July Bar Exam: Final Tips

Hello Bar Takers!

Here are a few pointers for tomorrow!


Please remember that if an essay seems difficult, then it is difficult for everyone. I mention this because I want you to remember that you really do have an even playing field.

One of the most important things to do on the essays and performance test is to maintain an “I can handle this” attitude. No matter what you see on the exam, commit to figuring it out. And if you are receiving this email, you should have an easier time spotting issues and being comfortable on the essays.


I know you, and everyone else taking the exam tomorrow, hopes that they will be able to remember every rule. But, that is really not what tomorrow is about.

Instead, make certain that you identify as many issues as you can and support your issue spotting with the facts and law. Make sure you USE THE FACTS in your analysis.This is most important. One of the main reasons examinees fail is because they come to conclusions without using the facts. This is something you need to look out for when you are under the pressure of the timed exam – do not forget to lay out the facts that support your conclusion, the why part.


If you think of an issue, but ultimately decide to dismiss it – MAKE SURE TO DO THAT ON YOUR ANSWER! In other words, go ahead and bring it up and then explain why it is not an issue, or a valid claim, defense etc. Do not make up any issues, just recognize that if you thought something might be an issue, it should make to your answer, even if only briefly.

Think about it this way: if you choose not to address an issue, but you fail to explain on your answer that you are dismissing the issue, the grader will not know if you made a conscience decision to exclude that issue from your discussion or if you didn’t see it as a potential issue.


Make sure to stick to time! Do your best to stay on track and to wrap up each essay answer within 60 minutes. If you run over by one or two or three minutes, you can make that up. But, running over by ten minutes is not good.

As the day progresses, actively remain positive. Be your own cheer leader, give yourself a pep talk. I know this might seem odd. But, just do it! I did it and it helped me get through the exam.

Remember, no one is perfect, especially under the pressure of the exam. An above passing essay answer is not perfectly written and mistake free. This never happens. If you do not believe me, look at any released essay answer for the California Bar Exam and you will see typos, incorrect statements of the law, use of the wrong word in a heading, etc.

You will do much better on the exam if you allow yourself to just write, do not get caught up in trying to make fine line distinctions, do not create “counter arguments” that do not exist (avoid writing like this: “P will argue this . . .on the other hand, D will argue this . . .” Instead write like this: “Here, the defendant is liable because . . .”

Even if you do not feel 100% confident, appear to be confident. Do not stand in your own way. Any examinee can provide a hundred reasons for why they feel unprepared. These negative thoughts on exam day are counter-productive. Leave all doubt behind you and fake it if you have to, do not let anything or anyone undermine your confidence.

And finally, write your heart out, be fearless, be bold, know that you will make a few mistakes and, that making a few mistakes is okay! It is far better to leave your thought process on the page than to edit it out.

All the best of luck to you!

Lisa Duncanson
Founder/Program Director
Bar None Review
office: 213-529-0990
email: barexamguru@yahoo.com