Free California Bar Exam Workshop December 7, 2010

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Hello Everyone,

There will be a free workshop held on December 7th at 7 pm in Orange County, California. We will cover exam writing techniques for the California bar exam and strategies and techniques for the MBE. Students will also receive free bar exam writing templates. Space is limited, please email or call our office to reserve a seat in the workshop.

To reserve your space, contact Bar None Review at: (949) 891-8831 or via email at: pass@barnonereview.com

We look forward to seeing you at our next workshop! (Please note that our website updates take longer than our blog posts to appear. As a result, some of our workshops will appear on the blog before our website is updated to reflect the new workshop).

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

Bar Exam Review – Free California Bar Exam Workshop

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Hello Everyone,

Bar None Review will offer a free bar exam workshop, “How to Pass the California Bar Exam”, on December 7th in Orange, California. Students will receive free bar templates. For examples and free downloads of bar templates, see our website: Bar Exam Templates

For examples and free downloads of bar templates, see our website: Bar Exam Templates

To reserve a space in the workshop, contact Bar None Review at: (949) 891-8831 or pass@barnonereview.com

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

California Bar Exam Tip: July 2010 Bar Exam Results

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Hello All,

If you failed the July 2010 bar exam, you should know that you are not alone. The complete statistics will be available on the California bar website ( http://calbar.org) very soon. Pass rates for the July bar exams are usually between 48% and 54%. Some years have been as high as 63% (although not in recent years) and some much lower. But, the general average for the past several years is just around 50%. So, you know that if you did not pass the California bar exam this past July, that you are among a significant number of people who did not pass.

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.

Because the scoring of the California Bar Exam is scaled, it is not easy to understand what a given 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.)

Students whose scores are very consistent will likely mean that the student has a writing problem that is consistent and across the board.  This type of writing problem is generally not subject specific and once it is fixed is fixed for all topics.  For the student whose scores are more spread out and ranging, typically this student’s problems lie both in writing style as well as subject knowledge and ability to spot issues.

The first step 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.

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 point something and as high as a 63 point something – 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.

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 exam day. The test has changed. I personally took it the first time back in 1994 (I passed on the first time). The required raw number to pass the MBE portion was higher back then. But, the MBE test has changed. As a result, I retook the bar exam in February 2008 (I passed this exam also).

Here is what I learned (without violating any of the rules the NCBE requires of me and of anyone who has taken the exam – remember you are not to discuss questions, MBE fact patterns, etc.) about the MBE – it has changed from the earlier days of the test. But, it is not any more difficult than the exam I took in 1994 nor is it any easier. So what does this mean for you – well, read on.

The most obvious difference in the MBEs from the past to the present, is that the questions tend to be much shorter. But, the very same issues are tested now as were tested before. It is true that you are not going to find exact replicas of the actual test. Nor should you be able to – it simply would not be a fair exam if you were able to simply memorize a past set of MBEs and then go and pass the MBE portion. Don’t get me wrong, I am on your side. But, this is a test and it is designed (quite well) to test YOUR analytical skills. Is is so much more about that than it is about memorization (even though, of course memorization is very, very important).

At this point, if you have failed the bar exam, you should immediately get back to working on MBEs – not memorizing the law, but instead – just going right back to practicing the MBEs. We provide free handouts on how to approach the MBE portion of the exam. To receive your free copy, contact us at pass@barnonereview.com and we will send it to you.

By working on the MBEs right away, you will most likely see a return to your prior practice MBE scores (right before the bar exam) within a few weeks (without reading through a single outline or re-committing any of the law to memory – even though of course, you will also need to do that prior to the exam).

A book we highly recommend is “Strategies and Tactics for the MBE” by Walton and Emanuel, published by Aspen Publishing. Be aware that Aspen publishes two MBE books with very similar names, but each are quite different. Both are useful. However, the “Strategies and Tactics for the MBE” authored by Walton and Emanuel, is, in my opinion, is the best book you can get for the MBEs. The information on how to take the exam (strategies and tactics of the exam) as well as the explanations are excellent and far superior to any other MBE book on the market. I do not have any financial interest in this book.

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.

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 pass@barnonereview.com. We only accept scanned in score 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).

Be sure to come back to this blog as we will provide more information and advice for those of you faced with repeating the California bar exam this February. Also, be sure to review past postings as these are quite relevant (for example, study plans, how to study etc.).

Also, be sure to visit our bar review course website for more information on what to do if you are repeating the California bar exam. Our website is: barnonereview.com

Once there, select the “repeat bar examinee” button on the left side of our website. You may also want to take a look at samples of our exam writing templates (two topics are provided online for free).

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: pass@barnonereview.com

Good luck in your studies!

Sincerely,

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

Bar Exam Tip: What Should I Do If I Just Failed The Bar Exam?

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NOTE: This is a repeat of a former posting, but relevant now, if you have just received failing results. Therefore I have posted it again. Good luck to all of you who are either repeating the bar exam this February or taking the bar exam for the first time this February. Time is on your side, especially if you utilize it. Here is my earlier post about “What to do if I failed the bar exam” – Also, please visit our bar review website at: barnonereview.com

If you have failed the bar exam, keep in mind that you are in good company. Also, realize that the bar exam is not an IQ test. Many very bright and hardworking examinees fail the exam. If you have failed, you will need to do the following:

1) Get past being devastated as quickly as possible – as harsh as this sounds, you really do just need to get back to work as soon as you can. Those that do, have the best chance of passing the next exam. Start by doing MBEs.

2) This is going to hurt, but – 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 both a raw score and a scaled score. 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 barnonereview.com

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) 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.

5) 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. There simply is no magic bullet.

 

California Bar Exam Tip: What do I do if I failed the bar exam?

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Hello Everyone,

If you are a February 2011 bar exam taker you are no doubt thinking about the bar exam.  Putting together a successful study plan is very important. Now is the time to start thinking about your bar studies. A little advance planning can make a big difference. Here are a few pointers:

A SUCCESSFUL STUDY PLAN

Perhaps one of the most important things for those preparing for the bar exam is to have a successful study plan. I don’t mean an assignment list provided to you by your bar prep provider. Instead, I mean a “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”, “I need to stay healthy”. 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.

HOW DO I 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 etc.) See below for a sample one day study schedule.

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 ten MBEs before going to work, do it. And, do it every day and you will establish a routine.

It is important to make adjustments to your study plan based upon what is realistic for you. Once you determine what you will do each day and for how long, you will likely need to make adjustments to your plan. You may discover that your initial plan of completing 50 MBEs after attending a four hour bar review lecture is 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.

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 establishing a regular routine. This includes where you 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).

SAMPLE ONE DAY STUDY SCHEDULE:

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 through out 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 complete or how many hours you spend memorizing but instead, it will come from a combination of things.

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.

Students often find themselves frustrated by their own unrealistic expectations and goals. Instead of embarking on an eight or ten hour review of your Contracts outline, review it for three hours (taking a short break every hour) and then follow that with a review of two or three Contracts essays. By reviewing essays in the same topic, you will give yourself a context to the rules you are reading and trying to memorize. Repeat this several times during the weak while alternating your review of other topics, completing MBEs and writing practice essays.

Above all, work at maintaining a positive attitude. This will be much easier to do if you begin with realistic goals.
Good luck to you!

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