Bar Exam Cram Live Streamed!

Leave a comment

Hello All,

We still have a few spots left in the June 3 and 4 Bar Exam Cram Session (this weekend) in Los Angeles. If you can not attend in person, but do not want to miss out on this bar passing weekend, you can sign up for our live stream!

Students who attend this session receive our weekly Digging Deeper into the Bar Exam Series (a weekly email support series) containing additional predictions, study advice and strategy as well as our method and strategies for improving your MBE score, sample essays and answers based upon the predictions and on the most commonly tested essay scenarios. Students will also receive (as part of the Digging Deeper into the Bar Exam Series) approaches and advice for the new, 90 minute Performance Test and selected videos covering study tips, exam predictions and approaches). In addition, Students will learn how to adapt (their studies, timing and strategy) to the new two-day format.

Past students have taken our Bar Exam Cram Session and improved their scaled score by over 200 points by utilizing the techniques and step-by-step essay approaches that are taught not only over the course of this weekend, but leading up through the bar exam. Each student receives a Ten Day Study Plan to utilize in the final days leading up to the bar exam as well as instruction on how to study over the next six weeks. Don’t miss out, sign up today!

Note: Live streaming must be purchased by Thursday, June 1st to ensure your “seat” in the online program.

For more information, contact Bar None Review at: 213-529-0990.

All the best in your studies!

Sincerely,

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

California Bar Results Continue to Decline

6 Comments

Screen Shot 2017-05-14 at 11.15.28 AM

We may have a lot of sunny days here in California but, it may not feel very sunny for a majority of those who just took (and failed) the California bar exam. The State Bar of California released preliminary statistics for the February 2017 California Bar Exam via press release this weekend and the numbers do not look good.

Out of 4,439 applicants who completed the exam, only 1,532 of applicants passed the General Bar Exam. That is a pass rate of only 34.5 percent. Another way of looking at it is that 65.5 percent who completed the February 2017 California bar exam failed it. While we have seen results this low in the past, it appears to be part of a bigger trend, nationally, toward lower and lower pass rates.

The Executive Director of the State Bar of California. Elizabeth Rindskopf Parker said, “Regrettably the pass rate shows a continuing decline, a trend happening nationally.” She went on to say that “the State Bar is committed to a better understanding of the problem to determine how to address it.”

It appears the first steps to addressing the problem of declining bar pass rates will involve a “series of studies” the first of which is to begin on Monday, May 15th.

This initial phase of the study will focus on examining what the California bar examiners refer to as the “cut score.”

Here are some of the preliminary statistics from the February 2017 General Bar Exam:

  • 4,439 applicants completed the exam (it is unclear how many showed up and did not complete, would be interesting to have those numbers)
  • 1,153 (26.0 percent) were first-time applicants
  • The pass rate for first-time applicants was 39.0 percent
  • 3,286 applicants were repeat applicants
  • The pass rate for repeat applicants was 33.0 percent

Here are additional statistics broken out by school type. As usual, graduates of ABA law schools enjoyed the highest pass rates, with a distinctly higher pass rate enjoyed by graduates of California ABA law schools versus out-of-state ABA law schools (source: the State Bar of California).

School Type First-Timers Repeaters
California ABA 45% 46%
Out-of-State ABA 39% 34%
California Accredited (but not ABA) 18% 15%
Unaccredited: Fixed-Facility 25% 2%
Unaccredited: Correspondence 26% 11%
Unaccredited Distance Learning 18% 7%

So what does all of this mean? How does this affect those who are taking the July 2017 bar exam? Will the “cut score” go up? Will it change at all for the July 2017 bar round?

It is not yet clear whether the cut score or grading will change at all for the July 2017 bar exam. But, what is clear is that the State Bar is acknowledging publicly, for the first time that I know of, that there is a problem with the bar pass rates. Given the heat from many law school deans in the past few years about declining pass rates, the State Bar may also be feeling some pressure to address what some have call an abysmal pass rate.

