California Bar Exam: Free Workshop

Leave a comment

Hello all,

Thank you for following the Bar Exam Guru blog! We have now had over 870,000 views. I am humbled and grateful for your following.

If you are taking the February 2017 bar exam, you will not want to miss out on our upcoming free, “How to Pass the California Bar Exam” Workshop on November 22, 2016 from 7:00 pm to 9:30 pm. This session will be held in Los Angeles.

Class fills up quickly, so be sure to reserve your space as soon as possible.

Students will receive a free copy of our Guide to Passing the California Bar Exam as well as free bar exam writing templates. The workshop will provide substantive coverage on how to successfully write for the California bar examiners. Get answers to when and where you should include California distinctions, how long is a typical passing essay answer, learn the proper form and structure of a solidly passing essay.  And, as time allows, we will discuss strategies for the Performance Test and the MBE.

Come and learn how to develop a plan for succeeding on the February 2017 bar exam. Space is limited. Reserve your space today!

BNR Classroom Image

What Should I do if I just failed the July 2016 bar exam?

Leave a comment

What should you do if you just failed the bar exam?

If you have failed the bar exam, keep in mind that you are in good company. The bar exam is not an IQ test. Many very bright and hardworking examinees fail the exam. As devastating as this experience is, it is important to start thinking about what you need to do next. Below are some tips and suggestions. Above all, don’t lose heart.

1) Get past being devastated as quickly as possible – I know this sounds really harsh, but the sooner you are able to get back on track and develop a plan for passing – and yes, start studying again – the better. Those that do, have the best chance of passing the next exam.

2) Find out why you failed – this starts by getting your scores back from the bar. The bar will automatically mail score sheets to all examinees who failed the bar. This usually takes 1 – 3 days after bar results come out. When you get your scores, don’t panic and don’t make assumptions about any one section. You will receive raw scores and scaled scores. Take the time to read the materials that come with your score sheet that explain the raw and scaled scores. See also, other posts on this blog about making it to re-read and interpreting bar scores. And, if you need help interpreting your scores, you can get it free through Bar None Review – contact me (Lisa Duncanson) directly at: (Note: I offer this on a first come, first serve basis and for a limited time. To participate you must send a copy of your actual score sheet, including your name and a phone number where you can be reached). For more information on what to expect if you have just learned you were unsuccessful on the bar exam, click here.

3) Commit to taking and passing the next exam – in almost every case, I would recommend taking the very next bar exam. Obviously there are sometimes reasons to sit out a bar exam administration – but in most cases, the best advice is to take the very next exam. Think about it, the material seems like it has fallen out of your head right now – just think how hard it will be to put it all back together if you wait another six months – that would be a whole year since your last review – not a good plan.

4) Attend our free workshop –  I will be teaching a free, How to Pass the California Bar Exam workshop this Tuesday, November 22nd in Los Angeles. Students will receive a free copy of our Guide to Passing the California Bar Exam as well as free bar exam writing templates. The workshop will provide substantive coverage on how to successfully write for the California bar examiners, how to develop a plan for succeeding on the February 2017 bar exam, tips for writing Performance Tests and strategies and tactics for success on the bar exam. Space is limited. Click here to reserve your space in the November 22, 2017 workshop.

5) Develop a plan of attack – Your plan might include taking another bar review course, hiring a tutor, or continuing your studies on your own. There are many courses available (assuming you already tried barbri) that cater to different needs – small classes, private tutorials. Do your research and due diligence before enrolling in a course. Ask for references, ask to see the course materials before enrolling, make sure the bar review provider is a good fit for your needs. And, don’t abandon your common sense – if it sounds too good to be true – it probably is. But, whatever you do (take a course or study on your own) make a plan – figure out how many hours you will study each day, where you will study, how long will you have to review each topic, how many essays you will write each week, how many MBEs you will do each day, how many PTs you will write – figure it out, map it out and develop a plan. For tips on how to create a study plan, click here.

6) Work hard – no matter how hard you worked the first time, you are going to have to work just that hard again. And, if in your honest assessment of your prior bar studies you conclude that you did not work hard enough – well then you are going to have to work harder and smarter. There simply is no magic bullet.


