Bar Exam Tip: The Most Popular Question of the Day: “What Should I Study Today”

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Hello All,

I have been asked this question by many examinees and so I thought I would take a moment to answer it here for everyone to see.

Many people are writing in asking what subjects they should study today. I recognize that the reason these individuals are asking me this question is because they think that they should study today what is most likely to show up tomorrow . . . and they are asking me because I have had a reasonably good track record of “predicting” the essay topics. Well, that is risky business . . . studying around what anyone might say is going to be on the test. First of all, I do not claim to be able to predict what you will see on the exam. I spend time coming up with what I think are possible essay scenarios (incidentally, one of my competitors is now calling it that: “possible scenarios” . . . interesting . . . but, I digress). My point is that while it feels good to go into the exam with these potential essay scenarios and it will feel even better if you see even just one of these essay scenarios tested – you should study what is the weakest subject for you.

Now, that is assuming you are studying at all today. I did not study the day before the bar exam. I planned on it, but when I got to the day before the exam, I simply decided not to study anymore. I passed. I have friends that continued to study up into the evening prior to the exam and they too passed. You really have to do what feels right for you. I personally think that you should not stay up late studying.

And, with respect to predictions and how you should study today (assuming you do study today) you should take a look over the “predicted” possible essay scenarios. But, your time should be spent reviewing any subject you would be afraid to see tomorrow – that is where you should focus.

Remember, no one has a crystal ball with respect to this exam. Therefore, while I think it helps calm students down to have some areas of focus – you should really think about the following:

1) Do I need or want to study today? (really – it is okay not to study today – sometimes rest is the best thing and just a light review of topics or no review), and – If you are planning on studying today then:

2) Focus on an area that is one that you are hoping you will not see on the essay exam. You may not be able to resolve every aspect of that topic or subject in your favor – but at least you can go into the test knowing that you gave it some extra attention close in time to the actual exam.

Above all, do things today that are good for you. Do not panic. You might say: “Easy for you to say . . . you are not taking the test tomorrow”. You are right, I am not taking the test tomorrow. But, I have taken and passed two bar exams. Some degree of panic is normal. But, do not allow it to overwhelm you. Push it away. That is imperative and will do far more for your likelihood of success on the exam than virtually anything else you could do today.

All the best to all of you who are taking the exam tomorrow! Be positive, trust your instincts and remain as calm as possible.

Best of luck!

California Bar Exam Tips: Free Score Review & Free Workshops


Hello All,

If you failed the July 2012 bar exam, you should know that you are not alone. The complete statistics will be available on the California bar website soon. Pass rates for the July bar exams are usually just about 50%  So, if you did not pass, you know that you are among a significant number of people who are in the very same position.

What do I do now?

So what do you do now? Do you take another bar review course? Do you hire a private tutor? Do you study on your own? The answers to those questions will be different for everyone. First, you need to properly evaluate why it is that you failed. Second, consider attending one of our free bar exam workshops.

Free Bar Exam Workshops

We will offer a free bar exam writing workshop during the next week, for more information and to register, contact us at (213) 529-0990 or via email at:

Free Bar Exam Score Review

We provide, for a limited period of time (as our classes and private tutoring obligations begin and then we are just not available to provide this service) a free review of your past bar scores. In order to participate in this program, you will need to send your scores to We only accept scanned in score sheets or faxed scores sheets at this time (we do not accept your typed in scores in an email). We have to be sure that we are dealing with you. In addition, provide a phone number where you can be reached (all score reviews and evaluations are conducted via phone). If you would like to send your score sheet to us via fax, simply send us an email and we will provide you our fax number.

Why should I have my scores reviewed?

As a repeat bar examinee, the first step to passing the next bar exam is to review your bar exam score sheet. This can be a very confusing piece of paper. Partly because it is simply just painful to look at. Here you are, you have just received the terrible news that you have failed the bar exam and now you have to make sense of the scores. In my experience, examinees very often do not understand how the scaling works or what equals a passing “raw” score. So hopefully, what follows below will be of help to you.