There are a few things about this press release that I think are worth noting – and that is what we do not know, what the preliminary numbers fail to show:

Attorney Takers Not Yet Included in the Preliminary Statistic
These preliminary statistics do not appear to include those taking the Attorney’s Exam (note that the statistics only refer to those sitting for the General Exam). In recent years, attorney takers have had a very low pass rate in comparison to those taking the General Exam. So it will be interesting to see if attorney takers did worse on the February 2017 bar round (compared with prior bar rounds).

Those Who Did Not Complete the Exam are Not Counted as Part of Pass/Fail Rate?
The State Bar press release refers only to the number of applicants “who completed the exam.” We know from the press release that this number was 4,439 and that out of that number, only 1,532 of applicants passed.

What we do not know is how many applicants may have shown up but, failed to complete all three days. I am not suggesting that the State Bar is hiding anything. These preliminary statistics are that: preliminary. However, I am not certain the State Bar will ever release the number of those who did not complete the exam. Given that the pass rates appear to be based only upon applicants who completed the exam, the actual pass rate (taking into account those that did not stick it out the full three days) could actually be worse than 34.5%.

Incidentally, the State Bar’s press release still refers to the California bar exam as a three day exam, consisting of “six essay questions, and two performance tests.” I am assuming this is a mistake, but it is not exactly comforting that they are still referring to the three day exam.

I am not a believer in conspiracy theories surrounding the bar exam. But, the pass rates are declining, that is clear. This is, as the Director of the State Bar pointed out, part of a “national trend.” The pass rates for the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) are actually not much better than California’s bar pass rate. As of July 2017, twenty-seven states will have adopted the UBE for their state bar examination. With pass rates in the mid 40 percentile on the UBE, low pass rates are certainly not unique to California.

I do think it is a good thing that the State Bar has publicly announced that they are looking into the problem of declining pass rates. Whether this is about the test or about examinees being adequately prepared – is really the question, I think. Are people adequately prepared by their law schools? Are the entrance requirements to get into law schools – in an age of declining law school enrollment – perhaps lower? It has been known for some time that many California law schools (faced with low enrollment) are digging deeper into the applicant base, admitting students with lower LSAT scores and lower GPAs in order to make enrollment. If so, does this mean that law school admittees are less qualified (lower LSAT scores, for example)? And is the LSAT even the best way to determine whether someone should be admitted to law school? Some law schools have chosen to accept the GRE now in lieu of the LSAT for law school admissions.

Times are changing in California
What is clear is that times are definitely changing. The California bar exam (despite their press release still referring to the old, three-day exam) is now just two days. The performance test portion of the exam has been cut down from 6 hours of testing to only 90 minutes. These are significant changes. Still, I do not see anything from the bar examiners that suggest they will change the grading or the “cut score” in time for the July 2017 bar exam. But, time will tell.

In the meantime, what works in terms of passing the California bar exam is the same: becoming extremely adept at writing and taking MBEs. There are still five essays to write. So not much has changed there. But, the performance test (still worth two essays) is now only 90 minutes. Some might think this cut in time would make it easier. But, from the sample 90 minute performance test provided by the State Bar, it does not look easier. There is virtually the same amount of material to get through (in the old, 3-hour PT), but now far less time to do it in. This new 90 minute version will most definitely be easier for those who can think fast on their feet, which, quite frankly is a pretty good trait for a would be attorney.

What do you think about the low pass rates? What do you think about the new 2-day bar exam in California, do you think it will be easier or harder or the same?

I will address how I think examinees should prepare differently for the new, 2-day California bar exam in our upcoming, free “How to Pass the California Bar Exam Workshop” There is still space available in this workshop. Click here to sign up!

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

 

 

 

California Bar Exam: Performance Test Tips!

2 Comments

Hello All,

By now you have finished Day Two of the California Bar Exam and have hopefully settled into your room to rest and hopefully study (at least a little – I do not recommend pulling all nighters at this point, but some review is a good idea. Equally acceptable is resting and flipping channels. Still, I was never a rest and flip channels kind of bar taker and that has served me pretty well up to this point – your choice, of course).

Given that tomorrow is another Performance Test and that you want to finish this exam strong, I have decided to provide some last minute Performance Test tips.

