California Bar Exam: Congratulations on Completing Day 3!

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Hello All,

By the time you read this, you will be done with the California bar exam! It is such an accomplishment. I know that all the weight is given to passing this beast of a test but, you really should be proud of yourself for the accomplishment of completing one of the hardest bar exams in the country!

SHHHHH people are still taking the test . . . 

Much has been said about day one’s essays – and a bit about the performance test. As there are examinees with testing accommodations that will be taking the bar exam through Sunday, I will not be discussing the performance test at all until after all examinees have completed the bar exam.

However, I am happy to entertain questions about the essays and will continue to update the blog as I hear more about today’s essays in the coming days. Please subscribe to the blog if you would like to be notified when I post next.

So far, from what I hear was tested, everything was pretty much as expected. Constitutional Law, Community Property and Professional Responsibility showed up today. No surprises here. I did not expect to see both Constitutional Law and Criminal Law on day three (I thought it would be one or the other) because of the heavy emphasis on day one of MBE topics. Still, I thought one more MBE topic was in your future on today’s essays. So, again, no real surprises.

I have not heard much yet about the actual fact patterns from today’s essay exams. However, I thought I would include a few of the brief breakdowns that I received during the lunch break today via email and text. Understand that I have not seen the exam – but, that you have – so – if you feel something else was tested – then trust your own interpretation of the the fact patterns and recognize that there are often multiple ways to both interpret the facts and to resolve the legal issues. In other words, do not freak out over what you read here!

Here you go!

A blog follower who emailed in during the lunch break, had this to say:

“Question 1 (Constitutional Law)
Procedural due process, Standing, 11th Amendment

Question 2 (Community Property)
Validity of prenuptial agreement, Property purchased with SP in H name only, Commingled savings account, W purchased rental property from commingle account in her name only, medical bill after permanent separation but before divorce

Question 3 (Professional responsibility)
Duty of loyalty, Conflict of interest, duty of diligence, duty of confidentiality vs duty of candor”

Here are a few text messaged reports from the lunch break today (as you can see, no facts or recaps of the actual fact patterns – yet):

SM Text Essays Day Three

And another who reported in via text:

Text Essays Day Three

And another who reported in via text (starting with a little encouragement from me yesterday):

Text Day Three Essays PY

Please continue to write in with your breakdown of what you saw on the essays as the more examinees that I hear from – the better picture I will be able to piece together of what was actually tested on today’s exams.

I will continue to post here in the coming days (although, do not be surprised if I take a day or two off this weekend – you should do the same too)! Be sure to subscribe to my blog so you will get a notification when I post next.

Get some rest & do something nice for yourself and those who have supported you . . .

I am sure you are all glad to have this test behind you. I know that I am. I always tell my students that they should be at least as tired from studying as I am from prepping my students. It has been a great bar round and truly a pleasure to work with all of the wonderful students I had the good fortune to work with – thank you to everyone who enrolled in one of our programs and to everyone following my blog. Get some rest in the coming days and do something nice for yourself (and for your family – for putting up with you – nothing like being married to someone studying for the bar exam, or a girlfriend or boyfriend studying for the bar exam, or a parent housing a son or daughter studying for the bar exam – you get what I mean – show a little gratitude for their support and do something nice for them too)🙂

If you have questions, please feel free to send me an email at: or you can comment on the blog and I will reply to you here.

All the best,

Lisa Duncanson
Bar Exam Guru
Founder/Program Director
Bar None Review and The Bar Exam Cram Session

California Bar Exam: Congratulations on Finishing Day One!

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Hello All,

Congratulations on completing day one of the California bar exam! And, thank you for following my blog! Nearly 847,000 views to date (thousands of which occurred just over the past 24 hours). It is very humbling, to say the least. Thank you! And, thank you to all who sent in reports from today’s essays. Please continue to send these in as it always helps me to complete a better picture of what was tested on the essays. You can email me at: While my enrolled students come first, I do try to respond to all emails and am happy to answer questions as I can.

So, what a way to start the day: Yes, the Civil Procedure essay was challenging! Anytime the bar examiners test areas for the first time it is a challenge for examinees as there are no points of reference from prior exams – there is no exact example of what was tested on today’s Civil Procedure essay because it has not been tested exactly like that before. So, if it felt challenging, well, that is because it WAS, but don’t let it get you down. You are not alone . . . which essay do you think I heard the most about today?

