Bar Exam: Join Our Free Tips List!


Hello All,

With the February bar exam just 8 days away, most bar review courses have long since wound down and you are kind of on your own. It can be a time where many examinees feel lost. So to help you feel a little less lost, each year I send out tips to those who want to sign up for our tips list. And, of course I continue to write posts here on the blog.


Stay tuned for more Bar Exam Predictions and essay scenarios! Also, I will be posting a step by step approach for writing a Criminal Law Murder essay. I will also post a step by step approach for writing First Amendment Speech essays (yes, Constitutional Law was tested last time and YES, it could repeat and often repeats, so you need to be prepared)!

Don’t want to wait for the predictions? It is not too late to become one of our enrolled students!

Our enrolled students receive detailed predictions along with possible/likely essay scenarios and past California bar essays based upon the areas that I think might be more likely. While I do not, nor would I ever, claim to be able to predict what was going to be on the bar exam, I do think that it is helpful to consider essay scenarios that are either more  that we simply have not seen in some time and that many would, therefore, consider due.

We have two options available in these final days leading up to the bar exam.

Option One: The Final Bar Exam Review class You can attend in person in Los Angeles or via LIVE STREAM on February 18th. But, sign up today and you will receive our Extensive Predictions Email with Selected Sample Essays and Answers right away, along with a suggested study plan for the days leading up to the bar exam.

What is the Final Bar Exam Review? In the Final Bar Exam Review, I teach my students live, how to actually write likely essays, how to identify sleeper/hidden issues that most people miss, how to get the points you need – the points that can make the difference in re-read and make the difference between passing comfortably and not passing, how to use the proper form for the essays and the performance test. Our students love this session, and many say it was the one thing that pushed them across the finish line. This time, anyone, while space allows can join (in person or via live stream). For more information, a complete list of what is included and to sign up, click on the image below!


Option Two: Is a materials only version of our Bar Exam Cram Session that was offered earlier in the bar round. Both options include the extensive Predictions/Essay Scenario Email along with Selected Essays and Answers and a suggested study plan for the days leading up to the bar exam. Both programs include our Bar Exam Cram Sheets. The “10-Day Study Plan” is adaptable to having fewer days of study remaining. Our cut off for enrollment is Wednesday, February 15th at noon or when we run out, whichever is first. For more information and a complete list of what is provided, click on the image below:


Cram Session Materials


Lisa Duncanson

Bar Exam Guru
Program Director/Founder
Bar None Review
(213) 529-0990

California Bar Exam Predictions Feb 2017 Part One

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Hello all,

First of all I want to thank you for following my blog. It truly is humbling to see so many followers. And now for some predictions!

As I have explained in earlier posts, my enrolled student are always my first priority. They also expect a period of time where my “predictions” are available only to them. However, I do release predictions on this blog every year and today is the first set. I will continue to post on the blog up through the bar exam, including providing revised predictions based upon day one’s testing.

A bit about my “predictions”

First of all, I do not claim (nor would I ever claim) that I could predict what is going to be tested on the bar exam. However, I do think it is worthwhile to think about some possible essay scenarios when studying in the coming days. I also think that it makes sense to spend some time on topics that we have not seen on the exam in some time. However, any topic could show up on the bar exam. And, you should expect to see some of the topics that were tested on the July 2016 bar exam, to repeat on the February 2017 bar exam. Typically two or even three subjects will repeat from one bar exam to the very next bar exam. Also, out of six essays you should expect to see testing of about 8 topics (this allows for cross-over essays).

Additionally, any topic that you are worried about, or that you are hoping does not show up on the bar exam – deserves your attention!

