Bar Exam Tips: #1 Reason Why People Fail the California Bar Exam

February 2014 Bar Exam Predictions: Part Two

Hello All,

I want to wish everyone who is taking the bar exam tomorrow all of the very best of luck!

Some additional thoughts on potential areas for testing on the essays:

Typically a few subjects repeat from one bar exam round to the next. And, sometimes a subject will repeat three times back to back. This means that really anything can be tested. If you have been following this blog, you will know this as it is a theme here – be prepared for anything, as anything is testable.

That being said, I do have some additional thoughts on what could potentially show up on the exam either Tuesday or Thursday.

Of the topics from the July bar exam that might be a bit more likely to repeat, I think that perhaps Wills or Constitutional Law are possibilities.

Possibly Wills: The reason I suggest Wills, is because it could easily be tested as a cross over with Trusts. This would bring in a new topic and repeat Wills. It makes sense, but of course there are no guarantees. If you were to see Trusts (either as a cross over with Wills or alone as a Trusts only essay) I am leaning towards the essay involving either a Spendthrift/Support/Discretionary Trust scenario (these three are typically tested together) or a Charitable Trust issue (requiring a discussion of the Doctrine of Cy Pres and Equitable Deviation). Another point worth making about Trusts is that the area of Testamentary Trusts has not come up in some time. It is worth noting that the last time Trusts was on the bar exam it was in the context (primarily) of Trust Remedies, specifically a constructive trust.

Possibly Constitutional Law: Another area to keep in mind for the essays is the possibility of Constitutional Law repeating. So why Constitutional Law? There are a few reasons: 1) subjects repeat back to back, and 2) there are several areas within Constitutional Law that were not tested on the July bar exam that could make up an entirely different Constitutional Law essay exam. For example, a First Amendment Speech issue could be tested (which was not tested on the July bar exam) or a Commerce Clause or Dormant Commerce Clause issue could come up. I think the latter is more likely than First Amendment Speech.

One possible scenario would involve a state statute that essentially taxes out of staters – in this type of scenario you are faced with balancing the state’s interest in the regulation and the burden that is placed on interstate commerce. I think this is a very likely area for testing. Should you see an exam like this, you will need to identify the power that the state has to act (those powers that are reserved to the states via the 10th Amendment: safety, health, welfare, education and morals of its citizens). You will also need to identify the state’s interest and ultimately determine whether upholding the regulation places an undue burden on interstate commerce.

Torts is not my first pick of topics to repeat. However, if it were to be tested, I think that Defamation is a real possibility. It could, someday, be tested as a cross-over with an anti-slapp motion (which has yet to be tested from California Civil Procedure). An anti-slapp motion is a type of responsive pleading available in California and could be an appropriate response to a suit for defamation. This has yet to show up on the California bar exam and I do think it will some day. Of course whether that is tomorrow is another thing.

I will be posting again tomorrow after I hear what was tested on the essays. I will not address the performance test tomorrow. The reason for this is because there are examinees with accommodations who will not be taking the performance test until Wednesday. As a result, I will not be posting anything here about tomorrow’s performance test until after Wednesday evening.

I want to thank you again for following my blog.

I wish you much success on the bar exam!

All the best,

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

February 2014 Bar Exam Cram Session – 4 Seats Left!

Hello All,

I don’t usually put advertisements on my blog. But, I do have students who only find out about our classes after they have already taken and failed the bar exam and they tell me that they wish I had put up more information about our course offerings. So, here goes . . .


TO LEARN MORE OR REGISTER

PREDICTIONS AND TIPS: I will be posting predictions as it gets closer to the bar exam (I know, it is close already, but I do promise this material to my enrolled students first). Also, take a look at last July’s predictions – anything that did not show up on the last bar exam that I was leaning towards as possibilities then are even more likely now (at least that is my opinion). And, remember, it never makes sense to study around what is being predicted. Anything could be tested – so your goal is to be ready for whatever comes your way.

Also, if you find this blog helpful, please spread the word. And, don’t forget to join our bar exam tips list (see my earlier post here, to sign up).

Remember to stay positive and to believe in yourself. You CAN do this! Stay tuned for predictions. Wishing you all the very best in your studies!