Which essay seemed to trouble the most examinees from the set of three? (I receive a LOT of emails after each day of the bar exam – and try to answer each personally). You guessed it – the Civil Procedure question. Four calls, lots to figure out and the very first time that California Civil Procedure was ever brought into play on the California bar exam! (Finally)! Whatever you wrote on that question – let it go and put it behind you. There are five additional essays and two performance tests in the balance for you, so don’t worry about it. I will write more about this essay from the reports I have seen. But, truly, you need to move on from it and perform tomorrow and Thursday. Still, I get that many want to hear more about the essays and what was likely tested as it kind of helps put it to bed in a way.

As you undoubtedly know by now, essay two was Property (Easements – as expected, in the context of a land-sale contract that likely generated issues regarding notice and warranty deed covenants – as expected). Not much to say about this one as it was pretty much straight out of the predictions/essay scenarios. This area has been overdue for some time, so no real surprise here.

Finally, essay three was (most likely, from what I have heard): Contract Remedies. The idea that Contracts and Remedies could repeat from the February 2016 exam is no surprise. And, the bar examiners could easily have more “repeats” up their sleeve for Thursday’s essays (more on that in my next post).

I know I said “Contract Remedies” – but, understand, that I have not seen the exam, so keep this in mind. I can not say with any certainty what was tested today – as I have not seen the exam. You have seen it, so you know better than I do what the fact patterns were like. I mention this here because this question (essay three) actually presented the most divide in terms of what I have heard from examinees today. By this I mean that I have heard varying reports of what was tested on essay number three. Just so you know. This means there are probably multiple ways that the exam could be handled and still be passing. For example, one examinee might spend more time on certain areas than another and still – both examinees can pass the essay. Again, whatever you wrote – put it behind you!

So, I promised that I would provide revised “predictions.” However, so far, the topics tested on the essay were subjects on my list of predicted/expected areas. As a result, I do not have any major changes to my predictions. But, I do have a few thoughts based upon the topics that were tested today. I will be putting this together in a separate post, a bit later this evening. In the meantime, keep staying positive and don’t let this test get you down!

Also, for more tips and insights, be sure to sign up for my Bar Exam Tips List, below!


And . . . Put today behind you!
Whatever you did today, however you felt about your performance today, it is over, history. There is no point in dwelling on it and there is no point in rehashing it. Do your best to put it out of your mind. We are often our own worst critics. If you have your doubts about today’s performance, I encourage you to put that behind you. You likely did better than you think. And, thinking that you did not do well is not going to improve your chances of doing well tomorrow or Thursday. So Put today behind you!

Congratulations again on your completion of day one of the bar exam! I will be posting additional thoughts on what might be more likely on Thursday’s essays a bit later this evening. But, you should be reviewing (if you are reviewing at all) for tomorrow’s MBEs. Whatever you do, keep it light – you need to be in good condition to get through the rigors of tomorrow’s 200 MBEs!

All the best,

Lisa Duncanson
Bar None Review

California Bar Exam Tips


Good evening all,

As we learn of yet another tragic terrorist act in France, I can’t help but think of all the lives lost both in France and in our own country. My thoughts go out to all the victims, and to their family members and loved ones.

So how do you study for the bar exam with so much going on, especially when it is such sad news?

Focusing on the task at hand and recognizing that by doing well on the bar exam, you can do well for others too. It isn’t just your life that is affected by passing, it is everyone around you, and, in particular those that you will ultimately help once you become an attorney. Think about that now as a source of motivation (if you are struggling). And, if you are unaware of what I am talking about – then it means you have not been on social media, have not watched the news and have truly disconnected (as you should) for your bar studies.

If you have not disconnected, then now is a good time to do that (keep your cell phone off during the day when you are studying, stop checking email, stay off of twitter and Instagram and Facebook – these can be huge time wasters). Let family members and friends know that you are going into hibernation until the bar exam is over. It is critical that you hunker down right now and really focus. The bar exam is less than two weeks away. Do your best to put aside everything else in the next 11 days. If not now, when?

All the best in your studies!


Lisa Duncanson
The Bar Exam Guru
Bar None Review


Bar Exam Prep: So Many Rules, So Little Time

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Hello All,

First, I want to thank you for following this blog. To date, we have had over 800,000 views! I take great pleasure in being able to offer assistance to those who are struggling through the grind of bar studies. It is truly humbling to have your readership.

