July 2013 Bar Exam – What the heck was that?

pexels-photo-630839Hello all,

First of all – congratulations to all who completed day one of the California bar exam – you are one third of the way done!

If you just took day one of the California bar exam you might feel a bit like it took you . . . the consensus from those who took the time to write in was that PTA was “horrible”, even “traumatic” . . . and the list goes on from there.

I am not saying that everyone who took the exam today left feeling badly. But, if you did, you should know that you are in good company.

So, what should you do this evening? You could study. You could watch America’s Got Talent (I think it is on tonight). You could do what some in the lobby of the hotel are doing right now – and that is shoot pool and drink. I would go easy on the drink part. But, the rest of the options are all acceptable. It is completely reasonable to not study tonight and it is completely reasonable to have spent some time reviewing. Either is a completely acceptable option.

But, whatever you do, you need to put today’s test behind you. Let it go. It is over.  And, no matter how you might feel about your performance today, you can still pass this exam. You need to believe that for it to happen. Don’t get in your own way by allowing the test to get to you. (Even though that might be hard, you can still turn it around – no matter what happened today). Think about it this way – if you thought it was hard it is because it was hard.

I have heard a lot about today’s test now. So I have a pretty good sense of what was tested on both the essays and the Performance Test. I still stand by my earlier predictions (for the most part). I absolutely thought that Corporations was a possibility, but it was not my first pick for essay testing . . . it showed up on the Performance Test today. Now most would reason that since it was on the Performance Test that it will not show up on the essays on Thursday. While I would tend to agree . . . it is not wise to discount anything. Anything can be tested on Thursday’s essays. That being said, if you are fearful of Corporations, don’t feel you have a good handle on it, then it simply makes sense to give it a quick review tomorrow (after the MBEs).

I do feel that Evidence is still likely (read my earlier posts about “predictions”) and that Property is a possibility as well. I recommend reading through my posts from the past several days (go back about a week or so) for a review of what I have suggested as possible essay scenarios.

Remember, no one can predict what is going to be on the exam. So far, we are three for three (including issue specific areas – Community Property involved a separate property business with an enhanced value – so as was suggested in an earlier post – the accounting methods were relevant – you could have discussed both Van Camp and Pereira or just one of the accounting methods – depending upon how you interpreted the fact pattern. Either route would likely be acceptable.

Constitutional Law was tested – and from what I heard it required you – as expected – to address the constitutionality of a state statute along with equal protection and due process. Professional Responsibility is always likely on the essays – and this bar round was no exception). So far there were no real surprises. I know that the 13th Amendment issue on the Constitutional Law essay was not expected – but as I said in my earlier post – this is what the California bar examiners have been doing – adding in a narrow call that is usually only tested on the MBEs. So, if you were a bit thrown by that call – don’t worry about it. A) there is no point in worrying about it – it is over, and B) it will all even out – the test is scaled (meaning it is on a curve). So, let it go, don’t let it get to you, move forward and take control over the exam tomorrow and on Thursday. No matter what happened today – you can still prevail.

The performance test has generated the most traffic (in terms of emails from blog followers). It has been described as “the worst PT ever” and so on. I mention this mostly because I want you to be able to put this into perspective. It was not anyone’s dream come true – that is for certain. For some it may have felt more do-able than for others. But, I think most would agree that it was pretty challenging. Many have written in stating that they did not finish PTA. This is not unusual.

Incidentally, I never release anyone’s private information or relay anything on the blog (or anywhere else) that would reveal a person’s identity (just thought I would let you know that).

I just want you to know that there are other examinees out there (many) that feel today was next to impossible. That is sometimes how this test feels. Sometimes it is as much about continuing to show up and grind your way through this test as it is about the actual preparation and review leading up to the actual exam. Clearly it is critical to study for the exam. But, no amount of studying will make up for a person simply giving up. And, some do. So I urge you not to give up and to recognize that no matter how today went, you can still do it. And, if you are among those who felt good about your performance today, that is great!

But, either way, it is still anyone’s test. Don’t forget that.

Okay, so all of the above being said – here is what you can expect from me – I will continue to write on the blog and provide additional tips here. I will also do my best to answer questions that you send to me by email. My enrolled students of course come first. But, do feel free to send me a question if you have one and I will do my best to answer it.

We will send out additional tips via email to those who have asked for it (you can still sign up for our July 2013 Bar Exam Tips List – those that did – received an approach for evaluating the constitutionality of a state statute as well as other tips and a constitutional law essay). This approach is now moot (sorry for the pun) since it was just tested on today’s exam. I will send out an approach for Evidence (if you want it, fill out the form below and we will send it to you). This will likely go out first thing tomorrow (in time for you to review it tomorrow night or if you are an attorney taker, during the day tomorrow). If you are interested in any meet ups, let us know and we will keep you posted on that as well.

All the best to all who are taking the bar exam. Get some rest tonight. Do your very best to relax.


Lisa Duncanson