California Bar Exam: Study Tips for the Final 10 Days!

Hello all,

The California bar exam is just 10 days away!

Deadline 10 days

These next ten days are critical. Whether or not you feel you have prepared enough or memorize enough or written enough essays or practiced enough MBEs, you still have time! In ten days you could read and review 6 to 10 essays per day along with memorization. Here are suggestions for how to navigate your studies and where to focus in the final 10 days.

How to Prepare for the Essays

One of the most important things to do to prepare for the California bar exam essay portion is to read and review as many past bar exam essays and answers as possible.

In the next ten days there is no reason why you could not review 60 to 90 essays. First, let me explain why you should review this many essays. One of the main reasons bar examinees fail the California bar examiners is because they are unfamiliar with how the law is tested. It is rarely because of a lack of substantive law knowledge – instead it is due to a lack of context. Studying past essays is the ticket to passing.

“Model” answers versus the released answers: I do NOT recommend studying model answers that are prepared by bar prep courses. These are not realistic to try to write in an hour and these prepared model essays are not a true reflection of what the California bar examiners want in an above passing answer. Also, many of the answers published by national bar exa prep companies are written by people who have not even taken the California bar exam. I know this to be true because I have had employees who worked for these companies and were hired to write answers for multiple states even though they had not taken the bar exam in those states.

In order to pass the essay portion of the California bar exam you need to be in tune with what the California bar examiners want. To sort this out, you need to read and review essays and answers. When doing so, do not test yourself by issue spotting or outlining. Instead, read the fact pattern to familiarize yourself with the essay fact pattern. Then, proceed to the released answers and study each answer. Make note of how much real estate each issue takes up on the exam answer. In other words, figure out how much time and space is afforded to each issue. Often, especially with racehorse exams like Products Liability or Evidence essays, issues are dealt with very quickly – simply a heading and a quick explanation of the issue and how it should be resolved.

Make your headings do the heavy lifting!

Use of headings on the essays (and on the performance test) is very important. Your headings should reflect the issues and provide sign posts for the grader to follow. Your job is to make the grader’s job easier. If formatted properly, your essay answer will look like it is a passing answer at a glance. You have a limited amount of time with your grader – you want to create the benefit of doubt in YOUR FAVOR by providing a structure and doing more than everyone else.

For example, on a negligence exam, your headings should not be limited to Duty, Breach, Causation and Damages. Everyone does that and quite frankly it really isn’t enough. Instead, it should look something like this:

Standard of Care - Reasonable Person
Special duty - if relevant: Respondeat Superior, Parent child

Palsgraf - To whom the duty is owed
Cardozo - Majority View - duty owed to foreseeable plaintiff in zone of danger
Andrews - Minority view - duty is owed to all



Actual Cause - 
Here, but for D's swerving his car onto the sidewalk, P would not have been injured. Therefore, actual cause is met.
Proximate Cause -
There do not appear to be any intervening causes that would cut off liability of D. Therefore proximate cause is met.

Actual Damages - to recover in a claim for negligence, plaintiff
must prove that she suffered actual injury. Here, the plaintiff suffered a "severe head injury." Therefore, actual damages are met.

Stay tuned for more study tips!

If you are interested in purchasing the July Bar Exam Predictions and Selected essays, click here

The Selected Essays and Answers are based upon the predictions and likely essay scenarios. Once your register you will receive your materials electronically (sent via email) within 10 – 15 minutes.

All the best in your studies on the California bar exam!

Lisa Duncanson
Bar Exam Guru
Founder/Program Director
Bar None Review - established 1999