California Bar Exam Predictions – The Short List

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Hello all,

First of all I want to wish you all the very best of luck in your studies and I want to thank you for following my blog. I am truly humbled by the responses from examinees who have sent emails – thank you so much. If you would like to reach me directly, please feel free to send me an email at: barexamguru@yahoo.com

If you have been following my blog you will know that I do not really like to call my “predictions” predictions. I do not claim to be able to predict the bar exam. I have simply come up with what I call essay scenarios that I think might be worth considering.

Please understand that my students who pay to take my course do not appreciate it if I release our “predictions” weeks in advance to the world. They pay for the privilege of our insights – at least they see it that way. So it simply isn’t fair to give away part of what they pay for to everyone else for free. In past rounds I have not made this available outside of our course.

A bit about the “Predictions”

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

Note: if a topic does not make my list, that does NOT mean it is not going to show up on the bar exam. You need to be prepared for EVERY topic. My coverage below is simply a suggested emphasis and by no means should you interpret this to mean that something should be excluded from your studies. ALL subjects are testable and all subjects can repeat, back to back, from one bar round to the next. You can almost bet that if you decide to leave a subject alone, that it will appear on the exam.

Why should I review past exams today? Reviewing past exams – right before the actual exam – will improve your chances of spotting the correct issues. Anytime you review an essay (and study the answer) it is really is a substantive review. By reviewing 3 or 4 Civil Procedure essays in a row, you will have a much better understanding of how to approach the subject if it shows up on the exam.

By the way, I believe Civil Procedure is likely (see “Short List” below). Of course, it may or may not be there. But, if it is, it would probably be nice to know that this may be the beginning (finally) of a trend toward California Civil Procedure. If it is, Notice and Code Pleading create a nice federal and California distinction point. The issue of additur (where a judge increases a jury award) also creates a nice federal and California distinction point. In cases of additur, it is available in California but NOT in federal courts as it violates the 7th Amendment right to a jury trial.  Many things are “due” or “up”. All of this being said – no one can predict this exam. Nor should you direct your studies away from a topic because it isn’t on someone’s list of predicted topics. That would be very, very foolish.

So all of that being said, here are a few thoughts on what I think could be tested:

The old, 3-day exam versus the new, 2-day exam and what it potentially means in term of subject coverage: In the past, when there were 6 essays, the Bar Examiners historically tested 8 or 9 topics (spread out over the 6 essays). Now that there are only 5 essays, I think you can still expect to see 7 to 9 topics tested as the examiners frequently test cross-over exams.

SHORT LIST of possibles (see detail in next post):

Criminal Law (Murder) or Torts (If Criminal Law Murder – possibly alone or crossed with Criminal Procedure or Evidence. If Torts – most any area if possible – but longest ago in terms of testing are Negligence and Products Liability.

Constitutional Law (Possibly First Amendment or Dormant Commerce Clause)

Professional Responsibility (look out for attorney advertising or assisting a non-lawyer in the unlicensed practice of law, and ALWAYS duty to avoid conflict of interests and duty of loyalty, more details in the “Detail” post)

Civil Procedure (jurisdictional issues are most commonly tested, but Res Judicata and Collateral Estoppel are a bit due. Also look out for: issues of remittitur/additur, pleading issues (like notice and code pleading), 7th Amendment right to a jury trial as these issues can come up as short answer, tack-on issues. The last time Civ Prop was tested (July 2016) California Civil Procedure came up for the very first time. This may be the beginning (finally) of a trend toward California Civil Procedure. If it is, Notice and Code Pleading create a nice federal and California distinction point. The issue of additur (where a judge increases a jury award) also creates a nice federal and California distinction point. In cases of additur, it is available in California but NOT in federal courts as it violates the 7th Amendment right to a jury trial.

Community Property (Possibly valuation of separate property business, personal injury award, time rule for determining community property interest of pension, retirement or reimbursement for education or license. Always be on look out for transmutation issue).

