What I did to pass the 2006 Cal. Bar Exam

A few of my friends, and people reading the blog–who did not pass–have been asking me for a short re-cap on how I studied. I suppose the fact that I did pass on the first try makes my study methods valuable to some extent.

Still, please read my comments here in combination with any remarks I made while in the heat of battle (study), and look at as many other sources as you can–that is also part of what I did . Always keep in mind, these are just my comments and study plans. They may or may not help you, and I am not suggesting they will. This is just my story; I hope it works for you:

  1. This is an individual sport–listen to everyone, but find the formula that works for you. Try different tools. Some will work for you, and some will not.
  2. Start early–spend a good amount of time planning your study method, and schedule. How you study is at least as important as what you study.
  3. Don’t force feed yourself. Do what yields results. I did not write a bizillion essays, but I read and outlined many. Nor did I spend 20 minutes outlining my answers; that was insane to me! I needed the time to write a complete answer and not leave issues behind. Find what works for you.
  4. Pace Yourself: When I practiced writing essays, I had the outlines handy. The task then is to “Spot Issues”–memorization will come with repetition, and eventually, cramming the last 2 or maximum of 3 weeks. Do not expect that you will memorize all the rules before you start writing essays. Do some of everything, and pace yourself. You will not retain all the black letter law any further out from exam time. Do not waste your time. When you work on writing essays, do not spend time memorizing rules; and when you memorize rules–do just that.
  5. Calm down–and then; calm down again. Nothing is worse than nerves. Find what works for you. I exercised daily–even if for 30 minutes. Have a beer! Whatever–just get rid of the edge. You need to focus. I sipped wine here and there when studying the last few days–sip, not guzzle! I am a high strung person, so I needed to slow down and still my mind. Find your mojo and stay with it! Panic is your absolute enemy.
  6. Study Smart & Hard: Bottom line is you reap what you sow. Being “genetically smart”–a High IQ– sure helps here, but I kid you not, a lot of consistent effort, designing a plan that fits your particular needs, and “Practice, Practice, Practice”, are what will get you through. You need more of the latter in fact than the former. Some very smart people fail this test, but no one passes unless they study the right way, study consistently–avoiding successfully a complete burn-out, and yet study hard.
  7. Analyze Your Weaknesses & Strength Before You Start Major Study: This test has three distinct parts. Each part represents and utilizes a different set of skills. You must first measure your own abilities against each part and decide where you are “hot”, where you are just “warm”, and where you utterly need work and are “cold”.
  8. Work on your Weaknesses, protect your strengths: If you neglect your strengths, you will leave points on the table where you can have them with some ease. Every point counts. If you just do what you are good at, you will fail on the parts you dislike–and you will not pass. To Pass you MUST do well on all three parts. If you do not believe me, make a spread sheet and run some score scenario combinations. I did one; was not that hard; using MS Excel. You must average well in all areas. It is extremely tough to ace two parts, bomb one section, and still pass. You can not do well in one essay, but not all six; You can maybe fail one essay, or do not so well on one PT, but not both; and you have to do well on the MBEs–period. The MBEs are unforgiving, because they portend to have one correct answer–no subjective factors. I did about 5000 MBEs, because I tend to over analyze multiple choice questions and needed the workout to actually learn to trust myself with less analysis.
  9. You are unique! Lastly; here is some new advice: FIND WHAT WORKS FOR YOU!..:-). Late in the game I realized I could not write full essays in practice. This ironically comes from my confidence in writing and unwillingness and impatience to write a whole hour when there is no grade at stake. So, instead, I stopped writing and started outlining every essay I could get my hands on; with reliable model answers. I made sure I could issue spot everything and corrected my mistakes. This worked for me, but I bet would not work for many. Find what works for you.
  10. Pray! Even if you don’t believe–My laptop died with 10 minutes left on the fifth essay. I already knew I had not completed one of the essays the first day, because I wrote too much on the first two. I was by all accounts as dead as my computer so far as the exam was concerned! What did I do? I was in a zen like estate and too focused to wait even a freakin’ second; had no time to be scared yet. There was plenty of time for regrets and feeling sorry for myself later; I knew all of this within slightest part of a second after I realized what had happend! So what did I do? What happened?…:-)…..I got up, mumbled a four letter word, probably !!%#$@#&^!!; went around the table and inspected my computer. I was too lucky to be angry, because I immediately realized that the proctor had stepped on my power cord and my laptop had been running on battery!!!!%#$@#&^!!Thank God–and here is where prayer comes in–my computer had a recovery mode and saved all my work before going blink! I lost less than two minutes! I went from dead to passing the Bar in a split second! I knew of quite a few people whose laptops quit on them and that was that!! Pray I tell you!!!!Even if you don’t believe. As for me, I don’t know what I believe–but I do know for a fact that a little luck can go a long way–whatever “luck” is.