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

California Bar Exam – The Bar Exam Cram Sheets – Excerpts

Hello All,

We still have a few seats left in our February 15th and 16th two Day Bar Exam Cram Session. For more information on The Two Day Bar Exam Cram Session, click here.

See photos below for a few excerpts from The Bar Exam Cram Sheets (click on the image to see a larger view):

Wishing everyone the very best in their studies!

 

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Evidence Bar Exam Cram Sheet Preview

 

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Civil Procedure Bar Exam Cram Sheet Preview (California distinctions are included, for example, Anti-SLAPP Motions). NOTE: The California Bar Examiners have yet to test California Civil Procedure.

Bar Exam Tips and Free Evidence Handout

Hello All,

If you would like to be added to our February 2014 Bar Exam Tips Email List and/or receive a free copy of our Evidence Handout, complete the form below and we will send the handout to you via email and add you to our Bar Exam Tips Email List.

Please select “yes” or “no” in the drop down menus below and click on the “submit” button at the bottom of the form.

Good luck in your studies!

Note: This handout will be available until 1:30 pm on March 1, 2014.

Your contact information is safe – we do not share, or sell your information.

California Bar Exam Prep: Do You Have A Plan? Do You Need A New One?

Hello All,

We just finished up our first weekend of our Writing Maximizer Program. I love teaching this program and was very happy to see such a great group of students, so eager to take on work and pass the bar exam! Every bar round I am reminded of how so many, very, very bright, smart, studious bar takers simply miss the boat because they do not have a plan and because they simply do not know what to do.

I personally believe that many courses out there throw what is called a “study schedule” at their students simply to keep them from ever having the time to actually bother anyone with a question. Think about it – if you are given a study plan, the pace of which is so rigorous and so time consuming that a normal human could not finish it – the odds are you will not bother asking a course instructor a single question. That is, of course, assuming there is even a person that you can actually ask . . .

Please understand, I often work with students who have been through this drill before with other bar prep companies and have taken the exam several times without the success that they worked so hard to achieve. It makes me mad. Why? Because their failures are completely unnecessary. I believe their prior unsuccessful bar attempts simply could have been avoided if perhaps their bar prep course had provided them with a) a realistic study plan and b) actual exam feedback.

I am frustrated for these students – these students who are clearly very bright, who clearly worked very hard and were, in my opinion, mislead – told that if they simply studied for 12 hours a day, that it would result in passing the bar exam.

Memorization IS important. But, it is critical to write practice exams, and even more critical to receive detailed feedback on your exams. I have several students right now who came to me after having taken the July bar exam (utilizing another bar prep course). They were given a study plan that kept them busy every day, all day and into the evening. They tell me they did everything they were told to do. I believe them. The problem (one of many I think) is that they were only told to write three essays. Three essays! That is not enough. I have also had the opportunity to see their “graded” essays from this course and I am appalled at what apparently passes as “exam grading” these days.

Three comments were repeated over and over: “use more facts”, “not enough facts here” and “missed issues” . . .

Folks, that is NOT exam grading – not in my opinion. “Review page 83 of your Torts Outline” is also, in my opinion, NOT exam grading.

So, yes, I am a bit perturbed, and yes, it probably shows. But, I find it increasingly frustrating to see intelligent, hardworking examinees fail because – in my opinion – the course they took failed them.

If you would like to see what I think is real exam writing feed back, click on here:  Sample Graded Essay (this was turned in from one of my students this morning – I graded it and returned it within a couple of hours of receiving it). There is no name provided for privacy reasons, of course. My hope is that in seeing this exam – with actual feedback – that you as a bar examinee will come to expect a bit more from your course providers.

With respect to having a plan, be careful. I am currently working with a group of students who all followed the plan they were given by their bar review provider in July and it did not work for them. I can see why it did not work as they only read a few essays and only wrote three or four practice exams – most of their time was spent watching videos and memorizing the law (because this is what their bar prep course told them to do). So, if you have a plan, look at it carefully and modify it if you think it is simply providing you with a bunch of busy work. Don’t get me wrong – memorizing is important. But, the bar exam takes a lot more than your ability to spit back rules. You need practice in writing the essays – this is paramount and a significant amount of your time should be dedicated to preparing for the actual test taking (practice issue spotting essays, reviewing essay answers and writing your own practice essays).

