First, I want to wish all of you taking the California Bar Exam this week, good luck. Whether you are a 1x CA Bar Exam taker, repeater, CA Attorney’s Exam taker, LL.M. Bar Exam taker, Foreign attorney taking the CA Bar Exam, you can do it! You can pass the California Bar Exam.
Some tips and tricks for this week:
1. STOP STUDYING TODAY: (Sunday, July 27, 2014) should be your last day of studying for the July, 2014 bar exam. You all know enough law to pass at this point. Don’t overwhelm, exhaust, jumble, or stress out your brain. You’ve inputed enough information to pass. Now, you need to give it time to marinate, so you can download it onto the exam, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.
2. CHECK OUT THE TEST SITE AND GET YOUR BEARINGS: Travel to the test site Monday, and get familiar with testing room, parking, hotel room, eating places (if you are not commuting from home). Get familiar with your surroundings. Check into your room early. Request a room away from traffic, elevators, corner room, as quiet and restful as possible.
Plan your meals, where and when.You cannot bring food into the exam room. Have handy in your room, protein bars, a protein shake, etc.
Breakfast: Eat breakfast. Even if you are not a breakfast lover, you do not want your blood sugar to plummet on Essay #3 or on the last set of MBE’s. High protein, some carbs, low sugar. You need to be well hydrated and well nourished.
Lunch: There can be crowds, lines, low quality food available. Therefore, when I took the bar exam, I brought a cooler with me, of protein, salad, fruit and ate a picnic on the grass at a nearby park. It was less stressful, I wasn’t waiting in long lines for a low brain functioning meal, or one the type you feel like napping after.
Warning About Hotel Room Service: It depends on the hotel. Some hotels can manage the crowds of bar takers who need lunch delivered all at the same time. I wouldn’t count on it. I would bring food if the hotel has an in room refrigerator that can handle it at the correct temperatures for safety. If so, go to Bristol Farms, Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Gelson’s, Ralphs, etc. and get your lunches and possibly some breakfast items. (Again, protein bars, shakes, high protein cereals, soy milk, almond milk, etc.)
Dinner: Eat what you would like at a restaurant or in your room. I do not recommend alcohol intake the three testing days. One of our students, who normally can handle two glasses of wine with dinner, drank l/2 glass red wine and passed out. She called me, and I called 911 and her father, who happened to be a doctor. She survived, and Passed!
4. DON’T TALK OR LISTEN TO OTHER CALIFORNIA BAR TAKERS ABOUT THE EXAM (for the 3 days of the California Bar Exam).
During the bar exam itself, do not speak or listen to other bar takers, fellow bar review course friends, fellow classmates, or anyone else about what was on the bar exam. Do not listen to other students in the lobby, elevator, cafe chattering about issues they saw or subjects they believe were tested. In fact, put your fingers in your ears and hmmmmmm. This is your time with the bar examiners. It’s a very private experience and relationship with the question, the fact patterns, the MBE’s. The other bar takers do not know anything more about the exam and the results than you do.
5. BE PREPARED FOR ANY EMERGENCY-Power outages (last February bar, 2014), the power went out in the afternoon, at the Pasadena testing site. BarWinners students stayed, used their screen light, to complete the afternoon Performance Test. Many other bar takers, in other California Bar Reviews left. Those students, at that location, did not take PT 2. Not good. Be prepared to handwrite if necessary.
EXAMSOFT Glitches: For the February, 2014 California Bar Exam, many test locations had ExamSoft problems statewide erasing lines, pages, even entire written essays. For BarWinners students’ I told everyone, to make sure they checked the essay they were working on, or Performance Test, every few lines to make sure it was all there. If they noticed ExamSoft erasing huge chunks of their answers, to handwrite.
As a matter of course, if you are using ExamSoft, make sure you check your essays and Performance Tests to confirm that what you are writing is landing on the page. It takes a few extra seconds, but well worth it.
6. REMEMBERING RULES:
If you can’t remember the rule, write a rule to the best of your recollection and apply the rule to the facts precisely and clearly. Do not panic. Make it up. The bar is not grading for perfect rule statements, a decent lawyerly rule statement will work, especially in a pinch.
7. MISSING ISSUES:
Everyone taking the CA bar misses issues, forgets a rule, can’t remember something. It’s all part of the process. You don’t need to be perfect, do your best. It’s all you can do.
If you think something is at issue, but worry you may be wrong, headnote and write the issue. If there were enough facts to make you think it’s an issue, it most likely is. Do not leave points on the table. The bar does not take points away for incorrect issues. If it is headnotes, the grader will skip it, if it doesn’t apply to the fact pattern.
8. DANCE WITH THE CALIFORNIA BAR EXAMINERS TO PASS
All the work and studying is behind you. Now it’s time to simply apply what you know to what the bar is asking. Listen to the facts as you would listen to a client, good friend, family member asking for your legal help and advice.Treat every bar question as if it were your actual client’s case. A client you cared about, maybe even a family member or spouse. Connect with the question, the fact patterns. You do not need to be emotional, simply listen and dance with what is being asked, following at all times THE CALIFORNIA BAR lead. We all know bar takers and law students that attended less-than-stellar non-ABA law schools, were middle to bottom of their class and passed the California Bar Exam. Why? How? Because they listened to the question, answered what was being asked, and did a decent job of issue spotting and analyzing. Were they brilliant, perfect, amazing? No. The standard is “minimal competency.” You can do it.
I believe in you. I love you all and my heart and thoughts are with you.
Please feel free to e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call me (310)451.0519 during the breaks while taking the bar, or in the evening, if you need a pick-me-up or just need a few seconds to hear my voice.
Lots of love and good wishes and luck,
Shari Karney, Esq.