  1. I am, and have been studying for 3 months now. The bar is in two weeks. Your comments are interesting. Here’s what I noticed: The internet blogs are laced with negative feedback and comments about people failing all the time. Your comments are refreshing.

    I have to believe that the people who do not pass are those who do not seriously study a good 10 hours a day the right way. I would shit my pants if I didn’t pass, because I am giving it all I got.

    As for 5000 MBEs – how the fuck did you do that?? Thats impossible, unless you completely put essays and susbtantive studying on the back burner.

    I will maybe reach about 1500 when its all said and done, and I have now scene the same issues tested in different ways over and over.

    Its weird because the people you hear that pass graduated at the bottom of the class, and there are a lot people who pass that you wouldnt think could or would. So, I think the low pass rate in Cal is deceiveing. There are a lot of people who dont study, and those from unacreddited law schools who dont know how to play.

    I would like to believe that I can pass, even if I miss issues or fuck up on a few essays. I hope thats the case.

    I pray every night – baruch hashem!!!

  2. Thanks for your kind words. I did try my best to stay positive and productive when I was studying for the BAR Exam.

    As for the 5000 MBEs; I did do close to that many. I started in April, kept close count and did analysis on my performance (had a nice MS Exell spreadsheet for that purpose), and use several sources–probably all that were available.

    Good luck to you. Do the work–stay positive and you WILL pass.

  3. Hello!

    I must agree that this is one of the more positive websites. I also keep coming across blogs that are less than positive.

    I am taking the exam in NY, and have been preparing since about the end of March. I have done close to 4000 MBEs. I knew this was my weakness from the start. I have also concentrated on outlining my essays (after I did about 20 – 25 full essays). Of course, I have been studying the substantive law as well.

    In the final stretch, how did you remain positive? I guess I ask because now I am hearing all the negatives of people not passing, people doing badly on their practice MBEs, etc…

    I appreciate your feedback!

  4. Hello vlm,
    I am sorry I did not respond in time before the exam and hopr you did very well.

    I just returned from a trip overseas where my online activity was spotty or incomplete. I did read your comment, and thought I posted something in response. Anyway, late as the answer is, I focused on who I was, what I wanted to do, and filtered out all the bad noise for what it was–noise. When you do all you can, worrying needlessly does not help. Was I nervous? You bet. But, I took the exam where I was not with many people I knew. I turned inward, took walks after the exam each day, ate good meals and promised myself a nice, tall, cold glass of first rate beer after the 3rd day; which is exactly what I did. My nerves did a lot better after the first 5 minutes of the first day had passed.

  5. Hi Farzin…I have not seen anything from you beyond 2007. I have a question or two for you regarding the bar. I’m not sure if this is still an active site though.

  6. Есть такая услуга – добровольное медицинское обслуживание (или ДМО).
    Она предполагает, что вы вносите небольшую сумму за то, что посещает врачей весь год не платя за каждый прием.
    Однако опросы показывают, что лишь 3% жителей города знают о такой услуге.
    По какой причине?
    Да потому что клиникам выгоднее сдирать с людей деньги за каждое посещение.
    А если честный врач посоветует добровольное медицинское обслуживание клиенту – это сулит ему увольнением.
    Эта информация уже вызвала множество возмущений, после того как информацию об услуге распространил один возмущенный врач.
    Его уволили , после того, как он предложил ДМО своему пациенту.
    Самое удивительное, что официальные положения по ДМО находились в открытом доступе, просто натыкались на эту информацию только случайные люди.
    Как отстоять свои права?
    О правилах предоставления такой услуги и обязанностях частных клиник можно узнать, сделав запрос в Яндексе: “добровольное медицинское обслуживание”.
    И именно обслуживание, а не страхование.


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