July 2012 California Bar Exam: Free “How to Pass the California Bar Exam Workshop”

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Hello All, 

June 2nd will conclude our series of free workshops for this bar round season as we will then need to focus exclusively on our enrolled students.

Our next, and final, “How to Pass the California Bar Exam” workshop will be held tomorrow, Saturday, June 2nd from 10:00 am until 12:30 pm in the city of Orange. This workshop will be taught by Lisa Duncanson (the author of this blog).

Workshop attendees will receive free handouts (including selected Bar Exam Writing Templates). Space is limited, but, at the moment there is still room in our morning workshop. To reserve your space, contact us at: (949) 891-8831 or via email at: pass@barnonereview.com

Note: if you wish to reserve a space this evening or early tomorrow morning, please send us an email and we will get back to you.

All the best to all who are studying for the July 2012 Bar Exam!


Recent Testimonial From Successful February 2012 Bar Examinee

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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

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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!


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

California Bar Exam: February 2012 PTA

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Hello All,

I have received an advance copy of Performance Test A (PTA) from the February 2012 bar exam. This was sent to me by the Los Angeles Daily Journal (an excellent legal newspaper) who received it from the California Bar Examiners. I received this advance copy because I was asked to write a model answer to PTA in the Daily Journal’s upcoming “Bar Results Issue”. The Los Angeles Daily Journal will publish a model answer for each essay exam as well as both performance tests in their upcoming “Bar Results Issue”.

I will provide a link to the Daily Journal’s Online Version of their model answers as soon as it is available.

Until then, for those of you who are interested, here is a copy of Performance Test A from the February 2012 bar exam: Performance Test A from February 2012 Bar Exam *

* Source: California State Bar Examiners and The Los Angeles Daily Journal.

Good luck to all who are waiting on bar results!

Lisa Duncanson

Program Director/Founder
Bar None Review

February 2012 Bar Exam: Examinee’s Rehash

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Hello All,

As you probably know, the California Bar Examiners have not yet posted the past bar exam essays or performance tests on their site. As a result, I have yet to see any of the essay questions. I have, however, seen Performance Test A as I received an advance copy so that I can write a model answer for PTA in time for the Los Angeles Daily Jounal’s Bar Exam Results Issue (where they publish model answers) and I have received many recounts of what was tested on the February 2012 bar exam.

Since the essay exams have yet to be posted on the California State Bar Exam site, it is anyone’s guess as to what was actually tested. However, I think most would agree about the general topics that were tested.

So, here is one of the recounts/analysis that was provide by a February 2012 examinee. I think that her coverage of which topics were tested on the essays is pretty comprehensive and evidences a good perspective on the last bar exam. I am also choosing to share this examinee’s account because I appreciate her humility and her approach to her “re-hash”. I also think that if you are waiting for results, it is helpful to hear that others have some of the same fears that you have about having potentially missed an issue here or there. Most people who pass the exam have missed a few issues.

Also, PLEASE understand that while I agree with most of the examinees’ accounts as to which subjects were tested – the actual issues can vary – in other words, you might answer something differently or fail to discuss an issue and yet still do a very good job and receive a good score on that particular essay. So, don’t be disturbed if you saw things differently. And, don’t assume that if I did not choose to share your recount/rehash of the last bar exam that I do not agree with you.

All of that being said, here is the first examinee written account/rehash that I am sharing. I will post more soon, but, due to the length, I will provide these in separate posts. You can see my comments at the end in bold, burgundy text.

Examinee’s Account of the February 2012 Bar Exam:

From A (I have kept all email addresses and names private):

“Dear Ms Duncansan,

Thank you in advance for your response to my inquiry.  I sat for the February 2012 exam- and just discovered your blog as a wave of terror slash panic overwhelmed my being today thinking that after ALL that work- I might not pass!  

Realizing this is now two months post-exam- I wanted to give you the following thoughts to add to the collection: 

Day One:
Essay 1- Wills and Trusts crossover with intervivos trust, pour over will, a pretermitted child, dead father and california exception where I think the son could have a share in the estate because of the CA exception, but because of the trust – he gets locked out .  I blew this essay- I had a plan, but I blew it because I don’t think I ever actually answered question 1- regarding the pretermitted child. I went around the issue- and of course- think I was correct that he would have a stake- but the a) question actually asked what his ACTUAL share would be (and the daughters who had been in the trust)- which I think is nothing because of the trust/will.
The c) question was trustee duties but for the life of me now I don’t remember the b).  I did nail the c) question- but only if the gods were smiling upon me- can I pull off a 55- which I am VERY hopeful was the worst I did on that question!

