California Bar Exam Predictions – The Short List

Leave a comment

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 Tips: Free Score Review & Free Workshops

2 Comments

Hello All,

If you failed the July 2012 bar exam, you should know that you are not alone. The complete statistics will be available on the California bar website soon. Pass rates for the July bar exams are usually just about 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

We will offer a free bar exam writing workshop during the next week, for more information and to register, contact us at (213) 529-0990 or via email at: pass@barnonereview.com

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 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

July 2012 Bar Exam Tip: REST

Leave a comment

Hello all,

Congratulations to everyone who took the July 2012 California bar exam! I want to thank you all for following my blog and for writing to me personally. I also want to thank those of you who read my story of my battle with cancer (here) and made a donation – I am incredibly grateful – one person even donated within a couple of hours of having completed the test – I am so touched and so appreciative.

Cancer leaves a pretty big, vacuous, financial hole in its wake. Thankfully though – I am well and able to do what I love to do most – teach and help others. This blog brings me so much satisfaction – to be able to reach so many people and to provide some support to those who really need it – well, it means a lot to me. If you found my blog helpful and want to make a donation of any size, it would be so appreciated.

Like you should all do – I am taking some time off. However, please continue to send in your questions – I will get back to you – just know that it might not be until Monday.

Again, thank you for following my blog and for sending in donations, it is truly appreciated.

I will be writing more posts in the coming days (including posting answers to some of the most commonly asked questions that I receive during this time).

Until then – enjoy your weekend – you deserve it!

All the best,

Lisa Duncanson
Program Director/Founder
Bar None Review
barnonereview.com

July 2012 California Bar Exam Predictions – Free Essay Examples

Leave a comment

Hello All,

I have had several requests for examples of how Van Camp and Pereira are tested on an essay. Our course materials include over 150 past California bar exam essays. However, my students are also all given extra sample essays for the topic areas that I think are most likely on that particular bar round. My students have our essay books, which provide a solid coverage of the range of essays that can be tested. But, I provide additional essay handouts for some of the areas that appear to be more likely or more probable for each bar round. Again, no one can predict this exam and I certainly do not claim to be able to predict it. I have had some bar rounds where I have come up with as many as 5 out of the 6 essay topics and even the specific sub topic (i.e., predicting defamation, not just Torts). However, this is not something I claim to be able to do every time.

You should be prepared for anything that comes your way and one of the very best ways to do that is to review past bar exam essays.

As anyone who has taken the bar and failed will tell you, simply memorizing the law is not enough. You really need to see how the concepts are tested in the context of the actual exam. If you have not spent a lot of time reviewing essays, then today would be a great day to start – it is never too late to review essays and perhaps stumble upon one or two that  you actually end up seeing on day one or day two of the bar exam. Remember, the California bar examiners repeat the same or nearly identical essays over and over again. Exams from four years ago are seen again all of the time, as are 10 year old exams – negligence is negligence, products liability is products liability, defamation is defamation . . .

My point is that there are only so many ways these topics can be tested. Therefore, reviewing past exams is an excellent way to improve your chances of understanding the issues and addressing the correct issues on exam day. Anything you see today or tomorrow, you will remember on the day of the exam.

Based upon the many requests for further explanation of certain concepts – like how does Van Camp and Pereira play out on a Community Property essay, what is/how do I handle the “primary rights” view (which is a minority and California held view) in Civil Procedure? – I have decided to provide some free essays along with additional study tips for the coming days/hours).

I will be happy to send you a copy of some of the essays that I think either help illustrate these concepts or that I think are worth reviewing right before the exam. In addition, I will be happy to send you tips regarding the coming days/hours.

How do I get the free essays and tips: If you want to receive essays along with additional tips and information about the exam, please send an email to me at: pass@barnonereview.com and include “send me essays & tips” in the subject line. Please include your first and last name and the law school you attended. (I do not release any of this information and never, ever, sell contact information that I receive from students or blog followers. Your information is kept confidential).

Further Predictions for day three: I will continue posting on my blog through the bar exam. After I know what was tested on day one, I will provide my suggestions of areas to focus on for day three’s essays (predictions of sorts). I will make these public on Tuesday afternoon while you are taking the exam. However, in order for me to do so, since I am not sitting for the test, I need to hear from examinees as to what was actually tested. My students will contact me, but, the more I hear from examinees, the more I will know and the more focused I can be about making suggestions for areas to study on day three.

Help me help you: So, if you have a moment, please feel free to email me on Tuesday during your break with your thoughts on what was tested. The more I know, the more I can offer to you.

Hang in there, I know these last few days can be tough, but, be positive and believe in yourself.

Best of luck to all who are taking the bar exam!

Also, I want to thank you all for following the blog, we have had over 10 thousand views in less than a week and the blog has now (as of this past week) received over 200,000 hits.

Thank you so much for the following and for your positive feedback via email – it is greatly appreciated.

Best,

Lisa Duncanson
Program Director/Founder
Bar None Review
(949) 891-8831
barnonereview.com

Recent Testimonial From Successful February 2012 Bar Examinee

Leave a comment

Here is one of our recent testimonials. Nick was a repeat bar taker (February was his 5th bar attempt) who had to work full time in a very demanding job all while juggling bar study and family responsibilities. We tailored a program to fit his study availability, he followed instructions well and worked hard. We are happy to report that he was successful. Congratulations Nick!