Okay, so that being said, here are the first areas I would begin to start thinking about in terms of what might be possible on the February 2017 bar exam:

Criminal Law Murder – either all by itself, without any Criminal Procedure or Crossed with Criminal Procedure (a very common way for testing of murder on the California bar exam). See the tab to the right on this blog and you will see an approach for writing Criminal Law Murder Exams. Also, I will post it again in the coming days, just for ease of reference. This prediction should not surprise you, most would predict this area. And the bar examiners know this. So, my thoughts are this: if you get a Criminal Law Murder exam on the bar this round, I think it is going to be a tricky one. I know you don’t want to hear this, but it is what I would expect if I were you. Of course, the California bar examiners could choose to leave murder of the exam again. But, if you do get it, I would expect it to be a racehorse (because these exams generally always are race horse style exams) AND I would expect it to be perhaps a bit awkward or different than your everyday, run of the mill, more straightforward type of Criminal Law Murder essay. Again, it could be just Criminal Law or it could also test (and this is typically more likely) Criminal Procedure issues.

What if you see Criminal Procedure?
If you were to get a cross-over with Criminal Law Murder what would it likely be? Well, usually it involves a Fourth or Fifth Amendment issue. That is how it typically gets tested. But, here are a few wrinkles as I see it: The last time Criminal Procedure was tested, it was an entire essay devoted to the Fourth Amendment. While this has been done before, it isn’t your every day, run of the mill Criminal Procedure essay. Add that to the fact that the last time Murder was tested (February 2008) it was tested with a pretty challenging 5th and 6th Amendment issue with respect to right to counsel. Also, not your everyday, run of the mill call of the question. But, not really that far out of bounds – did you see that, I just said the bar examiners were out of bounds . . . 🙂 I digress.

Thinking about all of this (and I do think about all of this – a lot) it suggests to me that there are other things coming. That perhaps this time, the examiners will resurrect an area of testing that has also been ignored for some time and put it back into play. When I say resurrect, I mean that it simply hasn’t figured into the essay lately in the way that it has in past years (but, is still highly testable). These areas are: 6th Amendment jury issues (including peremptory challenges based upon race and/or belief or non-belief or opposition to the death penalty) and the 8th Amendment – specifically either a capital punishment issue (whether the imposition of the death penalty is constitutionally permissible) or bail issues (right to bail, right to reduced bail – by the way – there is no constitutional right to “affordable bail” – no outline will tell you that and yet, it has been asked as a call of the question on the bar exam in California many, many times with respect to in pro se defendants – now you know the correct answer).

Understand that statistically, the most common way to see Criminal Law Murder crossed with Criminal Procedure is to see a 4th or 5th Amendment issue (or both). So you certainly could see that and should be prepared for it too. But, given what I have seen and that some day the bar examiners have to test 6th Amendment jury issues and 8th Amendment issues on the essay again – well it could very well be this February.

The other topics I am suggesting you review in the coming days are: Wills and Evidence. I will write more on both of these topics soon.

But wait, there’s more! We are LIVE STREAMING our Final Bar Exam Review!
We are live streaming our Final Bar Exam Review that we provide to our enrolled students on Saturday, February 18th and making it available for purchase to either attend in person or now, via live stream, from anywhere. This is a course that takes you through the topics that I think are most likely, provides you with how to attack these topics and how to basically survive, successfully, the California bar exam. We are excited to be able to make this available online as a live stream. It has been requested from our blog followers and from our students that fly in from out of state that we provide it this way and so we are doing it!

If you are interested in this program, you can learn more about it here:
Final Bar Exam Review – Live Stream 

Additional Option – available while supplies last is our Bar Exam Cram Materials only (no video included, no live instruction, but access to our predictions and cram sheets and selected essays and answers).
The Bar Exam Cram (materials only option is intended for students who were unable to attend our Bar Exam Cram Session but, still want the course materials. It is NOT the same program as the Final Bar Exam Review. This is available for a limited period of time and while supplies last – this also includes our Predictions and Sample Answers and the Bar Exam Cram Sheets Book as well as a ten day study plan that can be continued to be adapted for use up until about 5 days before the bar exam (hence the limited availability). For more information, see Bar Exam Cram.