The bar exam is now less than a month away. This weekend is often one of the most critical weekends in a July bar examinee’s review period. Many are starting to realize the sheer weight of what has to be done and fear starts to creep in and even take over. Anxiety starts to run high, and if allowed to go unchecked, can be any bar examinee’s demise.

It is normal to experience some anxiety and fear during this time – especially when you think about how much you might still need to learn, let alone memorize. However, it is important that you put things into perspective. The bar exam, while now less than a month away, is not tomorrow. You have time to improve and to work on memorization. One of the best ways to eliminate anxiety is to start memorizing the material.

One of the most common questions I field every bar round is:

“How the heck am I going to memorize all of this material? There is so much to memorize!”

One of the challenges of the bar exam is that students often suffer from information overload. Sometimes, the more diligent a student is, the more they read outlines and the more they try to memorize volumes and volumes of material.

While it may seem like the right thing to do, I caution students against getting into a rut of reading extensive and lengthy outlines to the exclusion of other things that should be done (like: reviewing and study past essay exams and answers, practicing and studying past MBEs, writing practice exams under non-timed conditions and writing timed exams).

Reading outlines that are 1oo to 150 pages for each subject and trying to commit these to memory for 15 subjects is not only very difficult, but it can become counter-productive. Instead, start carving out time to review past exams and answers. By reviewing and learning from the actual past exams, you will help bridge the gap between being able to recite an outline and being able to write an actual essay answer.


The only way to really know and understand the material, is to see it in the context of the exam. Will reading essays and completing MBEs alone be enough? Not likely, but without this kind of review, failure is almost certain. You need to not only put your knowledge to the test and practice the test, you need to learn from the test.

Here are some suggestions of what I think you should consider doing in the coming days leading up to the bar exam. If you do these things, it will make the job of memorizing the law much easier.

  1. It is imperative that you understand the law you are memorizing.

One of the biggest mistakes that examinees make is to fail to truly learn and understand the material. There is sometimes such a focus on memorization that examinees delay reviewing the actual test. This can prove to be disastrous. You do not want to wait until the bar exam to figure out if you actually understand how the issues arise. Rule statements are important, but being able to determine when something is at issue or not, will require that you understand the law and how it is tested. Being able to write rule statements from memory does not necessarily mean that you understand (when faced with a fact pattern) what the issues turn upon.

It is key that you are able to understand the material, and not just being able to recite the rules. So when you think about memorizing the material – think about first “understanding the law.”  This means: understanding what the terms mean, how the issues are generated and how the issues are tested. Once you understand the material, memorizing it will be much easier.

2. You need to see (and learn) the material in the context of the exam.

Again, being able to recite rule statements is something that most examinees strive to do and do so fairly effectively. The problem is that your job on exam day is not going to be to simply write out a Contracts outline or to write out a Torts outline. Yet, if you think about it, examinees often spend their time preparing for the exam as though the exam consists of simply reciting rules. While it is certainly a help, it is only part of what is needed to pass the exam. Successful examinees not only are able to recite rules, they know how the material is tested and understand the material in the context of the actual exam.

To do this, you should review past essays and answers. When reviewing essays, really study the answers and pay close attention to which issues were addressed in the answers and how these issues arose from the facts. Reading essays and studying the answers is critical to passing the California bar exam. There are simply ways that the material is tested that are not intuitive and will be lost on you unless you actually see it in the context of the actual exam.

For the MBEs it is critical that you learn how Torts is tested, how Constitutional Law is tested, Property, etc. This is key. The best way to accomplish this is to study past MBEs (I recommend that you work on NCBE drafted MBES ONLY). Three sources for NCBE released questions are: 1) The Strategies and Tactics for the MBE by Walton and Emanuel, 2) Adaptibar and 3) the National Conference of Bar Examiners.

The reason you want to focus your attention and energy on the NCBE released MBEs is because it will be important for you to align yourself with what the National Conference of Bar Examiners is testing, how they are testing, as this is will be the closest approximation to the actual test. Think of it this way: you need to know what the NCBE think amounts to a taking by force such that a robbery occurred rather than what you think factually amounts to a taking by force or what your law professor thought was a taking by force. Focus on completing NCBE MBEs (timed as well as non-timed review of MBEs is important – more on this in a future post).

