Sample of a Wills/Community Property Essay Cross-Over

Leave a comment

Hello All,

I hope you are having a good evening and remaining calm.

I have received a lot of questions about the possibility of seeing Community Property on tomorrow’s exam. While it is not my first pick, as I have always maintained – anything could be tested. And, if Community Property is something you are fearing, then you should give it a bit of a review before tomorrow.

If Community Property were to come up, I could see it being tested as a cross-over exam. One possibility is with Wills, but it could also show up with Evidence or even Trusts.

I am posting here (for sake of ease) a copy of a past California bar exam that tested both Wills and Community Property – you can download it here: (it was tested on the February 2006 bar exam and is long enough ago that it could easily repeat) WillsComPropEssayF06.

Again, I am not saying that this will show up tomorrow – I can not predict this exam – nor can anyone else. But, if you want to take a look at how these two topics can be tested together, then download the essay above. If you feel like it will only cause you further stress, then ignore it :)

Either way, I wish you much success tomorrow!

Please feel free to contact me at: barexamguru@yahoo.com – as always, I am grateful for your following and I welcome your insights on what is tested on the essays – I look forward to hearing from you.

All the best and much continued success!

Sincerely,

Lisa Duncanson

February 2015 California Bar Exam: What to Study for Day Three?

1 Comment

Hello all,

Congratulations, you only have one more day! You are the very first group of bar examinees to ever take Civil Procedure MBEs. And, this time tomorrow night you will be done with the bar exam!  I know that many of you are anxious about what might show up on tomorrow’s essays and performance test. Hopefully this post will help ease some anxiety. That is my hope. If you feel you need more, be sure to sign up for our tips list (you can sign up below).

I promised I would provide an additional update to the “predictions” that I made earlier. So here we go:

If you have been following my blog  you may know that I will not discuss the performance test until next week as there will still be examinees taking the Performance Test this Saturday and Sunday (those examinees that are on a six day exam due to accommodations).  However, knowing what I do know about Performance Test A from day one, does not change any of my predictions that I made prior to the exam.

So, here is what I recommend you do this evening. Study . . . some. I really do think it makes a difference to do some studying the night before. Of course, this is up to you. But, I do believe that reviewing material the night before is helpful and I do think that you can still learn new material (although I hope you do not need to learn new material tonight).

Now what should you study?

1) Study any area that you fear seeing on the exam tomorrow. You do not want to walk into the exam tomorrow morning hoping that you do not see a particular topic. Also, don’t be so fearful – review that topic for a little bit and then put it away. Be confident that you will be able to figure it out well enough tomorrow should you see it tested on the essays.

2) Review the “predicted” areas (see earlier posts) and remember there is no way to predict what is going to show up tomorrow, I do not claim that I can do that at all nor do I recommend that examinees study around predictions. But, at this point, the night before the bar exam – it can not hurt to entertain some of the possible essay scenarios that could show up and give these a little thought.

Here are some of the areas I would likely consider for tomorrow:

Professional Responsibility could show up tomorrow as either an essay or on the Performance Test or both. My thoughts are it could be absent from the essays – occasionally the bar examiners skip it from the essays altogether. This is generally not the case, however, so I would prepare as though Professional Responsibility is going to be on one of the essays tomorrow.

Constitutional Law (possibly Dormant Commerce Clause) could come up – please read earlier posts for details. Review my earlier posts and  review the handout we provided (through Bar Exam Tips Emails) for approaching the Constitutionality of a state or federal statute. There is a particular approach for this that the bar examiners embrace – and – it is different depending upon whether you are asked to evaluate a state law or a federal law. Keep in mind that in addition to your typically required State Action and Case or Controversy requirements (standing, ripeness, mootness, and must not involve a political question) that when evaluating a state statute you need to address whether the state (or subdivision of the state – county, city, etc.) has the power to act. The power for the state to act would need to stem from those reserved to the state via the Tenth Amendment (states can regulate on behalf of the morals, health, welfare, education or safety of its citizens). There are several remaining steps depending upon the type of regulation that is at issue – assuming you end up facing a Constitutional Law essay tomorrow – it would be a good idea to be prepared for how to approach these areas. If you would like a free copy of our handout for Evaluating the Constitutionality of a State or Federal Law, just add our tips list below and we will send it out. Incidentally, this handout/approach covers how to handle a dormant commerce clause essay – since that IS a state law that is affecting interstate commerce in such a way that might place an undue burden on interstate commerce (that is the issue that comes up in the even that you have a dormant commerce clause exam).

