings is essential in successfully arguing for our clients. Reviewing the chapter on grammar and writing was very disheartening. I write every day for a living and yet did not score well on the end of chapter test.

I have decided that the best method for me is the “read the chapter, take the test” method. How am I doing? Eh, I have gotten a few right. To help myself with the vocabulary I have downloaded various vocabulary apps on my phone. I try to hide from my boys when I study which is no easy feat. I made it through chapters 2, 3, and 4 and did better each time.

Fingers crossed that I continue to improve. book-631748_1280

7 thoughts on “NALA CP EXAM MELTDOWN!

  1. You have no idea how much I needed to read this post right now!!! My google search of, “How to study for paralegal exam” lead me here and I am currently feeling exactly the way you felt preparing for this test. I purchased the NALA Manual and the Mock Examination Guide and I feel lost! I have been a legal assistant for five years now and I feel like a complete blockhead. I did not purchase the Review Manual because I read some of the reviews on Amazon that there were incorrect answers in the book. Considering how expensive it was, I didn’t purchase it. I am planning on reading through all your archived blog posts in your journey of studying for this exam. I feel like I need all the help I can get right now.

  2. Hi,
    Please don’t feel alone.
    I am studying for this exam and I also feel lacking in confidence. I think part of this is the poor quality of the study materials provided by NALA, despite a lot of good information provided. It seems to me they are purposely making preparation difficult. I have been a paralegal for a few years and consider myself a good writer and a well trained and experienced paralegal. I question some of the English language answers as to word choice and some grammatical rules that are clunky and may be out of date. Even some of the legal questions have more than one answer than what they allow for. NALA says it’s so and that is it. That said, what can you do about this? Nothing. You have to play by their rules because they WRITE the rules. So, after buying all of NALAs expensive overwrought books, I looked for something else. I have bought a book called SECRETS of the CLA/ CP exam that boils down the long-winded explanations that you will NEVER be able to memorize from the NALA prep exam. NALA is surely making money off their prep materials and having you re-take the exam. Oh and the Mock Exam, what an annoying book that doesn’t give you any EXPLANATION for the answers. So you don’t LEARN anything about WHY you missed a question on the Mock Exam. What a waste of valuable time and money! I am not saying there is not useful material in NALA’s books, but A LOT of it could be edited down and narrowed or at least give a layout that helps you remember. You will waste your time trying to remember everything in their books. No wonder there is so much anxiety about this two day exam. Does NALA see itself as a Bar Exam for paralegals? There is no comparison, it should not be this hard to pass. So why is it? NALA should update their materials, and stop making their exam seem like some kind of Kabbalah that only those in the secret society can figure out. I am not saying make it easier, but update these materials to be more modern for the paralegal working in this fast-paced technical environment. I hope the exam is better than the study materials. I will check back and let you know if I pass. Get the book I mentioned on Amazon. You will feel better. Best of luck, Tara! P.S. Crafty, how did you do?

  3. I just came across this blog and OMG this is ME! I have been a paralegal since 1994 and also feel I am a competent writer until I took the mock Communications exam. Epic failure and total confidence killer. I am scheduled to take at least the ethics portion in January. I did ok with the ethics mock exam but nowhere near what I should be. I find it is the wording of these questions that get me. Not the answers. And since you only have 30 minutes for testing I find myself wasting time rereading each question to be sure I understand what they are looking for in the answer. I plan on only taking one or two sections at each testing period until complete. Any advice would be wonderful!

  4. Hi Laura!
    I feel that the online study tests were helpful in that they show you the format that the actual test comes in so you are not surprised the day of. Otherwise, not good for much but making people feel bad! I think doing a few sections at a time may be very beneficial. I know when I was only studying for the Communications section (because I did not pass the first time by 3 points!) it felt like I was more focused and I felt more confident. Regardless I would suggest one test per day. I did two with Communications first and Ethics second and feel that I may have done better on Communications had I dedicated a single day to it and therefore allowed more time for last minute refreshing before the test. Sometimes we just get in our own head too much and over-complicate things. The study tests (and end of chapter tests) are not a good reflection of our competence for sure!
    Best of luck!

    1. They have a study guide that you can find on their website. It’s a bit pricey but worth it. You may be able to find a used one or one for less on another site. I know that they just changed the way they are administering the test (starting for 2018) but believe the study guide will be the same. Good luck!!

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