As for Essay Two: 100% Pure CON LAW! 
You first had to know that there was standing and that an org could bring a suit. I neglected the org/suit- and literally stubbed my own toe kicking myself later, addressing the standing issue on the injury in fact/concrete and individuated pov- I might have also said it was ripe- I then addressed the public function law making ability of cities (as opposed to states) and then one had to address the whole 9 yards- Equal Protection analysis; and then the First Amd- Speech issues. I addressed them all in neat paragraphs from Commercial Speech on down- Time and Place, sign restrictions, prior restraint, overbreadth and vagueness (addressing the criminal distinction that applied to one and not the other that I now don’t remember), I also said it could be a force the person to speak kind of thing- you know – force someone to speak in Spanish language they don’t know or don’t want to know/speak- and even touched on right of association- even though it was a bit tenuous. and then a conclusion. I addressed both points of view- Govt and Org for each paragraph plus conclusion. I think I did ok on this- but have no idea what totally missing the “org-standing” issue will do to my score.

Essay 3 – Evidence- 
This was your typical racehorse…I can’t remember at all now- I’m sure more timely responses to you will address which jurisdiction- I feel like it was one or the other- Fed?  Anyhow- I used a memory method that taught me to address each and every Evidence issue in order- the method works like a dream for Evidence-type questions… 

Relevance- Logical, Legal, Reliability- I feel like I spoke a bit about reliable based on the dead-quality of Mary the witness- Double Hearsay; spoke about Witness testimony; spoke about Unavailable Witnesses; Extrinsic Policies- I definitely addressed the Offers to compromise/settle claims- I think I may have slipped here- I know thinking afterwards- I was on autopilot- may have spoken about BOTH Fed and Cal distinctions- even thought I strongly remember the question asking only for one… anyhow- or was if offer to pay med expenses- anyhow- you probably had better clarification closer to the time of the test. 

Character Evidence- I know there was something about character evidence in this question- I can’t remember which distinction

Impeachment- I KNOW there should have been an IMpeachment discussion- this is the one thing I missed- don’t ask me how- I was racing and my brain failed me. I hope it will not kill me. 

Hearsay- Of course the intro paragraph and then I literally took each statement for A and B and went down the line- Declaration against interest, addresed dying declaration ( I feel like I remember it was not because she didn’t know she was dying at the time), etc. I think there was probably Biz and official declarations- I think I talked about equivalency /catch all if it was the fed question- no if it was CAL- I just can’t remember-. Of course the sense impressions- I know I knew the difference at the time but because I can’t remember if they tested Fed or Cal… but again-  consistent/inconsistent stmts….I think the kitchen sink approach worked- I concluded each one with a decision- so even if something didn’t quite apply- I didn’t skip it… My essay was well organized and headed properly. H0pefully this will count for something?

I thought the evidence question was reasonable- if not a lot of work- but what I expected having practiced MANY exams. I was racing for the finish-  I am not happy about skipping Impeachment… I guess to me- the mystery is whether that violent omission will overshadow what I think was a very comprehensively written everything else!? 

This was a total nightmare.  The problem for me was a (somewhat wasted) hecka long time organizing with my ruler and so on- and this was a racehorse- pure and simple- with a zillion little niggling sub questions- I copied the format EXACTLY and created an outline with subheadings- but I found myself really pressed for time and while I think I wrote total BS at the end- I did try to conclude no matter what. I thought it was difficult because when you first started, you thought it would be easy and easy to organize- but realized you really had to address paragraph (part B) first in order to create the proper outline. 

I dunno about this one!

Day Three:
Essay 4: Corporations with Remedies– Certainement… My memory castle had me writing a fully formed contract/remedies essay- with time to address the secondary analysis- whether they were actually a Partnership. I did the same analysis for both- with Remedies and the differences between the two. I am 100% certain it was appropriate to address the Partnership distinctions… How Formed; Characteristics/Rights and Liabilities of Dir/SH/Partners and Fiduciary Duties Limited liability issues- why they weren’t executed properly, (no filings), etc. and then of course the Corporations questions- validly created/ veil piercing ( I think I talked about  fraud, undercapitalization. alterego) I think there was a dividends analysis- or was it repurchase/limitations/ can’t remember- but the analysis was there- power to issue- surplus etc. liability for unlawful issuance, etc. no SEC issues/public company issues- Duties and Rights of SH/DIR/OFF… controlling sh fiduciary duty- etc. Duty of Loyalty, care, biz judgment rule/ and termination? I think?  Anyhow- I felt confident about this essay- I am 120% sure the partnership analysis was warranted. 

