Bar Exam Tip: Bar Exam Predictions, Criminal Law Murder

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Hello Everyone,

Thank you again for following the blog. We are almost at 700,00 site visits, so thank you!

I have not yet released my predictions publicly, but I will. Please understand that my enrolled students get access to the predictions first. Our last Bar Exam Cram Session on July 18th and 19th will be the last time we release predictions in our classroom setting. At that point all of our students will have my predictions. Once our students have had an opportunity to have the predictions, I will begin releasing these publicly on the site. It will likely be (as always) the week before the bar exam. For more information about our last Bar Exam Cram Session, click here, we still have some spots left.

In the meantime, however, I wanted to post an approach for Criminal Law Murder. I personally think that Criminal Law Murder is due. While Criminal Law has been tested several times in recent years (including showing up back to back on two consecutive bar rounds), the bar examiners have not tested Criminal Law Murder in several years. So, I think it is safe to say that it is coming soon.

First, a few words about my “predictions” . . .

I can not predict what will be on the bar exam. I have had a lot of luck in making the predictions that I make. I am glad of that. I spend a great deal of time reviewing several years of past exams and put in a lot of effort to come up with these predictions. However, no one can predict the bar exam. And, whatever you hear about predictions, you should NOT study based upon predictions. That being said, I think it is helpful to think about possible essay scenarios that might be a bit more likely to show up on the bar exam because these areas have not been tested in some time.

Also, understand – my theory and philosophy towards the bar exam is to be ready for anything – I firmly believe that is the best way to prepare. So, whether or not Criminal Law Murder shows up on the bar exam this July 2015, you want to walk into the bar exam prepared to write a Criminal Law Murder Essay. That is how you want to prepare for the bar exam.

The following is from an earlier post that I wrote covering the basic murder approach that we have seen traditionally embraced by the California bar examiners. You may have come across this post earlier if you have been searching through older posts. If so, this will be familiar to you – either way it is a good refresher.

Incidentally, if murder were to show up on the exam on day one or day three of the July 2015 bar exam, then I would not be surprised if it were crossed over with some of the lesser tested areas of Criminal Procedure. We have not seen any 8th Amendment issues in some time (see the “Free Stuff” page for a free download of an exam template for this area) and we also have not seen much testing of the 6th Amendment areas of void dire (peremptory challenges, right to an impartial jury, etc.). So these areas could easily be tested this bar round. Evidence is also an area that can repeat and sometimes we see it as a cross-over with Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure (and if you read my post from a few days ago – we have seen it tested with Wills and Community Property as a cross over with marital and spousal privileges).

It is this simple – as I have always maintained over the many years of writing this blog – the bar examiners can test anything on any bar exam round. I do not say this to send you into a panic. It is simply true. As a result, there will be topics that you are hoping for and there will probably be a few you hope not to get – that is the nature of the bar exam. But, you can do it, do NOT give up no matter what you see on the exam. And, remember, you have time to prepare adequately.

The bar exam is still weeks away. I know it does not seem like much time. But, if you use it effectively, then you can absolutely prepare in time. Our students in our last Bar Exam Cram Session generally come in without any approaches to the bar exam and yet, they are able to take the approaches we provide in class and memorize these and write the bar exam using these approaches. So, you have time now to start working on these things. I had to come up with my own approaches to the essays because the commercial bar prep companies at that time were not providing essay approaches. In fact, they still don’t. If I can come up with my own, you can too. Take control over your own bar studies and make certain you prepare from here on forward in such a way that you will know how to write any essay that you face. And, remember you should prepare for every topic, because any topic could come up.

YOU NEED TO HAVE AN APPROACH FOR EACH TOPIC

As a bar taker you will undoubtedly walk into the bar exam and have a very good grasp of the rules for Murder. However, it is very important that you are able to make your way through all of the necessary points efficiently and in a manner that the grader will recognize as a passing or above passing answer. This requires an essay approach. You should walk into the bar exam with approaches to every topic (each bar subject has either one approach or several. For example, Contracts really only has one approach – the approach for Contracts is essentially the same regardless of the Contracts essay, the only differences being whether you write on the Common Law of Contracts only or if you have a UCC exam. On the other hand, Torts has several approaches – a defamation approach, a products liability approach, a negligence approach a torts/remedies approach and a miscellaneous torts approach. I will do my best to write more on these topics as I have time).