Stay positive, YOU CAN DO THIS!
Wishing you the very best in your studies!
Lisa Duncanson
Bar Exam Guru
Founder/Program Director

There are Still a Few Spots in the Bar Exam Cram Session!


Hello All,

Bar None Review Team here – with the bar exam now just 20 days away, we wanted to let you know that we still have a few spots left in our Bar Exam Cram Session on February 4th & 5th!

Also, be sure to scroll down and read Lisa Duncanson’s (aka, the Bar Exam Guru’s) latest post about how to tackle the last 20 days leading up to the bar exam. She will be teaching this weekend’s Bar Exam Cram Session!

There are 20 Days left until the February California Bar Exam!  If you don’t know what to do in the final days leading up to the bar exam, then this two-day course may just be the thing for you!screen-shot-2017-02-02-at-2-09-48-am

Students leave this intense, comprehensive review feeling confident as we take what seems unmanageable and make it understandable.

Students range from first time takers to repeat bar takers, as well as attorney takers.

It isn’t just a condensed substantive review – it is a method and a strategy for passing the California bar exam.

Our method, created and perfected by Professor Lisa Duncanson (aka the Bar Exam Guru) provides students with a strategic approach to each bar tested subject.

Your registration provides you with the Bar Exam Cram Sheets, as well as a 10-Day Study Plan that kicks off after the Bar Exam Cram Session and tells you what to do, every day, for the last ten days leading up to the bar exam! This program can be taken in conjunction with another bar exam course or as a standalone program. We also send out sample essays and answers based upon the Bar Exam Guru’s exam predictions.

The 10 Day Study Plan is a detailed roadmap to use in the critical, finaldays leading up to the bar exam.

Make the most of the last two weeks before the bar exam!

For more information, click on the “sign up now” button, above. Or, call or email us at: 213-529-0990 or

Bar None Review
blog: (authored by Lisa Duncanson, the Bar Exam Guru)

California Bar Exam: Where to focus in the last 20 Days

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Hello All,

Thank you for following the blog and for your patience this February regarding the expected Bar Exam Predictions. We had a record turn out in our class sessions and this “guru” has been very busy. I hope that the materials available on this blog are helpful (see the “freestuff” tab above, if you haven’t already for downloads). I will be releasing bar exam “predictions” on the blog this bar round. Also, I will make additional handouts and a few recommended essays for your review (based upon my “predictions”).

A note about my “predictions” – I do not claim to be able to predict what will be tested on the bar exam. Nor do I recommend that you dictate your studies around anyone’s “predictions” – that being said, I think it can not hurt to focus on a few possible essay scenarios – especially in the final days leading up to the exam. So, as I have done in the past, I will begin releasing these “predicted” areas and provide some essay scenarios that I think are worth taking a look at prior to the exam. You may want to take a look at last July’s predictions and essay scenarios – I really thought easements would be tested and so I provided a step-by-step approach to easements on the blog. It showed up on the actual test. Again, I do not recommend that you study around these essay scenarios, but I do think it is helpful to focus in on some of the areas that may be a bit more likely for testing simply because we have not seen it tested in a while. So this will be coming as it gets closer to the exam. I know, you would like it now, and I get that. But, my focus is on my enrolled students and they do expect to have some exclusive access for a period of time. So out of respect for them, I will not be releasing any predictions until next week.

My philosophy about the California bar exam: I do not subscribe to any conspiracy theories about the California bar exam. Nor do I believe that the lower pass rate this past July has anything to do with the bar exam becoming harder or less fair. It is what it is – it is a test. There are swings in the bar pass rates over the years and I have seen swings like this more than once in my tenure both taking the bar exam and preparing examinees for the bar (which I have been doing since 1996). I also do not subscribe to the idea that the February bar exam is harder than the July bar exam. I just want to put that out there. The bar exam is hard. But, you have to believe that you can pass it and you have to put aside any idea that the deck is stacked against you – because it isn’t.