Lisa Duncanson

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

Free How to Pass the CA Bar Exam Workshop!


Hello all,


It is that time of year again and we are offering our free “How to Pass the California Bar Exam Workshop” to be held on November 22, 2016 from 7:00 pm to 9:30 pm.

This free workshop covers how to write for the California bar examiners as well as strategies and techniques for the MBE portion of the exam. Attendees receive a free copy of our Guide to Passing the California Bar Exam as well as bar exam writing templates for selected topics, free MBE handouts, and will have the opportunity to meet with the Bar Exam Guru (that’s me)! I will be teaching this workshop. As time permits, I will also address the Performance Test portion of the bar exam as well as a preview of some of my predictions for the February 2017 bar exam!

Space is limited. Click here to register now. I look forward to meeting you!

All the best to those of you who are waiting for July 2016 bar results! Good luck on November 18th!


Lisa Duncanson
Bar Exam Guru and Founder/Program Director
Bar None Review and Bar Exam Cram Session

California Bar Releases July 2016 Bar Exam Questions


Hello All,

Today the California State Bar released the essays and performance tests from the July 2016 bar exam. Click here to view the July 2016 California bar exam questions. From my initial review of the essays, I can say that the exam seems straightforward. However, this is not to say that it should have felt like a walk in the park. While the fact patterns were pretty straightforward (nothing unusual) and the issue coverage consistent with what the bar examiners have tested in past years, there were areas that would be tricky if you have not seen a lot of bar exam essays. But, given the proper preparation, the essays would be very doable. One of the keys to success on the essays is exposure to past bar exam essays. This is essential as it is one of the best ways to learn what the California bar examiners are looking for and what they are actually testing on a given fact pattern (more on this in a later post).

The results for the July 2016 California bar exam will be released on Friday, November 18th. I wish all of you who are waiting for results the very best of luck! I know this week, and next, may feel like the longest weeks of your life, but it is nearly over. It is normal to feel anxious (for many, saying they are feeling “anxious” would be an understatement). Nerves and anxiety are simply at an all time high in these final days leading up to the bar results. Hang in there, soon you will hopefully receive good news.

For those of you who are studying for the February 2017 bar exam, you will want to include extensive review of past bar exam essays. This is critical not only to learn what the bar examiners are looking for, but also to improve your understanding of the tested issues and topics. And, no, it is not too early to start studying for the February 2017 bar exam. For those of you who are studying for the February 2017 bar exam, our next free “How to Pass the California Bar Exam Workshop” will be held on November 22nd in Los Angeles.

Best of luck to all who are waiting on July 2016 bar exam results!

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

California Bar Exam: Congratulations on Completing Day 3!

Leave a comment

Hello All,

By the time you read this, you will be done with the California bar exam! It is such an accomplishment. I know that all the weight is given to passing this beast of a test but, you really should be proud of yourself for the accomplishment of completing one of the hardest bar exams in the country!

SHHHHH people are still taking the test . . . 

Much has been said about day one’s essays – and a bit about the performance test. As there are examinees with testing accommodations that will be taking the bar exam through Sunday, I will not be discussing the performance test at all until after all examinees have completed the bar exam.

However, I am happy to entertain questions about the essays and will continue to update the blog as I hear more about today’s essays in the coming days. Please subscribe to the blog if you would like to be notified when I post next.

So far, from what I hear was tested, everything was pretty much as expected. Constitutional Law, Community Property and Professional Responsibility showed up today. No surprises here. I did not expect to see both Constitutional Law and Criminal Law on day three (I thought it would be one or the other) because of the heavy emphasis on day one of MBE topics. Still, I thought one more MBE topic was in your future on today’s essays. So, again, no real surprises.

I have not heard much yet about the actual fact patterns from today’s essay exams. However, I thought I would include a few of the brief breakdowns that I received during the lunch break today via email and text. Understand that I have not seen the exam – but, that you have – so – if you feel something else was tested – then trust your own interpretation of the the fact patterns and recognize that there are often multiple ways to both interpret the facts and to resolve the legal issues. In other words, do not freak out over what you read here!

Here you go!

