Bar Exam: Final Tips for the February Exam!

With the bar exam in just few days, is there anything you can do to improve your chances of passing?

I believe there is a lot you can do to increase the likelihood of passing.

One thing you could do is to sign up for our Predictions Package. Having a focus on likely topics that could show up on the next bar exam is never a bad thing. There is still time to receive this information click here for more information and to purchase.

But, whether you decide to get the predictions or not, there are many things you can do to increase your chances of success on Tuesday, February 22nd.

First, before my list of tips, I want to address the attitude you should have, especially in the next few days . . . and that is, to be positive. Too many people undervalue this mindset and are overly self critical. As a two time cancer survivor, I know that having a positive attitude makes a huge difference in the outcome. No, I do not believe that simply having happy thoughts drove cancer out of my body. But, I do believe that if I gave into it mentally that I would most likely not be here right now and would not be writing this post. I believe that passing the bar exam on my first try was not only due to studying, but also due to actively maintaining a positive attitude. I had bad days during bar prep just like everyone else, but I made the decision to never quit and to never stop going forward and to never stop believing in myself. Sometimes, this meant faking confidence that I really did not possess.

Last Minute Tips and Pointers:

  1. Make sure to tell yourself that you CAN do this! No matter what you have done to prepare leading up to now, there is still time to impact your outcome. For some examinees, this weekend will be filled with cramming the law into their brain and for some it will be reviewing essays. Reviewing essays is the best thing to do in my opinion. Why? Because, by reviewing past essays and released answers you will see what the bar examiners are looking for, close in time to the exam. Anything you review in the coming days is likely to be in your head on the day of the exam.
  2. Rather than avoiding a topic that you dislike, tackle it. You can be sure if you don’t, that the odds are it will show up on the essays. And, even if it doesn’t show up on the essays, reviewing some essays in the topic you least like or have most problems with, will make you feel more confident when you walk into the exam.
  3. Be as positive as you can be about your likelihood of success. Do not allow yourself to break down or fall apart. If something seems difficult to you, then it is likely difficult for everyone. If something seems easier for you (maybe you love Constitutional Law) there will definitely be fellow examinees hoping not to get whatever subject or subjects you are hoping to see on the essays. My suggestion on day one is to think about the essays in this way – “if this exam is challenging for me, then it is challenging for everyone and for some, it may be impossible.” If that seems too odd for you, then come up with some other way to encourage yourself. But, I can tell you that this is true.
  4. Pick yourself up if you feel like you are falling! Your determination and your will to succeed is more powerful than any bar prep course or any tutor you have worked with, so PLEASE BELIEVE IN YOURSELF and DO NOT STOP WRITING! The California Bar Examiners want to see how you arrived at a conclusion. This is much more important than having every rule perfectly memorised. When you are an attorney, you will do research, refer to a practice guide, a colleague, etc. On the bar exam, you need to show the graders that you know what the issues are. this is the most important thing you can do. They know you can look up the rule in practice, but if you do not let the grader know that you understand what the issues are, it will be difficult to earn a high score.
  5. Not everybody “has it in the bag” I don’t know about you, but when I was studying for the bar exam, there were so many people claiming they were getting 90% on the MBEs. If that is true, good for them. But, do your best not to internalize anything that is negative and do not compare yourself to others, just move forward and cast away doubts. Do not let anyone rain on your parade.
  6. I guess most of what I am saying here is that you need to be your own cheerleader throughout the exam. I remember how crestfallen I felt walking out of the first day of the bar exam and hearing people say, “Dude, did you see that Pereira issue? It was not Van Camp, just Pereira…” For a moment I thought, “oh no, I wrote on both Pereira and Van Camp and did not make it clear which was the appropriate test!” And then, I completely recovered from the doubt I had about what I had written. Here is my advice on this type of stuff: do not write yourself off on the exam – if you dismiss something in your head, dismiss it on you answer – show the graders your thought process. That is what they want to see more than anything. By bringing issues up on your exam that you dismissed, you show your breadth of knowledge and that is never a bad thing.
  7. Word count matters! If you are writing an analysis that you realize is not the best argument, rather than deleting it, simply unwind the argument. For example, as soon as you think you have taken a wrong turn, simply say something like this: “However, this argument will likely fail because…” and then move onto a better argument. You should not delete things that occur to you even if you are ultimately deciding it is not the best argument. The graders know you are under a time constraint AND a higher word count is always the best way to go. Essay answers with lower word counts receive lower scores. Essays with higher word counts receive higher scores! So, do not be shy!

Good luck to you in the coming days and especially on the bar exam!

All the best of luck to you!


Lisa Duncanson
Founder/Program Director
Bar None Review
YouTubeChannel: BarExamGuru
Phone: (213) 529-0090