*Property or Contracts

If Property: (possibly landlord/tenant or landlord/tenant crossed with covenants and equitable servitudes). Property was last tested on the July 2016 bar exam. At that time, I was predicting either Easements (specifically in the land sale contract area) or Landlord/Tenant. Since the bar tested easements in the land-sale context that round, I am leaning more towards a Landlord/Tenant exam (if you see property at all on the essays) and possibly crossed over a non-assignment or non-sublease clause and covenants (for example, a covenant restricting what can be done on the land, a sublessee takes possession and starts breaching the covenant. Can the covenant be enforced against the sublessee? Is there another remedy available – perhaps enforcing the restriction as an equitable servitude? Don’t freak out. Just know that if there is a covenant on your exam that you should discuss both covenants and equitable servitudes as these most always go together. This is a scenario, in the landlord/tenant context that we have not seen tested in a while and as a result, it may be due.

If Contracts: While both of these topics are possible, I am leaning towards a possible: “either Property or Contracts” on this upcoming exam. Property and Contracts are a bit hard to predict for this bar round given the testing on the February 2017 exam. While neither Property or Contracts was really tested outright on the February 2017 exam essays, the bar examiners sort of tip-toed in the areas of both Property and Contracts (I am talking about the Tort/Remedies exam that tested Fraud and Misrep and Remedies).

Possible Repeat topics: (Remember – historically the California bar examiners repeat two or three topics from one bar round to the next. This includes the expected Professional Responsibility essay, which is rarely skipped).

Remedies as a possible repeat topic: Say what? Yes, it could repeat, anything can repeat. Remedies is on many bar exams back to back. What was not tested last bar round in Remedies: Injunction or Contract Remedies

Evidence as a possible repeat topic/crossover topic: Possibly as a cross-over with another topic – for example: Marital/Spousal Privilege, Attorney-Client Privilege or Hearsay issue crossed over with another subject. Be sure to know these privileges and rules and especially know the California/Federal distinctions in Marital and Spousal Privilege.

Professional Responsibility usually repeats (as listed above) Note: Per the California  State Bar Examiners own rules, PR will be on either the essay portion or on the performance test every bar round).

Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure possible repeat topic. Even though this subject made the main list of possibles, it really would be (if tested) a repeat. But, it has been so long since murder has been tested that I believe it is highly likely it will come up within the next year. It may be more likely to be on the February 2018 bar exam. BUT, if it were me taking the exam this July, I would most definitely be prepared for Criminal Law Murder or Criminal Law Murder with Criminal Procedure.

Keep in mind that anything can be tested. Do not dismiss any topic. First Amendment Speech was once tested three times back to back. Many other subjects have been tested three times in a row. Anything is possible. However, the above “predictions” are what I believe may be more probable essay scenarios for the July 2017 bar exam.

Remember that you can accomplish so much in these final hours. Tomorrow, you will be relying in part on short term memory, so make certain that you study well and review writing approaches. I am always stunned at how some examinees will say: “If I don’t already know it now, it is too late”. That could not be more untrue. It is NOT too late. Study essay approaches and read essays!

I wish all who are studying for this exam the very best of luck!

Sincerely,

Lisa Duncanson
Bar Exam Guru
Founder/Program Director
Bar None Review and 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: barexamguru@yahoo.com 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
213-529-0990

Bar Exam Tip: Should I Study for the Bar While Waiting for Bar Results?

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So now you have the July 2015 bar exam behind you (congratulations) and hopefully you have been able to enjoy some of your summer. Bar results are still months away and probably one of the most common questions I receive at this time of the year is: Should I study while I am waiting for my results?

The answer to that question depends upon a lot of variables. Each examinee’s situation is different and so whether you should continue your studies while you wait for your bar results really depends upon your own unique circumstances.

I don’t recommend it to everyone to study while waiting for results. However, there are some good reasons why you might want to consider opening up those books while you wait.