DO YOU KNOW HOW TO START WRITING AN ESSAY

My point is that there is a lot you can do to effectively prepare for the bar exam now so that on exam day you know exactly what to do, what to write, how to start you essay, etc.. You should NOT be trying to figure this out on exam day. If you are in that position, you are likely to fail. So please take it upon yourself to prepare NOW for these situations. You know that you are going to have to write essays – so figure out ahead of time how you will start each topic.

Here is a quick, basic essay approach for murder. (Note that you should use a lot of headings and have a physical structure that evidences your approach – this will give the graders a sense that you actually know what you are talking about and it will make your essay far more appealing to read, it will appear organized and it will make it easier for you to write your answer because you have an approach).

APPROACH FOR HANDLING A CRIMINAL LAW MURDER QUESTION

First address: Common Law Murder – Common Law Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought. Malice aforethought is proven four ways: 1) intent to kill, 2) intent to inflict great bodily injury, 3) depraved heart killings, and 4) felony murder.

(Address the above and then if you have a felony murder issue, prove up the underlying felony (BARRKS – Burglary, Arson, Robbery, Rape, Kidnapping or Sodomy – incidentally, if this area is tested, the examiners may not test one of the above common law inherently dangerous felonies – watch out for a dangerous felony like drug trafficking or another dangerous (but not enumerated as a FMR felony) felony – it forces you to reach a bit and explain that the prosecutor could charge the defendant for felony murder on the basis that it was an inherently dangerous felony, but not a common law enumerated (BARRKS) felony)

Then move onto:

Statutory Degrees of Murder

First Degree Murder: First degree murder is the intentional killing with malice aforethought, premeditation and deliberation. (here do not spend all day on defining or explaining premeditation or deliberation – it either was premeditated and deliberate (lying in wait, planned, thought out etc.) or it wasn’t – address the issue and conclude and move on).

Second Degree Murder (here is the quick way: “all murders that are not first degree are second degree unless mitigated down to some form of manslaughter”).

Manslaughter

There are two types of manslaughter (Voluntary and Involuntary). If you know right away that the facts support a heat of passion killing, then address that first under Manslaughter as: Voluntary Manslaughter. (By the way, anytime there is a fight that results in a death – you should address heat of passion/voluntary manslaughter)

Voluntary Manslaughter: is a killing that would be murder but for the existence of adequate provocation and insufficient cooling time. (there are elements here that you could develop, but, the reality is that if you have a cross over exam and it involves a full murder discussion – from common law murder to manslaughter, then you simply do not have a lot of time. So spend your time focusing on whether what happened would arouse the passions of reasonable person to kill AND whether or not the person did not have time to cool).

Involuntary Manslaughter: A killing is involuntary manslaughter if it was committed with criminal negligence or during the commission of an unlawful act.

There is also the concept of Misdemeanor Manslaughter Rule – it is simply an accidental killing that occurs while the defendant is engaged in a non-dangerous felony or misdemeanor.

Obviously there are defenses like: Intoxication, Insanity (know the four tests as best you can – this has not been tested in years), self defense, defense of others etc. that can all word to either relieve the defendant of liability for common law murder and reduce the crime down to some form of manslaughter. Keep in mind the above is a basic approach. But, sometimes that is really the best thing to have in your head on the day of the exam. You should have a framework or basic approach and then allow yourself the freedom to write your answer based on the particular fact pattern you face.

Thank you again for following the blog!

Lisa Duncanson

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

Bar Exam Tip: What Should You Do for the Final Four Weeks of the July 2015 Bar Exam

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Hello Everyone,

The bar exam is one month away! So now what? You are studying and the pressure is mounting because you have only four weeks left. It is critical that you maximize the time you have left. This is the time (now) that can often make or break a bar round. By that I mean if you really take control over your studies right now, you have the time to accomplish whatever it is you need to accomplish in order to pass. What that is exactly – for you – may be different than it is for someone else. For example, how are your MBEs? How many have you done so far? If you are getting less than 70% in practice, then you have some work to do and you need to get on it quickly. This is one of the reasons that I am NOT a fan of the one-size, fits-all kind of daily assignments that students get with most commercial bar prep companies. You need a plan for your studies from here on out so that you make the most of these next four weeks.

