What should I do if I just failed the bar exam?

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What should you do if you just failed the bar exam?

If you have failed the bar exam, keep in mind that you are in good company. The bar exam is not an IQ test. Many very bright and hardworking examinees fail the exam. As devastating as this experience is, it is important to start thinking about what you need to do next. Below are some tips and suggestions. Above all, don’t lose heart.

1) Get past being devastated as quickly as possible – I know this sounds really harsh, but the sooner you are able to get back on track and develop a plan for passing – and yes, start studying again – the better. Those that do, have the best chance of passing the next exam.

2) Find out why you failed – this starts by getting your scores back from the bar. The bar will automatically mail score sheets to all examinees who failed the bar. This usually takes 1 – 3 days after bar results come out. When you get your scores, don’t panic and don’t make assumptions about any one section. You will receive raw scores and scaled scores. Take the time to read the materials that come with your score sheet that explain the raw and scaled scores. See also, other posts on this blog about making it to re-read and interpreting bar scores. And, if you need help interpreting your scores, you can get it free through Bar None Review – contact me (Lisa Duncanson) directly at: barexamguru@yahoo.com (Note: I offer this on a first come, first serve basis and for a limited time. To participate you must send a copy of your actual score sheet, including your name and a phone number where you can be reached).

3) Commit to taking and passing the next exam – in almost every case, I would recommend taking the very next bar exam. Obviously there are sometimes reasons to sit out a bar exam administration – but in most cases, the best advice is to take the very next exam. Think about it, the material seems like it has fallen out of your head right now – just think how hard it will be to put it all back together if you wait another six months – that would be a whole year since your last review – not a good plan.

4) Attend our free workshop –  I will be teaching a free, How to Pass the California Bar Exam workshop this Wednesday, May 18th in Los Angeles. Students will receive a free copy of our Guide to Passing the California Bar Exam as well as free bar exam writing templates. The workshop will provide substantive coverage on how to successfully write for the California bar examiners, how to develop a plan for succeeding on the July 2016 bar exam, tips for writing Performance Tests and strategies and tactics for success on the bar exam. Space is limited. Click here to reserve your space in the May 18, 2016 workshop.

5) Develop a plan of attack – Your plan might include taking another bar review course, hiring a tutor, or continuing your studies on your own. There are many courses available (assuming you already tried barbri) that cater to different needs – small classes, private tutorials. Do your research and due diligence before enrolling in a course. Ask for references, ask to see the course materials before enrolling, make sure the bar review provider is a good fit for your needs. And, don’t abandon your common sense – if it sounds too good to be true – it probably is. But, whatever you do (take a course or study on your own) make a plan – figure out how many hours you will study each day, where you will study, how long will you have to review each topic, how many essays you will write each week, how many MBEs you will do each day, how many PTs you will write – figure it out, map it out and develop a plan. For tips on how to create a study plan, click here.

6) Work hard – no matter how hard you worked the first time, you are going to have to work just that hard again. And, if in your honest assessment of your prior bar studies you conclude that you did not work hard enough – well then you are going to have to work harder. There simply is no magic bullet.

Best,

Lisa Duncanson

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

CA Bar Exam: Free Workshop Tonight!

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Hello all, 

We still have a few spots left in this evening’s workshop.  This is not just our everyday free, “How to Pass the California Bar Exam Workshop” 

Instead, tonight’s workshop will provide a few significant bonuses!

What will be different about this workshop?
  • Students will receive our free Guide to the California Bar Exam
  • Free copies of selected Bar Exam Writing Templates
To register, click on the link below: 

We hope to see you this evening!

Bar Exam Tip: How to Create a Successful Study Plan for Passing the February 2016 Bar Exam

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Hello Everyone,

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 February 2016 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” like BarBri’s “Pace Program” 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. 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 studying 14 hours a day, can actually be 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.

BEGIN YOUR STUDIES EARLY – PUT TIME ON YOUR SIDE!