1. If you feel as though you did poorly on the bar exam. If you feel you did poorly on the exam, then studying some now while you wait for results, is a good idea. If nothing more, it is a little bar review insurance. If you find out that you passed the bar exam, I doubt you will regret the fact that you put in some time studying that apparently wasn’t needed.

2. If you are working full time. If you currently have a full time job, will you be able to take time off from that job to study if you do not pass the July 2015 bar exam? No one plans on failing the bar exam. However, too few examinees give much thought to a game plan in the event that they do not receive passing results. Something you can do now is to spend a few hours each week until bar results come out in November (see, you have a lot of time). This way, if you do fail, you will have already made some headway with the material and the task ahead of you will be less daunting. In addition, you won’t be trying to juggle quite as much in the event that you are unable to secure time off from work to study full time again. And, if you are fortunate enough to receive passing results, then no harm, no foul. You won’t regret it.

3. If you did not finish a portion of the test. if you were unable to finish one of the essays or perhaps were unable to finish one of the performance tests, you may very well want to start studying again just to be on the safe side. While failing to finish an essay or even a PT does not mean you have failed, it is an indication that things did not go as planned. If it were me, under these circumstances, I would start putting in some study time early.

The bottom line is only you know how you feel about your performance on the July 2015 bar exam. As the test is designed to be difficult, it is normal for it it feel very difficult. Most examinees (pass or fail) do not walk out of the California bar exam feeling like they aced it. So try to keep it in perspective. But if you have serious doubts as to whether you passed the exam, then I recommend putting in a little time now on a weekly basis. It simply can’t hurt.

All the best to those who are waiting for bar results!!!

Sincerely,

Lisa Duncanson, The Bar Exam Guru

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

213-529-0990

Bar Exam Tip: What Should You Do for the Final Four Weeks of the July 2015 Bar Exam

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Hello Everyone,

The bar exam is one month away! So now what? You are studying and the pressure is mounting because you have only four weeks left. It is critical that you maximize the time you have left. This is the time (now) that can often make or break a bar round. By that I mean if you really take control over your studies right now, you have the time to accomplish whatever it is you need to accomplish in order to pass. What that is exactly – for you – may be different than it is for someone else. For example, how are your MBEs? How many have you done so far? If you are getting less than 70% in practice, then you have some work to do and you need to get on it quickly. This is one of the reasons that I am NOT a fan of the one-size, fits-all kind of daily assignments that students get with most commercial bar prep companies. You need a plan for your studies from here on out so that you make the most of these next four weeks.

One of the most important aspects of your bar study is having a successful study plan. I have written several posts on this topic in the past, but here is an updated version for those of you about to take (and PASS) the July 2015 bar exam!

WHAT IS A SUCCESSFUL STUDY PLAN

Before you can develop a successful study plan, it is important to understand what makes a successful study plan. I do not mean an assignment list provided to you by your bar prep provider. Assignment lists or “schedules” are, in my opinion, one size fits all, task lists. I personally think these are designed to keep you busy more than actually prepare you for the bar exam. If you happen to be taking a program that has provided you with a very long set of assignments for each day and you are having trouble keeping up with this schedule – then you owe it to yourself to do something about it – while you still have time. I get calls and emails all of the time from students who are now a month away from the bar exam and are days and weeks behind what their bar prep provider has told them they should be doing. This is not a good feeling at all.

If you are in this position, then you need to do something about it. Make a plan for yourself – one that works for you, for your schedule, your availability and is tailored to your needs (we all have a pretty good sense of where our strengths and weaknesses lie). So who better to develop a study plan for yourself than – you!

So, when I refer to a successful study plan – I mean an actual “study plan” –  a plan for success. A successful study plan not only includes assignments – like completing MBEs, writing practice essays, reviewing and memorizing the substantive law – but it also takes into account the realities of your day – “I need to eat”, “I need to rest”, “I need to exercise”, “I need to keep my stress level at a manageable level”, “I need to work part time” or “I need to work full time.” These are all critical to your success on the bar exam, and will play as important a role in your success on the bar, as your actual bar study.