So what do you really need to focus on, right now? You have 20 days left to study for the bar exam. 20 Days. Let that sink in for a bit. Take a deep breath. I know, it is scary, you are right to have some anxiety – it is – after all, the bar exam. And not just any bar exam but, the California bar exam. But, it is passable, you can do it and you CAN resolve to do everything in your power to make certain that you utilize these final 20 days in the best way possible and give yourself the best chance of passing the bar exam.

Why do so many examinees fail the California bar exam? I think it is helpful to understand why (in my opinion) so many people fail the bar exam – even after studying very hard, all of the time, for months. (So that you can avoid these pitfalls)!

It isn’t generally because a student didn’t work hard or study hard. Instead, people fail because they never get enough time in with the actual exam. Think about it this way: you are about to take six essays, two performance tests and 200 MBEs. You need to know what the bar examiners want from you. This is especially true with the essays. So many examinees walk into the bar exam without a clear idea of how they are even going to write the essays. What will your first sentence be if you have to write a Constitutional Law, First Amendment Speech essay? Do you have an approach for that? Because you should. If you don’t, how do you figure this out in time for the bar exam? One way is to review past exams and study the past answers. This is extremely helpful.

How do you memorize everything? You also need to memorize a lot of information. Everyone knows this. But, what many bar examinees fail to recognize is that you need to also make sure that you are memorizing what you actually need. I can tell you that memorizing a 100 or 150 page outline for every topic (if this is even something that is humanly possible) will not likely translate into your being able to identify the correct issues on an essay exam. And if you can not identify enough of the correct issues on an essay exam, then you simply will not be able to write on enough issues to pass and it really will not matter that you have that 100 or 150 page outline memorized.

I am not saying that a long outline is not a useful (and even necessary tool) for passing the bar exam. But, when it is this close to the exam, you need to begin (if you haven’t already) getting exposure to as many past bar exam essays as you can (read these, study these, study the answers) as well as memorize approaches and definitions that are manageable. By manageable, I mean that instead of 150 page Contracts outline, you memorize a 4 page, condensed contracts outline. And, preferably you have a step-by-step approach for each subject area.

So now what – great, I came here, read the “guru’s” latest blog post and I am now freaking out! If you do not have a condensed outline, read the essays. If you do not have a step-by-step approach for each subject area – read more essays. The information is there. And it is not too late!

There are so many more reasons to read essays and study the answers but, I will focus on just a few:

  1. If only I could see the test in advance: Past bar exam essays repeat and repeat over the years. In fact, most bar exam administrations do not test anything new or anything in a different way than has been tested previously. This means that if you study past bar exam essays, you increase the likelihood of seeing something on the actual bar exam that you have read and studied before. How great would it be to walk into the bar exam (in 20 days) and open your test booklet for the essays and read the first essay and realize that you had just studied a very similar essay and the accompanying answer. It would be pretty great.
  2. It is actually a form of substantive review: Another reason to study and review and read the answers to past California bar essays is because it is actually a type of substantive review but, in a way more memorable context.
  3. Learn what the examiners want from you: Finally, and this is a big one, by reading past California bar essays and studying the released answers (selected by the California bar examiners as the answers that should be released) you will learn what the examiners were looking for and this is critical.

Understand this: you may think you know the law at this point but, if you are not able to translate your knowledge and memorization of long outlines into correctly identifying the issues that the bar examiners wanted addressed for a particular essay, you will likely fail the bar exam. I know, this is blunt and sounds harsh. But, it is true and I wouldn’t say it if I didn’t think that you still had time to fix this  (assuming it is an issue for you) with the time remaining. I will write more on this after the Bar Exam Cram Session that I am teaching this weekend.

But, please, do yourself a favor and read past California bar exam essays and really study the answers. This is how you will know what the examiners are truly looking for on a given fact pattern and you do need to know that in order to pass.