Because the scoring of the California Bar Exam is scaled, it is not easy to understand what a given raw score means nor is it clear where you will need to focus from numbers alone. For example, if an examinee scores consistently the same scores on their essays (i.e., all sixties or three fifty-fives and three sixties) it will indicate a different problem than an examinee whose scores have a greater range (i.e., one 45, one 75, two 65s and two 60s etc.).

What is a passing raw score for an essay or performance test?

First of all, the raw score that is passing for the essays, performance tests and the MBEs varies from bar exam to bar exam. Most examinees incorrectly believe that a 70 is always required to pass an essay. However, this is simply not the case. In the past several bar rounds, a passing raw score on the essay has been as low as a 61 and as high as a 63 – not a 70. Of course, a 70 is a much better score to receive and better yet, 80s are really what you should be shooting for – this is the score we do our best to teach our students to be able to achieve consistently.

What is a passing raw score for the MBE?

The passing raw score for the MBE in the past few years has gone down dramatically. Several years ago, to pass the MBE portion of the exam you really needed to achieve at least 70% correct (a raw score of 140). However, in the past couple of years, the raw passing score has been between 62% – 66% (a raw score of 124 to 133). However, your practice scores should be much, much higher to ensure that you will do well enough on the MBE portion on the actual exam day.

Once the California bar releases the full statistics, some of these numbers will become more clear. However, what is most important is where you are – how far away from passing were you really? Most examinees that I speak with are quite off base when they call in to discuss their scores. There is a lot of misinformation out there. I have been following message boards and I am shocked at how little examinees know about how the test is scored. This is the fault of both law schools and bar preparation courses. It can be incredibly helpful to have someone who is knowledgeable about it to help you interpret your scores. This is really the first step in figuring out what you need or don’t need.

Free Downloads & Further Assistance

Also, be sure to visit our bar review course website free downloads of some of our Bar Exam Writing Templates as well as advice for those who are repeating the bar exam. Click here for additional Repeat Taker Information and click here for free downloads of some of The Exam Writing Templates.

Good luck to you and do not give up, this exam is do-able!

Thank you for reading and please feel free to email me directly at:

Good luck in your studies!


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

July 2012 Bar Results: Common Questions, Getting Sworn In, Workshops

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Hello All,

For those of you who are waiting for bar results, I wish you the very best of luck! In less than 24 hours you will learn whether you have passed the California bar exam!

I want to thank all who have written in and who have made comments on this blog. I am very thankful for your following and appreciate your feedback and support. The blog has received over 270,00 views . . . thank you for reading and for spreading the word.

I want to address some of the common questions and concerns I receive around this time of year.

1. If I fail the bar exam, will I get my scores right away?  (Note, I have written extensively about “what to do if you fail the bar exam” and will do so again. You can search this blog for earlier posts that provide advice on what to do in the event you fail the exam). If you fail the bar exam you will not get your scores immediately. However, the bar examiners will send you your scores via regular mail right away. Most examinees receive their scores by the following Monday or Tuesday after bar results are released. The only information you will receive from the state bar website’s pass list is whether you are on the list or not. If you passed you will know because you will see your name and will be told that your name “appears on the pass list”. If you do not pass the exam, you will essentially only be told that “your name does not appear on the pass list” (this is the message that a person receives on the state bar website at if they have not passed). This leads me to the next commonly asked question . . .

2. If I receive the message: “your name does not appear on the pass list”, could it be a mistake? Well, sure, it is possible. But, not very likely. Rumors that people have been told they failed online and then received letters in the mail that they had in fact actually passed are just that – rumors. In past years, the state bar exam website has crashed (due to high traffic). However, when this has happened examinees were simply delayed in obtaining their results until the site was up and running again. To my knowledge, the crash did not result in anyone receiving incorrect results. So, the short answer is: no, sadly, if you receive the message “your name does not appear on the pass list” then it is pretty certain indicator that you have failed the exam. I get this question quite a bit on the evening of bar results and I always feel so badly that examinees sometimes are left wondering if there could be a mistake. It just goes to prove how difficult this exam is and how you can study incredibly hard and still not pass. So don’t be too hard on yourself if you get bad news. Instead, work on figuring out why you did not pass and then address those issues.

