How an Australian Lawyer Passed the California Bar Exam Despite the Sheer Overwhelm

Surprise, surprise… Barbri doesn’t work for everyone. As a foreign-trained Australian attorney, James needed a way to get a handle on the sheer volume of material and become skilled at USING it.

To do that, he also needed to understand the bar exam in the first place because there were differences in legal practice in Australia and in the U.S.

He then passed the 2022 July California Bar Exam and put together a thorough write-up in collaboration with me, linked below.

This is a rare opportunity to dive DEEP into the mind of a recent bar taker. He drops many gems on what worked for him, with commentary by me such as:

💬 “A distinction between those who perpetually struggle and those who are successful is that they find an approach that works for them and trust themselves more.

One of my readers put it this way: ‘Make the bar exam process work with your learning style, not the other way around.’

But enough about me. This is about celebrating and empowering bar takers like you to overcome this hurdle. 

My breakdown and James’s full story below:

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Dominating the Essays: Organize Issues and Prioritize Rules to Know on the Bar Exam

Ever wonder how you’re supposed to juggle everything in your head? How do you prioritize the rules to know for the bar exam?

How are you supposed to learn all this when time is tight? How do you tackle the massive body of rules to know?

How do you know you’ve completed the essay in full? Did you even talk about the correct issues? Are the graders going to give you the points? Are they even going to read your prose?!

You’d love to start practicing essays but feel like you just haven’t learned enough law yet. It’s overwhelming to even begin from scratch.

If you’re a bar taker struggling with coming up with what to write, essays are the bane of your existence. Your rambling paragraphs start to blur. There’s just so much to know (or so you think) and say.

Let’s breathe. We can simplify the essays and make them less scary…

Key takeaways:

  • Issues: Learn not just the rules but also how to present and organize the issues (with examples below)
  • Rules: Highest-priority issues and rules are those that have appeared in the past (there are two other priorities)
  • There are efficient and effective ways to hit both of the above at once
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Why Bar Takers Can’t Remember What They Need To

Back when I first took the bar exam in 2013—

Wow, where did the time FLY? This is getting depressing already.

Anyway, I was able to write these beautiful rule statements. Something out of a treatise. Flowing with prose fit to be in a presidential speech. Baroque music in the background. Some renaissance shit.

What’s really depressing is that despite my perfectly memorized (and perfectly recited) rules, they were still mostly useless.

Ask the average bar taker, “Where do you want to be in February/July/exam time?” And that’s the dream they have—to have the “black letter law” memorized perfectly.

They chase after knowledge over experience and intuition. Mere exposure and familiarity over understanding.

Memorizing rules is important for sure! But memorizing the rules is merely the cost of admission. What’s the real goal here?

Not just knowing the law but knowing how to use the law.

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Grandmother Passes the Uniform Bar Exam with a 270

A self-professed “Partner/Mom/Grandma/Kindergarten teacher” and a bundle of energy told me she passed the 2022 July UBE. No big deal. I asked her how she DID IT so I could pass her lessons onto you mortals. 

Among other things, Nocona told me that she passed the Oklahoma Bar Exam (UBE) using a combination of substantive resources and a mindset that gave her better control over her processes.

You might read all these stories and wonder, why not me? It CAN be you. Why torture yourself trying to reinvent the wheel?

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