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 July 2015 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” are, in my opinion, 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. If you happen to be taking a program that has provided you with a very long set of assignments for each day and you are having trouble keeping up with this schedule – then you owe it to yourself to do something about it – while you still have time. I get calls and emails all of the time from students who are now a month away from the bar exam and are days and weeks behind what their bar prep provider has told them they should be doing. This is not a good feeling at all.

If you are in this position, then you need to do something about it. Make a plan for yourself – one that works for you, for your schedule, your availability and is tailored to your needs (we all have a pretty good sense of where our strengths and weaknesses lie). So who better to develop a study plan for yourself than – you!

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

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Hello all, 

We still have a few spots left in this evening’s workshop.  This is not just our everyday free, “How to Pass the California Bar Exam Workshop” 

Instead, tonight’s workshop will provide a few significant bonuses!

As a bonus, what will be different about this workshop?
  • I will address the Performance Test (including how to maximize points on this portion of the exam, how to start organized and stay organized on the PT so that you can write a passing or better than passing answer)
  • I will give out my first set of bar exam predictions to you live in class.
To register, click on this link: 

This workshop is our last free workshop prior to the July 2015 bar exam! I will teach the same coverage with respect to how to pass the California bar exam. However, I will also spend time on how to properly approach the Performance Test and will give out my first set of predictions live.

***Parking is free. But to take advantage of free parking, please use the valet parking at the hotel and we will provide you with validation. Space is limited. 

Final Free Workshop for July 2015 – How to Pass the California Bar Exam with Emphasis on the Performance Test

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For those of you preparing for the July 2015 bar exam, I wanted to let you know that I will be teaching one more free, “How to Pass the California Bar Exam” Workshop this Monday, June 15th.

As usual, the workshops will focus on how to pass the California Bar Exam. However, as a bonus and because we had to reschedule our last free workshop, I will be spending time on the Performance Test as well and I will be giving out my first set of exam predictions live. This workshop is free, it will be held in Los Angeles and I will be teaching.

I look forward to seeing you at this last free event prior to the July 2015 bar.

Additional features that we always provide during our free workshop, include: How to write for the California bar examiners as well as: test taking strategies, study plans, and simply how to get through this grueling exam with passing results! If you have failed the bar exam previously, this workshop is an excellent program to jumpstart your studies and to figure out how to prepare differently this time. I will also address the Civil Procedure MBE updates to the February 2015 bar exam and how to prepare for this new section of the MBEs. Space is limited, so please sign up early to secure your spot.

Los Angeles, Monday, June 15, 2015 (use link below to sign up)!

How to Pass the July 2015 California Bar Exam Workshop –  Monday, June 15, from 7:00 pm to 9:30 pm. Los Angeles, California – taught by the Bar Exam Guru! Back by popular demand, our next “How to Pass the California Bar Exam Workshop” will be held on Monday, June 15 in Los Angeles. Our workshops fill up quickly. Reservations are on a first-come, first-served basis. This workshop is our last free workshop prior to the July 2015 bar exam! I will teach the same coverage with respect to how to pass the California bar exam. However, I will also spend time on how to properly approach the Performance Test and will give out my first set of predictions live.

***Parking is free. But to take advantage of free parking, please use the valet parking at the hotel and we will provide you with validation. Space is limited. 

California Bar Exam Results: Three Days and Counting!