See below:

1. Follow the instructions carefully! Exam pressure can lead to missing things and to misreading instructions – so slow it down enough to make sure you are not missing something in the instructions. You are going to base your whole answer on your interpretation of the senior partner memo (the letter to you from your would be boss) – so make certain you read it very carefully and more than once! (See more on following instructions, and evidencing that you have followed instructions, in # 2 below).

With respect to following instructions, do so to a T. If the senior partner memo tells you not to write a statement of facts, then do not write a statement of facts. Pay close attention to the instructions you are provided. Failure to adhere closely to these instructions will cost you dearly – so be careful!  Examinees are often in a rush to get through the materials quickly and end up missing something in the instructions, failing to pick up some of the easier points. So make sure you read through the senior partner memo a few times and be certain about what you are being asked to do.

2. Make your answer look like it is an answer to that particular performance test. Whatever you are asked to do on the performance test, make sure that you create a document that looks like what you were asked to produce. There will typically be two places from which to obtain your format and instructions for the document you are asked to prepare. The first source is the from the senior partner memo (the letter to you from your would be boss). The second source is also in the case file portion of your performance test and it is a firm wide memo (usually with the title: “To all associates . . .”) that provides instructions on how to write an appellate brief or a memorandum (or whatever it is that you are being asked to write). It is critical that you refer to both of these sources to make certain that you include all sections that you are supposed to include (assuming there are sections, i.e., statement of facts, or point headings, etc.) in your document.

These two sources will also help you to format and organize your document – for example, if you are asked to write a memorandum about the the Constitutionality of a proposed ordinance, then a) you need to make sure that your document is identified as a “memorandum” and b) you need to make certain that your document visually makes it clear that you are in fact addressing the constitutionality of a proposed ordinance. This may seem obvious and it may seem less important than figuring out what the cases mean, but the reality is that many examinees simply fail to do some of these very basic things and end up losing points. So, make certain that you do not forget to make your performance test answer look like it is the very document that you have been asked to produce.

3. How do I know which cases to use? Use them all. Seriously. Really. Do not be afraid. Try to find a use for each case. That is it.

4. What part of the statutes should I include? Assuming you have statutes (not all performance tests do) then look to see which parts of the statutes are referred to in the cases. It is a pretty safe bet that you should also use the sections that the cases refer to as well.

5. Use headings – this is SO important! (First, make sure you follow any format that you are instructed to follow). Always err on the side of following instructions. Some of your formatting will likely come from the instructions (either from the senior partner memo and/or potentially from a firm wide, memo to “all associates” in the case file). Remember that your performance test answer (whether it is a memorandum, a points and authorities, an appellate brief, a letter to a client, a closing or opening argument) it is still an exam answer. It will be graded by a human being and you need to be cognizant of that – make it easy to read and easy to follow. Use headings.

6. What if I don’t finish my answer? This is not an option. You need to make certain that you do finish your answer. Just do it. I take my job very seriously and I work hard, I go the distance, I do whatever it takes to get whatever I need done. Why am I telling you this? Because you should too – you should work your butt off and I don’t just mean in your preparation for the bar exam – but I mean right now, right now on this test, today. Suck it up and get through it. I know that sounds a bit harsh, but if you want to pass this thing then go after it, especially in these last hours. Insist on finishing today’s performance test – because you can and because you need to.

7. Okay, but what if I don’t finish my answer? Sigh. Okay, if you see that you are not going to finish what you had planned on writing, then adapt and do so quickly. The clock may not be your friend, but it does not have to be your enemy either. Watch it, keep track of your time. Don’t wait for the proctor to provide a time warning for you to know how much time you have left to finish. Keep track of your time and speed things up as you need to in order to finish your answer. And, if you are really up against the wall, then make it look like you have finished. If it is appropriate for the document that you are writing, then add a heading for “conclusion” and have a few sentences or a paragraph summarizing as best you can what you have written. And, you can even pre-write a conclusion if you think it will help (this is really only helpful to laptop examinees).

