California Bar Exam: How to Pass the California Bar Exam Free Workshop


Tuesday, November 24th from 7:00 pm to 9:30 pm is our next free workshop! Class fills up quickly, so be sure to reserve your space early!

Register now for our upcoming, free, How to Pass the California Bar Exam Workshop. Learn how to put together a successful study plan, learn strategies for successful essay and performance test writing and keep up to date on changes to the bar exam, get answers to when and where should you include California distinctions, how long is a typical passing essay answer, learn the proper form and structure of a solidly passing essay and performance test. And, as time allows, we will discuss strategies for the MBE, including how to approach the recently added Civil Procedure MBEs.

Space is limited, so sign up early to secure your spot!

Sign up here!

New Bar Exam Resource Site: February Bar Exam

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For those of you taking the February bar exam, visit for the most up to date information on registering for the February bar exam. Visitors will find information on all states’ bar exam filing dates and keep abreast of news affecting those taking the bar exam.

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Bar Exam Predictions – Update, Final Thoughts

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Congratulations on completing day one and day two of the California bar exam!

So far all of the topics that were tested on day one (on the essays) were on my list of predictions. As a result, I do not have real changes to the predictions since nothing tested on day one was off my list. However, I do have a few final thoughts and a few downloads for you that may assist you in the event that you see either Evidence or Constitutional Law tomorrow.

If you have not seen my predictions yet, see my blog post from a few days ago with a list of predictions here

Final thoughts and Free Handouts
Based upon what was tested on Day One, I still think you could see Constitutional Law and/or Evidence. In case you would like a shorthand approach for Evidence, you can download one here and if you would like to review a sample Evidence Transcript style essay, complete with form objections, you can download a past Evidence Transcript style essay here. Also, here is a Constitutional Law essay that I highly recommend reading and reviewing the answers to (as these areas of Constitutional Law have not been tested since 2005).

I still think you could see Community Property or Corporations. I am leaning slightly heavier towards seeing a Corporations essay now given that everything tested on the first day of the bar exam was an MBE topic (remember, Civil Procedure is now an MBE topic).

Beware of cross-overs! Typically each bar round there are 8 topics tested on the essays – meaning two of the essays are cross-over essays. Since Day One did not seem to have cross-overs (and remember I have not seen the actual exam yet, so I am going completely off of examinee reports) I would expect to see at least one essay that is a cross-over essay. In the past, the California bar has tested a cross-over essay with Community Property, Wills and Evidence. It happens and when it does the calls of the question usually refer to each of the separate topics. In other words, you will likely be told what to write on if you have a cross-over that contains three subjects. It is not as common as seeing Criminal Law crossed with Criminal Procedure, but it happens. And since I still think murder (see below) could be on the exam, perhaps it could show up with Evidence, just a thought.

Beware of Criminal Law Murder STILL! While it would seem a little unusual to see Criminal Procedure on day one’s essays and then see Criminal Law Murder on day three’s essays, it is not an impossible scenario. Remember, that the bar exam has tested the same subject (different topics and issues) twice on the same bar exam. Professional Responsibility has shown up on both day one and day three’s essays. So has Remedies, Contracts and Torts. Just keep this in mind and do not write off the possibility of getting a murder exam tomorrow.
I do think you have to have at least one non-MBE topic tomorrow. This could be Professional Responsibility, or any of the non-MBE topics. But, remember, the examiners could skip Professional Responsibility on the essays and test it on the Performance Test instead.
The most important thing for you to do is to put today and Tuesday behind you and not think about it anymore. If you feel you missed things or could have done better, then you feel like everyone else (including myself when I took the bar exam and passed it)!
So put it behind you, do not entertain anyone else’s version of what was supposedly tested or what you supposedly should have written. Yesterday and today are behind you (congratulations)!
Believe in yourself, review what you can this evening, be confident, make an effort to relax, and to be positive.
Maintaining a positive attitude tonight and tomorrow is important, it is critical. So make the effort to be positive – choose this attitude, choose to believe in yourself.
All the best of luck to you tomorrow!


Lisa Duncanson
Founder/Program Director Bar Exam Cram Session and Bar None Review

Bar Exam Tips: Where to Focus in the Final Days

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Hello All,

Thank you for following my blog. If you are about to take the July 2015 bar exam then you are undoubtedly getting at least a little nervous. This is completely normal. As it gets closer and closer to the bar exam and you are down to a matter of days, it is increasingly important that you control your focus and that you have a plan. If you have been following this blog you will know that I do not believe that memorizing 150 page outlines for 15 subjects is an effective or realistic way of preparing for the bar exam. You need to have your material that you are memorizing condensed down to what you actually need to know and what you can actually use on the bar exam when writing an essay or analyzing an MBE. The shorter and more concise definitions and rule statements you can have memorized – the better.