Wills – either alone or crossed over with something else (Trusts, Community Property for example). I think Wills is very possible. Of course, there is NO WAY to predict what will show up on tomorrow’s essays or performance test. If, however, you were to see a Wills essay, the areas of integration, incorporation by reference and acts of independent legal significance are frequently tested (and often – believe it or not – come up together depending upon the essay fact pattern). Also commonly tested in Wills are issues with respect to an omitted or pretermitted heir. Ademption by extinction is also a frequent flyer. Be sure to know these rules so you are comfortable dealing with these areas.

If you do see Wills on the bar exam tomorrow, you may or may not be faced with determining the validity of a will – but if you are – and there is a prior will – then you need to address Dependent Relative Revocation (regardless of whether it will effectively revive a prior will or not – if it is ineffective – then address it and explain why DRR will not work – this is the stuff that passing (and better than passing essays are made of).

What if Criminal Law Murder shows up on an essay tomorrow? If it were me taking the exam tomorrow, I would make sure I reviewed the tests for Insanity Defenses – past bar exam answers instruct us that perfection with respect to the rule statements is not the most important thing and that your ability instead it is 1) your ability to correctly identify the issues and 2) your ability to have a thorough discussion and detailed analysis that is paramount. But, obviously, you will be most comfortable writing in any area if you have a really good grasp of the rules. The tests for insanity have not been tested in several years – so I would give that a quick review and do your best to make sure that you can discuss all four should it be presented on tomorrow’s exam.

What if you were to be tested on Torts again (it was on the July bar exam) – then I would not be surprise if Torts came up as either a cross over with Remedies or if you were to see Defamation or perhaps some of the miscellaneous tort issues (again – review my prior posts from this week – and understand – Torts is not on my list of “most likelies” – just understand that you should be prepared for anything).

Don’t forget that subjects repeat – so far Contract Remedies repeated from July 2014 to February 2015 – anything else from July 2014 can still repeat (read my prior posts about this – even Contract Remedies from day one could repeat). Torts from the last bar round (which was Negligence) could repeat – take a look at Torts, do not dismiss it or assume it can not be tested.

For other possible topic areas for testing, review my prior posts from earlier this week.

3) if you haven’t already, sign up for our tips list and I will send out our predictions and revised predictions to you via email. We will continue to send this out through this evening as long as possible).

You can sign up for our revised predictions and tips list here:

What else should I do?

Do your best to relax. You have just been through two very long and intense days. You need to have your wits about you for tomorrow. Focus on things that will help you and avoid things that will be counterproductive. What would be counterproductive? Dwelling on how you did (or did not do) on day one’s essays or performance test, talking about what you wrote on day one . . . this will not help, and it generally only leads to more anxiety which is not helpful.

Try to get some decent sleep.

If you can get a decent night’s sleep tonight that would obviously be great. But, recognize it may not be possible and simply be okay with that. Don’t dwell on the fact that you can’t sleep, just try your best to rest. At all times, be positive and keep a good frame of mind. You will do better for it tomorrow.

Don’t give up.

Absolutely do not give up. This test is often as much about perseverance as it is about your studies. And, let’s face it, to study well over a protracted period of time definitely requires perseverance. You graduated from law school For some, perhaps a few, that is relatively easy. But, for most, it takes a lot of dedication and perseverance. So you have this skill, use it tomorrow. Don’t let the test get to you.

Be positive.

This is so important. Tell yourself you are going to succeed. Actively work at being positive. Choose to be positive. Only you can make this choice, I highly recommend it.

Use Headings!

Your exam answer should be attractive and look organized. This should not be news to you, but if it is, be sure to use headings on your exams tomorrow. Let your headings to the heavy lifting for you! Make your exam answer easy to follow.

Write your heart out tomorrow!

