Nobody Said It Would Be Easy . . . But It Will be Worth It!
The Bar Exam
The Bar Exam stands between you and your dream of practicing law. You have worked your whole life to get to this point. You worked hard in law school, and you just want to start your life as a lawyer. But, you can’t, just yet. You must stay focused. You must get through one final step: taking and passing the bar exam. You can’t give in or give up now…you are almost there!
The Bar Exam - Day One
By now you probably know the bar exam is a two-day exam given the last Tuesday and Wednesday of July. The first day offers you five essay opportunities to demonstrate your mastery of spotting issues in a fact pattern, your knowledge of the law in one of multiple subjects (and sometimes in multiple subjects in the same fact pattern), and your ability to organize your response in the tried and true IRAC structure – all in one hour per essay.
Then, you follow that up with your opportunity to act like a real lawyer by tackling the performance test: a 90-minute problem-solving exercise in which you are given a client’s file, a library of resources, and a task (or tasks) to complete. The good news is that no prior substantive knowledge is necessary. The bad news is that you need to read, absorb, and understand the material and the law provided and craft a responsive document – following the clear directions provided – all in an hour and a half.
The second day brings a different sort of challenge: 200 multiple-choice questions that test your reading comprehension skills married with your fine-tuned knowledge of black letter law (and every exception thereto). You face 100 questions in the morning and return after lunch to face 100 more. You have approximately 1.8 minutes per question, so you cannot dawdle.
Now you just have to wait three and a half months to get your results!
Maximize Your Chances
for a Passing Bar Score
So, how can you maximize your chances of receiving good news at the end of that waiting period?
Here are some tips:
Each day of the bar is worth 50% of your total score. On Day One, the five essays are worth approximately 35.7% and the performance test is worth approximately 14.3% (twice the amount of a single essay). On Day Two, the 200 multiple-choice questions are worth 50% as well. In California, you need 1390 out of 2000 possible points to pass the exam. So, you do not have to get an “A” on the exam; you just need to demonstrate competency.
Study. Practice. Study. Practice. Repeat. There are simply no shortcuts. Law school was your foundation but studying for the bar requires anywhere from 400-600 hours of preparation separate and apart from law school. THAT is the difference between passing and not passing.
What do we recommend?
Take a comprehensive bar preparation course like Fleming’s. You need to complete the entire course, if at all possible, but at least 80-90%.
Practice Writing Exam Essays
You should do at least 1-2 essays a day and be engaged with the material in an active and meaningful way. For your essays, you should aim for a score of 65-70 per essay. Don’t worry if you are not there now…you can work your way up!
In addition to your daily essays, you must must must practice your multiple-choice (or MBE) questions. You should do at least 35 MBE questions per day and aim for a 65-70% accuracy rate in all subjects. The key to improving your accuracy rate is to debrief on each and every question, even the ones you got right! Why were the correct answers “right”? Why were the other answer choices wrong? This type of practice will – over time – steadily improve your accuracy rate. You will “see” the questions more clearly and be able to identify the correct choices more readily.
The Performance Test
Finally, you want to address the performance test – you can’t leave that to chance! The only way to ensure you do well on this portion of the bar exam is to practice, practice, practice. You MUST follow the directions in the task memo. You MUST finish in the time allowed. We recommend you do at least one performance test a week (if not two) to practice under timed conditions to maximize your chances to do well on the actual exam.
We are Here to Help
Contact Fleming’s Fundamentals of Law. Let us be your partner on this journey. And remember, in the words of Thomas Edison, “[t]here is no substitute for hard work.” You can – and will – do this!