Oh and the remedies- that was pretty straightforward- wrote the essay in a neat format, and followed instructions- I think you did the analysis within the body of the remedy response? NOt sure, can’t exactly remember how worded- but the actual ANSWER was a remedies answer, but fueled by the Partnership/Corps analysis… 

Essay 5 – Real Property- Landlord Tenant… 
I 100% remember that this was a LL/T question- again- pretty straightforward legal analysis- but the conclusion they wanted was kind of wonky- I feel like it almost had a remedies vibe-  To be sure- I am drawing a total blank as to the Professional Responsibility portion of that question-  I can’t truthfully remember… at all…but don’t feel like it was there? I know there was something else about that LL/T question…hmm…I think it was remedies- tort remedies (NO TORTS)? I’m not sure- but I know people were chatty that it was a “TORTS” question- it was not. 

Wait- I remember- it WAS TORTS-esque question- you needed to talk about the Duty to Owner of Land-/Duty to Lessee!  That’s right- a kind-of negligence question- but it was more subtle- no injury talk…you had to address that DUTY in the context of the RP-LL/T issues- which included both the T’s duty to pay rent and exceptions to that duty, etc.  and the landlord’s duty to x, y and z. Too far out to remember exactly- but I think that is why people are saying Professional Responsibility. I can say even with this James Joyce-esque stream of fairly reliable consciousness that there was absolutely no PR in that essay- Duty- of the LL….

Well- this was a great essay- I wrote again, stem to stern- addressed each of the lawyer’s duties to client, (I hit almost all, if I recall) and then he Lawyer’s duty as an advocate- and last, the Layer’s advertising rules. You had to hit almost EVERY single outlineable PR issue- except Prosecutor’s responsibilities and I think it asked for the CAL/ABA distinctions- so two little mini-responses for each section. 

I thought it was a chance to get a lot of points- lots of issues to hit… 

Last but not least- the PTB- 
So- this wasn’t as bad as the first day (in my opinion) BUT it had a LOT of facts to organize. I felt more comfortable with the completing of this PT- but I was racing- it was difficult- and you had to remember to follow the instruction- I think they specifically wanted this to be for the Judge, not the jury- but your language was not supposed to regurgitate law, nevertheless- mostly tell the story. I used a story telling voice- whatever the instructions said- to convince the judge of the facts in issue- and organized by…hmm…I think it was the three possible convictions- each building on the last- with pretty straightforward legal analysis…Mini IRAC like crazy for the elemental parts of the law adding in the supporting facts. 

I liked this one- but was very glad the test was over. 

I hope this is somewhat helpful. 


Lisa’s Comments:

Hello “A”, thank you for your detailed, from the best of your memory, recount. First of all, no one writes 8 perfect exams. All you can do is your very best and it sounds like you did just that. You have addressed some issues that many miss – for example, on your constitutional law essay you state that you addressed over breadth, vagueness and prior restraint (granted, I have yet to see this essay question, but, the California bar examiners definitely embrace First Amendment Speech exams to address these points – so good for you for seeing these as issues – so many forget or fail to see it as important).

In addition, you addressed the right not to speak (which to me is something I thought of after hearing about the fact pattern from students after the end of day one – and it is something that most examinees would not catch). Now, I am not saying that a person would have to address all of these things to achieve a good score, but, over breadth, vagueness and prior restraint are part of what should  be on everyone’s First Amendment Speech checklist/approach. (Your addressing the right not to be forced to speak is what I would consider a bonus coverage on this essay – again though – remember I have NOT yet seen the essays .  .  . so I can only interpret the interpretations :))

I know it is stressful waiting, but, it really sounds like you did well – given your report. Everyone makes mistakes on exam day (whether they realize it or not). Your other coverage sounds like it was right on as far as the major topics that were tested.