Thank you again for following this blog, we have had over 890,00o views – it is humbling and I am grateful to have this outlet to offer a little guidance and help.

Stay positive, you can do this! I will write more in the coming days.

All the best in your studies!


Lisa Duncanson
Founder/Program Director, Bar None Review
Bar None Review

California Bar Exam: Do you need a new strategy for passing the bar?

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Hello all,

Do you need a new strategy for passing the California bar exam? Due to high demand, we are offering a second, free, “How to Pass the California Bar Exam” Workshop on December 14, 2016 from 7:00 pm to 9:30 pm.

I will be teaching this workshop. This will be the last free workshop I will teach prior to the February 2017 bar exam. As a bonus, I will address some preliminary predictions for the February 2017 bar exam. I hope to see you there!

Students will receive a free copy of our Guide to Passing the California Bar Exam as well as free bar exam writing templates. In addition to addressing what you should do differently to pass the California bar exam, this workshop will provide substantive coverage on how to successfully write for the California bar examiners, study strategies and specific techniques for improving your MBE scores as well as the proper form and structure of a solidly passing essay.

Come and learn how to develop a plan for passing California bar exam. Space is limited. Reserve your space today!

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California Bar Exam: Free Workshop

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Hello all,

Thank you for following the Bar Exam Guru blog! We have now had over 870,000 views. I am humbled and grateful for your following.

If you are taking the February 2017 bar exam, you will not want to miss out on our upcoming free, “How to Pass the California Bar Exam” Workshop on November 22, 2016 from 7:00 pm to 9:30 pm. This session will be held in Los Angeles.

Class fills up quickly, so be sure to reserve your space as soon as possible.

Students will receive a free copy of our Guide to Passing the California Bar Exam as well as free bar exam writing templates. The workshop will provide substantive coverage on how to successfully write for the California bar examiners. Get answers to when and where you should include California distinctions, how long is a typical passing essay answer, learn the proper form and structure of a solidly passing essay.  And, as time allows, we will discuss strategies for the Performance Test and the MBE.

Come and learn how to develop a plan for succeeding on the February 2017 bar exam. Space is limited. Reserve your space today!

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What Should I do if I just failed the July 2016 bar exam?

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What should you do if you just failed the bar exam?

If you have failed the bar exam, keep in mind that you are in good company. The bar exam is not an IQ test. Many very bright and hardworking examinees fail the exam. As devastating as this experience is, it is important to start thinking about what you need to do next. Below are some tips and suggestions. Above all, don’t lose heart.

1) Get past being devastated as quickly as possible – I know this sounds really harsh, but the sooner you are able to get back on track and develop a plan for passing – and yes, start studying again – the better. Those that do, have the best chance of passing the next exam.

2) 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 raw scores and scaled scores. 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 – contact me (Lisa Duncanson) directly at: (Note: I offer this on a first come, first serve basis and for a limited time. To participate you must send a copy of your actual score sheet, including your name and a phone number where you can be reached). For more information on what to expect if you have just learned you were unsuccessful on the bar exam, click here.

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) Attend our free workshop –  I will be teaching a free, How to Pass the California Bar Exam workshop this Tuesday, November 22nd in Los Angeles. Students will receive a free copy of our Guide to Passing the California Bar Exam as well as free bar exam writing templates. The workshop will provide substantive coverage on how to successfully write for the California bar examiners, how to develop a plan for succeeding on the February 2017 bar exam, tips for writing Performance Tests and strategies and tactics for success on the bar exam. Space is limited. Click here to reserve your space in the November 22, 2017 workshop.

5) 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. For tips on how to create a study plan, click here.

6) 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 and smarter. There simply is no magic bullet.


Lisa Duncanson

Founder/Program Director
Bar None Review and Bar Exam Cram Session (™)
(213) 529-0990