If you need help in putting together a study plan, search this blog for prior posts on creating a bar exam study plan.

All the best in your studies!

Sincerely,

Lisa Duncanson

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

Free “How to Pass the February 2014 Bar Exam” Workshop

How to Pass the February 2014 California Bar Exam Workshop” - Thursday, December 12th from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm. Los Angeles, California

Back by popular demand, our next “How to Pass the California Bar Exam Workshop” will be held on Thursday, December 12, 2013. Our workshops fill up quickly. Reservations are on a first-come, first-served basis. This workshop is free and includes free bar exam templates and our “How to Write for the California Bar Examiners” Handout. Space is limited. Click here to make your reservation.

Sign up here! photo

 

Good Luck to all who are studying for the California Bar Exam!

Hello Everyone,

We are having another free, “How to Pass the Bar Exam Workshop” next week! Details to follow very soon . . . until then . . . all the best of luck to you! (See post below for how to create a study plan).

Good luck photo for blog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Bar Exam Tip: How to Create a Successful Study Plan for Passing the February 2014 Bar Exam

Hello Everyone,

One of the most important aspects of your bar study is having a successful study plan. I have written several posts on this topic in the past, but here is an updated version for those of you about to take (and PASS) the February 2014 bar exam!

WHAT IS A SUCCESSFUL STUDY PLAN

Before you can develop a successful study plan, it is important to understand what makes a successful study plan. I do not mean an assignment list provided to you by your bar prep provider. Assignment lists or “schedules” like BarBri’s “Pace Program” are, in my opinion, in my opinion, are one size fits all, task lists. I personally think these are designed to keep you busy more than actually prepare you for the bar exam. When I refer to a successful study plan - I mean an actual “study plan” –  a plan for success. A successful study plan not only includes assignments – like completing MBEs, writing practice essays, reviewing and memorizing the substantive law – but it also takes into account the realities of your day – “I need to eat”, “I need to rest”, “I need to exercise”, “I need to keep my stress level at a manageable level”, “I need to work part time” or “I need to work full time.” These are all critical to your success on the bar exam, and will play as important a role in your success on the bar, as your actual bar study.

SO HOW DO YOU CREATE A SUCCESSFUL STUDY PLAN?

A successful study plan requires: taking into account your weaknesses and strengths, establishing a routine and habit of study, creating and adhering to a realistic routine that will address your weaknesses and maintain or improve your strengths while also taking into account the amount of time that you actually have available to study (for example, whether you have all day to study, or you work part time, or you are working full time, juggling the responsibilities of work and children and life in general). See below for a sample one day study schedule. Incidentally, most of my students are repeat bar takers and are working full time jobs and have only a few hours each week to study – and yet, they succeed. So, first off – I want you to recognize that you can succeed on this exam even if you do not have 8 to 14 hours a day to study. And, in fact (and this will be the subject of a future post), studying 14 hours a day, is actually quite counterproductive.

Finally, a successful study plan should maximize your effectiveness by scheduling the right kinds of work during the right times of day or evening (for example, it does not make much sense to practice MBE questions at 9:00 pm after a long work day when you are exhausted). Instead, get up earlier the next day to do MBEs in the morning before going to work. Even if all you can do is five or ten MBEs before going to work, do it. And, do it every day and you will establish a routine. This repetition and routine keeps your head in the game and your mind invested in the pursuit of passing.

BE SOMEWHAT FLEXIBLE WITH YOURSELF AND DO NOT BE SO HARD ON YOURSELF

Be realistic and don’t be so hard on yourself. One of the most common things that my students come to me over is their worries that they are not doing enough. This is because they are deeply invested in their future (understandably) and they fear that the amount of time that they have to devote to their studies will simply not be enough. Students are often very hard on themselves for having not completed the 50 MBEs they set out to do that day – and rather than focusing on what they actually DID accomplish (maybe it was 20 or 30 MBES) they focus on the 20 they did not complete. That is not what you should do. Clearly you must work and work hard to succeed. But, be mindful of the fact that quality is important – going through the motions might get you through 50 MBEs. But, it would be better to spend a more intensive time on fewer MBEs and actually learn from your mistakes so that you will not make those same mistakes again.

