Bar Exam Tip: Should I Study for the Bar While Waiting for Bar Results?

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So now you have the July 2015 bar exam behind you (congratulations) and hopefully you have been able to enjoy some of your summer. Bar results are still months away and probably one of the most common questions I receive at this time of the year is: Should I study while I am waiting for my results?

The answer to that question depends upon a lot of variables. Each examinee’s situation is different and so whether you should continue your studies while you wait for your bar results really depends upon your own unique circumstances.

I don’t recommend it to everyone to study while waiting for results. However, there are some good reasons why you might want to consider opening up those books while you wait.

1. If you feel as though you did poorly on the bar exam. If you feel you did poorly on the exam, then studying some now while you wait for results, is a good idea. If nothing more, it is a little bar review insurance. If you find out that you passed the bar exam, I doubt you will regret the fact that you put in some time studying that apparently wasn’t needed.

2. If you are working full time. If you currently have a full time job, will you be able to take time off from that job to study if you do not pass the July 2015 bar exam? No one plans on failing the bar exam. However, too few examinees give much thought to a game plan in the event that they do not receive passing results. Something you can do now is to spend a few hours each week until bar results come out in November (see, you have a lot of time). This way, if you do fail, you will have already made some headway with the material and the task ahead of you will be less daunting. In addition, you won’t be trying to juggle quite as much in the event that you are unable to secure time off from work to study full time again. And, if you are fortunate enough to receive passing results, then no harm, no foul. You won’t regret it.

3. If you did not finish a portion of the test. if you were unable to finish one of the essays or perhaps were unable to finish one of the performance tests, you may very well want to start studying again just to be on the safe side. While failing to finish an essay or even a PT does not mean you have failed, it is an indication that things did not go as planned. If it were me, under these circumstances, I would start putting in some study time early.

The bottom line is only you know how you feel about your performance on the July 2015 bar exam. As the test is designed to be difficult, it is normal for it it feel very difficult. Most examinees (pass or fail) do not walk out of the California bar exam feeling like they aced it. So try to keep it in perspective. But if you have serious doubts as to whether you passed the exam, then I recommend putting in a little time now on a weekly basis. It simply can’t hurt.

All the best to those who are waiting for bar results!!!

Sincerely,

Lisa Duncanson, The Bar Exam Guru

Founder/Program Director Bar Nine Review and The Bar Exam Cram Session

213-529-0990

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.

YOU NEED TO HAVE AN APPROACH FOR EACH TOPIC

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).

DO YOU KNOW HOW TO START WRITING AN ESSAY

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).

APPROACH FOR HANDLING A CRIMINAL LAW MURDER QUESTION

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”).

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
http://www.barexamcramsession.com and http://www.barnonereview.com

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

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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: Congrats on Being Halfway Done!

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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

Fourth, Fifth and Eighth Amendment Approaches

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Hello All,

This may be my last post this evening. I noticed that several people were searching this blog for Criminal Procedure. In the past, I have given away several excerpts from our Criminal Procedure Bar Exam Writing Templates. These are still available on this blog, but you would have to search for it. So, I thought I would post links to our 4th, 5th and 8th Amendment Exam Writing Templates. You can download each below:

Fourth Amendment Exam Writing Template/Approach

Fifth Amendment Exam Writing Template/Approach

Eighth Amendment Exam Writing Template/Approach

Wishing you all the best of luck tomorrow!

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

California Bar Exam: Good Luck on the MBEs today!

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Good morning all,

Hopefully you are having something healthy for breakfast and are ready to take on day two of the bar exam. Last night I met with a group of my students who are taking the bar exam in Ontario. A few blog followers joined us as well. I had the opportunity to speak with my students individually about their performance and provide them some encouragement. I am really proud of my students and very happy to be able to meet with them in person after their first day of the bar. Incidentally, if you want to say hello, I will be at the Starbucks near the test center in Ontario during the lunch break today.

I wanted to write a quick post to wish you all the very best of luck and to give you a few tips for today.

First, expect the MBEs to be hard. Today is going to be a long day, and it may feel like you are not passing the exam even if you are 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 today when you are taking the MBEs. Today may feel a lot harder than you practice MBEs. And that 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. The bar exam is meant to be hard. And sometimes, no offense, but sometimes when students tell me the test was “so hard” I feel like saying: “And? . . . ” And I mean no disrespect. The California Bar Exam is hard.

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 (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 today and tomorrow.

Lisa Duncanson

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

Free “How to Pass the California Bar Exam” Workshop for the July 2014 Bar Exam

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We are having one more free, “How to Pass the California Bar Exam Workshop” for the July 2014 Bar Exam.

When: Tuesday, June 3rd from 7:00 pm to 9:30 pm

Where: Los Angeles, California*

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.

Click here to make your reservation

All the best to everyone studying for the July 2014 bar exam!

Lisa Duncanson
Program Director/Founder
Bar None Review
(213) 529-0990