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!

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: July 2015 Bar Exam Predictions


Hello All,

Thank you for following my blog. We have had thousands of views each day this week. I am grateful for the following and glad that I can be of service. As it comes down to these final days before the bar exam, examinees feel more and more anxious about the test. This is normal. One of the ways that can help with easing up on that anxiety is to have a few areas to focus on in terms of the essays.

About the “Predictions”

While it is not possible to be able to predict what will be tested on the bar exam, I think it can not hurt to be made aware of certain essay scenarios that may be more likely to appear on this upcoming exam simply because these areas either have not been tested in a very long time, or because these areas/topics happen to be frequent flyers (favorite areas for testing) on the California bar exam.

So it is with that in mind, that I will be sharing some of my predictions. While there is no guarantee that these topics will appear on the July bar exam, it can not hurt to review these areas. Also, it gives you something else to focus on other than the constant memorization of long outlines (not something I think is especially productive) and should any of these topics appear on your bar exam, you will feel great for having studied these areas a little extra in the days leading up to the exam.

Another note about the “predictions” and release times

I write this blog to provide help to bar examinees who are all too often struggling and without guidance from their own bar prep providers. I do however, owe my first loyalty to my enrolled students who pay for the privilege of my predictions and other insights. As a result, my students get this information first. So please understand, that while I do release predictions on my blog, out of respect for my enrolled students, I release these only after I have provided this information to my enrolled students.


Professional Responsibility – Professional Responsibility is almost always tested on the essay portion of the California bar exam. As of 1994 the California bar examiners committed to tested Professional Responsibility on every bar exam on the written portion. This means that it it is on ever bar round on either the essays (most typical) or on the performance test or on both the essays and the performance test. Professional Responsibility was not tested on the essay portion of the February 2015 bar exam. Since it was skipped last bar round, my thoughts are that it is coming back. It is rare for Professional Responsibility not to show up on the essays. Assuming it is tested, what areas might come up? Generally you can always expect to discuss breach of the duty of loyalty – as this is the most common duty breach on a professional responsibility essay. The bar examiners can test anything and in Professional Responsibility since there are only so many areas for testing, these areas tend to repeat and are harder to predict. That being said, there are a few areas that have not been tested in a while – the area of attorney advertising has not shown up in a while. In addition, you always want to look at favorite areas of testing when trying to prepare for what is most likely. Favorite testing areas for Professional Responsibility are: when an attorney has a sexual relationship with their client, fee agreements and a fact pattern where you have a corporation as a client. These are favorite areas for testing. Above all, be ready for Professional Responsibility.