Should you learn that you did not pass, know that you have time to come up with a solution: a game plan, a strategy for passing the next exam. (Don’t let any bar review provider pressure you into committing to a program immediately. There is time. It is important that you take some time to find the right fit for you – don’t allow yourself to be bullied. I hate to use that word, but, quite frankly some bar review providers are pretty aggressive – others are not – trust your instincts and don’t let anyone push you around).

Here’s hoping you are not looking for another bar review course, but instead are looking for where to be sworn in . . . we will provide a list of swearing in locations soon – check back – we will post this information soon.

Also, please spread the word – we will be offering workshops on “How to Pass the California Bar Exam” (See details below).

All the best to all who are waiting for results!

Our next “How to Pass the California Bar Exam” workshop will be held on Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Workshop attendees will receive free handouts (including selected Bar Exam Writing Templates). Space is limited. To reserve your space, contact us at: (949) 891-8831 or via email at:

Additional workshops to be held on:

Saturday, December 1, 2012  – 10:00 am – 12:30 pm (How to Pass the California Bar Exam Workshop)

December 1, will likely conclude our series of free workshops for this bar round season as we will then need to focus exclusively on our enrolled students.


California Bar Exam Tip: What to do while waiting for bar results

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Hello All,

With the July 2012 bar exam results just around the corner, many of you who are waiting are wondering whether you should study while waiting for results, and, if so, what you should study.

For guidance as to whether you should study, see my prior post here.

If you have decided that you feel the need to study during the coming weeks leading up to the bar exam, here is what I recommend:

1. Take one or two topics and simply begin conducting a light substantive review of those topics. I recommend starting with a favorite topic – something that comes easily to you.

2. If you have decided to begin studying now, keep in mind that the point of studying now, is to provide yourself with a form of insurance, should you find yourself needing to take the bar exam again. Should you find out on the 16th that you did not pass the bar exam, then you will be ahead of the game because you have already begun some studying. And, if you do pass, then you really won’t care that you gave up a few hours here and there in the weeks leading up to results. The point is not to create anxiety, but instead to alleviate anxiety. So, the goal isn’t to study for hours and hours each week leading up to the 16th. Instead, simply take on one or two subjects. Spend an hour tomorrow morning (Saturday) simply reviewing one subject. Use it as an opportunity to shake off some cobwebs and then move onto the rest of your day. Do the same thing on Sunday morning and you will have put in two hours of study this weekend.

3. If you really have a definite feeling about your performance on the last bar exam – you are just certain that you did not pass – then  I would suggest completing MBEs. I do not recommend that you conduct an extensive substantive review prior to completing MBEs. Instead, start with Torts and complete one MBE at a time – pick the best answer choice and then immediately check the explanation to see if you were correct or not. Initially you will likely miss more questions now than you were missing right before the exam. However, most of the students that I work with who are repeating the bar exam are able to get right back to the scores they were getting in practice the week before the last bar exam, by simply doing practice MBEs for about 10 to 14 days. Be sure to use MBE sources you have already used previously – this way you will be able to compare your practice scores now to where you were in practice the days leading up to the bar exam.

4. Try to make it a game. When you are completing practice MBEs tell yourself you are going to pick the correct answer and then really focus on the fact pattern, carefully read the call of the question and focus on picking the best answer. Be sure to remain positive. Again, the point of studying now is to alleviate stress not increase stress. Much of this will simply come from your attitude about beginning your studies.