The exam graders can not grade or give you points for what never makes it to the page. Whether you are using a laptop or handwriting, be sure to write as much as possible. Be sure to explain your reasoning. If you are dismissing an issue, I recommend that you dismiss it on your answer rather than leaving it off of your exam because you dismissed it in your head. Remember, the grader won’t know if you left an issue off because you chose to dismiss it or because you simply forgot.

I will continue to update this blog tomorrow, so stay tuned if you wish.

All the best of luck tomorrow!

Lisa Duncanson

Program Director/Founder
Bar None Review
(213) 529-0990
http://www.barexamcramsession.com and http://www.barnonereview.com

California Bar Exam: Congrats on Being Halfway Done!

Leave a comment

Good afternoon all,

Congratulations on completing half of the bar exam! By now you have completed the first section of the MBEs and are on your lunch break.

I wanted to write a quick post to wish you all the very best of luck and to give you a few more tips for this afternoon – in case you happen to be reading while you are on your break.

As I wrote this morning, you should expect the MBEs today be hard. This is always the case – every bar round. But, this February 2015, with the addition of Civil Procedure to the MBEs – many examinees are pretty worked up. So by now, you have seen some of these new MBEs (you are NOT supposed to discuss the MBEs, remember, you signed something promising NOT to discuss the MBEs). However, your experience with the questions so far has likely been very similar to everyone else’s experience – it was difficult. And, this afternoon will be difficult as well. But, you are in the same boat as everyone else – it is all in how you navigate it at this point (attitude, sense of accomplishment, refusal to give up, persistence and perseverance, etc.).

Day two is always a long day, and it may feel like you are not passing the exam even if you are actually doing well. How is that? Well, passing raw scores on the MBE have ranged from as low as 129 to as high as the 140s. The passing raw score for the past several years has hovered around 133. A 133 is 66.5% . . . that is a D in regular grading, right? So why should you care about this? Well, if you are getting a D, it may feel like you are getting a D. What I mean is that even if you are scoring well enough to pass on the MBEs, it may not feel like you are passing. You may have scored 70% or 80% on practice MBEs during your bar studies. If so, then you know what scoring 70% or 80% feels like . . . and it feels a lot better than scoring 66.5%. But, on the last several bar exams, 66.5% was all you needed to pass . . . so just keep that in mind – as you go back into this afternoon’s MBEs today. If today has felt a lot harder than your practice MBEs – this is not only normal, it is okay.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, you should know that a significant amount of what it takes to pass the California bar exam is simply keeping your head above water, staying mentally above it all and not letting the test get to you. This is a choice, by the way.

I think one of the biggest challenges that examinees face on the days of the exam is not whether they can remember enough (which is everyone’s biggest fear) but it is instead simply keeping it together, not losing it, staying calm and remembering that it is supposed to be hard, it will be hard, but that you CAN do it.

This is all of your choosing – you can choose to not let this test get to you. You can choose to put yesterdays essays and performance test behind you and completely focus on doing your absolute best on what is still in front of you. You, and only you, can choose to be positive.

And remember that when you are passing the bar exam it doesn’t necessarily feel like you are passing it – it still feels hard (because it is hard), it sill feels very challenging (because it is very challenging), it still might be hard to finish an essay or a performance test tomorrow (and, in fact you may not finish everything and still pass).

So choose to be positive, see everything about your performance in the best light and stay out of your own way, be your own cheerleader and kick butt! Yes, I just said that . . .

I will continue to post and will continue to send out emails. It is not too late to join our Bar Exam Tips List, see my earlier posts to sign up.

All the best to you on today’s second half of the MBEs and on tomorrow – you are half way done!!!

Lisa Duncanson

Program Director/Founder
Bar None Review
(213) 529-0990
http://www.barexamcramsession.com and http://www.barnonereview.com

California Bar Exam: What to Expect on Day Three’s Essays

Leave a comment

Hello all,

Hopefully you are getting some rest (as I am writing this, it is about 1:00 am, before your MBE day). I want to congratulate you again on being done with day one of the California bar exam! Also, thank you again to all who wrote in about what was tested today. I really appreciate your taking the time during your break to write to me, thank you.

