For those of you taking the February bar exam, visit FebruaryBarExam.com for the most up to date information on registering for the February bar exam. Visitors will find information on all states’ bar exam filing dates and keep abreast of news affecting those taking the bar exam.
Thank you for following the blog and for your patience this February regarding the expected Bar Exam Predictions. We had a record turn out in our class sessions and this “guru” has been very busy. I hope that the materials available on this blog are helpful (see some of the “freestuff” if you haven’t already for downloads). Also, I will make additional handouts and a few recommended essays for your review (based upon my “predictions”) available. Please understand that my enrolled students expect me to provide this information to them first.
About my “predictions” I do not claim to be able to predict what will be tested on the California bar exam. Nor do I recommend that you study based upon anyone’s predictions. However, I do think it can be helpful to know of some possible essay scenarios when going into the bar exam. I base the essay scenarios that I come up with based upon the following: 1) historically favorite areas for testing by the California Bar Examiners, 2) areas that have not been tested on the bar exam for some time (Criminal Law MURDER, for example) and 3) just my gut and my experience with the exam over the past twenty plus years.
What I think is very possible to show up on the exam: First of all, you should know (if you do not already) that any topic can be tested on the essays AND that generally at least two topics (and I don’t just mean Professional Responsibility) will repeat from one bar exam round to the very next. And, some topics repeat three or more times back to back. For example, Community Property was just tested three times in a row and is still fair game on this upcoming bar exam.
But, what am I leaning towards? I think you could see a Property essay. If you were to see Property on the essay I would be prepared for a few different scenarios: Covenants (either of the promise type that generally is tested in conjunction with Equitable Servitudes) or in the General Warranty Deed context. These are both completely different areas, but neither have shown up in some time on the California bar exams. So, how could these be tested? First of all, you should be mindful of the fact that one of the most popular areas of testing on the essay in Property is the area of Landlord/Tenant. This area allows for a nice cross-over with Covenants and Equitable Servitudes. Remember that one of the key distinctions between Covenants and Equitable Servitudes is that Covenants are enforceable at law (meaning you can get money damages) while Equitable Servitudes are enforceable at equity and therefore your likely remedy would be an injunction. I do think that Remedies will show up somewhere on your bar exam and this type of essay would satisfy that as well (the injunction as a remedy).
If you were to see the covenants that go along with a General Warranty Deed then you would need to see something on your essay exam that deals with a landsale contract. One possible scenario would be a situation where there is an Easement (or purported easement) and the issue becomes whether or not the Easement is valid, and if so, is it valid against a subsequent purchaser (in other words, does “buyer” take the land subject to the easement)? This would likely take you into a discussion of the present and future covenants, notice (actual notice, constructive/record notice and inquiry notice) and possibly recording statutes (I know, everyone’s favorite). But, if it were me taking this next bar exam, I would review these areas and make sure that you have it down. It is also helpful to see examples in past essays for how these areas come up. I will make essays available to anyone who would like to sign up for our Bar Exam Tips List.
Criminal Law: Criminal Law has certainly been tested quite a bit over the years. However, what has not been tested in many years is a Criminal Law Murder exam. See earlier posts with our approach for writing a murder essay. Of course I do not know if murder will show up on this bar exam. But, it is certainly a topic that I think is overdue. So make sure you are comfortable with it and be clear on your defenses. We have not seen the insanity tests tested in a very long time either.
Other possible topics: Wills or Business Organizations or both. If you were to see Wills, I think the area of pretermitted heirs (child or spouse) is highly testable as are the concepts of integration, incorporation by reference and acts of legal significance and dependent relative revocation. Of course the rules are very important. But, in my experience, the difficulty for students is not in knowing the rules, but in knowing when these issues arms (how these issue show up on an essay) and knowing that you are expected to discuss many things rather than approaching the essay from the standpoint of discussing only provable, definite issues. You should include in your answer those things that you are dismissing – and – showing the bar exam grader your thought process and why you are dismissing that particular issue. You will see from a review of past bar exam essays and released answers that the bar examiners embrace answers that discuss many options, many issues per area, not just the ball park issues.