A blog follower who emailed in during the lunch break, had this to say:

“Question 1 (Constitutional Law)
Procedural due process, Standing, 11th Amendment

Question 2 (Community Property)
Validity of prenuptial agreement, Property purchased with SP in H name only, Commingled savings account, W purchased rental property from commingle account in her name only, medical bill after permanent separation but before divorce

Question 3 (Professional responsibility)
Duty of loyalty, Conflict of interest, duty of diligence, duty of confidentiality vs duty of candor”

Here are a few text messaged reports from the lunch break today (as you can see, no facts or recaps of the actual fact patterns – yet):

SM Text Essays Day Three

And another who reported in via text:

Text Essays Day Three

And another who reported in via text (starting with a little encouragement from me yesterday):

Text Day Three Essays PY

Please continue to write in with your breakdown of what you saw on the essays as the more examinees that I hear from – the better picture I will be able to piece together of what was actually tested on today’s exams.

I will continue to post here in the coming days (although, do not be surprised if I take a day or two off this weekend – you should do the same too)! Be sure to subscribe to my blog so you will get a notification when I post next.

Get some rest & do something nice for yourself and those who have supported you . . .

I am sure you are all glad to have this test behind you. I know that I am. I always tell my students that they should be at least as tired from studying as I am from prepping my students. It has been a great bar round and truly a pleasure to work with all of the wonderful students I had the good fortune to work with – thank you to everyone who enrolled in one of our programs and to everyone following my blog. Get some rest in the coming days and do something nice for yourself (and for your family – for putting up with you – nothing like being married to someone studying for the bar exam, or a girlfriend or boyfriend studying for the bar exam, or a parent housing a son or daughter studying for the bar exam – you get what I mean – show a little gratitude for their support and do something nice for them too)🙂

If you have questions, please feel free to send me an email at: or you can comment on the blog and I will reply to you here.

All the best,

Lisa Duncanson
Bar Exam Guru
Founder/Program Director
Bar None Review and The Bar Exam Cram Session

California Bar Exam: Congratulations on Finishing Day Two!

Leave a comment

Hello All,

Congratulations on completing day three of the California bar exam!

Thank you to all who have written in about the first day’s essays. There have been many examinees who have written in concerned about their performance on the Civil Procedure essay. Also, there is definitely a dispute among examinees as to whether Remedies was a feature or not on the third essay yesterday. I mention this simply to give you some perspective.

You’ve been through two grueling days so far. So, now what?

Rest, review, relax (to the degree that you can) and be positive. Also, commit to really fighting for it tomorrow. Especially if you feel that day one didn’t go as well as you had hoped – then really go for it tomorrow. You can do it!

This exam is as much about sticking it out and keeping your head above water and simply not letting the exam get to you as it is learning the material and memorizing the law.

As far as what to study this evening – look to any topic that you feel is not your best and review it (preferably a condensed version). If you feel like all subjects are essentially equal for you (in terms of your memory of the rules etc.) then, I would spend some time reviewing the topics that I have suggested in my earlier predictions. Of course, no one can predict the exam. But, if Criminal Law Murder is tested – you will want to be sure the you have the approach memorized. If Constitutional Law is tested, you will likely need to address Article III Case or Controversy requirements. Be sure you know these elements.

Above all, be positive and commit to doing your absolute best tomorrow. Fight for it. Don’t forget the reasons why you wanted to be a lawyer in the first place. Think about that and remind yourself of how much you want it.

Thank you again to all who have written in and thank you for following my blog! Please feel free to write in about tomorrow’s essays as I will continue to post about the exam in the coming days.

And, while my enrolled students come first, if you have a question, feel free to email me at and I will do my best to get back to you.

All the best to you on day three!


Lisa Duncanson, Bar Exam Guru




California Bar Exam: What’s on the Plate for Thursday?

Leave a comment

Hello all,

Thank you again for writing in with your reports of what was tested today. I promised that I would put together my thoughts on what might be more likely to show up on Thursday’s essays. Again, today’s essays were all from the “predictions” posts – so I do not have any major changes. As I believe what is most likely still comes from these areas, I recommend that you take a look at my earlier posts: Predictions, Part One and Predictions, Part Two Still, I do have some additional thoughts based upon what I have heard was tested on day one.