And, one more thing, thank you again for following my blog. We have had over 650,000 views now and I am truly humbled (and grateful) for the following here. And, I do answer questions, as much as I can, so if you have a question, please feel free to ask. You can either reply to any of the Bar Exam Tips Lists emails or, if you have yet to sign up for the Bar Exam Tips List (it is not too late, by the way) you can ask me a question in the “comments or questions” field – I do actually read all of your emails and I will do my best to respond to you as quickly as I can.

Okay, it is truly my hope that right now you are sleeping. If you are not sleeping, then I hope you are at least resting. Pulling an all-nighter studying is NOT what I would recommend.

For most of you (all who are taking the general bar exam) you will be taking the MBEs on day two. I mention this simply because some reading this blog are taking the exam over six days and some as attorney takers do not have to take the MBEs on day two.

If you are taking the MBEs on day two, then here are some recommendations:

1) You might want to consider simply completing five or ten MBEs in the am to shake of the dust so to speak. I would not recommend that you necessarily even score these MBEs, but just consider taking a few as a way of putting your mindset back into this part of the exam. If you do decide to check your answers (I probably wouldn’t if it were me on the day of the MBEs) do not worry about your actual percentage correct of the five or ten you did. Instead, if you did well – choose to see that as indicative of your likely performance for the rest of the day and if you did not do well, then simply dismiss it as not at all dispositive of how you are going to do on the actual exam. Do you see what I am driving at? An absolutely, 100 percent POSITIVE attitude. This is a necessity (in my opinion) for success on the bar exam. An equally acceptable thing to do prior to the MBEs in the morning would be to do nothing. Or, review a few flashcards – it really doesn’t matter so much what you do in the am right before other than YOUR believing that what you are doing in those moments leading up to the first 100 MBEs is the right thing for YOU to be doing.

2) Expect to not see a correct answer choice and expect this to be the case often. No one that I know of (past student or blog follower – and I have spoken with and worked with thousands of examinees over the years) leaves the MBE feeling like they absolutely nailed it and that for every MBE they felt they were always picking the correct answer. Some feel better about the MBEs than others. But, for the most part, examinees leave this portion of the exam feeling as though they need to really kick it into gear on the remaining essays and PTs in order to pass. So what does this really mean? It means that the MBEs are hard, very hard. I know, you didn’t need me to tell you that – nothing really new. BUT, what is significant is this: you need to be prepared (in my opinion) for feeling like you are not doing very well on the MBEs and you simply need to get through it, be tough and know that if it is difficult for you, then it is also difficult for nearly everyone else.

Do NOT let this test get the better of you. This is a choice that you have to make facing the entire test – that you will remain positive and optimistic about your chances and that you will not let this beast of an exam shake your confidence in your ability to pass. That is half the battle.

3) When you are done with today’s MBEs, take a little bit of a break so that you are able to release the physical tension that builds up over the course of the day of taking MBEs. Go for a walk outside if you can, take a dinner break and eat something healthy and relax, take a bath – whatever will help you decompress both mentally and physically from the day of testing. Of course, this is limited – you really can’t just let it all go, and you really should consider doing some review for the following day’s essays. But, do try to do something(s) to put the day behind you.

What to do for day three’s essays/what to expect?

First, really anything could be tested on day three’s essays – even a topic that you already saw today. For example, in past bar rounds Contract/Remedies was tested on day one on the essays and then it showed up again on day three’s essays as a cross over with Tort/Remedies (so it was part Contract/Contract Remedies and part Torts/TortsRemedies). This is pretty unusual and it threw most you can be sure. But, you should know it is possible. Do I suggest spending a bunch of time on Remedies for Thursday? No, but I would definitely not put it completely behind you – spend a few minutes reviewing it enough that if you had to address the basic concepts and to address injunction for example, that you would be able to do so.

So far everything that was tested on Day One’s Essays was absolutely expected – there were no surprises.

Day three is harder to predict. But, I still think you could see a Criminal Law Murder exam (see my earlier posts from this week regarding the other areas I posted as suggested areas of study – I still stand by these based upon what was tested on day one). I would definitely consider giving a little bit of time to Wills (either as a solo topic or crossed over with Trusts) as well as the area of Business Organizations – although, I do not necessarily think that you will see both of these topics show up – I DO think that either Wills or Business Organizations is about equally likely of showing up. So be prepared for both topics.