SO HOW DO YOU CREATE A SUCCESSFUL STUDY PLAN?

A successful study plan requires: taking into account your weaknesses and strengths, establishing a routine and habit of study, creating and adhering to a realistic routine that will address your weaknesses and maintain or improve your strengths while also taking into account the amount of time that you actually have available to study (for example, whether you have all day to study, or you work part time, or you are working full time, juggling the responsibilities of work and children and life in general). See below for a sample one day study schedule. Incidentally, most of my students are repeat bar takers and are working full time jobs and have only a few hours each week to study – and yet, they succeed. So, first off – I want you to recognize that you can succeed on this exam even if you do not have 8 to 14 hours a day to study. And, in fact (and this will be the subject of a future post), studying 14 hours a day, is actually quite counterproductive.

Finally, a successful study plan should maximize your effectiveness by scheduling the right kinds of work during the right times of day or evening (for example, it does not make much sense to practice MBE questions at 9:00 pm after a long work day when you are exhausted). Instead, get up earlier the next day to do MBEs in the morning before going to work. Even if all you can do is five or ten MBEs before going to work, do it. And, do it every day and you will establish a routine. This repetition and routine keeps your head in the game and your mind invested in the pursuit of passing.

BE SOMEWHAT FLEXIBLE WITH YOURSELF AND DO NOT BE SO HARD ON YOURSELF

Be realistic and don’t be so hard on yourself. One of the most common things that my students come to me over is their worries that they are not doing enough. This is because they are deeply invested in their future (understandably) and they fear that the amount of time that they have to devote to their studies will simply not be enough. Students are often very hard on themselves for having not completed the 50 MBEs they set out to do that day – and rather than focusing on what they actually DID accomplish (maybe it was 20 or 30 MBES) they focus on the 20 they did not complete. That is not what you should do. Clearly you must work and work hard to succeed. But, be mindful of the fact that quality is important – going through the motions might get you through 50 MBEs. But, it would be better to spend a more intensive time on fewer MBEs and actually learn from your mistakes so that you will not make those same mistakes again.

Things are bound to come up during the next few months – things you may not have planned on happening. So, it will likely be necessary to make adjustments to your study plan based upon what is realistic for you. You may discover that your initial plan of completing 50 MBEs after attending a four hour bar review lecture is just simply not realistic for you. While it is very important to do a significant number of MBEs and to write many practice exams, you should also realize that this practice is best done at your peak times – when you are most alert. Therefore, you may decide to complete 20 MBEs before going to your bar review lecture and then an additional 20 MBEs after your bar review lecture. Or, you might decide NOT to go to your videotaped bar review lecture . . . and instead study what YOU need to study. It IS okay to do that.

ESTABLISH A ROUTINE:

One of the key features of any successful study plan is to establish a routine. While you will have some study days where your study day ends earlier or goes later, the key is in establishing a regular routine. This includes where you will study, how often you eat, exercise, take breaks as well as the types of study you do during the day and when. For example – getting in the habit/routine of completing MBEs every morning at the same time and place every day, writing practice essays on a regular basis (for example, you might use the following routine: write a practice essay every Monday, Wednesday and Friday).

Below you will find an example of a typical study day from a good study plan. Here is a sample study day for someone who does not have to work and can devote their entire time to bar study: Note that other study days would likely incorporate writing practice exams and/or attending a bar review lecture or workshop). Also, if like many examinees, you have to work part time or full time while studying for the bar exam, I can help you put together a study plan that is tailored to your schedule so that you are able to maximize the time that you do have.