I will add more about what I think could come up if Business Organizations were to be tested. But, always consider that Professional Responsibility is a common cross over with anything in Partnerships or Corporations. And, a recent favorite of the bar examiners has been the area of: a lawyer assisting a non-lawyer in the unlicensed practice of law.
If Torts were to repeat: If you were to see a Torts exam, I would expect to possibly see a Tort Remedies essay or perhaps Defamation. Other areas we have not seen in a very long time in Torts include: Nuisance (which makes a great gateway for a Tort Remedies exam) and the process torts (Abuse of Process and Malicious Prosecution – which can make for a great cross-over with Negligence – yes, negligence could repeat again – or Professional Responsibility). The point is that you should not dismiss any topic and you especially should not dismiss topics that were just tested in July thinking that you will not see these topics repeat on the February bar exam.
More tomorrow: I will post more tomorrow about what I think could show up on Tuesday or Thursday’s essays.
As always, I wish everyone who is taking the bar exam the best of luck. There is still time to resolve problem areas in your favor. Stay calm, be confident and recognize that it is absolutely normal to feel anxious in these days leading up to the exam. I will be posting daily from here on out and will add to these predictions by tomorrow.
I will be sending out tips as usual on our Bar Exam Tips List that we will make sign ups available tomorrow or you can send us your name and email address to us at: email@example.com. You will also be able to sign up here on the blog tomorrow.
All the best,
All the best of luck to those who are waiting for bar results for the July 2014 bar exam!
For those of you who are preparing for the February 2015 bar exam, we have released our February 2015 Bar Exam Cram Session Schedule. We will conduct three separate Bar Exam Cram Sessions for the February 2015 Bar Exam. The dates are as follows (click on dates below for more information and to register):
The Two Day Bar Exam Cram Sessions provide a condensed review of all bar tested topics and provide students with a tried and true approach for each essay tested topic. We tell you what you need to know, including what to write, when to write it, how much time to spend on particular issues and provide you with a proven approach to success on the California Bar Exam. You receive a complete set of The Bar Exam Cram Sheets, a study plan for the final ten days leading up to the bar exam and all of the Bar Exam Guru’s predictions and email updates up through the bar exam. See the links above for more detailed course information.
Stay tuned for more information about our February 2015 Civil Procedure MBE Maximizer Program, Score Maximizer Program and Writing Maximizer Program.
All the best to everyone waiting for bar results!
http://www.barexamcramsession.com and http://www.barnonereview.com
Thank you for following the blog, thank you for taking the Bar Exam Guru past half a million views! I am grateful for the following and look forward to providing more tips!
Our next free, “How to Pass the California Bar Exam Workshop” will be held on Thursday, May 22, 2014 in Los Angeles. Stay tuned . . . I will post a link for examinees to sign up online.
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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!
The California bar has released their “selected answers” to the February 2013 bar exam.
You can view and download the February 2013 released answers here.
All the best to all who are studying for the July 2013 bar exam!
If you failed the February 2013 bar exam, you should know that you are not alone. The complete statistics will be available on the California bar website soon. Each year, pass rates for the February bar exams are usually lower than the pass rates for July. Typically, the February bar exam pass rates range between 39% and 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
Our next free “How To Pass The California Bar Exam Workshop” will be held on May 22nd. We will host additional workshops, but we always suggest that you attend as soon as possible to allow yourself the greatest opportunity to benefit from the strategies and techniques covered in our workshops. Here are the details for next week’s workshop:
Los Angeles County Workshop
“How to Pass the California Bar Exam”
Date: Wednesday, May 22nd from 7:00 pm to 9:30 pm
Instructor: Professor Duncanson
Location: Los Angeles, California (adjacent to the 405 freeway, parking is free)
Workshop attendees will receive handouts (including free bar exam writing templates and MBE handouts), instruction on how to write for the California bar examiners, test taking strategies and techniques, how to simply make sense of failing and move forward as well has have an opportunity to meet with our course instructor. This workshop will be taught by Professor Duncanson (Bar None Review Bar Review course founder and author of The Bar Exam Guru Blog).
Space is limited. To make a reservation for this workshop, please contact us via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org or you may call us at: (213) 529-0990 or (949) 891-8831.
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 email@example.com. 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 leave a comment here on my blog or to email me directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Good luck in your studies!
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