No matter what your circumstances, starting your studies early is always a good idea. Even if it is just a few hours a week. If you will be working part time or full time in the months leading up to the bar exam, then beginning your studies early s critical. Whatever your circumstances, be sure to sit down and make a plan. Planning ahead and starting your studies early is like having bar exam insurance. Keep this in mind: I have never met a student who regretted starting their studies early – but, students often regret not starting soon enough.

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)

New Bar Exam Resource Site: February Bar Exam

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For those of you taking the February bar exam, visit FebruaryBarExam.com for the most up to date information on registering for the February bar exam. Visitors will find information on all states’ bar exam filing dates and keep abreast of news affecting those taking the bar exam.

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February 2015 California Bar Exam Predictions – Part One

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Hello All,

Thank you for following the blog and for your patience this February regarding the expected Bar Exam Predictions. We had a record turn out in our class sessions and this “guru” has been very busy. I hope that the materials available on this blog are helpful (see some of the “freestuff” if you haven’t already for downloads). Also, I will make additional handouts and a few recommended essays for your review (based upon my “predictions”) available. Please understand that my enrolled students expect me to provide this information to them first.

About my “predictions” I do not claim to be able to predict what will be tested on the California bar exam. Nor do I recommend that you study based upon anyone’s predictions. However, I do think it can be helpful to know of some possible essay scenarios when going into the bar exam. I base the essay scenarios that I come up with based upon the following: 1) historically favorite areas for testing by the California Bar Examiners, 2) areas that have not been tested on the bar exam for some time (Criminal Law MURDER, for example) and 3) just my gut and my experience with the exam over the past twenty plus years.

What I think is very possible to show up on the exam: First of all, you should know (if you do not already) that any topic can be tested on the essays AND that generally at least two topics (and I don’t just mean Professional Responsibility) will repeat from one bar exam round to the very next. And, some topics repeat three or more times back to back. For example, Community Property was just tested three times in a row and is still fair game on this upcoming bar exam.

But, what am I leaning towards? I think you could see a Property essay. If you were to see Property on the essay I would be prepared for a few different scenarios: Covenants (either of the promise type that generally is tested in conjunction with Equitable Servitudes) or in the General Warranty Deed context. These are both completely different areas, but neither have shown up in some time on the California bar exams. So, how could these be tested? First of all, you should be mindful of the fact that one of the most popular areas of testing on the essay in Property is the area of Landlord/Tenant. This area allows for a nice cross-over with Covenants and Equitable Servitudes. Remember that one of the key distinctions between Covenants and Equitable Servitudes is that Covenants are enforceable at law (meaning you can get money damages) while Equitable Servitudes are enforceable at equity and therefore your likely remedy would be an injunction. I do think that Remedies will show up somewhere on your bar exam and this type of essay would satisfy that as well (the injunction as a remedy).

If you were to see the covenants that go along with a General Warranty Deed then you would need to see something on your essay exam that deals with a landsale contract. One possible scenario would be a situation where there is an Easement (or purported easement) and the issue becomes whether or not the Easement is valid, and if so, is it valid against a subsequent purchaser (in other words, does “buyer” take the land subject to the easement)? This would likely take you into a discussion of the present and future covenants, notice (actual notice, constructive/record notice and inquiry notice) and possibly recording statutes (I know, everyone’s favorite). But, if it were me taking this next bar exam, I would review these areas and make sure that you have it down. It is also helpful to see examples in past essays for how these areas come up. I will make essays available to anyone who would like to sign up for our Bar Exam Tips List.

Criminal Law: Criminal Law has certainly been tested quite a bit over the years. However, what has not been tested in many years is a Criminal Law Murder exam. See earlier posts with our approach for writing a murder essay. Of course I do not know if murder will show up on this bar exam. But, it is certainly a topic that I think is overdue. So make sure you are comfortable with it and be clear on your defenses. We have not seen the insanity tests tested in a very long time either.