8. Be POSITIVE! (I know, how nice of me to yell at you to be positive :)) Seriously though, please do not be miserable – it will only hurt your performance. No one forced you to go to law school (well, I hope not). You presumedly wanted to do this, you want to be a lawyer. Therefore, today is about doing what you want to be doing – taking and passing the bar exam. Be proud of all the hard work you put in to get to where you are right now. So many people say things like: “I was going to go to law school” or “I always wanted to go to law school” . . . well you did go to law school. Be proud of that and don’t let the struggle of the bar exam take any of that away from you. Now go kick the bar exam’s butt!

All the best of luck this afternoon!

Please feel free to comment on this blog – I would love to hear from you and would love to know if you find it helpful, or if you have suggestions.

Sincerely.

Lisa Duncanson

Founder/Program Director
Bar Exam Cram Session and Bar None Review
(213) 529-0990
barexamguru@yahoo.com

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

Leave a comment

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: barexamguru@yahoo.com (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.

Best,

Lisa Duncanson

Founder/Program Director
Bar None Review and Bar Exam Cram Session (™)
barexamguru@yahoo.com
(213) 529-0990
http://www.barnonereview.com

5 Things to do to pass the California Bar Exam

Leave a comment

Does this look familiar to you?Books&StudentOverwhelmedThe California bar exam is in 30 Days. How will you be spending this time?

Most examinees spend countless hours and hours reviewing lengthy outlines that do not translate into writing successful essay exams or scoring high on the MBEs. Successful examinees know that they need to work form a very condensed version of the law in order to navigate the essays, identify the correct issues and write successfully on exam day. If you would like to see an example how you can reduce and move away from lengthy outlines, sign up below and we will email you a free copy of our Tort Bar Exam Cram Sheets:

Sign up here for a free Torts Bar Exam Cram Sheet

Here are five things you can do now to increase your chances of passing one of the hardest bar exams in the country:

1. Start studying the actual test, now! 

Reviewing past essay exams is one of the quickest ways to learn what the bar examiners are looking for and to understand the context for the law that you are learning. And, if you actually study the answers, you are learning the law. It is truly a type of substantive review, but one that is far more specific to the task at hand. Keep in mind you will not be called upon to write a Torts outline on the bar exam. Instead, you will be expected to write an essay answer. This is something that you need to prepare for.

All too often examinees fail because they delay the actual study of the exam. I have worked with thousands of students preparing for the bar, many of whom were repeat bar exam takers. One of the biggest mistakes an examinee can make is to delay review and study of the essay exams and MBEs. Most examinees seem to understand the importance of doing practice MBEs. But, far too many examinees wait to conduct a review of the essays (and answers) until they feel they have the law memorized. This is a big mistake!

First of all, by waiting until you have the law memorized you fail to see the context for the law you are trying to learn and you understand less. This makes it harder to memorize and tends to send examinees off a cliff of never ending memorization. The bar examiners are not looking for your ability to regurgitate rule statements. Instead, it is your job to identify legal issues presented by each essay and resolve these issues through a solid legal analysis. Yes, it is important to know the rules. But, until you carefully review essays and answers, you will have a bridge to gap between what you have memorized in your outline and what you should say/write in your essay answer. Furthermore, until you start studying the actual test questions (both essays and MBEs) you will not know how the issues come up or how to organize a successful essay answer. It is a bad feeling to spend months memorizing outlines and then open an essay exam and not be certain as to what issues are presented or how to organize your answer.

One of the best ways to prepare for the exam is to truly understand the material. This might seem obvious. But, far too many examinees memorize voluminous outlines only to their demise because they have failed to see how the issues are tested on the essays.

Make sure that you begin studying the essays and answers soon. Your goal should be to see as many as possible (I recommend reading through 100 past exams). Essay exams repeat over and over again. Therefore, by reading and studying past exams you will increase your chances of seeing something similar on the actual bar exam. How great would that be?

2. Write some practice exams under non-timed conditions and open book to learn the law.

In case you haven’t noticed, I am a big proponent of learning from the actual test. While writing timed essay exams for practice is something you should do. It is also important to write exams under non-timed conditions and open book so that you can work on sorting out how to answer the question. Think about it this way: do you want to just get a 60 or a 65 (or worse) on your essays? Or do you want to be able to write 75s and 80s? Well, practicing essays under non-timed conditions, with the benefit of an answer and a writing approach for that subject, will help you craft your own model answer that is well above passing.