SAMPLE ONE DAY STUDY SCHEDULE (Note: if you are working full time, this could be your plan of attack for  a weekend day):

7:00 am – workout – short run or walk – (For example, 1 mile run/walk through your neighborhood)

7:30/7:45 am – shower, have a healthy breakfast and “disconnect for the day”. By disconnecting for the day, I mean: disconnect from your cell phone, the internet, text messaging and anything else that can lead to wasted time and loss of focus. This is really critical. Protect your study time, commit to certain study hours and refrain from checking email, voice mail, surfing the internet, checking and replying to text messages, and prepare your friends and family for your absence – see post: “Disconnecting to Pass the Bar”).

8:30 – 9:30 am – Complete 30 – 33 Torts MBEs

9:30 am – Take five minute break (do a couple of jumping jacks, just move around for a bit, eat a quick and healthy snack – for example, grab 6 or 8 almonds. Healthy snacks throughout the day are important to ensure a successful study day. We have all heard that eating small amounts throughout the day will help to keep your blood sugar level steady. This will help maintain your energy level throughout the day as well and will lead to a much more productive study day).

9:35 am – check answers for the Torts MBEs above, review the explanations and make flashcards for each missed MBE. (Note: the amount of time this will take will vary and depend upon how many MBEs you missed, so take the time you need – the corrections you make now will result in a higher MBE score later on).

10:30 am – ten minute break – get up from your desk, move a bit, eat an apple or some other healthy snack like a couple of stalks of celery with peanut butter.

10:40 am – BEGIN ESSAY ISSUE SPOTTING EXERCISE. Read through four torts essays. For each essay, use the following method: 1) read and issue spot the essay, 2) quickly check the model answer to see if you correctly identified the issues, 3) if you did not spot all of the issues then go back to the fact pattern and try to identify which facts trigger the issues that you missed, 4) read the entire model answer, 5) study the model answer and create your own outline from the answer – this outline should be your model for how to approach this essay in the future. You will likely spend about 40 – 50 minutes per essay (15 minutes to issues spot, 5 minutes to check your issues, 20 – 30 minutes to sort out missed issues and to create your own outline/approach for tackling this essay in the future).

10:40 – 11:20 am – Torts Essay One (from “Essay Issue Spotting Exercise” above)

11:20 am – five minute break – get up from your desk, move around.

11:25 am – 12:05 pm – Torts Essay Two (from “Essay Issue Spotting Exercise” above)

12:05 pm – 12: 50 pm- lunch break – eat healthy, have something you enjoy, relax (AVOID: email, cell phone, t.v., surfing the net – these are all potential distractions that could lead to lost time – how many times have you just intended to “quickly check your email” and found that it lead to getting involved in replying to emails, becoming emotionally engaged in someone else’s problem, or simply just wasting an hour surfing the web. Don’t take the risk of picking up your cell phone or checking your email. Instead, protect the time you have promised to yourself to study – guard it. See also: post about “Disconnecting to Pass the Bar”).

12:50 – 1:30 pm – Torts Essay Three (from “Essay Issue Spotting Exercise” above)

1:30 – 1:35 pm – five minute break – get up from your desk, move around.

1:35 – 2:15 pm – Torts Essay Four (from “Essay Issue Spotting Exercise” above)

2:15 – 2:25 pm – ten minute break – get up from your desk, move around, perhaps go outside for some fresh air, have a healthy snack.

2:25 pm – OUTLINE REVIEW – Study/review Contracts substantive outline – it is recommended that you conduct your review in 50 minute increments, taking a 5 or 10 minute break every 50 minutes. This will enable you to study more hours per day and to study more effectively/productively because the breaks will prevent fatigue and will allow for more alert study periods. See recommended outline study intervals below:

2:25 – 3:15 pm – Review Contracts outline (see above).

3:15 – 3:25 pm – 5 or 10 minute break (get up, move around, stretch).

3::25 – 4:15 – Continue Contracts outline review.

4:15 – 4:25 pm – 5 or 10 minute break (get up, move around, stretch, eat a healthy snack).