Things are bound to come up during the next few months – things you may not have planned on happening. So, it will likely be necessary to make adjustments to your study plan based upon what is realistic for you. You may discover that your initial plan of completing 50 MBEs after attending a four hour bar review lecture is just simply not realistic for you. While it is very important to do a significant number of MBEs and to write many practice exams, you should also realize that this practice is best done at your peak times – when you are most alert. Therefore, you may decide to complete 20 MBEs before going to your bar review lecture and then an additional 20 MBEs after your bar review lecture. Or, you might decide NOT to go to your videotaped bar review lecture . . . and instead study what YOU need to study. It IS okay to do that.

ESTABLISH A ROUTINE:

One of the key features of any successful study plan is to establish a routine. While you will have some study days where your study day ends earlier or goes later, the key is in establishing a regular routine. This includes where you will study, how often you eat, exercise, take breaks as well as the types of study you do during the day and when. For example – getting in the habit/routine of completing MBEs every morning at the same time and place every day, writing practice essays on a regular basis (for example, you might use the following routine: write a practice essay every Monday, Wednesday and Friday).

Below you will find an example of a typical study day from a good study plan. Here is a sample study day for someone who does not have to work and can devote their entire time to bar study: Note that other study days would likely incorporate writing practice exams and/or attending a bar review lecture or workshop). Also, if like many examinees, you have to work part time or full time while studying for the bar exam, I can help you put together a study plan that is tailored to your schedule so that you are able to maximize the time that you do have.

SAMPLE ONE DAY STUDY SCHEDULE (Note: if you are working full time, this could be your plan of attack for  a weekend day):

7:00 am – workout – short run or walk – (For example, 1 mile run/walk through your neighborhood)

7:30/7:45 am – shower, have a healthy breakfast and “disconnect for the day”. By disconnecting for the day, I mean: disconnect from your cell phone, the internet, text messaging and anything else that can lead to wasted time and loss of focus. This is really critical. Protect your study time, commit to certain study hours and refrain from checking email, voice mail, surfing the internet, checking and replying to text messages, and prepare your friends and family for your absence – see post: “Disconnecting to Pass the Bar”).

8:30 – 9:30 am – Complete 30 – 33 Torts MBEs

9:30 am – Take five minute break (do a couple of jumping jacks, just move around for a bit, eat a quick and healthy snack – for example, grab 6 or 8 almonds. Healthy snacks throughout the day are important to ensure a successful study day. We have all heard that eating small amounts throughout the day will help to keep your blood sugar level steady. This will help maintain your energy level throughout the day as well and will lead to a much more productive study day).

9:35 am – check answers for the Torts MBEs above, review the explanations and make flashcards for each missed MBE. (Note: the amount of time this will take will vary and depend upon how many MBEs you missed, so take the time you need – the corrections you make now will result in a higher MBE score later on).

10:30 am – ten minute break – get up from your desk, move a bit, eat an apple or some other healthy snack like a couple of stalks of celery with peanut butter.

10:40 am – BEGIN ESSAY ISSUE SPOTTING EXERCISE. Read through four torts essays. For each essay, use the following method: 1) read and issue spot the essay, 2) quickly check the model answer to see if you correctly identified the issues, 3) if you did not spot all of the issues then go back to the fact pattern and try to identify which facts trigger the issues that you missed, 4) read the entire model answer, 5) study the model answer and create your own outline from the answer – this outline should be your model for how to approach this essay in the future. You will likely spend about 40 – 50 minutes per essay (15 minutes to issues spot, 5 minutes to check your issues, 20 – 30 minutes to sort out missed issues and to create your own outline/approach for tackling this essay in the future).

10:40 – 11:20 am – Torts Essay One (from “Essay Issue Spotting Exercise” above)

11:20 am – five minute break – get up from your desk, move around.

11:25 am – 12:05 pm – Torts Essay Two (from “Essay Issue Spotting Exercise” above)

12:05 pm – 12: 50 pm- lunch break – eat healthy, have something you enjoy, relax (AVOID: email, cell phone, t.v., surfing the net – these are all potential distractions that could lead to lost time – how many times have you just intended to “quickly check your email” and found that it lead to getting involved in replying to emails, becoming emotionally engaged in someone else’s problem, or simply just wasting an hour surfing the web. Don’t take the risk of picking up your cell phone or checking your email. Instead, protect the time you have promised to yourself to study – guard it. See also: post about “Disconnecting to Pass the Bar”).