It is true that you will not have more than an hour on the exam day. But, if you take the time to tackle some of the subjects that are particularly challenging now, under non-timed conditions (like Products Liability, First Amendment Speech Essays, Evidence Transcript Style Essays and Evidence in general) you will have a tremendous advantage on exam day. And, you will have a far better understanding of the material (since you have practiced – without the time pressure – how to analyze it and organize it). All of this will make memorization much easier.

3. Make sure you know how to begin every essay subject or topic.

One of the challenges I had leading up to the bar exam many years ago, was the fear of not knowing how to even start my essay answer. So, I decided to tackle this. I liked Community Property because there was an easy paragraph that is used to start all Community Property essays. That brought me comfort and some peace of mind. I thought about the other subjects and how could I make every topic this comfortable. Well, I thought about Constitutional Law and how most of the time (not always, but most often) Constitutional Law essays begin with an Article III Case or Controversy discussion (where in addition to State Action, you address Standing, Ripeness, Mootness and Political Question). Then I committed to working out both a starting point and an approach for every subject so that I would know how to begin my exams on exam day. This was time consuming, but I know it was one of the reasons that I passed the California bar exam on my first attempt.
 
One way to figure out how you should start your essay answer is by reviewing past essays and answers (see above, under number 1). There are also resources available that provide approaches by topic to assist you in writing an organized essay exam. Our Bar Exam Cram Sheets include approaches for the most commonly tested essay areas (this includes step-by-step approaches as well as what headings to use). It is important to know ahead of time – before you walk into the bar exam – what your approach will be for each subject and topic. Even better (and I think this is really a necessity) is to have that approach evidenced in the headings that you use on each essay.

4. Condense the material that you need to commit to memory.

Trying to commit outlines that are each 100 pages or more is not only not realistic, it is not necessary or practical. Instead, you should conduct an extensive review of each topic and then move away from the more extensive material to a) either an outline that you have created for yourself that is a condensed outline (2 to 4 pages per topic) or b) purchase a condensed outline (from a source you trust) and make it your own. By this I mean, go through past exams and add notes to your condensed outline so that it becomes a document that represents not only the rules for a subject, but also the most commonly tested areas of law from the essays.

It is very important to have a condensed and trustworthy outline for each topic prior to going into the bar exam.

Every subject really does have an approach. Rather than trying to commit a hundred page outline to memory, you should be working on figuring out how to bridge the gap between your study of lengthy outlines and the essays. There is a gap. Typical outlines do not prepare you for the realities of writing an essay answer. You need short and concise definitions – not one or two paragraph definitions – in order to successfully handle all of the issues that a one hour California bar exam essay requires.

Again, sign up above for a free condensed Torts outline (our Torts Bar Exam Cram Sheets).

5. Be Smart About the MBEs.

First of all, do MBEs every day. How many MBEs you should do each day will depend upon how much time you have available (whether you working full time, part time or if you are able to study full time). If you are working full time, then getting time to practice MBE questions is a challenge. Often examinees who work full time during their studies wait until weekends to complete any MBEs. This is not a great plan. Instead, get up a half hour earlier each morning and complete 10 MBEs every day before you go to work. This will not only add up to 50 MBEs every Monday through Friday, it also keeps your head in this part of the test. It will help you continue to improve your MBE scores every day. This is critical.

Complete each MBE one at a time and review the answers carefully before moving onto the next MBE. Eventually, you will need to complete 200 MBEs in one day. And, you should attempt to do that well before the actual bar exam. However, right now you are likely still in need of correction and improvement on your MBEs. The best way to fix an MBE that you have missed so as to increase your chances of getting it correct the next time – is to immediately review the answer explanations to that MBE. The goal is to make the correction quickly and without delay. Think about it this way: if you complete a set of 30 or 50 MBEs without checking the answers and then go back to check the answers afterwards, you will have to re-read the MBE fact pattern again in order to make sense of the answer explanations. This takes time, and it actually wastes time. If you want to make the quickest corrections and make these corrections stick – review the answer explanations for each MBE right after you pick your answer.