Remember to do the MBEs one at a time to get the correction value – it will cause your scores to go up more quickly than doing 30 or 50 at a time AND it is less painful to do one at a time (sitting and tackling 50 MBEs in one session is pretty tough after a long break from studies and a likely lack of familiarity with the questions). Remember also that your MBE scores will usually go back up to where you were right before the exam with or without substantive review – the students I work with who are repeaters generally have their percentages back to where they were right before the exam simply by doing and correcting the MBEs.

There is no right or wrong way to return to your studies. But, I do recommend that you ease into it by simply putting in one or two hours over the weekend. Be positive about it, go somewhere you enjoy studying and tell yourself that this is just bar exam insurance – if you find out on the 16th that you passed the bar exam you really will not care about a few hours lost to studying.

All the best to all who are waiting for results!


Lisa Duncanson

Program Director/Founder
Bar None Review
(949) 891-8831

California Bar Exam – Day One’s Essays


Hello All,

Congratulations to all who have completed day one of the California bar exam! You are now one third of the way done!

I will be meeting with a group of my students in Ontario after the test this evening. But, I wanted to first let you know what I have heard was on the test, hopefully help you put it in perspective and also give you some suggested areas to focus on for Thursday’s essays.

So no real surprises so far – Civil Procedure (as most predicted), followed by Community Property  (with a little Professional Responsibility) and then Evidence (with CA distinctions). I felt that of the subjects that were most likely to repeat from the last bar round that it would be either Evidence or Constitutional Law. I also thought that IF Evidence were to repeat that you should be extra prepared for spousal and/or marital privilege. So far there was nothing that wasn’t expected.

Just so you know, many people have reported in with their list of what was tested (thank you to everyone who did that, by the way) and most people indicated that they had trouble finishing the last part of the second call on the Evidence essay. This is not unusual. If you did not finish, rest assured you are NOT alone AND it does not mean that you have failed, absolutely not. However, make sure you push yourself on day three to finish all three essays the best that you can.

And, just remember, many, many people will not have finished the third essay completely – and yet they will still pass. It is all in how you internalize it. If having run out of time ruins your confidence then that is a bad thing. Don’t throw the test away or let yourself become defeated simply because you ran short on a question. It is not the end. Today is over and make sure that you think of it that way – as being over, past, not on your mind any longer – only look forward. There is no point in agonizing over what did or did not happen today. Focus on tomorrow and on Thursday.

So, there are two things I am providing in this post: 1) a bit about today’s test (remember – I have not seen it, but, I have compiled information from examinees who wrote in) and 2) some thoughts on what you might want to focus on for Thursday’s essays.

July 2012 Essays – Day One (please keep in mind, this information comes from student accounts – if you remember something differently, do not panic or worry):

Essay 1 – Civil Procedure (PJ and SMJ, amount in controversy posed as issue)

Pam and Patrick are citizens of State A. They were travelling in State B when the got into an accident with State B driver from Corporation.

Corporation is incorporated in State B and does business exclusively in State B and its warehouse and workers and drivers are in State B.

Pam and Patrick sue in federal district court of State A. Pam is suing for personal injury of $70K and property damage of $10K. Patrick is suing for damages of $6K.

Corporation sought dismissal on the grounds of personal jurisdiction and court denied. Final judgment of $60K and $4K for Pam and Patrick. **

Corporation appeals to court of appeals on the basis of subject matter jurisdiction and personal jurisdiction. How should the court rule? Discuss.

**Note: I heard from some examinees that the corporation was a Canadian corporation,  so I presume this played out in the fact pattern as well – but, again, I have not seen the fact pattern. Most examinees felt that this essay was pretty straightforward.

Essay 2 – Community Property/Professional Responsibility

Wendy and Hal are married and live in California.

Hal likes to drink and Wendy kicked Hal out of their family home and told him not to come back until he finishes an alcohol treatment program.

Hal drinks, then drives, hits and injures a pedestrian. Pedestrian brings a civil suit against Hal. Wendy learns of the suit and tells Hal she wants a divorce. Hal is unemployed and the only asset he has is his interest in the family home which he and Wendy purchased together during their marriage.