As I stated previously (both here on the blog and in the tips list emails sent out so for for this bar round) Constitutional Law (Dormant Commerce Clause) is still on my list of possibilities as are: Evidence or even Community Property (again, and this would be the fourth time in a row) but, if Community Property, then I would expect it as a crossover with something else (understand – I am not “predicting” Community Property, I am just re-iterating that the examiners can test in any area (whether that area was tested recently or not).

The real issue is, since you did not see a Professional Responsibility Essay on Day One, whether you will see it as an essay on Day Three. Most would say yes, and I would tend to generally agree with this as it is historically the case to almost always see at least one essay on the exam that tests Professional Responsibility. But, it is not guaranteed. What is guaranteed is that Professional Responsibility will show up somewhere on the written portion of the bar exam. Sometimes this means that Professional Responsibility shows up on both days of the essays (the February 2008 bar exam tested a straight Professional Responsibility essay on day one and then tested Professional Responsibility again on one of the essays on day three – but as a cross over with Business Organizations). Some bar rounds it shows up on both a PT and an essay and some rounds it only shows up on one or both of the PTs. So this is an unknown. Understand, that I do not discuss the Performance Tests until the conclusion of the bar exam (which for some examinees is not until the end of the day on Sunday).

If you signed up earlier this week for our February 2015 Bar Exam Tips List, you would have received sample essays and answers (one of which was quite similar to what was tested today in Property – so I am told). I also sent out a Dormant Commerce Clause essay, two in fact) and other handouts. These are still available (up through this Thursday). If you would like to receive these, simply sign up for the Bar Exam Tips List by completing the form below.

Thank you again for following my blog. I truly am humbled by the following, by your emails (which I do personally respond to and enjoy doing) and kind words you have shared. Thank you.

Remember, believe in yourself and do not let this test get the better of you.

All the best on the MBEs (for those of you taking this portion) and on the rest of the exam. I will be writing more soon. As always, I appreciate any feedback, questions or comments you have.

Sincerely,

Lisa Duncanson

 

Congratulations on Completing Day One of the California Bar Exam!!!

Leave a comment

Hello all,

Thank you to all who wrote in with their insights on what was tested on today’s essay exams. I will be providing updated predictions once I hear more about what was tested this afternoon on the PT. However, I will not be discussing or writing anything about the PT until next week (after the bar exam has concluded) as some examinees take the exam over a six day period – taking PTA and PTB on Saturday and Sunday.

I am about to meet up with my students who are taking the exam here in Ontario. However, I will be back here with further tips and suggested areas of study a bit later this evening.

Until then, review for the MBE topics tomorrow (if you choose too) or simply get some rest. Above all, put today behind you. It is over, done with and all you should be focused on is what is ahead of you.

Be proud of your accomplishments today!

All the best,

Lisa Duncanson

If you would like to be added to our tips list, you can do so below:

California Bar Exam: Last Minute PT Tips

1 Comment

Hello All,

By the time you are reading this post, you will be done with Day One’s Essays, congratulations!!!

Here are some last minute tips for the performance test:

1. Follow the instructions carefully! Exam pressure can lead to missing things and to misreading instructions – so slow it down enough to make sure you are not missing something in the instructions. You are going to base your whole answer on your interpretation of the senior partner memo (the letter to you from your would be boss) – so make certain you read it very carefully and more than once! (See more on following instructions, and evidencing that you have followed instructions, in # 2 below).

With respect to following instructions, do so to a T. If the senior partner memo tells you not to write a statement of facts, then do not write a statement of facts. Pay close attention to the instructions you are provided. Failure to adhere closely to these instructions will cost you dearly – so be careful!  Examinees are often in a rush to get through the materials quickly and end up missing something in the instructions, failing to pick up some of the easier points. So make sure you read through the senior partner memo a few times and be certain about what you are being asked to do.

 2. Make your answer look like it is an answer to that particular performance test. Whatever you are asked to do on the performance test, make sure that you create a document that looks like what you were asked to produce. There will typically be two places from which to obtain your format and instructions for the document you are asked to prepare. The first source is the from the senior partner memo (the letter to you from your would be boss). The second source is also in the case file portion of your performance test and it is a firm wide memo (usually with the title: “To all associates . . .”) that provides instructions on how to write an appellate brief or a memorandum (or whatever it is that you are being asked to write). It is critical that you refer to both of these sources to make certain that you include all sections that you are supposed to include (assuming there are sections, i.e., statement of facts, or point headings, etc.) in your document.