Constitutional Law – If Constitutional Law were to be tested (and I think there is a very good possibility it could show up on the July 2015 bar exam) then I would be prepared for this scenario – where the state is regulating in such a way that it potentially places an undue burden on interstate commerce. This requires you to evaluate the constitutionality of a state statute. You will need to address whether the state has the power to act (SHWEM – the states per the 10th Amendment can act for the Safety, Health, Welfare, Education or Morals of its citizens. In addition you will need to balance the state interest that is at stake against the burden that is placed on interstate commerce. One of the best ways to prepare for this type of essay is to review past California bar essays that test this exact area. Of course anything can be tested, including any area of Constitutional Law. I am leaning toward a commerce clause/dormant commerce clause issue because it has been several years since the examiners have tested this on the California bar exam. However, be mindful that favorite areas of testing for Constitutional Law are First Amendment Speech and Equal Protection. If you were to see an essay involving a state statute that treats out of staters differently than instaters – then this would also pose a minor Equal Protection issue.
Criminal Law/Procedure
Murder has not been tested in quite some time. This could be tested either on its own as a straight Criminal Law essay or possibly crossed over with criminal procedure. Typically when murder exams are crossed over with Criminal Procedure it involves the 4th and 5th Amendments. However, 6th Amend void dire and peremptory challenges based upon race and/or belief or opposition to the death penalty have not shown up in a very long time. This lends itself to an easy cross over with 8th Amendment capital punishment. Watch out also for 8th Amendment bail issues and 6th Amendment issues regarding pro se counsel and request for standby counsel. These areas are not favorites for testing, but since we have not seen these issues tested in some time you should be prepared.
Community Property
Since Community Property was not tested on the last bar exam, most are predicting that it will show up on this next bar exam. I agree it could come up and I think it could come up potentially as a crossover, it could even show up with Evidence – for example testing a Marital and Spousal Privilege issue.
Many are also predicting Evidence. If you were to see Evidence you know that you will need to be prepared for Hearsay issues and the exceptions. Be very well prepared for this area as it always shows up when Evidence is tested. Also be prepared for the potential of seeing a transcript style exam, look out for marital and spousal privilege (as I mentioned above) and any privileges. Always expect Hearsay, follow the approach. Know your form objections in case you see a transcript style exam. Remember that there are form objections for answers (for example: “non-responsive”) that are different than form objections that area available for questions.
Each bar round we usually see two or even three topics repeat back to back. So you need to be prepared for anything and everything. I personally think that the following topics might be a little more likely to repeat: Civil Procedure and Property and Business Associations (which was really only barely tested on the last bar exam in the area of Agency). Here is what I think you should consider for these possible repeater topics:
Civil Procedure
Watch out for res judicata and collateral estoppel as it has not been tested in quite some time. Also, remember that res judicata would allow the examiners to test the California (and minority) “primary rights view”. Also look out for notice and code pleading issues. And, of course be prepared for the most heavily tested area of Civil Procedure – jurisdiction.
Look out for Easements, warranty deed issue in a land sale contracts context, also always consider landlord tenant as it is the most common tested area of property.
Business Organizations 
Agency and Partnership were tested on the last bar round, but could always come up again. However, be on the look out for a straight Corporations essay. Securities law has not been tested in years so you should be prepared for this possibility. But you could also see common law fraud, ultra vires. How? The call of the question could ask you to only address the common law and not to address federal securities law. This has been done in the past. It is not my first pick, I just want to make you aware of it as a possibility. Commonly tested areas include pre-incorporation contracts, formation of a corporation (demure, defacto and by estoppel would need to be discussed) and what I refer to as “tack on issues” where you have to answer short answer calls like: “whether stockholders who own a particular class of stock can force the corporation to pay a dividend.” These are typical short answer questions that you need to be prepared to handle in Business Organization. Another example of a short answer/tack on type issue is whether it was proper for the corporation to deny access to the books (the shareholder’s right to inspect records) to a shareholder. This is one of the challenges of Business Organizations – there are several tack on issues that the bar examiners can test. The best way to prepare for this is to review past essays and to know these tack on issues.
Obviously, anything could be tested this bar round. I never claim to be able to predict the bar exam. I think it is just as likely that you would see Wills repeat on the July bar exam as you would see a Community Property essay – so be prepared for it all.
I wish you all the best in these final days and on the actual bar exam!
Lisa Duncanson
Program Director/Founder
Bar Exam Cram Session and Bar None Review
(213) 529-0990 and

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

Bar Exam Tip: Bar Exam Predictions, Criminal Law Murder

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Hello Everyone,

Thank you again for following the blog. We are almost at 700,00 site visits, so thank you!

I have not yet released my predictions publicly, but I will. Please understand that my enrolled students get access to the predictions first. Our last Bar Exam Cram Session on July 18th and 19th will be the last time we release predictions in our classroom setting. At that point all of our students will have my predictions. Once our students have had an opportunity to have the predictions, I will begin releasing these publicly on the site. It will likely be (as always) the week before the bar exam. For more information about our last Bar Exam Cram Session, click here, we still have some spots left.