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Hello all, California bar exam results for the February 2015 bar exam are just three days away! I want to wish everyone who is waiting for results the very best of luck! As every bar examinee experiences, these final days are very nerve racking. No matter how well you prepared or how positive you feel about your performance on the exam – you are bound to be worried in these final days. These months of waiting are very difficult. But, these last few days are probably the hardest. it is completely normal to feel worried in these final days. The last week seems to take forever and these final days of waiting are always somehow the most difficult. But, hang in there. Your wait is almost over and good or bad, you will know and be able to plan one way or the other. All the best to all of you who are waiting. For those of you preparing for the July 2015 bar exam, I wanted to let you know that I will be teaching two free, “How to Pass the California Bar Exam” Workshops on May 20th and May 27th. Both workshops will be held in Los Angeles. The workshops will focus on writing for the California bar examiners as well as: test taking strategies, study plans, and simply how to get through this grueling exam with passing results! If you have failed the bar exam previously, this workshop is an excellent program to jumpstart your studies and to figure out how to prepare differently this time. I will also address the Civil Procedure MBE updates to the February 2015 bar exam and how to prepare for this new section of the MBEs. Space is limited, so please sign up early to secure your spot.

Los Angeles, Wednesday, May 20, 2015:

How to Pass the July 2015 California Bar Exam Workshop – May 20, 2015, 7:00 pm to 9:30 pm. Los Angeles, California – taught by the Bar Exam Guru! Back by popular demand, our next “How to Pass the California Bar Exam Workshop” will be held on May 20th in Los Angeles. Our workshops fill up quickly. Reservations are on a first-come, first-served basis. This workshop is free and includes free bar exam templates. Parking is free. Space is limited. Click here to make your reservation for the Los Angeles May 20th Free Workshop.

Los Angeles, Wednesday, May 27, 2015:

How to Pass the July 2015 California Bar Exam Workshop – May 27, 2015, 7:00 pm to 9:30 pm. Los Angeles, California – taught by the Bar Exam Guru! We have added a second “How to Pass the California Bar Exam Workshop” to be held on May 27th in Orange County. Our workshops fill up quickly. Reservations are on a first-come, first-served basis. This workshop is free and includes free bar exam templates. Space is limited. Parking is free. Click here to make your reservation for the Los Angeles May 27th Free Workshop. Unfortunately, we cannot make these workshops available online. However, we hope to see you in person! Incidentally, each bar round students fly in from out of the area to attend both our free workshop and our Cram Sessions. Again, all the best to everyone who is waiting for February bar results! Lisa Duncanson Program Director/Founder Bar None Review Bar Exam Cram Session (213) 529-0990 barexamcramsession.com

February 2015 California Bar Exam: What to Study for Day Three?

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Hello all,

Congratulations, you only have one more day! You are the very first group of bar examinees to ever take Civil Procedure MBEs. And, this time tomorrow night you will be done with the bar exam!  I know that many of you are anxious about what might show up on tomorrow’s essays and performance test. Hopefully this post will help ease some anxiety. That is my hope. If you feel you need more, be sure to sign up for our tips list (you can sign up below).

I promised I would provide an additional update to the “predictions” that I made earlier. So here we go:

If you have been following my blog  you may know that I will not discuss the performance test until next week as there will still be examinees taking the Performance Test this Saturday and Sunday (those examinees that are on a six day exam due to accommodations).  However, knowing what I do know about Performance Test A from day one, does not change any of my predictions that I made prior to the exam.

So, here is what I recommend you do this evening. Study . . . some. I really do think it makes a difference to do some studying the night before. Of course, this is up to you. But, I do believe that reviewing material the night before is helpful and I do think that you can still learn new material (although I hope you do not need to learn new material tonight).

Now what should you study?

1) Study any area that you fear seeing on the exam tomorrow. You do not want to walk into the exam tomorrow morning hoping that you do not see a particular topic. Also, don’t be so fearful – review that topic for a little bit and then put it away. Be confident that you will be able to figure it out well enough tomorrow should you see it tested on the essays.

2) Review the “predicted” areas (see earlier posts) and remember there is no way to predict what is going to show up tomorrow, I do not claim that I can do that at all nor do I recommend that examinees study around predictions. But, at this point, the night before the bar exam – it can not hurt to entertain some of the possible essay scenarios that could show up and give these a little thought.

Here are some of the areas I would likely consider for tomorrow:

Professional Responsibility could show up tomorrow as either an essay or on the Performance Test or both. My thoughts are it could be absent from the essays – occasionally the bar examiners skip it from the essays altogether. This is generally not the case, however, so I would prepare as though Professional Responsibility is going to be on one of the essays tomorrow.