4:25 – 5:15 pm – Continue Contracts outline review

5:15 – 6:15 pm – Dinner break – get up, move around, stretch, eat something healthy, make a short phone call to a supportive friend, spouse or family member – the key here is to only contact someone who is supportive of you, positive and aware and respectful of your commitment to study for and pass the bar).

6:15 – 7:15 pm – REVIEW TWO CONTRACTS ESSAYS (Spend 30 minutes for each essay and do the following: 1) Read and issue spot Contracts essay (15 minutes), 2) Check issues against the answer, read entire answer and make note of missed issues (15 minutes).

7:15 – 7:20 pm – Take a 5 minute break.

7:20 – 8:00 pm – REVIEW ESSAY APPROACHES FOR TORTS (Review the approaches/outlines that you created for the four Torts essays earlier during the day. The reason this makes sense is that you will reinforce the issue spotting and organization that you learned from your earlier review. And, since exam fact patterns repeat over and over again from one bar exam to the next, this review of past bar essays is one of the most effective ways to improve your issues spotting ability and to prepare for writing a well organized essay. Spend about ten minutes to review each essay outline/approach).

8:00 pm – End your study and relax.

Ultimately, your success on the bar exam will not come down to counting up how many MBEs you completed or how many hours you spent memorizing the law, but instead, it will come from a combination of things – most important of which is consistency and quality in your review.

Be positive, be flexible and adhere to a regular and realistic routine. In addition, keep in mind that your goal when reviewing a topic on a given day is not necessarily to master the entire subject that day. Instead, your goal should be to gain a better understanding of the topic that day and to recognize that you will need to repetitively review every topic over a period of time (two months is typical) in order to truly master it.

Above all, work at maintaining a positive attitude. This will be much easier to do if you begin with realistic goals. And, should you find yourself spending hours and hours in a 150 page outline for one topic (I DO NOT RECOMMEND SPENDING HOURS REVIEWING LENGTHY OUTLINES) consider using a much more condensed version for that subject.

Good luck to you!

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

California Bar Exam Tips: Free Workshops and Free Score Review

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Hello All,

If you failed the February 2013 bar exam, you should know that you are not alone. The complete statistics will be available on the California bar website soon. Each year, pass rates for the February bar exams are usually lower than the pass rates for July. Typically, the February bar exam pass rates range between 39% and 50%. So, if you did not pass, you know that you are among a significant number of people who are in the very same position.

What do I do now?

So what do you do now? Do you take another bar review course? Do you hire a private tutor? Do you study on your own? The answers to those questions will be different for everyone. First, you need to properly evaluate why it is that you failed. Second, consider attending one of our free bar exam workshops.

Free Bar Exam Workshops

Our next free “How To Pass The California Bar Exam Workshop” will be held on May 22nd. We will host additional workshops, but we always suggest that you attend as soon as possible to allow yourself the greatest opportunity to benefit from the strategies and techniques covered in our workshops. Here are the details for next week’s workshop:

Los Angeles County Workshop
“How to Pass the California Bar Exam”
Date: Wednesday, May 22nd from 7:00 pm to 9:30 pm
Instructor: Professor Duncanson
Location: Los Angeles, California (adjacent to the 405 freeway, parking is free)

Workshop attendees will receive handouts (including free bar exam writing templates and MBE handouts), instruction on how to write for the California bar examiners, test taking strategies and techniques, how to simply make sense of failing and move forward as well has have an opportunity to meet with our course instructor. This workshop will be taught by Professor Duncanson (Bar None Review Bar Review course founder and author of The Bar Exam Guru Blog).

Space is limited. To make a reservation for this workshop, please contact us via email at: pass@barnonereview.com or you may call us at: (213) 529-0990 or (949) 891-8831.