Hal consults Lawyer about representing him in the civil suit. Lawyer asks Hal for a promissory note and lien on the family home. Hal accepts.

1.     Is Wendy’s interest in the family home subject to recovery of the civil suit.

2.     Is Wendy’s liable for the attorney’s fees.

3.     Did Lawyer violate any ethical rules? Discuss.

**Note: this essay was a bit different (at least that is what some have reported). However, there were no unusual concepts tested – nothing new at all. It was of the three essays, I think the one that most would find a little awkward. There was not a ton to write about on this one (that is often how Community Property essays go and that can make examinees feel like they are missing something. So, if you feel like it was too simple, don’t worry about it. And, besides, there is no point in worrying about it at all now. Just move forward and do your best tomorrow and Thursday!

Essay 3 – Evidence (I said that Evidence was on my list of topics that I felt were most likely to repeat and thought that spousal and/or marital privilege would be a likely point on the exam – it appears this was the case – nice – hopefully you reviewed this area a bit). And, as I said above – most people expressed difficulty in finishing this essay. So don’t worry too much if you were unable to finish the third part of the second call, it is pretty typical to run out of time on these. Here are the facts as reported to me:

Vicky is murdered. The prime suspect is Dean who is a rival business owner. Dean is married to Whitney.

Two weeks before the murder Whitney learns that Dean has been cheating on her with another woman. Whitney is upset and she tells Dean that the marriage is over and she moves out. Seeking revenge Whitney agrees to testify against Dean. During recess Whitney and Dean reconciled. Prosecution calls Whitney to the stand and Whitney refuses to testify. The court threatens Whitney with contempt and Whitney reluctantly testified that on the night of the murder Dean had mud on his shoes.

Prosecution calls Ella. Ella testifies that on the night of the murder she was standing at her kitchen window that was 20 feet away from Dean and Whitney’s home and she overheard Dean say to Whitney “I just killed the gal that stole my biggest account.” Whitney and Dean were unaware that Ella was there.

Dean calls Fred to testify. Fred testifies that on the day after the murder he was eating in a coffee shop when he saw two gangsters Gus and Hit. Gus asked Hit “did you take care of the Vicky business?” and drew his index finger across his throat.

Was the prosecution proper in calling Whitney to the stand? Discuss.

Was the testimony of (a) Whitney (b) Ella, (c) Fred proper? Discuss.

**It should be noted that because this case is a criminal case, that Proposition 8 applies. This does not mean that your analysis is any different – it simply means that it is worth pointing out that Proposition 8 is applicable because this is a criminal case and you are specifically asked to address California law.

So Now What?

So far what has been tested is pretty much what I expected – nothing unusual at all. Now, that doesn’t mean the rest of my “predictions” will all be on target. I am looking forward to hearing what was tested on the Performance Test this afternoon as this might change what I am thinking about what might come up on day three’s essays.

Obviously, Professional Responsibility is on virtually every essay exam. But, out of the past 23 bar exam administrations it was skipped from the essay section (completely skipped) two times. So, you just might not see it on day three. But, statistically it is more probable than not that Professional Responsibility will come up in some form (either as a cross over again or as an entire essay).

I am still leaning towards Criminal Law and Procedure (please see my previous posts: “Predictions” – Part One and “Predictions – Part Two). I am sticking to what I suggested from the beginning. Nothing happened today that was unexpected and all was from the list. I suggested Products Liability (and most have predicted this for July). However, now I am thinking that is perhaps just too easy. Be prepared for it, assume it will be there – because most people are assuming that – but, make certain that you don’t bank on it (or on any of mine or anyone’s “predictions”).

Remember that Defamation could be just as likely. And, I still think a Torts cross-over with PR is possible (malicious prosecution, abuse of process, PR – this is not an unusual combination). So be ready for Torts. If you do get Products Liability recognize that everyone is expecting that – so you will need to do a really good job on this exam in order to distinguish yourself from the pack (and that is something you need to do – make your essay look better than most – use headings, lots of headings and know the approach).