Constitutional Law (possibly Dormant Commerce Clause) could come up – please read earlier posts for details. Review my earlier posts and  review the handout we provided (through Bar Exam Tips Emails) for approaching the Constitutionality of a state or federal statute. There is a particular approach for this that the bar examiners embrace – and – it is different depending upon whether you are asked to evaluate a state law or a federal law. Keep in mind that in addition to your typically required State Action and Case or Controversy requirements (standing, ripeness, mootness, and must not involve a political question) that when evaluating a state statute you need to address whether the state (or subdivision of the state – county, city, etc.) has the power to act. The power for the state to act would need to stem from those reserved to the state via the Tenth Amendment (states can regulate on behalf of the morals, health, welfare, education or safety of its citizens). There are several remaining steps depending upon the type of regulation that is at issue – assuming you end up facing a Constitutional Law essay tomorrow – it would be a good idea to be prepared for how to approach these areas. If you would like a free copy of our handout for Evaluating the Constitutionality of a State or Federal Law, just add our tips list below and we will send it out. Incidentally, this handout/approach covers how to handle a dormant commerce clause essay – since that IS a state law that is affecting interstate commerce in such a way that might place an undue burden on interstate commerce (that is the issue that comes up in the even that you have a dormant commerce clause exam).

Wills – either alone or crossed over with something else (Trusts, Community Property for example). I think Wills is very possible. Of course, there is NO WAY to predict what will show up on tomorrow’s essays or performance test. If, however, you were to see a Wills essay, the areas of integration, incorporation by reference and acts of independent legal significance are frequently tested (and often – believe it or not – come up together depending upon the essay fact pattern). Also commonly tested in Wills are issues with respect to an omitted or pretermitted heir. Ademption by extinction is also a frequent flyer. Be sure to know these rules so you are comfortable dealing with these areas.

If you do see Wills on the bar exam tomorrow, you may or may not be faced with determining the validity of a will – but if you are – and there is a prior will – then you need to address Dependent Relative Revocation (regardless of whether it will effectively revive a prior will or not – if it is ineffective – then address it and explain why DRR will not work – this is the stuff that passing (and better than passing essays are made of).

What if Criminal Law Murder shows up on an essay tomorrow? If it were me taking the exam tomorrow, I would make sure I reviewed the tests for Insanity Defenses – past bar exam answers instruct us that perfection with respect to the rule statements is not the most important thing and that your ability instead it is 1) your ability to correctly identify the issues and 2) your ability to have a thorough discussion and detailed analysis that is paramount. But, obviously, you will be most comfortable writing in any area if you have a really good grasp of the rules. The tests for insanity have not been tested in several years – so I would give that a quick review and do your best to make sure that you can discuss all four should it be presented on tomorrow’s exam.

What if you were to be tested on Torts again (it was on the July bar exam) – then I would not be surprise if Torts came up as either a cross over with Remedies or if you were to see Defamation or perhaps some of the miscellaneous tort issues (again – review my prior posts from this week – and understand – Torts is not on my list of “most likelies” – just understand that you should be prepared for anything).

Don’t forget that subjects repeat – so far Contract Remedies repeated from July 2014 to February 2015 – anything else from July 2014 can still repeat (read my prior posts about this – even Contract Remedies from day one could repeat). Torts from the last bar round (which was Negligence) could repeat – take a look at Torts, do not dismiss it or assume it can not be tested.

For other possible topic areas for testing, review my prior posts from earlier this week.

3) if you haven’t already, sign up for our tips list and I will send out our predictions and revised predictions to you via email. We will continue to send this out through this evening as long as possible).

You can sign up for our revised predictions and tips list here:

What else should I do?

Do your best to relax. You have just been through two very long and intense days. You need to have your wits about you for tomorrow. Focus on things that will help you and avoid things that will be counterproductive. What would be counterproductive? Dwelling on how you did (or did not do) on day one’s essays or performance test, talking about what you wrote on day one . . . this will not help, and it generally only leads to more anxiety which is not helpful.