Good luck to all who are studying for the bar exam. Don’t forget to subscribe to this blog for more tips!

Lisa Duncanson, Bar Exam Guru, Founder The Bar Exam Cram Session & Bar None Review 213-529-0990 barexamguru@yahoo.com

Feeling overwhelmed? Sign up for the Bar Exam Cram Session on Feb. 6 & 7

BNR LOGO_2014-15

California Bar Exam: How to Pass the California Bar Exam Free Workshop Dec. 1st

Leave a comment

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 Tuesday, December 1st from 7:00 pm to 9:30 pm. 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, including how to approach the recently added Civil Procedure MBEs.

Come and learn how to develop a plan for succeeding on the February 2016 bar exam. Space is limited. Sign up here!

Bar Exam Tips: July 2015 Bar Exam Predictions

4 Comments

Hello All,

Thank you for following my blog. We have had thousands of views each day this week. I am grateful for the following and glad that I can be of service. As it comes down to these final days before the bar exam, examinees feel more and more anxious about the test. This is normal. One of the ways that can help with easing up on that anxiety is to have a few areas to focus on in terms of the essays.

About the “Predictions”

While it is not possible to be able to predict what will be tested on the bar exam, I think it can not hurt to be made aware of certain essay scenarios that may be more likely to appear on this upcoming exam simply because these areas either have not been tested in a very long time, or because these areas/topics happen to be frequent flyers (favorite areas for testing) on the California bar exam.

So it is with that in mind, that I will be sharing some of my predictions. While there is no guarantee that these topics will appear on the July bar exam, it can not hurt to review these areas. Also, it gives you something else to focus on other than the constant memorization of long outlines (not something I think is especially productive) and should any of these topics appear on your bar exam, you will feel great for having studied these areas a little extra in the days leading up to the exam.

Another note about the “predictions” and release times

I write this blog to provide help to bar examinees who are all too often struggling and without guidance from their own bar prep providers. I do however, owe my first loyalty to my enrolled students who pay for the privilege of my predictions and other insights. As a result, my students get this information first. So please understand, that while I do release predictions on my blog, out of respect for my enrolled students, I release these only after I have provided this information to my enrolled students.

PREDICTIONS:

Professional Responsibility – Professional Responsibility is almost always tested on the essay portion of the California bar exam. As of 1994 the California bar examiners committed to tested Professional Responsibility on every bar exam on the written portion. This means that it it is on ever bar round on either the essays (most typical) or on the performance test or on both the essays and the performance test. Professional Responsibility was not tested on the essay portion of the February 2015 bar exam. Since it was skipped last bar round, my thoughts are that it is coming back. It is rare for Professional Responsibility not to show up on the essays. Assuming it is tested, what areas might come up? Generally you can always expect to discuss breach of the duty of loyalty – as this is the most common duty breach on a professional responsibility essay. The bar examiners can test anything and in Professional Responsibility since there are only so many areas for testing, these areas tend to repeat and are harder to predict. That being said, there are a few areas that have not been tested in a while – the area of attorney advertising has not shown up in a while. In addition, you always want to look at favorite areas of testing when trying to prepare for what is most likely. Favorite testing areas for Professional Responsibility are: when an attorney has a sexual relationship with their client, fee agreements and a fact pattern where you have a corporation as a client. These are favorite areas for testing. Above all, be ready for Professional Responsibility.