Think about it this way – if you are trying to analyze an MBE from a one paragraph definition or rule (and this is what many – if not most – bar prep courses provide) it will be very difficult to do. The same goes for writing a passing or above passing essay. You simply do not have time to include long, unwieldy rule statements. You need to be succinct, to the point and clear. One of the most effective ways to achieve this on the essays is to use what I call “working definitions” – these are definitions that are complete, but are not longer than necessary and as a result are clear, do not confuse the grader, do not take a long time to write down and are effective because your point is clear. If you are using clear and succinct definitions, your analysis will become more clear and concise as well. This is really critical.

The next really important thing to focus on in the coming days (and I mean laser focus) is how you are going to approach each essay topic. Do you have an approach for Defamation, for example? Do you have an approach for Products Liability? Do you have an approach for a Contracts formation problem? These are the things that you should be thinking about and working on in the coming days so that you are prepared for how to attack and write a passing answer for any essay topic.

Memorizing long, unwieldy outlines at this point is not a good plan. Your MBEs should be in shape (or come into shape) by your simply doing MBEs and memorizing shorter rule statements. Your success on the essays will be dependent upon your ability to identify the issues and whether you have an approach for each topic (sub topics like defamation and products liability – as opposed to an approach to all of Torts). This information is not to send you in a panic. You can start creating shorthand approaches for each topic now and be ready in a week – truly. But, remember that you need to prepare for the actual test – you will not be writing out a contracts outline on exam day – you might be asked to write a Contracts essay – but not an outline. So keep this in mind in the coming days as you prepare and work on memorization.

And, if you are at a loss for these things, we still have room in our final Bar Exam Cram Session. We address all of these things, provide you with working definitions and approaches that reflect what the California bar examiners have historically embraced on the essays. These same definitions and approaches make navigating the MBEs easier as well because you are working from a more succinct and concise version. Our students credit their passing to this two day course. We also provide you with a study plan that tells you what to do every day leading up to the bar exam so that you maximize your study time. To register or for more information, visit our site:

Thank you again for reading the blog and all the best to everyone who is studying for the July 2015 bar exam!

Lisa Duncanson
Program Director/Founder
Bar Exam Cram Session and Bar None Review
(213) 529-0990 and

California Bar Exam Results: Three Days and Counting!


Hello all, California bar exam results for the February 2015 bar exam are just three days away! I want to wish everyone who is waiting for results the very best of luck! As every bar examinee experiences, these final days are very nerve racking. No matter how well you prepared or how positive you feel about your performance on the exam – you are bound to be worried in these final days. These months of waiting are very difficult. But, these last few days are probably the hardest. it is completely normal to feel worried in these final days. The last week seems to take forever and these final days of waiting are always somehow the most difficult. But, hang in there. Your wait is almost over and good or bad, you will know and be able to plan one way or the other. All the best to all of you who are waiting. For those of you preparing for the July 2015 bar exam, I wanted to let you know that I will be teaching two free, “How to Pass the California Bar Exam” Workshops on May 20th and May 27th. Both workshops will be held in Los Angeles. The workshops will focus on writing for the California bar examiners as well as: test taking strategies, study plans, and simply how to get through this grueling exam with passing results! If you have failed the bar exam previously, this workshop is an excellent program to jumpstart your studies and to figure out how to prepare differently this time. I will also address the Civil Procedure MBE updates to the February 2015 bar exam and how to prepare for this new section of the MBEs. Space is limited, so please sign up early to secure your spot.

Los Angeles, Wednesday, May 20, 2015:

How to Pass the July 2015 California Bar Exam Workshop – May 20, 2015, 7:00 pm to 9:30 pm. Los Angeles, California – taught by the Bar Exam Guru! Back by popular demand, our next “How to Pass the California Bar Exam Workshop” will be held on May 20th in Los Angeles. Our workshops fill up quickly. Reservations are on a first-come, first-served basis. This workshop is free and includes free bar exam templates. Parking is free. Space is limited. Click here to make your reservation for the Los Angeles May 20th Free Workshop.

Los Angeles, Wednesday, May 27, 2015:

How to Pass the July 2015 California Bar Exam Workshop – May 27, 2015, 7:00 pm to 9:30 pm. Los Angeles, California – taught by the Bar Exam Guru! We have added a second “How to Pass the California Bar Exam Workshop” to be held on May 27th in Orange County. Our workshops fill up quickly. Reservations are on a first-come, first-served basis. This workshop is free and includes free bar exam templates. Space is limited. Parking is free. Click here to make your reservation for the Los Angeles May 27th Free Workshop. Unfortunately, we cannot make these workshops available online. However, we hope to see you in person! Incidentally, each bar round students fly in from out of the area to attend both our free workshop and our Cram Sessions. Again, all the best to everyone who is waiting for February bar results! Lisa Duncanson Program Director/Founder Bar None Review Bar Exam Cram Session (213) 529-0990

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

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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 and

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

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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.


Lisa Duncanson