Something significant about today’s exam is that you were only tested on one MBE subject – most exams test two or three essays that are MBE subjects. So . . . that means I would expect at least one more. I would not write off any topic at this point (I know no one wants to hear that, but, you need to realize that anything is always fair game). In fact, on my bar exam we had an Evidence essay on day one (transcript style) and then on day three we had a Community Property/Wills/Evidence essay. The evidence question was a spousal and marital privilege issue. I managed to get through it, but, I had not looked at Evidence since day one – so let that be a warning to you.

I believe that Professional Responsibility could be tested as an entire essay or crossed with virtually anything. Criminal Procedure and PR show up together as do Torts and PR and really – any subject could be crossed with PR. But, Criminal Procedure and Torts both make for good cross overs with PR.

I will write more when I hear from students this evening about what was tested on the performance test.

Until then, review the areas that you are least comfortable with and also review my prior posts regarding the “predictions” (Part One, Part Two) as all of this is still relevant since nothing showed up today that was unexpected.

All the best to everyone who is taking the bar exam today. And, a big thank you to all who wrote in with your synopsis of the exams!  And, a big fat disclaimer: as you know I have not seen the test. PLEASE, please, please d0 not get worried if the facts above are different than you remember the facts to be. This is just some information that was compiled from some examinees.

Stay tuned for more later!


Lisa Duncanson
Program Director/Founder
Bar None Review

July 2012 California Bar Exam Predictions – Free Essay Examples

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Hello All,

I have had several requests for examples of how Van Camp and Pereira are tested on an essay. Our course materials include over 150 past California bar exam essays. However, my students are also all given extra sample essays for the topic areas that I think are most likely on that particular bar round. My students have our essay books, which provide a solid coverage of the range of essays that can be tested. But, I provide additional essay handouts for some of the areas that appear to be more likely or more probable for each bar round. Again, no one can predict this exam and I certainly do not claim to be able to predict it. I have had some bar rounds where I have come up with as many as 5 out of the 6 essay topics and even the specific sub topic (i.e., predicting defamation, not just Torts). However, this is not something I claim to be able to do every time.

You should be prepared for anything that comes your way and one of the very best ways to do that is to review past bar exam essays.

As anyone who has taken the bar and failed will tell you, simply memorizing the law is not enough. You really need to see how the concepts are tested in the context of the actual exam. If you have not spent a lot of time reviewing essays, then today would be a great day to start – it is never too late to review essays and perhaps stumble upon one or two that  you actually end up seeing on day one or day two of the bar exam. Remember, the California bar examiners repeat the same or nearly identical essays over and over again. Exams from four years ago are seen again all of the time, as are 10 year old exams – negligence is negligence, products liability is products liability, defamation is defamation . . .

My point is that there are only so many ways these topics can be tested. Therefore, reviewing past exams is an excellent way to improve your chances of understanding the issues and addressing the correct issues on exam day. Anything you see today or tomorrow, you will remember on the day of the exam.

Based upon the many requests for further explanation of certain concepts – like how does Van Camp and Pereira play out on a Community Property essay, what is/how do I handle the “primary rights” view (which is a minority and California held view) in Civil Procedure? – I have decided to provide some free essays along with additional study tips for the coming days/hours).

I will be happy to send you a copy of some of the essays that I think either help illustrate these concepts or that I think are worth reviewing right before the exam. In addition, I will be happy to send you tips regarding the coming days/hours.

How do I get the free essays and tips: If you want to receive essays along with additional tips and information about the exam, please send an email to me at: and include “send me essays & tips” in the subject line. Please include your first and last name and the law school you attended. (I do not release any of this information and never, ever, sell contact information that I receive from students or blog followers. Your information is kept confidential).