Try to get some decent sleep.

If you can get a decent night’s sleep tonight that would obviously be great. But, recognize it may not be possible and simply be okay with that. Don’t dwell on the fact that you can’t sleep, just try your best to rest. At all times, be positive and keep a good frame of mind. You will do better for it tomorrow.

Don’t give up.

Absolutely do not give up. This test is often as much about perseverance as it is about your studies. And, let’s face it, to study well over a protracted period of time definitely requires perseverance. You graduated from law school For some, perhaps a few, that is relatively easy. But, for most, it takes a lot of dedication and perseverance. So you have this skill, use it tomorrow. Don’t let the test get to you.

Be positive.

This is so important. Tell yourself you are going to succeed. Actively work at being positive. Choose to be positive. Only you can make this choice, I highly recommend it.

Use Headings!

Your exam answer should be attractive and look organized. This should not be news to you, but if it is, be sure to use headings on your exams tomorrow. Let your headings to the heavy lifting for you! Make your exam answer easy to follow.

Write your heart out tomorrow!

The exam graders can not grade or give you points for what never makes it to the page. Whether you are using a laptop or handwriting, be sure to write as much as possible. Be sure to explain your reasoning. If you are dismissing an issue, I recommend that you dismiss it on your answer rather than leaving it off of your exam because you dismissed it in your head. Remember, the grader won’t know if you left an issue off because you chose to dismiss it or because you simply forgot.

I will continue to update this blog tomorrow, so stay tuned if you wish.

All the best of luck tomorrow!

Lisa Duncanson

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

California Bar Exam: What to Expect on Day Three’s Essays

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Hello all,

Hopefully you are getting some rest (as I am writing this, it is about 1:00 am, before your MBE day). I want to congratulate you again on being done with day one of the California bar exam! Also, thank you again to all who wrote in about what was tested today. I really appreciate your taking the time during your break to write to me, thank you.

And, one more thing, thank you again for following my blog. We have had over 650,000 views now and I am truly humbled (and grateful) for the following here. And, I do answer questions, as much as I can, so if you have a question, please feel free to ask. You can either reply to any of the Bar Exam Tips Lists emails or, if you have yet to sign up for the Bar Exam Tips List (it is not too late, by the way) you can ask me a question in the “comments or questions” field – I do actually read all of your emails and I will do my best to respond to you as quickly as I can.

Okay, it is truly my hope that right now you are sleeping. If you are not sleeping, then I hope you are at least resting. Pulling an all-nighter studying is NOT what I would recommend.

For most of you (all who are taking the general bar exam) you will be taking the MBEs on day two. I mention this simply because some reading this blog are taking the exam over six days and some as attorney takers do not have to take the MBEs on day two.

If you are taking the MBEs on day two, then here are some recommendations:

1) You might want to consider simply completing five or ten MBEs in the am to shake of the dust so to speak. I would not recommend that you necessarily even score these MBEs, but just consider taking a few as a way of putting your mindset back into this part of the exam. If you do decide to check your answers (I probably wouldn’t if it were me on the day of the MBEs) do not worry about your actual percentage correct of the five or ten you did. Instead, if you did well – choose to see that as indicative of your likely performance for the rest of the day and if you did not do well, then simply dismiss it as not at all dispositive of how you are going to do on the actual exam. Do you see what I am driving at? An absolutely, 100 percent POSITIVE attitude. This is a necessity (in my opinion) for success on the bar exam. An equally acceptable thing to do prior to the MBEs in the morning would be to do nothing. Or, review a few flashcards – it really doesn’t matter so much what you do in the am right before other than YOUR believing that what you are doing in those moments leading up to the first 100 MBEs is the right thing for YOU to be doing.

2) Expect to not see a correct answer choice and expect this to be the case often. No one that I know of (past student or blog follower – and I have spoken with and worked with thousands of examinees over the years) leaves the MBE feeling like they absolutely nailed it and that for every MBE they felt they were always picking the correct answer. Some feel better about the MBEs than others. But, for the most part, examinees leave this portion of the exam feeling as though they need to really kick it into gear on the remaining essays and PTs in order to pass. So what does this really mean? It means that the MBEs are hard, very hard. I know, you didn’t need me to tell you that – nothing really new. BUT, what is significant is this: you need to be prepared (in my opinion) for feeling like you are not doing very well on the MBEs and you simply need to get through it, be tough and know that if it is difficult for you, then it is also difficult for nearly everyone else.