Regarding your comment about PTA, I agree with you 100 percent about it being a tough one – that is a question I have actually seen as I received an advance copy of it in order to write a model answer for the Los Angeles Daily Journal. I will post PTA here (yes, the actual question) in a separate post. To everyone, please feel free to add comments here. (I will moderate these to to maintain a positive blog – no negative comments about fellow examinees will be allowed – so if you want your comment to be approved, please be respectful of fellow examinees).

All the best to those of you waiting for bar results! May 18th will be here soon! Best regards,

Lisa Duncanson

Program Director/Founder
Bar None Review

February 2012 California Bar Exam: Rehash About The Rehash

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Hello All,

First of all, thank you to all who have been following the blog. And thank you to all who have written me personally. It is humbling to have such a large audience and I greatly appreciate your following.

I know some are waiting for a “rehash” of day three’s exams (at least some of you are – although, I am sure many would like nothing more than to not think about it at all.  And by now, maybe you have forgotten day three’s essays). In any case, a rehash there shall be.

I received many emails about day three’s exams. However, the recollections provided of the fact patterns have varied quite a bit. This makes providing a rehash (without the benefit of actually seeing the essays) pretty challenging. I pride myself on providing high quality content. And, the last thing I want to do is to ruin someone’s day by suggesting that they interpreted an essay (that I have not yet even seen) incorrectly.

So, I have decided to share with you some of what I believe to be the better breakdowns provided by actual examinees (with my own thoughts added – I will let you know when it is me and when it is an examinee’s interpretation of what was tested).

The California bar examiners are due to release the past questions (all essays and performance tests) any day now. At that point, I will be in a much better situation to provide my own interpretation of what issues were required.

However, in the meantime, I thought it would be helpful to share some of what I have received from some of the many examinees who took the time to write to me.

In addition to examinees writing in with their descriptions of what was tested, I have received many emails asking specific questions about the last exam. I believe that some of these these questions would be useful and so I will also post some of your fellow examinees’ questions (along with my answers). I will keep all email addresses private, of course.

I am still willing to address questions by email at: pass@barnonereview.com

I commit a certain number of hours each week to addressing questions at no charge and take all questions on a first-come, first-served basis.

Good luck to all who are waiting for bar results!  It can be a painfully slow wait to May 18th . . . hang in there!


Lisa Duncanson

Bar None Review

California Bar Exam: February 2012 Day Three Rehash Coming Soon


Hello All,

First of all, thank you to everyone who has written in with their thoughts on the essays. We will be sharing some of the more detailed analysis that students have provided and I will be weighing in with what I think was expected. Know this for sure (from what I have been told by examinees about the three fact patterns) there were many issues tested and there were different routes you could take to solve/resolve some of the issues presented.

We have received many, many emails from examinees out there who are worried because they feel that they missed an issue or two. Please understand that when an essay exam is heavily issue loaded or has more than one route to resolving the issue, then you are bound to “miss” something. It is normal and it certainly does not mean that you have failed that essay.

I know it is difficult, but, it makes sense at some point to let it go. To that end, I will be posting some of the issue analysis that were provided to me by examinees (detailed lists of what they felt was tested) so that you can see what other students felt they caught or missed. I will also do my best to weigh in on what I think the examiners were truly looking for on day three’s exams.

By the way, I really felt that Criminal Law had to show up on this exam . . . PTB was heavy Criminal Law. So they really covered quite a few of the MBE topics this round and of course heavy on Professional Responsibility (day one’s PT and day three – on one essay if not two). So, nothing too surprising really. I know, from the reports that I received from examinees, that this exam was tough. But, quite frankly it was a pretty typical bar exam round. If anything, it was a more typical bar exam round than July 2011 which really did not have any cross-over essays. I know that may sound easier (no cross-overs) but, it wasn’t an easy exam at all. Take a look at the July 2011 Real Property essay and you’ll see just how tough a non-cross-over can be (very heavily issue loaded and difficult to finish in one hour).

Day three threw many examinees for a loop. However, you should bear in mind that if you felt like it was tough, then so did everyone else. The key to passing an exam like the California bar exam is to keep writing in spite of the fact that you are a little thrown by the essay (as opposed to sitting there and thinking for too long about what to write – that can be dangerous).

We will have something here by tomorrow on day three’s essays.

Thank you again to all of you who have written in and given your essay synopsis and analysis. And for those who have not done so already, feel free to do so. Also, still trying to answer questions as I can about the test. However, the point of my next post will be to hopefully address many questions all at once and to help you put this test mentally behind you.

All the best,

Lisa Duncanson

Bar None Review