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: BarExamCramSession.com

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
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. 

How to Pass the California Bar Exam – Free Workshop

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Hello all,

Good luck to everyone who is waiting for July bar results!

For those of you preparing for the February 2015 bar exam, I wanted to let you know that I will be teaching another free, “How to Pass the California Bar Exam Workshop” on December 3, 2014. This workshop 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 updates to the February 2015 bar exam. The workshop is limited to thirty attendees, so please sign up early to secure your spot.

Unfortunately, we cannot make this workshop available online. However, we hope to see you in person! To register, click here and be sure to check out our Bar Exam Cram Session Website for our other course offerings.

All the best to everyone who is waiting for July bar results!

Lisa Duncanson

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

Congratulations on finishing the July 2014 California Bar Exam!

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dowhatulove

 

Congratulations on completing the July 2014 bar exam! You should be proud.

So by the time you are reading this post you will have finished the last performance test (and at some point soon I will hear from students and blog followers about what was on today’s performance test). I will not be writing about either Performance Test A or B until next week. But, I will come back here to comment a bit about it and share with you some of the feedback I receive about the Performance Tests.

Since I have not posted on it yet – today’s essays were in the following areas:

Essay 4 – Criminal Procedure and a little bit of Professional Responsibility* (I am SO happy that Criminal Procedure was tested – I really try hard to be selective in what I give out in the hopes that what I release is actually on the test. This year was pretty good that way).

Essay 5 – Trusts (with some Community Property and Wills)*

Essay 6 – Torts Negligence

*Remember, I have not seen the essays, I am relying on reports from examinees. I do my very best to report responsibly. If you do not recall seeing anything other than Trusts on essay #5, please do not freak out. If you did not see an ethics/Professional Responsibility issue on essay #4, please do not panic. We will only know for certain what was tested once the essays are released. And, regardless of what was actually tested – as long as you focused on resolving the legal problems, you should be fine. If you would like to add anything about what was tested, or if you have any questions, or would simply like a little reassurance, feel free to contact me at: barexamguru@yahoo.com. I respond to all emails personally.

Thank you for following this blog. I am grateful for the following on this blog, it means a lot to me. I love teaching and I love helping people. My career path has enabled me to do just that. When I am asked what I do for a living sometimes the response is something like this: “Oh, great, you help make more lawyers, super . . . ” (insert sarcastic tone). But, I am proud of what I do. And I know that lawyers make a real difference in the world. Justice and equality are more than just concepts to lawyers and lawyers are often the champions of those who are most in need of championing.

I hope that you have found this blog helpful to you in your studies and especially during these most challenging of days while you are taking the bar exam. If you have found my blog helpful, please spread the word. And, if you feel so inclined, I happily accept donations to help host this blog. Like you, during the bar exam, I sacrifice time with family and friends. But, I do it knowing that I am helping people and that is something I truly enjoy.

I founded, and run, a commercial bar review company and I love my enrolled students. But, I also really love providing free help here. There is a need for free support. So many examinees fail on their first attempt (who might not if they just had a little bit better direction and a little encouragement). When examinees fail, they are often left with little to go on in their studies. I try to help fill this void a bit. If you find this blog helpful and would like to make a donation, you can do so here:

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Thank you for following this blog and please let others know about it if you think they can benefit!

All the best to you on results day!  And, I do hope you go forward into a career that you love!

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: Last Minute Performance Test Tips

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Hello All,

Congratulations, you are now done with the essays! You are one performance test away from being done with the California Bar Exam!

Here are some 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!

Please let me know if this blog helped you, I would love to hear from you: barexamguru@yahoo.com

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

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: Three Days Away!

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Good luck photo for blog

Hello All,

The bar exam is now just three days away. It is normal to have some anxiety right now (okay, it is normal to have a lot of anxiety right now).  But, there is still time to review, and still time to gain a better understanding of how areas are tested, and still time to continue to memorize the law. You need to believe this in order to make the best use of the remaining time. Actively work at remaining calm and maintaining a positive attitude – it will only lead to a better study period in the next couple of days.

If you would like to be added to our July 2014 Bar Exam Tips Email List, please see my earlier post to sign up.

If you have read my prior posts, you know that Evidence is one of the subjects that I have suggested as a possibility for this July’s exam. Also, Constitutional Law could repeat – remember, anything can show up on the bar exam. Of course, you may not see either Constitutional Law or Evidence on the July 2014 bar exam. But if you were to see either subject on the essay portion of the exam, would you know how to handle it?