Other possible topics: Wills or Business Organizations or both. If you were to see Wills, I think the area of pretermitted heirs (child or spouse) is highly testable as are the concepts of integration, incorporation by reference and acts of legal significance and dependent relative revocation. Of course the rules are very important. But, in my experience, the difficulty for students is not in knowing the rules, but in knowing when these issues arms (how these issue show up on an essay) and knowing that you are expected to discuss many things rather than approaching the essay from the standpoint of discussing only provable, definite issues. You should include in your answer those things that you are dismissing – and – showing the bar exam grader your thought process and why you are dismissing that particular issue. You will see from a review of past bar exam essays and released answers that the bar examiners embrace answers that discuss many options, many issues per area, not just the ball park issues.

I will add more about what I think could come up if Business Organizations were to be tested. But, always consider that Professional Responsibility is a common cross over with anything in Partnerships or Corporations. And, a recent favorite of the bar examiners has been the area of: a lawyer assisting a non-lawyer in the unlicensed practice of law.

If Torts were to repeat: If you were to see a Torts exam, I would expect to possibly see a Tort Remedies essay or perhaps Defamation. Other areas we have not seen in a very long time in Torts include: Nuisance (which makes a great gateway for a Tort Remedies exam) and the process torts (Abuse of Process and Malicious Prosecution – which can make for a great cross-over with Negligence – yes, negligence could repeat again – or Professional Responsibility). The point is that you should not dismiss any topic and you especially should not dismiss topics that were just tested in July thinking that you will not see these topics repeat on the February bar exam.

More tomorrow: I will post more tomorrow about what I think could show up on Tuesday or Thursday’s essays.

As always, I wish everyone who is taking the bar exam the best of luck. There is still time to resolve problem areas in your favor. Stay calm, be confident and recognize that it is absolutely normal to feel anxious in these days leading up to the exam. I will be posting daily from here on out and will add to these predictions by tomorrow.

I will be sending out tips as usual on our Bar Exam Tips List that we will make sign ups available tomorrow or you can send us your name and email address to us at: barexamguru@yahoo.com. You will also be able to sign up here on the blog tomorrow.

All the best,

Lisa Duncanson

Prepare For The February 2015 Bar Exam With The Two Day Bar Exam Cram Sessions

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Hello all,

All the best of luck to those who are waiting for bar results for the July 2014 bar exam!

For those of you who are preparing for the February 2015 bar exam, we have released our February 2015 Bar Exam Cram Session Schedule. We will conduct three separate Bar Exam Cram Sessions for the February 2015 Bar Exam. The dates are as follows (click on dates below for more information and to register):

Session I – December 13, 2014 & December 14, 2014

Session II – January 17, 2015 & January 18, 2015

Session III – February 7, 2015 & February 8, 2015

The Two Day Bar Exam Cram Sessions provide a condensed review of all bar tested topics and provide students with a tried and true approach for each essay tested topic. We tell you what you need to know, including what to write, when to write it, how much time to spend on particular issues and provide you with a proven approach to success on the California Bar Exam. You receive a complete set of The Bar Exam Cram Sheets, a study plan for the final ten days leading up to the bar exam and all of the Bar Exam Guru’s predictions and email updates up through the bar exam. See the links above for more detailed course information.

Stay tuned for more information about our February 2015 Civil Procedure MBE Maximizer Program, Score Maximizer Program and Writing Maximizer Program.

All the best to everyone waiting for bar results!

Lisa Duncanson

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

 

 

California Bar Exam Tips: Free How to Pass the Bar Exam Workshop

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Hello all,

Thank you for following the blog, thank you for taking the Bar Exam Guru past half a million views! I am grateful for the following and look forward to providing more tips!

Our next free, “How to Pass the California Bar Exam Workshop” will be held on Thursday, May 22, 2014 in Los Angeles. Stay tuned . . . I will post a link for examinees to sign up online.

Best,

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