California Bar Exam Tips

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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!

Sincerely,

Lisa Duncanson
The Bar Exam Guru
barnonereview.com
Bar None Review
barexamguru@yahoo.com
213-529-0990

 

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.

SPEND TIME LEARNING BY STUDYING THE TEST

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

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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: 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).

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.

Best,

Lisa Duncanson

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

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: BarNoneReview.com

Sincerely,

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

Bar Exam Predictions: Part Two

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Hello all,

Here is part two of my “predictions” – be sure to read my earlier post for part one of my predictions. Again, I do not claim to be able to predict what will be on the bar exam. However, I do think that it can be helpful, especially in these final days leading up to the bar exam, to consider potential essay scenarios. As I mentioned in my earlier post, these “predictions” are based upon what has and has not been tested in recent years as well as my review of the history of essay testing on the California bar exam. See below for the remaining topics that are possible on the February 2016 bar exam. Please bear in mind that anything could be tested. It is not a good idea to assume that a topic will not come up on the exam. Be prepared for any subject!

Torts – As I mentioned yesterday, I think you could see either Torts or Contracts. I also think that Remedies is likely as it is tested heavily on the California bar exam (see my earlier post, Part One). While any area of Torts could be tested, it makes sense to look at what is the most common area for testing as well as what we have not seen tested in some time. The most common area of testing in Torts is negligence. Areas of Torts that have not been tested in some time include: products liability and strict liability. Torts remedies is also possible or perhaps in one of the miscellaneous Tort areas like Abuse of Process and Malicious Prosecution or Nuisance. If you were to see Nuisance, then you would likely also have coverage of Remedies. Be sure to have both a basic approach for Tort Remedies (1. Damages, 2. Restitution and 3. Injunctive relief) as well as knowing the specific types of Tort Damages, Restitutionary Remedies and the elements of Injunction).

Possibly Contracts or Contract Remedies – Know your Contracts approach up through Remedies. Be prepared for an exam dealing with the UCC. I say this not because it is the most likely essay scenario, but because when it is tested examinees often struggle with how to answer a UCC exam. Therefore, you will want to make sure that you are comfortable with how this is tested. Sure, you need to know the rules. But, most examinees who take the bar (pass or fail) know the rules. Make sure that in addition to knowing the rules that you know how the bar examiners test the subjects on the essays. For example, review a UCC exam so that you can see how it is answered and see what the examiners embrace.

The examiners have not tested the issue of a “hybrid” contract on the exam in some time. This issue comes up when it is unclear whether the contract on your fact pattern is governed by the Common Law or the UCC. This occurs where a significant or important part of the contract is a service and a significant or important part of the contract is a moveable tangible good. What the bar examiners want you to do in this situation is to discuss – right after “choice of law” – hybrid contract and apply the “predominant purpose” test.

Past examples of a hybrid contract on the California bar exam have included the following: Buyer contracts with Seller to purchase a turbine (a moveable, tangible good – for which the UCC would apply). Buyer agrees to a purchase price of $60,000.00. In addition to purchasing the turbine from buyer, buyer agrees to install the turbine on a platform in the Atlantic Ocean. Seller is not the only seller of turbines. But, Seller is the only company that can install the turbine in the Atlantic Ocean (the installation part of the contract is a service – governed by the Common Law of Contracts). Seller agrees to install the turbine for $20,000.00.

This scenario (while not tested often) has not been tested in some time on the California bar exam. As a result, it is worth some thought. Should you see something like this on your exam, do not try to force the right answer. Instead, show the bar examiners that you see the issue and that you understand that either the Common Law of Contracts or the UCC could ultimately govern the contract. The right answer will be that you consider both options by applying the predominant purpose test. Weigh the possibility of each and then come to a conclusion.

Once you address the hybrid contract issue, then you should approach the rest of the essay as though it were a UCC exam (where you discuss both the common law and the UCC – for examples of this, review any past Contracts UCC exam and you will see what you need to do). Most Contracts essays do not involve a hybrid contract issue. However, since it has not been tested in some time, it is a good idea to keep it in mind. Equally likely, I think, could be a fairly straight forward common law Contracts essay where formation is at issue, breach and then remedies.

Remember that any topic could be tested – including topics that were tested on the July 2015 bar exam. In fact, on most bar exam administrations, two or more topics will repeat from one bar exam to the next. As a result, you should not dismiss subjects that were tested in July.

If Property were to repeat: Property was tested on the July 2015 bar exam. If property is tested you should be aware that LandLord/Tenant is one of the most common areas for testing. However, we have not seen testing of easements in some time. Easements can be tested in the context of landlord/tenant or in the context of a landsale contract. If you were to see the latter, you would likely be called upon to discuss, notice (actual, constructive and inquiry) and possibly the covenants of a general warranty deed.

If Criminal Procedure were to repeat – As mentioned in my earlier post, Criminal Procedure could come up as a cross-over with Criminal Law (Murder). Be sure to read my earlier post.

If Civil Procedure were to repeat – Bear in mind that the most common areas for testing in Civil Procedure include jurisdiction – both personal jurisdiction and subject matter jurisdiction. While jurisdictional issues could easily repeat, if you do see Civil Procedure on the exam, you may see areas that have not been tested in some time: these include: Class Actions, Notice and Code pleading distinctions (if tested this would be a tack on issue, not the whole essay. Remember that Federal courts follow Notice pleading and CA follows Code or Fact Pleading). Other testable tack on issues include: remititur and additur and the 7th Amendment right to a jury trial.

I will continue to post up through the bar exam.

Be sure to sign up for the tips list.

All the best in your studies and on the exam!

Sincerely,

Lisa Duncanson
Bar Exam Guru

213-529-0990
barexamguru@yahoo.com