So here are my thoughts . . .
Generally, each bar exam you will see at least two or three (sometimes more) of the MBE topics tested on the essays. Today, based upon what I have heard, so far there were already three MBE topic tested (Civil Procedure, Property and Contract/Remedies). Incidentally, I will not be writing about the Performance Test until next week as there are examinees who have testing accommodations that will be taking today’s PT later on in the week.

So far, Contracts and Remedies appear to have repeated from the February 2016. But, typically two or three subjects will repeat from one bar round to the next. I still think that you could see something else repeat from the February 2016 bar exam. Obviously, Professional Responsibility is likely (as it is almost always tested on the essay portion of the bar exam). But, as I mentioned earlier, possibly Evidence could show up as a cross-over with another topic. For example, you could see privileges or hearsay easily as a tack on type of issue on Community Property, Wills, Criminal Law, or really most any subject. This is just something to keep in mind. Be sure to review my earlier “predictions” posts.

Remember that each bar round the examiners usually repeat two to three subjects from the prior bar exam round. I still feel that Constitutional Law or Criminal Law murder (possibly crossed with Criminal Procedure) are likely for Thursday’s essays. The thing is that if you were to see both subjects, that only leaves room for one essay that is a non-MBE topic. It is possible, but, I could easily see Thursday being Criminal Law (murder and the areas that I have suggested earlier) OR Constitutional Law (in the areas I have suggested earlier) and then a Professional Responsibility essay or Business Organizations crossed with Professional Responsibility and Wills or Community Property as a third essay for the day. I think Criminal Law and Constitutional Law are equally likely to show up on Thursday’s essays. However, what would make for a good set of essays (given what was already tested on day one) might not include two additional MBE topics appearing on day three. So, obviously, we will just have to see.

Keep in mind that anything could be tested. But, given what we have seen so far, I stand by my earlier predictions. Be sure to be prepared for any of the suggested topics and essay scenarios. But, more importantly, be sure to review any subject that you feel you need to give more attention. And, by the way, these suggestions are for tomorrow – Wednesday. I wouldn’t expect you to study tonight for Thursday’s essays. Wait until you are done with the MBEs for that.

Don’t put away the subjects that were tested today
In addition, I want to caution you that sometimes we see subjects from day one’s testing repeat on day three. I am not saying this is a great likelihood, but it has happened and you should be aware of this. It never feels good to put a subject away – thinking it will not be tested again – and then seeing it on an essay. So just be sure to still take a look at Civil Procedure, Property and Contracts and Remedies briefly as you never know. And, given that Remedies often repeats (not only from bar round to bar round, but from day one to day three) be certain to give this a little time. One of the areas that I was thinking could be tested this bar round was Remedies. It was tested today, but could come up again on Thursday. We haven’t seen testing of injunctive relief (at least not from what I have been told). So, I could certainly envision additional Remedies testing for Thursday’s essays – the bar has done it before.

How should you study for Thursday?
I do recommend studying tomorrow (Wednesday) for Thursday’s essays. However, no extreme late night studying as it is important to get some rest if you can. That being said, I have never slept much at all the night before days of the bar exam. But, I did not spend the whole night studying – I still rested my eyes and brain and did my best to try to sleep. Some review is a good idea, just don’t pull an all-nighter. You will perform far better on Thursday if you get some rest. Also, remember that you know this stuff. Basically you do. Tell yourself this and it will help your confidence tomorrow and Thursday.

Remember that anything can be tested. And, remember, no one can predict this exam. I certainly can’t. I simply think it is helpful to be reminded of essay scenarios that might come up. If nothing else, it can serve to calm your nerves. And, I am super excited that Property – with Easements in the context of a land-sale contract was tested – I felt that this area was long over due.

So, does this mean that my other predictions are more likely to show up? Not necessarily. But, I would definitely review the “predictions” again. As I mentioned earlier, there were two posts for the predictions (Predictions, Part One and Predictions, Part Two). In between, I included coverage of a basic approach to writing Criminal Law Murder exams.

I will write more tomorrow. If you haven’t already, be sure to join our tips list, below!

Sign Up Now

If you have any questions about the exam, feel free to email me at: and I will do my best to get back to you.

Congratulations again on your completion of day one of the bar exam!

All the best,

Lisa Duncanson
Bar None Review