Free Bar Exam Score Review

We provide, for a limited period of time (as our classes and private tutoring obligations begin and then we are just not available to provide this service) a free review of your past bar scores. In order to participate in this program, you will need to send your scores to pass@barnonereview.com. We only accept scanned in score sheets or faxed scores sheets at this time (we do not accept your typed in scores in an email). We have to be sure that we are dealing with you. In addition, provide a phone number where you can be reached (all score reviews and evaluations are conducted via phone). If you would like to send your score sheet to us via fax, simply send us an email and we will provide you our fax number.

Why should I have my scores reviewed?

As a repeat bar examinee, the first step to passing the next bar exam is to review your bar exam score sheet. This can be a very confusing piece of paper. Partly because it is simply just painful to look at. Here you are, you have just received the terrible news that you have failed the bar exam and now you have to make sense of the scores. In my experience, examinees very often do not understand how the scaling works or what equals a passing “raw” score. So hopefully, what follows below will be of help to you.

Because the scoring of the California Bar Exam is scaled, it is not easy to understand what a given raw score means nor is it clear where you will need to focus from numbers alone. For example, if an examinee scores consistently the same scores on their essays (i.e., all sixties or three fifty-fives and three sixties) it will indicate a different problem than an examinee whose scores have a greater range (i.e., one 45, one 75, two 65s and two 60s etc.).

What is a passing raw score for an essay or performance test?

First of all, the raw score that is passing for the essays, performance tests and the MBEs varies from bar exam to bar exam. Most examinees incorrectly believe that a 70 is always required to pass an essay. However, this is simply not the case. In the past several bar rounds, a passing raw score on the essay has been as low as a 61 and as high as a 63 – not a 70. Of course, a 70 is a much better score to receive and better yet, 80s are really what you should be shooting for – this is the score we do our best to teach our students to be able to achieve consistently.

What is a passing raw score for the MBE?

The passing raw score for the MBE in the past few years has gone down dramatically. Several years ago, to pass the MBE portion of the exam you really needed to achieve at least 70% correct (a raw score of 140). However, in the past couple of years, the raw passing score has been between 62% – 66% (a raw score of 124 to 133). However, your practice scores should be much, much higher to ensure that you will do well enough on the MBE portion on the actual exam day.

Once the California bar releases the full statistics, some of these numbers will become more clear. However, what is most important is where you are – how far away from passing were you really? Most examinees that I speak with are quite off base when they call in to discuss their scores. There is a lot of misinformation out there. I have been following message boards and I am shocked at how little examinees know about how the test is scored. This is the fault of both law schools and bar preparation courses. It can be incredibly helpful to have someone who is knowledgeable about it to help you interpret your scores. This is really the first step in figuring out what you need or don’t need.

Free Downloads & Further Assistance

Also, be sure to visit our bar review course website free downloads of some of our Bar Exam Writing Templates as well as advice for those who are repeating the bar exam. Click here for additional Repeat Taker Information and click here for free downloads of some of The Exam Writing Templates.

Good luck to you and do not give up, this exam is do-able!

Thank you for reading and please feel free to leave a comment here on my blog or to email me directly at: pass@barnonereview.com

Good luck in your studies!

Sincerely,

Lisa Duncanson
Program Director/Founder
Bar None Review
(213) 529-0990
barnonereview.com

California Bar Exam Tips: A few words about essay “predictions” and studying . . .

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First of all, my heartfelt thanks to those of you following this blog. We have now had over 300,00 views – I am grateful and humbled.

Predictions. First of all, no one can predict the bar exam. I do publish what I think are possible essay scenarios. I will begin providing these essay scenarios in the coming days. However, you should be prepared for every topic – because any topic  can be tested. In fact, topics that were just tested on the July 2012 bar exam will likely show up again on the February 2013 bar exam. It is not likely to see all of the same subjects, of course. But, it is extremely likely to see some. Therefore, rule number one for those of you who are studying for the February 2013 bar exam should be to assume anything is testable (DO NOT presume that since something was tested the last bar round that it will not rear its ugly or pretty head again this very next bar round).