Further Predictions for day three: I will continue posting on my blog through the bar exam. After I know what was tested on day one, I will provide my suggestions of areas to focus on for day three’s essays (predictions of sorts). I will make these public on Tuesday afternoon while you are taking the exam. However, in order for me to do so, since I am not sitting for the test, I need to hear from examinees as to what was actually tested. My students will contact me, but, the more I hear from examinees, the more I will know and the more focused I can be about making suggestions for areas to study on day three.

Help me help you: So, if you have a moment, please feel free to email me on Tuesday during your break with your thoughts on what was tested. The more I know, the more I can offer to you.

Hang in there, I know these last few days can be tough, but, be positive and believe in yourself.

Best of luck to all who are taking the bar exam!

Also, I want to thank you all for following the blog, we have had over 10 thousand views in less than a week and the blog has now (as of this past week) received over 200,000 hits.

Thank you so much for the following and for your positive feedback via email – it is greatly appreciated.


Lisa Duncanson
Program Director/Founder
Bar None Review
(949) 891-8831

California Bar Exam Predictions: July 2012 – Part Three

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Hell0 All,

So far I have suggested the following topics as possible essay scenarios (please see Parts One and Two below for details): Civil Procedure, Torts (perhaps Products Liability, but, anything is possible – defamation has not been tested in a very long time . . .), Criminal Law/Procedure and Community Property.

Here is a bit more on Civil Procedure (and yes, additional essay “predictions” or essay scenarios):

Civil Procedure (possibly In Personam Jurisdiction – since the last time it was tested was on the February 2006 bar exam – along with other potential issues – Collateral Estoppel and Res Judicata are always testable. And, while I don’t think I mentioned it earlier, Class Actions has been absent for a long time as well). Just know Civil Procedure and, read my prior posts addressing Civil Procedure for more details.

Know all of the topics as well as you can – do NOT predict a subject is NOT going to be on the exam and fail to study that subject. Anyone who tells you that Property can’t be on this exam “because it was tested three bar exam administrations in a row” is flat out wrong. I am not predicting Property, but, you should be ready for it. Anything is possible . . . anything.  So, if you were to get Property, I would expect something that tested easements – perhaps in a land sale contract setting where you have a marketability of title issue (perhaps a general warranty deed discussion, notice and recording acts) or Covenants and Equitable Servitudes. These areas are not complicated. And, you might very well get tested on Property again. It is definitely not out of the question. So, just endeavor to review all that you can, don’t discount any topic and remember the bar examiners do not expect perfection. They do expect you to spot enough issues.

A few words about issue spotting: Your ability to issue spot is very, very important. Think about it . . . how can you be a good lawyer if you are unable to determine what the actual and potential issues are when given a particular set of facts? Your ability to evidence an understanding of the legal problems/issues and resolve these legal problems/issues is far more important than reciting exact rules. Show the graders that you understand the law by identifying the issues, using the facts and analyzing. This is where the points are – in your ability to identify the correct issues (both actual and potential) and apply the law (hopefully a decent definition, but, it does not have to be perfect).

The best way to improve issue spotting: The best way to improve your ability to identify the correct issues on the actual exam is to see how these issues come up in the context of actual past bar exams. I have written about this quite a bit – the value of reading past essays. If you do not know what to do for the remaining days, then spend a significant amount of your time reviewing (not testing yourself – just reading and reviewing) past essays and answers. Anything you read in the coming days you will remember on the actual test days.

Other Essay Possibilities:

Contracts and or Contract RemediesThe last time Contracts was tested was in July 2011. The July 2011 Contracts essay was a common law formation exam with no testing of remedies. While the examiners could very well test all of these same things again (common law formation, defenses to formation etc.), I think that a UCC formation and remedies exam is possible.