3. Work on memorizing a condensed version of the subjects after you have spent time reviewing past exams.

It will be so much easier to memorize material that you actually understand. As I suggest above, one of the best ways to gain an understanding of the material is to see how it is tested. Once you have studied how products liability is tested, you will have a much easier time memorizing what you need to know for Products Liability. What you actually have to memorize becomes less as it represents what you fully understand.

Products liability is a big topic with a lot of detail. However, to be able to successfully navigate a products liability exam you will need to be able to have an approach for, and a condensed version of, products liability memorized (and, of course, understood). For example, the following would be a good approach for Products Liability:

  1. Introductory statement: The plaintiff may recover under products liability for the following torts: 1) intentional tort (usually battery), 2) negligence, 3) strict products liability (for defective product) and 4) under the warranty theories (implied warranty and express
  2. Intentional Tort (here plaintiff may be able to prove the tort of battery if they can show the defendant knew with substantial certainty that a harmful or offensive result would occur – look for facts that state percentage rates of failure – this suggests the defendant knew with substantial certainty that _% of the time the product would cause a harmful or offensive result. This is always a quick discussion, but worth points by addressing it quickly – this is generally addressed in every released answer for products liability essays, yet many examinees miss this point).
  3. Negligence – all in the commercial chain owe a duty to plaintiff – reasonable manufacturer, reasonable retailer etc. Write a normal negligence discussion, but focus on drawing attention to the breach as being a failure to warn or negligent design as these will be easily referred to once you are in your strict products liability discussion.
  4. Strict Liability for Defective Product (unreasonably dangerous) – strict liability attaches by placing an unreasonably dangerous product in the market place. Your focus will be to prove that the product is a defective product. There are three ways to prove this: 1) manufacturing defect (rarely tested on the essays), 2) design defect (often tested) and 3) warning defect (often tested). Prove up one or more ways the product is defective, then briefly discuss causation (which you can refer back to your discussion of under your Negligence call – if you have already discussed negligence) and then conclude (of course discuss any appropriate defenses – i.e., assumption of the risk, learned intermediary, etc.)
  5. Warranty Theories 
    1. Implied Warranty of Merchantability – implied into every sale that goods are of fair and average quality and fit for the ordinary purpose. This is something you will typically address on EVERY products liability essay as it is always present.
    2. Implied Warranty of Fitness for Particular purpose – you may or may not need to discuss this warranty – it must be generated by the facts.
    3. Express Warranty – you may or may not need to discuss this type of warranty – it must be generated by the facts.

Note that you can condense this even further and ultimately turn it into a checklist/shorthand approach for products liability.

Getting a handle on how the substantive material plays out on the essay exams (as well as how it is tested on the MBEs) is critical to your success. The above is an example of how you should be viewing the material. How much easier would it be to write a products liability exam if you actually knew, going into the exam, what areas to write on and for how long? Studying past bar exam essays and answers will help you not only with your understanding of the law, but also with your memorization. Memorizing a step-by-step approach for each area will enable you to get to writing your answer more quickly because you will know how to start your exam. Your answer will look more organized, your issue coverage will be better and it will look like you know what you are doing because . . . you do.

I will write more in the coming days about how to make the best use of the time you have remaining and techniques for memorizing.

Until then, happy studies!


California Bar Exam: Free Workshop, Predictions & More


Hello all,

Thank you for following the Bar Exam Guru blog! We have now had over 800,000 views. I am humbled and grateful for the followers.

Due to the high demand of our free “How to Pass the California Bar Exam” Workshop, I will be teaching a second workshop to be held this Wednesday, June 1st from 7:00 pm to 9:30 pm. This session will be held in Orange County.

As a bonus, I will be covering the Performance Test and will address some early predictions for the July 2016 bar exam.

Class fills up quickly, so be sure to reserve your space early!

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 performance test. And, as time allows, we will discuss strategies for the MBE.

Come and learn how to develop a plan for succeeding on the July 2016 bar exam. Space is limited. Reserve your space today!

BNR Classroom Image

What should I do if I just failed the 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).

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 Wednesday, May 18th 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 July 2016 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 May 18, 2016 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. There simply is no magic bullet.


Lisa Duncanson

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

Good Luck on Bar Results Tonight!

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Hello all,

Bar results for the California bar exam will be released this evening at 6:00 pm.

Wishing everyone who is waiting for results all the best of luck tonight! And, for those of you who are about to begin studying for the July 2016 bar exam, check out our newly designed website at:


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