12:50 – 1:30 pm – Torts Essay Three (from “Essay Issue Spotting Exercise” above)

1:30 – 1:35 pm – five minute break – get up from your desk, move around.

1:35 – 2:15 pm – Torts Essay Four (from “Essay Issue Spotting Exercise” above)

2:15 – 2:25 pm – ten minute break – get up from your desk, move around, perhaps go outside for some fresh air, have a healthy snack.

2:25 pm – OUTLINE REVIEW – Study/review Contracts substantive outline – it is recommended that you conduct your review in 50 minute increments, taking a 5 or 10 minute break every 50 minutes. This will enable you to study more hours per day and to study more effectively/productively because the breaks will prevent fatigue and will allow for more alert study periods. See recommended outline study intervals below:

2:25 – 3:15 pm – Review Contracts outline (see above).

3:15 – 3:25 pm – 5 or 10 minute break (get up, move around, stretch).

3::25 – 4:15 – Continue Contracts outline review.

4:15 – 4:25 pm – 5 or 10 minute break (get up, move around, stretch, eat a healthy snack).

4:25 – 5:15 pm – Continue Contracts outline review

5:15 – 6:15 pm – Dinner break – get up, move around, stretch, eat something healthy, make a short phone call to a supportive friend, spouse or family member – the key here is to only contact someone who is supportive of you, positive and aware and respectful of your commitment to study for and pass the bar).

6:15 – 7:15 pm – REVIEW TWO CONTRACTS ESSAYS (Spend 30 minutes for each essay and do the following: 1) Read and issue spot Contracts essay (15 minutes), 2) Check issues against the answer, read entire answer and make note of missed issues (15 minutes).

7:15 – 7:20 pm – Take a 5 minute break.

7:20 – 8:00 pm – REVIEW ESSAY APPROACHES FOR TORTS (Review the approaches/outlines that you created for the four Torts essays earlier during the day. The reason this makes sense is that you will reinforce the issue spotting and organization that you learned from your earlier review. And, since exam fact patterns repeat over and over again from one bar exam to the next, this review of past bar essays is one of the most effective ways to improve your issues spotting ability and to prepare for writing a well organized essay. Spend about ten minutes to review each essay outline/approach).

8:00 pm – End your study and relax.

Ultimately, your success on the bar exam will not come down to counting up how many MBEs you completed or how many hours you spent memorizing the law, but instead, it will come from a combination of things – most important of which is consistency and quality in your review.

Be positive, be flexible and adhere to a regular and realistic routine. In addition, keep in mind that your goal when reviewing a topic on a given day is not necessarily to master the entire subject that day. Instead, your goal should be to gain a better understanding of the topic that day and to recognize that you will need to repetitively review every topic over a period of time (two months is typical) in order to truly master it.

Above all, work at maintaining a positive attitude. This will be much easier to do if you begin with realistic goals. And, should you find yourself spending hours and hours in a 150 page outline for one topic (I DO NOT RECOMMEND SPENDING HOURS REVIEWING LENGTHY OUTLINES) consider using a much more condensed version for that subject.

Good luck to you!

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

 

California Bar Exam: Free How To Pass The California Bar Exam Workshop on December 5, 2013

Hello, we are offering a second free, “How To Pass The California Bar Exam” Workshop on Thursday, December 5, 2013.

“How to Pass the February 2014 California Bar Exam Workshop” - THURSDAY, December 5th from 7:00 pm to 9:30 pm. Orange, California

Learn how to write for the California bar examiners in our popular free workshop! Students will receive free exam writing templates, an MBE approach handout and instruction on how to write for the California Bar Examiners (applicable to both essays and the performance test). If you would like to reserve a space in this workshop, click on the registration link below. Please understand that space is limited. Our last workshop filled up very quickly. Reservations will be provided on a first-come, first-serve basis.

We look forward to helping you pass the California bar exam!

 Click here to make your reservation

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