Also, take a look at hybrid contracts – where you have an important or significant part of the contract that is clearly a service (and therefore, governed by the Common Law) and another important or significant part of the contract (a moveable, tangible good) that is governed by the UCC. The test to use is the predominant purpose test. However – be aware of the fact that sometimes the examiners will give you a fact pattern that is a hybrid contract – where both parts of the contract (the part governed by the UCC and the part governed by the Common Law) are really both important and significant and therefore you can not simply just choose to apply the Common Law or the UCC – instead, you must treat it as a hybrid contract and apply both. When the examiners are testing you on a hybrid contract you will be given a fact pattern where this is obvious (or fairly obvious). For example, past exams have tested it in this way: Buyer contracts with Seller for the purchase and installation of a large turbine. The cost of the turbine is a majority of the cost of the contract. However, Seller is the only person/company that can install the turbine because it is being installed out in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

So, applying the “predominant purpose test” you could go either way (that is what makes it a hybrid contract). For example, if you used the high cost of the good as a way to evaluate the value of the contract and determine that the predominant purpose of the contract was to get the turbine, then the UCC would apply. However, if you recognize that the part of the contract for installation services (while possibly a much lower percentage of the cost of the entire contract) is very significant because the seller is the only person or company that can install the turbine (the good) then there is a good argument that the services are what is most significant about the contract. The key is to recognize that this scenario generates a discussion of how it could be either the Common Law or UCC, that you will address the predominant purpose test and then recognize that in a situation like the above hypo, that they want you to address it as a hybrid contract.

So how would remedies come up in a situation like this? Breach of the contract would result in a remedies discussion – for example Specific Performance to deliver and install the turbine. There would be obvious problems here – feasibility of the court to supervise – for example. But, you would simply address all aspects of Specific Performance and take each required point (inadequate remedy at law . . . etc.) and explain each element – how it is met or how there may be a problem with the element being met – and keep moving through it.

Professional Responsibility (duh . . . but, watch out, maybe not this time . . .). Professional Responsibility is generally a given. However, on occasion, the bar examiners skip Professional Responsibility on the essays and leave it for the Performance Test alone. However, be mindful of how rare this is: out of the past 23 bar administrations, the California bar examiners skipped Professional Responsibility on the essay portion only twice (It was tested 21 out of 23 times – 90% of the time). Still, it was left off twice . . . so this is always a possibility.

Wills or Wills/Trusts – I know Trusts was just tested. But, subjects do repeat. While it is not my first pick of subjects to repeat from the February 2012 bar exam, it is a possibility. I think that either Community Property OR Wills (possible crossed with Trusts, which is very common) could be on this exam. When you look at the statistics either is equally probable. I am leaning a bit more towards Community Property, but, be sure to be prepared for Wills (and of course any topic) as well.

Possible Repeat Subjects: Remember the bar examiners can repeat any topic they wish to repeat – and – they do repeat topics. Property was tested on the past three bar exams – and could be tested yet again. However, of the subjects that I think are possibly most likely to repeat are Evidence and/or Constitutional Law and perhaps Trusts (if you have a Wills exam for example, Trusts could easily come up again in this context). Know your Evidence approach, know how to handle form objections – I could easily see you getting a transcript style Evidence essay or simply getting an essay that asks you about a privilege (for example, marital and spousal privilege could come up as a cross over issue with Criminal Law/Procedure or Community Property. Also, know how to deal with the constitutionality of a state (or federal) statute – a very possible area to be tested would be a state statute – perhaps testing the dormant commerce clause as well as other issues. Always, always, always the bar examiners can retest any of the prior subjects and they have – First Amendment Speech was tested three times, back to back – so anything is possible.

Okay that is it for now. I have received many emails and am doing my best to respond to everyone. There are a couple of questions that have come up repeatedly and so I will likely address these in a blog post (I won’t release your name, just the question).

Keep at it, you are in the home stretch. Above all, stay positive, believe in yourself and in your abilities. This is key. Resolve to be positive and to remain calm. Encourage yourself, reassure yourself, be your own cheer leader.

Best of luck to all who are studying for the bar exam. Please feel free to email me at:


Lisa Duncanson
Program Director/Founder
Bar None Review
(949) 891-8831