If you do not feel confident on how to handle a Constitutional Law essay or an Evidence essay today, just a few days before the test, is it too late?  Should you give up?  Of course not!

Two essays for your review: I am posting two essays here (I have posted these same essays previously on this site, I mention this in case you have already downloaded these). One is a Constitutional Law essay (involving a state statute that treats out of staters differently than in-staters . . . so what area does that bring to mind? If you do not know the answer to that, then you definitely need to read this essay and the answers . . . hint: you are required to determine whether the state law places an undue burden on interstate commerce). So, if Constitutional Law is something you are fearing – then I would take a look over the subject again (preferably by relying on a condensed outline of some kind). In addition, I would recommend that you take a look at a few essays in Constitutional Law. I would do the same for Evidence. Both subjects can be race-horse exams. So, keep this in mind when you are writing your answers. Get to writing as quickly as you can.

I have attached as downloads, a past Constitutional Law Essay and a past Evidence Essay that I think are worth reviewing (yes – even the Sunday before the exam – why not)?

The reason I think it makes good sense to review these exams a few days before the exam is because of this simple fact – a very similar essay exam could appear on day one or day three of the California Bar Exam. Therefore, it just makes sense to read through both essays. You can download the Constitutional Law Essay here: ConLaw Handout 2 F-05 and the Evidence Essay here: Evidence Transcript Style Essay

A couple of thoughts about Evidence: If you were to see Evidence on the exam (as you know) Hearsay is likely. It is hard to imagine an Evidence exam without hearsay showing up. Beware that the most commonly tested exceptions are Present Sense Impression and Excited Utterance (and both exceptions should be discussed if you think either is colorable). I would review Judicial Notice and Subsequent Remedial Measures as I think either could come up if you have Evidence (or even as a cross-over on another topic). Also, Best Evidence Rule is tested frequently on Evidence essays. If you have been reviewing past Evidence essays then you already know this. If, however, you have not reviewed many Evidence Essays, then it is not too late to review a few now, before the exam.

A couple of thoughts about Constitutional Law: This Constitutional Law essay is from the February 2005 bar exam. I think it is worth a read. DO NOT test yourself on this. Instead, simply read through it (stay calm while you do so) and read and study the answer. Spend about 25 – 30 minutes on it (a few more minutes if you think you will benefit from it). The key here is to be able to glean some insights into both the approach for Constitutional Law (the approach that is embraced by the California Bar Examiners) and also how to handle an essay that is similar to this Constitutional Law exam. I think it is quite likely that you would see something like this tested. It is certainly possible. Given that possibility – it can not hurt you to read through it. And, remember, it is really important that you simply “read through it” – DO NOT TEST yourself on this – just read it and do your best to connect the dots between the fact pattern and what was generated in the answers. Focus on this: “If I were to get this particular essay exam on the actual bar exam, how would I write my answer?”

Hopefully, you would stick to the issues that are addressed in both answers and even better, if you do see something similar to this particular essay exam, you will remember how to handle it on exam day.

With respect to the Evidence Essay – note the style of writing (what I call a “shot-gun” type of approach) that is used in the exam answers. Both are brief where needed and get through all of the calls in a pretty efficient manner. Also note that in a transcript exam you need to be prepared to write on form objections (examples of form objections include: leading, compound, assumes facts not in evidence, non-responsive, etc.).

Help me help you . . . 

I will be posting again on Tuesday right after the essay portion of the bar exam – I will be counting on my students and blog followers to send me what was tested on the essay section of the bar exam so that I can update my predictions with respect to what I think might be more likely to show up on day three of the essay exam. So, if you have a moment, please email me after the essay portion of the bar exam on Tuesday. This will help me, help you – it is always good to have a sense of where to focus in these final days and even on the days of bar exam. Of course, no one can predict this exam. But, it can not hurt to put some extra time into an area that might be more likely to show up.

I will be hearing from my enrolled students on the break after the essays on Day One. But, the more people I hear from, the better I will have a fix on what was actually tested on Tuesday (essay wise) so that I can work up my next set of predictions for day three. Just a note – because there are some examinees with accommodations who will be taking the bar exam over a six day period, I will limit my discussion to the essays only – I will not discuss the performance test until the week after the bar exam.

Thank you again for following the blog.

I wish you all the very best of luck in your remaining studies! Remember to stay positive and to believe in yourself!

Best of luck to you all!

Lisa Duncanson
Program Director/Founder
Bar None Review and BarExamCramSession.com
(213) 529-0990

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