In the meantime, however, I wanted to post an approach for Criminal Law Murder. I personally think that Criminal Law Murder is due. While Criminal Law has been tested several times in recent years (including showing up back to back on two consecutive bar rounds), the bar examiners have not tested Criminal Law Murder in several years. So, I think it is safe to say that it is coming soon.

First, a few words about my “predictions” . . .

I can not predict what will be on the bar exam. I have had a lot of luck in making the predictions that I make. I am glad of that. I spend a great deal of time reviewing several years of past exams and put in a lot of effort to come up with these predictions. However, no one can predict the bar exam. And, whatever you hear about predictions, you should NOT study based upon predictions. That being said, I think it is helpful to think about possible essay scenarios that might be a bit more likely to show up on the bar exam because these areas have not been tested in some time.

Also, understand – my theory and philosophy towards the bar exam is to be ready for anything – I firmly believe that is the best way to prepare. So, whether or not Criminal Law Murder shows up on the bar exam this July 2015, you want to walk into the bar exam prepared to write a Criminal Law Murder Essay. That is how you want to prepare for the bar exam.

The following is from an earlier post that I wrote covering the basic murder approach that we have seen traditionally embraced by the California bar examiners. You may have come across this post earlier if you have been searching through older posts. If so, this will be familiar to you – either way it is a good refresher.

Incidentally, if murder were to show up on the exam on day one or day three of the July 2015 bar exam, then I would not be surprised if it were crossed over with some of the lesser tested areas of Criminal Procedure. We have not seen any 8th Amendment issues in some time (see the “Free Stuff” page for a free download of an exam template for this area) and we also have not seen much testing of the 6th Amendment areas of void dire (peremptory challenges, right to an impartial jury, etc.). So these areas could easily be tested this bar round. Evidence is also an area that can repeat and sometimes we see it as a cross-over with Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure (and if you read my post from a few days ago – we have seen it tested with Wills and Community Property as a cross over with marital and spousal privileges).

It is this simple – as I have always maintained over the many years of writing this blog – the bar examiners can test anything on any bar exam round. I do not say this to send you into a panic. It is simply true. As a result, there will be topics that you are hoping for and there will probably be a few you hope not to get – that is the nature of the bar exam. But, you can do it, do NOT give up no matter what you see on the exam. And, remember, you have time to prepare adequately.

The bar exam is still weeks away. I know it does not seem like much time. But, if you use it effectively, then you can absolutely prepare in time. Our students in our last Bar Exam Cram Session generally come in without any approaches to the bar exam and yet, they are able to take the approaches we provide in class and memorize these and write the bar exam using these approaches. So, you have time now to start working on these things. I had to come up with my own approaches to the essays because the commercial bar prep companies at that time were not providing essay approaches. In fact, they still don’t. If I can come up with my own, you can too. Take control over your own bar studies and make certain you prepare from here on forward in such a way that you will know how to write any essay that you face. And, remember you should prepare for every topic, because any topic could come up.


As a bar taker you will undoubtedly walk into the bar exam and have a very good grasp of the rules for Murder. However, it is very important that you are able to make your way through all of the necessary points efficiently and in a manner that the grader will recognize as a passing or above passing answer. This requires an essay approach. You should walk into the bar exam with approaches to every topic (each bar subject has either one approach or several. For example, Contracts really only has one approach – the approach for Contracts is essentially the same regardless of the Contracts essay, the only differences being whether you write on the Common Law of Contracts only or if you have a UCC exam. On the other hand, Torts has several approaches – a defamation approach, a products liability approach, a negligence approach a torts/remedies approach and a miscellaneous torts approach. I will do my best to write more on these topics as I have time).


My point is that there is a lot you can do to effectively prepare for the bar exam now so that on exam day you know exactly what to do, what to write, how to start your essay, etc.. You should NOT be trying to figure this out on exam day. If you are in that position, you are likely to fail. So please take it upon yourself to prepare NOW for these situations. You know that you are going to have to write essays – so figure out ahead of time how you will start each topic.