Do NOT let this test get the better of you. This is a choice that you have to make facing the entire test – that you will remain positive and optimistic about your chances and that you will not let this beast of an exam shake your confidence in your ability to pass. That is half the battle.

3) When you are done with today’s MBEs, take a little bit of a break so that you are able to release the physical tension that builds up over the course of the day of taking MBEs. Go for a walk outside if you can, take a dinner break and eat something healthy and relax, take a bath – whatever will help you decompress both mentally and physically from the day of testing. Of course, this is limited – you really can’t just let it all go, and you really should consider doing some review for the following day’s essays. But, do try to do something(s) to put the day behind you.

What to do for day three’s essays/what to expect?

First, really anything could be tested on day three’s essays – even a topic that you already saw today. For example, in past bar rounds Contract/Remedies was tested on day one on the essays and then it showed up again on day three’s essays as a cross over with Tort/Remedies (so it was part Contract/Contract Remedies and part Torts/TortsRemedies). This is pretty unusual and it threw most you can be sure. But, you should know it is possible. Do I suggest spending a bunch of time on Remedies for Thursday? No, but I would definitely not put it completely behind you – spend a few minutes reviewing it enough that if you had to address the basic concepts and to address injunction for example, that you would be able to do so.

So far everything that was tested on Day One’s Essays was absolutely expected – there were no surprises.

Day three is harder to predict. But, I still think you could see a Criminal Law Murder exam (see my earlier posts from this week regarding the other areas I posted as suggested areas of study – I still stand by these based upon what was tested on day one). I would definitely consider giving a little bit of time to Wills (either as a solo topic or crossed over with Trusts) as well as the area of Business Organizations – although, I do not necessarily think that you will see both of these topics show up – I DO think that either Wills or Business Organizations is about equally likely of showing up. So be prepared for both topics.

As I stated previously (both here on the blog and in the tips list emails sent out so for for this bar round) Constitutional Law (Dormant Commerce Clause) is still on my list of possibilities as are: Evidence or even Community Property (again, and this would be the fourth time in a row) but, if Community Property, then I would expect it as a crossover with something else (understand – I am not “predicting” Community Property, I am just re-iterating that the examiners can test in any area (whether that area was tested recently or not).

The real issue is, since you did not see a Professional Responsibility Essay on Day One, whether you will see it as an essay on Day Three. Most would say yes, and I would tend to generally agree with this as it is historically the case to almost always see at least one essay on the exam that tests Professional Responsibility. But, it is not guaranteed. What is guaranteed is that Professional Responsibility will show up somewhere on the written portion of the bar exam. Sometimes this means that Professional Responsibility shows up on both days of the essays (the February 2008 bar exam tested a straight Professional Responsibility essay on day one and then tested Professional Responsibility again on one of the essays on day three – but as a cross over with Business Organizations). Some bar rounds it shows up on both a PT and an essay and some rounds it only shows up on one or both of the PTs. So this is an unknown. Understand, that I do not discuss the Performance Tests until the conclusion of the bar exam (which for some examinees is not until the end of the day on Sunday).

If you signed up earlier this week for our February 2015 Bar Exam Tips List, you would have received sample essays and answers (one of which was quite similar to what was tested today in Property – so I am told). I also sent out a Dormant Commerce Clause essay, two in fact) and other handouts. These are still available (up through this Thursday). If you would like to receive these, simply sign up for the Bar Exam Tips List by completing the form below.

Thank you again for following my blog. I truly am humbled by the following, by your emails (which I do personally respond to and enjoy doing) and kind words you have shared. Thank you.

Remember, believe in yourself and do not let this test get the better of you.

All the best on the MBEs (for those of you taking this portion) and on the rest of the exam. I will be writing more soon. As always, I appreciate any feedback, questions or comments you have.

Sincerely,

Lisa Duncanson