Failing the California Bar Exam
To some, failing the California Bar Exam can trigger feelings of inadequacy and questioning whether you are “meant to be a lawyer” and whether failing the California bar is a sign that you shouldn’t be a lawyer. Nothing could be further from the truth. Passing the California Bar Exam, is just that. Passing a standardized exam. It has little to do with your ability to be an outstanding practicing attorney. I hear from so many repeat bar takers that they do quality legal-like work at their jobs, but can’t seem to pass the California bar exam. Think about this. If passing the California bar exam had anything to do with becoming a qualified, good practicing attorney, then why do already licensed out-of-state attorneys have lower pass rates on the California bar then law students? And these working executives and attorneys have been practicing for years.
Another thing repeat takers say is that they could have studied harder or done more practice questions. More is not necessarily better.
While these two scenarios (studying harder, doing more practice questions) might be the case for a small percentage of Bar takers, the reality is that with such a low pass rate in California, bar takers that do not pass on their first (or even second) attempt, simply haven’t mastered the technique of writing for the Bar. Most students who take the Bar do know the law well enough. The issue is in order to pass, Bar takers must know how to apply the law and give it to the graders in a standardized test format. That is why we highly recommend one-on-one tutoring, so you get the individual help you need.
You must be able to give the materials to the CA bar grader in the exact way they need to see it on the page, that matches their pre-answered grading sheet, in a quick, point getting way. That usually means, studying and writing from Bar Exam Approaches, or pre-written templates as opposed to taking previously used, voluminous bar review books and trying to boil them down yourself into a point-getting format. That takes hours of precious studying time away from what you really should be working on, that could be better used applying the law to practice essays, MBE questions and doing practice Performance Test outlining and writing.
It can be unclear to bar takers exactly what materials should be included and what materials should be excluded in a boil down template outline, and what is the order to learn and write those materials. BarWinners has written and edited their Approach Book, “Bar Bible” for over 25 years! It is critical, therefore, to enroll in a California bar review course or tutorial program that provides clear, boiled down materials that are written for easy application to essays and a program that has a easy to understand and employ Performance Test method, that includes organization, outlining and writing in the time period allotted.
A top priority, for individuals having to retake the California Bar should be individualized help and guidance, as well as memorization and application of memorized rules and writing structure to actual bar exam essays. Many people fail the Bar because they think they understand concepts, but have not spent time doing rote memorization to simplify the rules asked for in the essays and to have a template rule and answer format to give to the graders. Then what is needed, is ample practice applying the memorized materials to practice essay questions, under timed and not timed conditions to make sure you can write it the way you learned and memorized it.
The Top Three Things Repeat Bar Takers Can Do to Help Ensure Success on the California Bar:
1) Get California Bar Exam One-on-One Tutorial Help, and get it soon. Self-studying with old Bar materials will not help-it didn’t help you the first time, so why would it help the second time? The repeater pass rate in California is around 20%, largely because students repeat the same mistakes they made the first time when taking the Bar. They just re-take the same big box bar review course they did the first time, and hope for a better result. You all know the definition of insanity! Retakers need structure, guidance, and a strategy! Doing more of the same is not doing it better. Consider experienced, one-on-one tutoring with excellent diagnosticians. If you don’t know what to fix, how can you fix it? If you have a vague idea of what went wrong the first or second time taking the California Bar Exam, get top tutorial experts with years of experience under their belt to guide you every step of the way. Take the pressure off yourself to be your own teacher, grader, CA bar expert. Your job is to be the student. Let experts do the rest.
2) Get Essay and Performance Test Feedback. Don’t just do a lot of practice former California bar exam questions. While these are great, you really needs to learn the California Bar exam’s writing structure, format, and writing approach. Again, self-studying, writing and re-writing past bar exam essays and performance tests, without outside feedback, grading, and often tutorial help, is of limited usefulness. You must get quality, expert, feedback, advice and California Bar Exam guidance and strategy. You need a diagnosis of what went awry the last bar(s) and guidance on how to fix it. You cannot do this on your own. Just like you would not drill your own teeth, so too, you cannot grade, evaluate and fix a bar exam problem you can’t see or don’t know what it is. We will give you expert diagnosis and we will know (our team of experts that work one-on-one with you) what “it” is and how to help you fix it.
3) Take the Bar Exam as a Repeater as if You Were Taking it for the First Time. Repeaters often cherry-pick what subjects or bar tested sections they are going to study the second time. Regardless of how many times you have taken the Bar, each attempt should be treated like the first time. Consider all three tested areas, Essays, Performance Tests, Multi-State (MBE) and all possible subjects and memorize in templates and approaches. The skills to a solid study plan ensure that you have not left out any subject or bar area tested, because “you definitely had it on the last exam.” Also, if, for example, your MBE score was high on the first bar, you must still build into your study schedule a solid MBE preparation plan for the next bar exam. You need a balanced study schedule and strategy that focuses on all three areas of the California Bar Exam. You might not spend quite as much time in one area or subject, but you can’t assume you “have it in the bag” and ignore the area of the bar or substantive subject.
If you didn’t pass the February Bar, that’s ok. You are not alone. There is help and success can be yours. Sign up for the July Bar, 2016 so you don’t lose your momentum. If you wait until the following July testing, it will be nearly a year and a half before you find out if you are licensed…and most employers won’t be very happy to see that significant of an unemployment gap.When looking for what kind of Bar review course to take, one should look for a program that helps to focus the learning and application of material through exam writing practice, quality exam feedback, that is personalized and thorough. Many programs do not offer enough timed writing simulations and quality feedback for students to really know where they stand in terms of their grasp of the material. Bar review courses that rely solely on self-grading are not useful for this reason. Many students fail the California Bar Exam because they did not do enough application of the law to bar essays, under simulated bar exam conditions with quality, experienced California Bar Exam feedback.
Last but certainly not least, if you failed the February Bar (or another testing) and want feedback and a clear diagnosis, please feel free to send your scoresheet to firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and phone number to go over it at no charge or commitment. It’s important to get help to pass the Bar, so why not pick a company that tailors the review specifically to your needs! We have 30 + years of experience helping students pass the California Bar Exam and have been providing one-on-one tutoring for over 30 years. We welcome hearing from you.