Here is a quick, basic essay approach for murder. (Note that you should use a lot of headings and have a physical structure that evidences your approach – this will give the graders a sense that you actually know what you are talking about and it will make your essay far more appealing to read, it will appear organized and it will make it easier for you to write your answer because you have an approach).


First address: Common Law Murder – Common Law Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought. Malice aforethought is proven four ways: 1) intent to kill, 2) intent to inflict great bodily injury, 3) depraved heart killings, and 4) felony murder.

(Address the above and then if you have a felony murder issue, prove up the underlying felony (BARRKS – Burglary, Arson, Robbery, Rape, Kidnapping or Sodomy – incidentally, if this area is tested, the examiners may not test one of the above common law inherently dangerous felonies – watch out for a dangerous felony like drug trafficking or another dangerous (but not enumerated as a FMR felony) felony – it forces you to reach a bit and explain that the prosecutor could charge the defendant for felony murder on the basis that it was an inherently dangerous felony, but not a common law enumerated (BARRKS) felony)

Then move onto:

Statutory Degrees of Murder

First Degree Murder: First degree murder is the intentional killing with malice aforethought, premeditation and deliberation. (here do not spend all day on defining or explaining premeditation or deliberation – it either was premeditated and deliberate (lying in wait, planned, thought out etc.) or it wasn’t – address the issue and conclude and move on).

Second Degree Murder (here is the quick way: “all murders that are not first degree are second degree unless mitigated down to some form of manslaughter”).


There are two types of manslaughter (Voluntary and Involuntary). If you know right away that the facts support a heat of passion killing, then address that first under Manslaughter as: Voluntary Manslaughter. (By the way, anytime there is a fight that results in a death – you should address heat of passion/voluntary manslaughter)

Voluntary Manslaughter: is a killing that would be murder but for the existence of adequate provocation and insufficient cooling time. (there are elements here that you could develop, but, the reality is that if you have a cross over exam and it involves a full murder discussion – from common law murder to manslaughter, then you simply do not have a lot of time. So spend your time focusing on whether what happened would arouse the passions of reasonable person to kill AND whether or not the person did not have time to cool).

Involuntary Manslaughter: A killing is involuntary manslaughter if it was committed with criminal negligence or during the commission of an unlawful act.

There is also the concept of Misdemeanor Manslaughter Rule – it is simply an accidental killing that occurs while the defendant is engaged in a non-dangerous felony or misdemeanor.

Obviously there are defenses like: Intoxication, Insanity (know the four tests as best you can – this has not been tested in years), self defense, defense of others etc. that can all work to either relieve the defendant of liability for common law murder and reduce the crime down to some form of manslaughter. Keep in mind the above is a basic approach. But, sometimes that is really the best thing to have in your head on the day of the exam. You should have a framework or basic approach and then allow yourself the freedom to write your answer based on the particular fact pattern you face.

Thank you again for following the blog!

Lisa Duncanson

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

California Bar Exam Workshop – Last Free Class before July 2015 Bar Exam Plus BONUS Performance Test coverage!


Hello all, 

We still have a few spots left in this evening’s workshop.  This is not just our everyday free, “How to Pass the California Bar Exam Workshop” 

Instead, tonight’s workshop will provide a few significant bonuses!

As a bonus, what will be different about this workshop?
  • I will address the Performance Test (including how to maximize points on this portion of the exam, how to start organized and stay organized on the PT so that you can write a passing or better than passing answer)
  • I will give out my first set of bar exam predictions to you live in class.
To register, click on this link: 

This workshop is our last free workshop prior to the July 2015 bar exam! I will teach the same coverage with respect to how to pass the California bar exam. However, I will also spend time on how to properly approach the Performance Test and will give out my first set of predictions live.

***Parking is free. But to take advantage of free parking, please use the valet parking at the hotel and we will provide you with validation. Space is limited. 

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