These two sources will also help you to format and organize your document – for example, if you are asked to write a memorandum about the the Constitutionality of a proposed ordinance, then a) you need to make sure that your document is identified as a “memorandum” and b) you need to make certain that your document visually makes it clear that you are in fact addressing the constitutionality of a proposed ordinance. This may seem obvious and it may seem less important than figuring out what the cases mean, but the reality is that many examinees simply fail to do some of these very basic things and end up losing points. So, make certain that you do not forget to make your performance test answer look like it is the very document that you have been asked to produce.

3. How do I know which cases to use? Use them all. Seriously. Really. Do not be afraid. Try to find a use for each case. That is it.

4. What part of the statutes should I include? Assuming you have statutes (not all performance tests do) then look to see which parts of the statutes are referred to in the cases. It is a pretty safe bet that you should also use the sections that the cases refer to as well.

5. Use headings. (first make sure you follow any format that you are instructed to follow). Always err on the side of following instructions. Some of your formatting will likely come from the instructions (either from the senior partner memo and/or potentially from a firm wide, memo to “all associates” in the case file). Remember that your performance test answer (whether it is a memorandum, a points and authorities, an appellate brief, a letter to a client, a closing or opening argument) it is still an exam answer. It will be graded by a human being and you need to be cognizant of that – make it easy to read and easy to follow. Use headings.

6. What if I don’t finish my answer? This is not an option. You need to make certain that you do finish your answer. Just do it. I take my job very seriously and I work hard, I go the distance, I do whatever it takes to get whatever I need done. Why am I telling you this? Because you should too – you should work your butt off and I don’t just mean in your preparation for the bar exam – but I mean right now, right now on this test, today. Suck it up and get through it. I know that sounds a bit harsh, but if you want to pass this thing then go after it, especially in these last hours. Insist on finishing today’s performance test – because you can and because you need to.

7. Okay, but what if I don’t finish my answer? Sigh. Okay, if you see that you are not going to finish what you had planned on writing, then adapt and do so quickly. The clock may not be your friend, but it does not have to be your enemy either. Watch it, keep track of your time. Don’t wait for the proctor to provide a time warning for you to know how much time you have left to finish. Keep track of your time and speed things up as you need to in order to finish your answer. And, if you are really up against the wall, then make it look like you have finished. If it is appropriate for the document that you are writing, then add a heading for “conclusion” and have a few sentences or a paragraph summarizing as best you can what you have written. And, you can even pre-write a conclusion if you think it will help (this is really only helpful to laptop examinees).

8. Be POSITIVE! (I know, how nice of me to yell at you to be positive :)) Seriously though, please do not be miserable – it will only hurt your performance. No one forced you to go to law school (well, I hope not). You presumedly wanted to do this, you want to be a lawyer. Therefore, today is about doing what you want to be doing – taking and passing the bar exam. Be proud of all the hard work you put in to get to where you are right now. So many people say things like: “I was going to go to law school” or “I always wanted to go to law school” . . . well you did go to law school. Be proud of that and don’t let the struggle of the bar exam take any of that away from you. Now go kick the bar exam’s butt!

All the best of luck this afternoon!

Lisa Duncanson

Founder/Program Director
Bar Exam Cram Session and Bar None Review
(213) 529-0990
http://www.barexamcramsession.com and http://www.barnonereview.com

California Bar Exam: Good Luck today!

Leave a comment

Good morning all!

Just want to wish everyone who is taking the California bar exam all the best of luck today! Be confident and believe in yourself and write our heart out today!

After I hear what was on day one’s essays, I will post revised essays predictions and suggestions for areas to focus for Thursday’s essays.

If you have a moment and want to send an email about what was tested on the essays, please feel free to do so at: barexamguru@yahoo.com

You can also still join our bar exam tips lists by completing form at the end of this post.

All the best today!

You CAN do it!

Sincerely,

Lisa Duncanson

Join the February 2015 Bar Exam Tips List Here: