Monday, July 19, 2021

Ten Steps to Pass the Bar Exam


Whether the steps are easy or not-so-easy, depends on one’s perspective and outlook.  



I was going to entitle this blog something like “Ten (10) easy steps to pass the Bar Exam.”  But, the Bar Exam is tough.  It doesn’t matter if one is looking to pass any specific State Bar exam or the Uniform Bar Exam (“UBE”), it generally takes a lot of effort, time, and dedication to pass any Bar exam.

And so it is with this blog entry as well.  I have been meaning to write this note for some time.  However, with yet another Bar Exam approaching, I wanted to quickly get these thoughts on paper (so to speak).  I do so in case any of these common-sense thoughts might help some to pass their Bar exam and/or alleviate some stress for those folks as well.    

I might come back to this blog entry to add to it and to ‘clean it up’ in the future – in case some other tidbits of helpful information also might come to mind.  While on the subject of tidbits, by reading this blog entry – the logic goes, one might pick-up some simple tidbits of which they were never told to utilize during their Bar Exam efforts. 

This note/blog entry is not necessarily intended to work exactly for every examinee, of course. And I am aware that my style of writing is not always the easiest to follow at times, either.  But just keep reading.  Surely the reader will find some bit of helpful advice somewhere herein.   

Not to brag and worth noting that at this point in time, I have passed the California and Massachusetts Bar Exams.  My UBE score for Massachusetts was high enough to practice in any UBE jurisdiction which would allow me to otherwise practice. Consequently, I believe I may have figured-out the Bar exam process and what it takes to pass an exam – at least to some extent. 


Ultimately, the Bar exam study effort can be daunting and can take a significant amount of time to master the four or five thousand rules one could be expected to know to pass a Bar exam.[1]  Yet, if one was to be a bit more forward-thinking, I believe the exam effort could end in success without dedicating so much time toward studying for the exam.  That is to say, one could study adequately and still maintain a life outside of studying and/or, in a pinch, one could quickly study enough to pass with minimal time available. 

While there are no guarantees either way, to follow below are some ideas as to what it takes to pass a Bar exam – at least in this blogger’s opinion.  What’s more, taken to the limit, one could master enough subject matter to pass the exam with only a couple of weeks’ worth of studying – by knowing the big rules and how to analyze and apply those big rules to the facts.[2]  Maybe, with minimal time available, that is, just pare-down these steps to the really-big items or the items upon which the examinee needs to focus; i.e.: any perceived or known weaknesses.   

Of course, this blog entry note is not to dispense legal advice to anyone.  Though it might help with a few common-sense ideas to help some examinee/reader pass a Bar exam somewhere.  Perhaps. 

To reiterate and as a possible defense mechanism, I wrote this note rather quickly and ‘off the top of my head.'  Therefore, forgive me if any typographical errors or partially-erroneous rule statements might exist herein.  (I.e.: Please forgive any typos in this blog entry and review the rules for yourself too.)  

However, in an effort to be clear on some points, this blog entry can be arguably rather wordy at points. On the other hand, this note can’t cover every possible Bar Exam scenario – otherwise it would be a book, and probably a long book, not a blog-entry note.

But, regarding any long-windedness on my part herein, lawyers ideally are supposed to be fast readers.  As such, read this fast – even if it bores you at points!  But read it nevertheless, is my advice.  : )



Number 1:  Don’t make the exam more difficult than it is already.

We all know the Bar exam is difficult!  So, stop crying about it and stop flipping-out already!  Get to the matter at hand and don’t psyche-out yourself from the get-go. (Assuming such thoughts even apply to any reader of this note, of course.)

Confidence goes a long way.  And, any confidence will likely come through to the exam-grader in your essay writings as well.  Positive energy could even manifest itself in return from the essay-grader in the form of a higher essay score. 

If lacking confidence or having self-doubts about the Bar exam, look around at the lawyers in our society.  Many of them are not that smart or not nearly as smart as they want us to believe.  Yet they managed to pass the Bar exam.  If they can pass the Bar exam, any qualified examinee can pass it too!  (And, I do not intend to denigrate the profession here with these words.  I’m just speaking my opinion and repeating what a law professor once told me some time ago.  Like…, how well do you really know your Professional Responsibility rules?)  For instance, if this blogger could pass two Bar exam(s) at the ripe-old age of my mid-late fifties, you can pass it too.  Ok?  Now…, let’s move on.  


More to the point about making the matter of passing the Bar exam a positive experience and making it ‘more easy,’ of paramount important is to make any essays easier for the grader to read and make it easier for the grader to grade as well.  Simple organization with simple underlined headings which focus on the topic of law at hand in the essay is typically the key to success.  

Also, an examinee should use good study guides – and maybe not too many of them either.  For instance, all of the following were readily accessible and fantastic resources for me: Mary Basick’s Essay book,[3] Mary Basick’s Performance Test book,[4] Adaptibar,[5] Emanuel’s “CrunchTime” books – for some quick and easy subject and case review,[6] High Court Case Summaries / case briefs – for a quick typical case facts and rules review,[7] Critical Pass Flashcards – for yet another source of rules terminology,[8] Bar Code Cheat Sheets – for essay formatting and common-sense approach to essays,[9] LegalThree (.com) outlines;[10] and Themis/Barbri’s big rules books can be helpful too.[11] Believe it or not, I even reviewed some of my better law school class notes and writings given to me from law school professors during law school.  (I find it’s easier to review/re-learn subject matter from familiar sources, when possible.) 

Regardless, if one doesn’t really understand a topic or area of law, look it up on the internet or in another book.  Reviewing multiple sources with multiple terms of verbiage is the sure-fire way to success.  If one isn’t able to explain the differences in wordings of rules and terminology from one review source to another, they probably don’t really understand the topic of law well-enough as yet – just keep going and moving forward, nevertheless. 

Once one understands the rules of Law well enough to correct typos in their review books and the likes, they won’t even need to worry about remembering the topic for much longer, because they have already begun to really know and understand the material at that point.  To that end, I reviewed many a lawyer’s blog – blogs from the USA as well as from all over the world, as it turned out.[12] 

Finally, on the topic of ‘making it easy,’ it is easy – or can be easy.  When the examinee actually understands what they are addressing – and displays that understanding or at least sounds lawyerly in their explanations – the Bar exam is actually/arguably then somewhat easy – or certainly easier, anyhow. 



Number 2:  Organize your essay writings coherently – and, do it in a lawlerly fashion, as best one’s exam time will allow! 

Organize, organize, organize!  IRAC, IRAC, IRAC! Did I make that clear?  Organize your essay writings properly in an IRAC format!   

Know how to organize for a topic before you even see it on the exam.  I mean, you ‘gotta figure there are only certain issues for every subject that the exam creators are going to expect essay material to be regurgitated to them.  For example, there will not be really controversial stuff that would upset some exam takers.  Also, there will likely not be any essays on areas of the law that are still fluid and unsettled.  However, all that being said, knowing traditional rules from modern rules and majority positions from minority positions can be a great help at times.  (For instance, know the insanity rules for Crimes/criminal topics and know what is the majority vs. modern, that being M’Naughten v. MPC.  MPC, sometimes being called the “modern rule,” is a hybrid of the M’Naughten and the Irresistible Impulse rule/irresistible compulsion rule – or the like. These are merely my words, written as I remember the topics, from a year hence – and ensure you KNOW THE SIMPLE RULES FOR THE EXAM!)

As in law school, an examinee should be prepared to write their entire outline for each subject on the exam.  Know how to organize for the big issues in any given subject.  Because, again, it will most likely only be the big/major topics of any subject which you will more than likely see in the essay issues. I know, it seems like a lot of material.  But it’s manageable, once you know the law as a whole, anyhow. 

Use headings that call out the doctrine of law that applies to the essay section at hand.  (E.g.: “Burglary,” “Conspiracy,” “Attempt,” “Agency, etc.”)  Even if one uses headings that call out the question(s) presented, still use sub-headings based on the topic of law to be discussed for your IRAC formatted essay/sub-essay (or CREAC organized, or whatever/however).  This will show the grader that the examinee has recognized that the given topic of law was in-play in the fact pattern.  And, don’t forget to IRAC, IRAC, IRAC!!  (Issue, Rule, Analysis, Conclusion.)

Never repeat rules that have already been addressed elsewhere in an exam essay.  Always say “see rule: supra.,” – especially for things like follow-on negligence analyses.  In addition to saving time, such could save points.  Because, if one were to state the rule incorrectly in the essay portion above, by saying “see: supra,” the examinee likely may not have it held-against-them for being silly enough to repeat the incorrect rule more than once.

If a fact-pattern question makes you think of a topic of law that doesn’t really apply, then the examinee should raise that topic, quickly state why it doesn’t apply, dismiss it, and move-on.  (Maybe say, “it’s a moot point, because…”)  Don’t raise and dismiss anything that isn’t even relevant – unless maybe that topic is always discussed given the topic at hand.  (Say, as with defenses to intentional torts/negligence.  Know those defenses.  There’s not that many of them.) 

Paragraphs which are short, succinct, on-point, and to the point, is all that is really required.  So, don’t try to get too fancy.  Your artistic/art-school or M.B.A/business-school outside-the-box creativity isn’t really ‘gonna help you here on this exam.  More than likely, overt creativity may likely hurt one’s score on the exam.  Better to make your essay look and sound like everyone else’s, more or less.  This isn’t a television lawyer show.[13]  This is the Bar Exam! 

But again, attempt to sound lawyerly with terminology and verbiage whenever possible. Use terms of art and buzz-words to display knowledge and save time!

Moreover, always say “why” what is being argued applies to the facts.  I.e: “Because D did [such-and-such], the law/rule dictates D is liable for [such-and-such].”  (Also, don’t waste exam time merely restating the given facts.)  Not too tough, right?





Number 3:  Know the law!!  Well, at least know the common-law, anyhow. 

Know the law well enough to not have to waste exam time to stop and think in an effort to remember the rules.  And, know how issues are implicated/invoked and how the issues should be addressed in the essays.  There is no time for most of us during the exam to sit and ponder what to say about rules.  An examinee/applicant needs to know the rules well enough to not waste time during the exam thinking on rules.  (Did I repeat that enough times?)  Rules don’t even have to be perfect, in general.  And when in doubt, make up the rule, apply it to the facts, and move-on![14]

However, one can likely pass the exam with only knowing the “big rules.”  If one knows the big topics for every subject, they could probably pass without having to know everything about all the minutia and exceptions to the exceptions and the like.  But again, don’t forget to organize coherently and analyze in a lawlerly-sounding fashion.

Again, as you did in law school, be prepared to write your entire outline on the topic of law at hand in the essay. But again, don’t waste time writing on things that are not relevant – never ever!  Know which issues trigger other issues.  Freedom of speech invokes a fundamental rights analysis and naming a state actor (maybe); as it does maybe also invoke an equal protection matter.  Tortious behavior of a defendant likely invokes not just the tort at issue, but it could also invoke a matter of emotional distress to the victim as well.  Capiche?   

If an examinee were able to see any of their previous exam scores (if a repeat taker of the exam) and they didn’t score in the top 40% of the nation, say on an MBE topic, then go and get Emanuel’s CrunchTime book(s), the smaller one (as mentioned, supra.).  Again, one can read the substantive part of one of those CrunchTime books in an afternoon.  Afterwards, they’ll be an expert on the subject forever.  (See: footnote/endnote 6.)




Number 4:  Answer the Question!! 

That is, answer the questions presented by the exam essay – or even the MBE question.  While it sounds obvious, many simply may not give a straight-up answer to the question posed.  Or worse yet, one can skip over an entire section of an essay question and not even realize they have done so.  (Try to proof read as you write.)

But more than all that, the examinee must understand what is being asked in/by the essay question.  Such as, does the question merely say to discuss all that applies to the given fact-pattern or does it ask for the essay to discuss a specific topic? 

If it’s to ‘discuss’ it all in general, then the answer is to be a matter of issue-spotting, typically.  However, if the question says to discuss one topic – such as discuss D’s likelihood of being convicted for burglary and D’s defenses to the charge – well then, the essay wants analysis and further expects the exam-taker to ping-pong that answer back and forth and analyze and conclude on the issues involved and presented with the fact-pattern.  (Remember to always say “why”/”because”!  Just always do it!!) 

However, be aware, it seems with the newest exams, there likely will be one major issue that requires some ping-pong analysis followed by a lot of smaller/shorter issue-spotting questions.  Those follow-on issue-spotting topics and answers could merely require something like: “The facts say D entered V’s home. So therefore, D entered” – e.g.: for a burglary issue-spotting topic, with an appropriate heading, of course.  (Give the major heading with the elements in sub-headings.)

And remember, try to move quickly/fast on these matters – time is running out on you.  The examinee must budget their time accordingly.  But proof-reading as one writes can go a long way as well.  Don’t mess up and say only “D did” when you meant to say “D did not.”  Some time-saving issues and suggestions are to follow herein and infra., below.




Step 5:  Perform well on the Performance Test(s)!

Know how to perform well on the Performance Test(s); or at least know how to perform well-enough, anyhow!  What I have come to learn from reading many sources is that, in general, the first given case in the Library will be for the first issue/question presented.  The second given case will be for the second issue.  And, heaven forbid if there is a third given case, it is most likely for any third issue. 

If a case given to you in the Library cites another case, make sure you call-out the cited case and briefly say why the cited case matters for the rule explained by the given case in the Library.  At least mention the cited case in the given case to some extent in the appropriate PT essay section. 

Read any newspaper articles which may have been given as part of the Library - and maybe read those first.  The newspaper articles are a good overview of the matter at hand.

Names of cases can be referred to by shortened names.  However, I usually would state the name of the case and to what court and year the decision was opined (i.e.: a binding case or merely persuasive, as it might make a difference).  Also, make sure to underline the names of cases when referring to them.  Because underlining makes it easier for the grader to see that you called out the cases – as compared to merely italicizing the case names.  See what I mean?  

As with step number 2 on ‘Organization’ above (see supra.): Use underlined headings that call out the doctrine of law that applies to the essay section at hand.  Even if one uses headings that call out the question(s) presented (or asset in debate for wills and trusts, etc.), still use underlined sub-headings on legal topics presented for your IRAC formatted essay (or CREAC, or whatever/however).  And, don’t forget to IRAC, IRAC, IRAC!!  (Issue, Rule, Analysis, Conclusion.) 

Even if the PT calls for the examinee to write a client letter (or whatever), where one in the real world would never use headings, use headings based on the rule/doctrine/topic of law to be discussed, regardless.  It all makes it easier for the grader to see that you understand what is really going-on in the closed-world system of the PT(s) presented to the examinee on the exam. 



Number 6:  Multistate Bar Exam (“MBE”, “Multiple Choice”, or as I prefer to call them: “Multiple Guess” questions)

Don’t sweat it so much. The correct answer can only be one of the four answers from which the exam taker/applicant has to choose.  So, the examinee has a 25% chance of choosing the correct answer even if they know nothing of the subject or question.  And make sure you select/fill-in an answer for each question before time runs out and they shout “pencils down”!

These odds of selecting the right answer are made even more favorable merely by paying attention to the wordings of the answers given.  It’s like…, how often is an answer regarding the Law “always” going to be the way things are in given in the answer on the Bar exam?   Not so much.  So, if one sees an answer that states something is always going to be a certain way, then that answer is suspect from the get-go.  Right?  (Maybe or maybe not, depending on the context, of course.)

However, the best way to prepare for the MBEs on a Bar exam is to actually read the cases while in law school.  By doing so, one becomes familiar with the fact-patterns when they are presented on a Bar exam.  Having familiarized oneself with the fact-patterns of the cases in law school, saves time from having to understand the facts of the questions on the exam. 

If one mostly looked at Facebook and Instagram – and the like – during law school lectures, get the Emanuel’s CrunchTime books and read them and review the Critical Pass flashcards in a hurry as well – those sources could help to close the gap for wasted time during law school lectures and due to uncompleted law school case reading assignments.  (See: footnotes/endnotes 6 and 8.)  

Also, if one sees an MBE question the likes of which they have never seen before, it’s likely an experimental question which doesn’t count towards the score.  Don’t sweat it.  Give it the ‘old college try,’ make an educated guess, maybe flag or mark the question for further review if time allows after finishing all the other questions, then put it out of your mind and move-on. As we now are going to move-on in this blog entry. 



Number 7:  Ways to save time on the exam, especially when running out of time.

Combine issues that normally go together to show you are aware those issues could be in-play in the given fact-pattern.  By doing so, such may save/earn a few points by showing awareness of those possible issues – as opposed to missing the issues all together.  For example, a heading could state:

Statue of Wills, Residuary, Intestacy” – all lumped together.  And the paragraph to follow could say something like: “While the testator’s/decedent’s will might be validly executed with the testator’s signature per the [weird] local rule given in the fact-pattern, it is not properly attested-to by two disinterested witnesses as required by the Statute of Wills which is not excused by the [weird] local rule.  The Statute of Wills requires strict compliance or substantial compliance (modernly in some jurisdictions at a minimum).  As such, it would seem best that the Decedent’s property/asset in question pass to the residuary of the Decedent’s estate and be distributed though statuary intestacy – that is, as if the court were to determine there is no valid will.“

Or something like that, anyhow.  Follow what I mean, here?  A Bar examinee needs to save time and points all at once when desperation and put-up-or-shut-up time has arrived.      

Another tactic to save time is to write the facts to the law – so to speak.  For instance, don’t make a separate paragraph for the rule and then apply to the rule to the facts in yet another paragraph.  Explain how the facts fit into the rule and conclude in one fell-swoop. For a crude example under the heading of Battery: “The facts tell us D volitionally struck V in the head and without V’s consent. This would be harmful and/or offensive touching to a normal and reasonable person.  Therefore, D committed battery against V.” 

Again, never repeat rules that have already been addressed elsewhere in the essay.  Always say “see rule: supra.,” – such as for any follow-on negligence analyses.  In addition to saving time, such could save points.  Because if one were to state the rule incorrectly above, by later saying “see: supra,” the examinee will not have it held against them for being silly enough to repeat the incorrect rule.  

Maybe write down all the headings and sub-headings first.  Then the examinee can gauge the amount of work left to complete as the essay is progressing and exam time is escaping.

The proper use of legal ‘buzz-words’ and terms of art can cover a lot of ground very quickly in an essay.  E.g.: ‘One bite at the apple’ for “Issue Preclusion” can cover as much ground in five easy words as five long sentences on the topic.  Moreover, buzz-words and terms of art display that the examinee understands the issue, while also saving themself – and the grader – a lot of time and unnecessary effort to explain the topic or rule or applying-the-rule-to-the-facts.   Easy enough, right?  



Number 8:  Most importantly, try to get plenty of sleep before the exam.

A well-rested mind and body can not be understated for these long, drawn-out Bar exams.  Being as rested as possible for the experience is way-more important that what any last-minute cramming the night before the exam could possibly yield.  The exam writers and creators will/may try to trick you – more so on the MBEs.  Being well-rested helps your mind to spot any tricks and avoid choosing the wrong answers – wrong answers which are presented to the examinee in a fashion to resemble a correct answer, for example.


Number 9: Do your best to avoid extraneous stressors on exam days. 

I mean, at this point, most examinees are hoping for some luck regarding the appearance of any preferred essay topics and/or MBE questions – while concurrently hoping they don’t need any luck.  Either way, you ‘wanna be havin’ an otherwise good day.   

For the nights before the exam, try to stay near to the exam site for less stress of commuting to the test site in the morning – and more time for sleeping and maybe some minor topic reviews in the morning before the exam too.  Unless you’re lucky enough to take the exam at home and on-line (especially in the time of Covid-19 issues). 

Otherwise, reserve early for hotel availability and pay more money to stay right across the street from the exam site, if you’re able.  You could easily then return to your hotel room and eat lunch and shower/freshen-up for the afternoon exam session(s) on exam day(s).  I would suggest checking in the night-before the night-before of the exam.  That way you can get accustomed to the hotel surroundings and the hotel bed for better sleep when it counts – the actual night before the exam session(s).  At a minimum, see if you can get a driver or friend to drive you to the exam to avoid stressing over morning commuter traffic. 

Stress is usually best to avoid, in my opinion.  Regardless of whether it’s considered eustress or distress. 



Number 10: Know Professional Responsibility (“PR”) - For the California Bar Exam takers, especially.

We don’t know, and I’m no different, but since there is no real transparency in the grading of the exams, maybe if one does not score well-enough on the PR essay, maybe they don’t pass the Bar Exam.  It’s not that difficult to remember the PR rules.  So, remember them. 

If it’s a big actual or potential conflict of interest – like with a prior client or firm with confidential information or the possibility of such, then the conflict must be agreed to in writing – or at least revealed in writing (signed ahead of time in Cal., but the matter maybe can be confirmed/signed in writing after telling the client of the conflict in ABA Model Rules lands - as long as it was revealed ahead of time). 

If the conflict is more of a personal nature and/or a personal relationship-based conflict of interest with opposing counsel or the like, the conflict may only need to be revealed/told to the client so that the client is aware.  This allows the client to make an informed decision about having the conflicted lawyer represent the client.  

Other than the conflict issues, make sure one knows the somewhat few ‘big’ differences between Cal. PRC and ABA Model Rules.  Because the examinee will likely be sure to have to compare and contrast the Cal. and ABA Model Rules (on Cal. Bar exams).

When in doubt, remember and fallback on: “Clients Love Fierce Counsel, Courts Feel Differently.”  “CLFC-CFD”  Look it up!  If you don’t know it by now.   



Some related topics

Take a practice Bar exam a couple/few weeks before the real exam.  The exam can be grueling – physically and mentally.  So, if one practices with a mock exam(s), such will likely help to build stamina for the real thing to come. 

Don’t forget to breathe during the exam either.  More oxygen helps the brain to function.  Be sure to stop for a moment and take deep breaths now and then during the exam and try to relax – especially when unsure of what to do on the exam.[15]  Again, stress is usually best to avoid, in my opinion.  Regardless of whether its considered eustress or distress. 

If the worst should happen and if an examinee doesn’t pass the exam, it’s not the end of the world.  It likely means the examinee/applicant is one step closer to passing, if one perseveres onto passing, anyhow.  Personally, I never give up.[16]

But again, while the exam can be extremely difficult and intimidating, it’s possible to be made easier with some confidence.  And by knowing the big-issue topics for the subjects, at a minimum.  For instance, when getting near the end of the study time for the upcoming and rapidly-approaching exam, kick-on-over to mostly studying essays and their formats, as such will inevitably help to review rules and the application of rules to fact-patterns as well.

I found the Bar Exam to be similar to law-school exams, it’s much a matter of having a good day – e.g.: to be able to pick the better of the two seemingly correct-sounding answers on the MBEs, it’s good to be having a good day.  Also, some luck doesn’t hurt, either, of course.

As a final tidbit of advice or whatever, know Property Mortgage Priority rules (and something about any junior interests as well).  These rules seem to be about the same as Secured Transactions (UCC-9) in the UBE world, more or less.  They are not that difficult to learn and to remember.  Yet, these rules can appear a lot on the MBEs especially (or as an essay on the UBE for UCC-9).  Remember that Purchase Money Mortgage/interests have priority to be paid back first, except when the property seller leases-to-own or rents-to-own the property to a buyer.  Then the seller has priority even over the Purchase Money Mortgage from a bank.  Why?  Because the lease-to-own arrangement is based purely in Contract Law and not in Property Law, as one possible reason.  Also, the bank or mortgagee (the one lending the mortgage money) is surely aware of the concurrent lease-to-own situation as well.  As such, the seller has priority between the two purchase money-type interests in this situation is all one needs to remember.  Easy, right?  Remember that an additional one or two correct MBEs could make all the difference.  Don’t forget that either.     

Best wishes and good luck!  Contact me for more details, if needed.  And, let me know how you did on your Bar Exam.


Adam Vernon Trotter

July 18, 2021



 After-thought, July 16, 2023.

I’ve been attempting to determine why some people have more difficulty passing the bar exam than others.  Natural ability and preparation notwithstanding, the matter seems much of the mindset of the individual.  That is, from my observations and in my opinion, those who are more stubborn-minded or close-minded (at the risk of offending some with my paraphrasing), seem to have more difficulty with passing the exam.  By stubborn-minded (or close-minded), I mean the type of people who always claim to know the answer to everything.  Because those who are more stubborn in deluding themselves that they immediately know the answer to any given question, those individuals – arguably – then do not take the time to investigate other options or alternative answers; thereby possibly leaving exam-scoring points on the table by missing exceptions to the exceptions and the like, maybe.

Anyway, I’ve come to recognize this possible pattern/commonality in those who fail the exam in that many of those folks who always claim to know the answer to everything are theoretically unwilling to consider any differing opinions or answers to the issue presented.  And, for anyone easily offended, I state my thoughts here not to be judgmental, I’m merely observing the facts as they appear to me.

So in closing, I would add, if an exam taker is immediately convinced that they know the answer to any bar exam question, maybe they should take a moment to ensure that they are not just jumping at the low-hanging fruit, that is, selecting the obvious answer that the exam creators have included to fool those who don’t take the time to actually think through the entire issue to get to the correct/better/best answer.




[1] Emerson Stafford, now retired, stated an approximation in one of his lectures that in California, an exam applicant/taker is expected to know 16 subjects (or so) all of which could have 100 to 300 rules (or so).  Emerson’s is a good common-sense approach and review to doing-well on the Bar exam essays.  Some of his rules could be a bit dated.  But his lectures are well-worth reviewing anyhow.  He apparently and graciously donated all of his lectures to the public domain.  In other words, his lectures are free to view.  Emerson’s lectures are located at: 

[2] If interested, see:  “Facts Based Analysis”; located at: 

[3] For instance, see: Essay Exam Writing for the California Bar Exam / Edition 2; Author Mary Basick, Tina Schindler; ISBN-10: 154381350X, ISBN-13: 9781543813500, Pub. Date:06/11/2018. Publisher: Wolters Kluwer,  (widely available from multiple sources, new and used and old editions are fine) .

[4] See:  California Performance Test Workbook : Preparation for the Bar Exam (Edition 2) (Paperback); Author Mary Basick, Tina Schindler, ISBN-13: 9781543813517, ISBN-10: 1543813518, Publication Date October, 2019, (widely available from multiple sources, new and used, old editions are fine)

[5] See: . Furthermore, read everything Adaptibar says, whether you get the question right or wrong.  Always read why the answer was right and why the others were wrong.  Adaptibar is good to do while watching television with family and friends as well.  Don’t worry about the timer when watching television, however.  The television distraction likely helps one to ignore distractions and to further focus on the questions despite any distraction.  And remember, Adaptibar is adaptive testing.  It’s trying to focus on what it believes the user doesn’t understand, to some extent.  Don’t let it blow your confidence with any poor results.  Just keep going.

[6] Personally, I found the Constitutional Law and the Criminal Procedure CrunchTime books to be invaluable and among the very best boost to my study for the exam.  Reading/reviewing the substantive portion of those books will really boost your exam score too!  And they are quick, short, and easy to read – even if only given a few hours.  I suggest the smallest page size books (smaller than a normal notebook size sheet of paper), not the larger ones – smaller allows for better ease of quick reading.  But versions are not so different between the book sizes, I don’t believe.  Here is one place to find these inexpensive books from Wolters Kluwer Publishing (widely available from multiple sources, new and used, old editions can be fine but newer is better for some topics):

[7] I would always review the Contracts and Torts case brief books.  You know, the easy-to-read ones with the little cartoon to remember the case.  Fantastic!  And, really quick to read.  A wealth of knowledge to quickly remember and/or learn the cases and fact-patterns from law school.  See, for example:  “High Court Case Summaries : Contract Law”; from Thompson-West Publishing (widely available from multiple sources, new and used) ;

[8] I’ve never been a flashcard type of student.  But these cards are fantastic for a different outlook on the rules as well as different verbiage on the rules.  What’s more, one can carry a subject or two worth of flashcards with them anytime and anywhere (even in their pocket) for study and review wherever one finds themself, if but only for a few minutes at a time.  See: 

[9] Fantastic, fantastic, fantastic!  This book has been reported to me as the “most stolen book in the law library.” Again, one really only needs to review the portions that speak to the organization of the essays for the exam, which can be easily done in piece-meal fashion for leisurely reading.  I won my copy as a door-prize for attending a BarBri review event during 3L, as I recall.  Old or new versions, (widely available from multiple sources, new or used) is probably fine.  

[10] Really a good resource of a lot of information concisely gathered.  But given the massive amount of work put into those outlines, to leave the all the typos in the outlines is kind’a humorous.  For the outlines, maybe read all of the girth of outline materials for each subject in one setting – once you start to recognize the author’s inconsistent typos and why the typos are wrong, and yet have still managed review the massive amounts of material displayed on those outlines, you are well on your way to really knowing the material; that is, well on your way to knowing the Law.  See:

[12] Across the pond (the U.K.) had a lot of good blogs – especially on equitable servitudes as compared to real covenants, as I recall.  I also would find some really good blog entries from places like Australia, New Zealand, India and some of the Pacific Island nations as well.  Bravo” to those legal types for their free and informative blogs, by the way!!  Also, I would always bookmark anything I read online so I could find it again for future reference, if needed. 

[13] Interestingly enough, I played a background actor role as a lawyer on a television show, not all too long before I passed my first Bar Exam.

[14] If’n you’re interested, check out:  “Forgotten Rules”; located at:

[15] Worth checking out, at least in my opinion: “Just Breathe...” ; located at:

[16] Maybe one more final thought worth contemplating, at least this blogger thinks so, anyhow: “Perseverance is Never Premature“; located at: .   

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