You can contact Nick at Kahuku@sbcglobal.net

California Bar Exam Tips: Free Score Review & Free Workshops

Leave a comment

Hello All,

If you failed the February 2012 bar exam, you should know that you are not alone. The complete statistics will be available on the California bar website soon. Pass rates for the February bar exams are usually between 39% and 45%. Pass rates for July bar administrations are often about 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

We will offer a free bar exam writing workshop during the next week, for more information and to register, contact us at (949) 891-8831 or via email at: pass@barnonereview.com

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
(949) 891-8831
barnonereview.com

February 2012 Bar Exam – Day Two

Leave a comment

Good morning bar takers!

Come back this afternoon to see more tips on last minute preparation for Thursday’s essays, my thoughts on what might be on the essays and just some good old fashioned encouragement! In the mean time, I thought hearing what a few examinees had to say to me privately (no names are included here) might be helpful to you.

Here is what a few of your fellow examinees had to say:

“Ms. Duncanson, your essay predictions were spot on!!!  I still don’t feel too good about my con law essay because it was tough, but I’m sure glad I had your blog to refer to when deciding which issues would merit some additional review!

The PT also, in my opinion, might as well have been a crossover PR/Business Associations (Partnerships) essay!  I am now eager to learn what your outlook is for PR come Thursday because I recall having read in your blog that the way PR is tested has a lot to do with how extensively it was implicated, if at all, in PT A.  Well, the gist of the PT concerned a proposed partnership between a lawyer and a non-lawyer to run a legal self-help business allowing customers who wish to represent themselves in legal matters (sort of like services provided by Legal Zoom).  One major sub-issue involved in the receptionist’s duties and their potential ethical implications under the code.  Unlike previous PTs in which the library contained case law, this PT had absolutely NO case law, but two sets of professional conduct code sections governing the prescribed/proscribed conducts in the fact scenario!  It also included a “formal opinion” from the State Bar of Columbia as to the code of professional conduct.

Just thought I’d give you a brief background of the PT and also let you know that, so far, you are batting 100% in the essay predictions!

Thank you!”

And another email from one of your fellow examinees:

“I just wanted to say thank you for posting something about the essays today. It really helps to move on to tomorrow having some closure about what happened today. I’m sure I missed a bunch, but hearing that I was at least writing on the correct subject areas (and that someone else was equally tripped up by Question 2 and rushed with Question 3) gives me some peace of mind. So thank you for taking the time to provide that information, and for making it available to the public.

The one thing I will add is that the first call for the Trusts/Wills question (whether Dave, the unknown 25 yr old son, had a legal claim to the trust) specifically said answer according to CA law. I wasn’t quite sure what this was looking for, but I thought it would be worth mentioning since I know there’s a pattern of there being at least one specific CA law question.

Ok, on to tomorrow!! Thanks again :)”

Note: I added the underlining above to highlight the apparent California interrogatory (call of question). Please bear in mind, I have not seen the test. I have heard from many, many examinees and have put together what sounds like was tested. But, your focus should not be on day one any longer. However you feel about your performance on day one, you can still get through day two and three with flying colors. So much of this exam is about rising above how you feel, forging onward, pushing ahead. And, to that degree (regardless of what you might think about the bar exam, whether it is fair or not) if you were a client, you would want your lawyer to be able to do just that – forge ahead, work through whatever physical difficulties the day might present and simply do their absolute best on their behalf. So today and tomorrow – do the absolute best on YOUR behalf!

I have a story I want to share with you. The semester before I was to take the bar exam (back in 1994) my best friend was taking the bar exam in February of 1994. She felt so horribly about day one of the exam, was so certain that she had failed, that she packed her bags, got on the elevator to head down to the lobby of her hotel, check out and head home. Now what you need to know first is that this friend of mine was tough, not a baby, not weak and was smart. But, she had convinced herself that she had failed and that was simply that.

While on the elevator another bar taker asked her where she was going (it was pretty obvious she was leaving). She told him she was going home. He asked her why and she explained that she knew she had already failed the bar exam. (I think you may know where I am going with this by now). Well, the short version is that this fellow bar taker talked her into staying, told her, “Hey, at least you will know what the MBEs are like so that when you take it next time you will be better prepared”. So, she stayed for day two and she stayed for day three and guess what? She passed. She told me about how she was sure she had failed the test before she got her passing bar results, how she had planned to walk out, how she did feel like day three was a “little bit easier” but, that she still believed that she had missed too many issues and had not finished enough of the essays to pass.

So, the moral of the above, true story, is that you should never give up, not today, not tomorrow.

And one last thing, if you think an essay is hard or the MBEs are hard or the PT is/was hard . . . remember that you are not alone in thinking that way. It is hard. But, you can do it. So stay as positive as you can and hang in there.

I am packing up and saying goodbye to my Ontario students this afternoon. But, will be back online with more tips and areas to focus on by this afternoon.

All the best to you! And, thank you so much to all of you who have written to me personally – it is much appreciated and it really makes me feel like what I am trying to do here is worthwhile. So thank you. Also, feel free to comment on my blog, it can only help others.

Best,

Lisa Duncanson

Program Director/Founder
Bar None Review
barnonereview.com