We are holding our last Bar Exam Cram Session tomorrow (Saturday, February 16th and Sunday, February 17th). There are still some seats left, should you wish to enroll, please contact Viktoria at (213) 529-0990 or email us at: pass@barnonereview.com

Since I will be teaching all day tomorrow and Sunday, I will likely not post here again until this coming Monday.

Therefore, I would like to address what you might consider doing this weekend (study wise):

1. Do not allow yourself to let the stress of the bar exam get the better of you – actively push fear and negativity aside – you will end up retaining far more material if you maintain a positive and hopeful attitude.

2. STUDY. This is an obvious one. However, how you study at this point can make a critical difference. Memorization is obviously a very important part of success on the bar exam. However, what many examinees fail to do is to read essay exams and answers. All too often examinees spend most of their focus on reading outlines, memorizing outlines and far too little time on actually gaining an understanding of the law and how the examiners test each topic.

In order to succeed: it is critical that you are able to 1) identify the issues (this requires exposure to past bar exam questions so that you can see how the issues arise) and 2) that you are able to resolve the legal issues presented. These two points may seem really obvious. However, many examinees spend all of their final days of preparation reviewing their outlines rather than reviewing essays. The bar examiners are far more interested in your ability to identify and resolve legal problems than they are with your ability to memorize and spit back rules. Rules are important. However, it is critical that you are able to evidence an understanding of the concepts that are tested. One of the best ways to improve your issue spotting and your ability to write (and set up) a successful essay answer is to study past essay questions and answers. This is really important.

Think about it this way: on exam day, you will not be asked to write out a property outline or a wills outline or a contracts outline. Instead, you will be asked to write an answer to an essay. You can only do this successfully if you are able to spot the issues. I am not saying that memorizing outlines is useless. But, I urge you to read through as many essay exams and answers as possible in the coming days. The reason? You will learn how the issues arise (and how to successfully resolve the issues) far more readily from the actual test than you ever will from an outline. You will also learn valuable insight into how to organize your own answers. It just makes good sense.

Predictions (with a caveat that there is no such thing as being able to predict the bar essay tested topics):

While you are studying this weekend, I would suggest a good review of property (1. review a reasonable outline – not a phone book sized outline, but a reasonable sized outline AND, 2) review property essays). I am leaning towards the possibility of perhaps an Easements exam or Covenants and Equitable Servitudes . . . many are predicting Property. I am continually revisiting what was tested most recently, least recently etc. Of course there is absolutely no way anyone can actually predict this test. However, I think that Property is a very possible subject for testing (many would be predicting this) and I think that something in the area of Easements is very possible.

Good luck to all who are studying for the February 2013 bar exam! And, stay tuned for more posts, tips, and yes, “predictions” . . . but, PLEASE, prepare for all subjects.

All the best,

Lisa Duncanson
The Bar Exam Guru
Bar None Review
(213) 529-0990
(949) 891-8831

February Bar Exam: How to Pass the California Bar Exam Workshop

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Hello All,

Mark your calendars – we will offer another workshop next week! Space is limited, please email us at: pass@barnonereview.com or call (213) 529-0990 or (949) 891-8831 for more details and to make a reservation.

Los Angeles County Workshop
“How to Pass the California Bar Exam”
Date: Wednesday, December 12, 2012 from 6:30 to 9:30 pm
Instructor: Professor Duncanson
Location: Los Angeles, California (adjacent to the 405 freeway, parking is free)

Workshop attendees will receive handouts (including free bar exam writing templates and MBE handouts), instruction on how to write for the California bar examiners, test taking strategies and techniques as well as have the opportunity to meet with our course instructor. The above workshops will be taught by Professor Duncanson (Bar None Review Bar Review course founder and author of The Bar Exam Guru Blog). More details to follow!

Space is limited. To make a reservation for this workshop, please contact us via email at: pass@barnonereview.com or you may call us at: (213) 529-0990 or (949) 891-8831.

Bar None Review

(213) 529-0990

(949) 891-8831