Constitutional Law – If Constitutional Law were to be tested (and I think there is a very good possibility it could show up on the July 2015 bar exam) then I would be prepared for this scenario – where the state is regulating in such a way that it potentially places an undue burden on interstate commerce. This requires you to evaluate the constitutionality of a state statute. You will need to address whether the state has the power to act (SHWEM – the states per the 10th Amendment can act for the Safety, Health, Welfare, Education or Morals of its citizens. In addition you will need to balance the state interest that is at stake against the burden that is placed on interstate commerce. One of the best ways to prepare for this type of essay is to review past California bar essays that test this exact area. Of course anything can be tested, including any area of Constitutional Law. I am leaning toward a commerce clause/dormant commerce clause issue because it has been several years since the examiners have tested this on the California bar exam. However, be mindful that favorite areas of testing for Constitutional Law are First Amendment Speech and Equal Protection. If you were to see an essay involving a state statute that treats out of staters differently than instaters – then this would also pose a minor Equal Protection issue.
Criminal Law/Procedure
Murder has not been tested in quite some time. This could be tested either on its own as a straight Criminal Law essay or possibly crossed over with criminal procedure. Typically when murder exams are crossed over with Criminal Procedure it involves the 4th and 5th Amendments. However, 6th Amend void dire and peremptory challenges based upon race and/or belief or opposition to the death penalty have not shown up in a very long time. This lends itself to an easy cross over with 8th Amendment capital punishment. Watch out also for 8th Amendment bail issues and 6th Amendment issues regarding pro se counsel and request for standby counsel. These areas are not favorites for testing, but since we have not seen these issues tested in some time you should be prepared.
Community Property
Since Community Property was not tested on the last bar exam, most are predicting that it will show up on this next bar exam. I agree it could come up and I think it could come up potentially as a crossover, it could even show up with Evidence – for example testing a Marital and Spousal Privilege issue.
Evidence
Many are also predicting Evidence. If you were to see Evidence you know that you will need to be prepared for Hearsay issues and the exceptions. Be very well prepared for this area as it always shows up when Evidence is tested. Also be prepared for the potential of seeing a transcript style exam, look out for marital and spousal privilege (as I mentioned above) and any privileges. Always expect Hearsay, follow the approach. Know your form objections in case you see a transcript style exam. Remember that there are form objections for answers (for example: “non-responsive”) that are different than form objections that area available for questions.
POSSIBLY REPEATING TOPICS – CAVEAT: ANYTHING CAN REPEAT!
Each bar round we usually see two or even three topics repeat back to back. So you need to be prepared for anything and everything. I personally think that the following topics might be a little more likely to repeat: Civil Procedure and Property and Business Associations (which was really only barely tested on the last bar exam in the area of Agency). Here is what I think you should consider for these possible repeater topics:
Civil Procedure
Watch out for res judicata and collateral estoppel as it has not been tested in quite some time. Also, remember that res judicata would allow the examiners to test the California (and minority) “primary rights view”. Also look out for notice and code pleading issues. And, of course be prepared for the most heavily tested area of Civil Procedure – jurisdiction.
Property
Look out for Easements, warranty deed issue in a land sale contracts context, also always consider landlord tenant as it is the most common tested area of property.
Business Organizations 
Agency and Partnership were tested on the last bar round, but could always come up again. However, be on the look out for a straight Corporations essay. Securities law has not been tested in years so you should be prepared for this possibility. But you could also see common law fraud, ultra vires. How? The call of the question could ask you to only address the common law and not to address federal securities law. This has been done in the past. It is not my first pick, I just want to make you aware of it as a possibility. Commonly tested areas include pre-incorporation contracts, formation of a corporation (demure, defacto and by estoppel would need to be discussed) and what I refer to as “tack on issues” where you have to answer short answer calls like: “whether stockholders who own a particular class of stock can force the corporation to pay a dividend.” These are typical short answer questions that you need to be prepared to handle in Business Organization. Another example of a short answer/tack on type issue is whether it was proper for the corporation to deny access to the books (the shareholder’s right to inspect records) to a shareholder. This is one of the challenges of Business Organizations – there are several tack on issues that the bar examiners can test. The best way to prepare for this is to review past essays and to know these tack on issues.
Obviously, anything could be tested this bar round. I never claim to be able to predict the bar exam. I think it is just as likely that you would see Wills repeat on the July bar exam as you would see a Community Property essay – so be prepared for it all.
I wish you all the best in these final days and on the actual bar exam!
Lisa Duncanson
Program Director/Founder
Bar Exam Cram Session and Bar None Review
(213) 529-0990
http://www.barexamcramsession.com and http://www.barnonereview.com