Prioritizing Rules to Know on the Bar Exam (and How to Dominate the Essays)

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

If you’re a bar taker, that’s CONSTANTLY on your mind. There are just so many rules to know.

You’d love to start practicing essays but feel like you just haven’t learned enough law yet.

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

Key takeaways:

  • Learn not just the rules but also how to present and organize the issues
  • Highest-priority issues and rules are those that have appeared in the past (there are two other categories)
  • There are efficient and effective ways to hit both of the above at once
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Not Passing Hurts MORE than Struggling Now! How Drew Used Pain to Efficiently Pass the CA Bar Exam (While Working Full Time)

I collect every bar exam success story. Sometimes I post unique stories in a small vault of success stories. Other times, I screenshot and put them in a big folder.

Once in a while, I get a reflection that I want to feature front and center.

Drew passed the 2021 February California Bar Exam (Attorneys’ Exam with essays and PT only) on his second attempt while working full time and as a father to young children.

He really hit the nail on the head about the experience of a repeater—and what first timers should heed—from the initial underestimation of the exam, the uncomfortable resistance to actually trying to solve the problems, to his essay answers evolving into a more organized format. 

I didn’t want to waste Drew’s very organized thoughts (and lessons for new bar takers) by letting them archive in my inbox like the many other reflections I get. His message had a lot of parallels to what I and many other repeaters have gone through, and what I encourage my readers to do.

Here’s what he did differently…

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Easily Find Key Rules on the Performance Test

I asked Eddie Reyes of Jurax Bar to teach you how to do better on the performance tests, since it’s such an overlooked portion of the bar exam. So he wrote this guide on how to easily find rules in the Library of the performance test.

Although he is geared toward the California Bar Exam, since the California PT is so similar to the MPT, you’ll find these tips to be useful no matter which state bar you’re taking.

I also asked him for a special deal for any of my readers looking for a tutor for CA essays or PTs. Check the end of this article for more details. Take it away, Eddie!


Greetings. My name is Eddie Reyes and I am a California Bar Exam tutor over at Jurax Bar. It took me several rounds to pass the exam but throughout the journey, I figured out key concepts to write a passing Performance Test answer. In this article, I will share with you the essential concept of finding performance test rules.

In particular, I will cover the three classifications of rules that are found in the Library. If you read far enough, I will also cover key locations where you are likely to find rules that will significantly earn you points.

If you classify the rules into three types, then you are able to determine their value. Imagine a $1 bill and compare the value to a $50 bill. Now do the same between a $50 bill and a $100 dollar bill. Of course you want to go for the $100 bill. It is the same with the rules and I will show you how to get these valuable points.

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How Stan Finally Passed the Bar Exam Using Proven Bar Preparation Strategies (Anyone Can Do This!)

I recently had a back-and-forth with Stan, yet another reader who passed the (online/remote) 2020 October California Bar Exam on this 5th try.

When I asked to showcase his incredible personal journey, Stan offered to rewrite his emails into a more comprehensive story with approaches he discovered, his realizations, and specific study tips to help others join him beyond the bar.

Some of my favorite impressions among many:

Respecting the exam is important but so is enjoying the process

Practice as if it were the real thing. Do the real thing as if it were practice—with confidence

Bar prep doesn’t have to be expensive

Enough about my impressions. It’s time for yours. Here’s Stan’s story on what he did to finally pass the bar exam. No substantive edits made except adding relevant links and [comments in brackets] and writing out some abbreviations.

One for Five: How I Finally Passed the Bar Exam

After I told Brian about my journey to passing the Oct 2020 California bar exam, he was gracious enough to offer me a chance to share my story on his blog.  I discovered Brian’s website by searching stories on how people passed the exam.  I’d bet that’s pretty common.

Before we get into my story, please know my only intent is to show you if I can pass, you absolutely can too.  I’m not special, nor am I looking for credit or praise of any kind.  I’m just an ordinary guy from LA who took the bar exam five times, dealing with life along the way.

Everyone’s journey to passing the bar is unique.  What worked for me might not necessarily work for you.  But I would bet a quality everyone needs is discipline.  My story is a cautionary tale of why discipline should always be where bar prep starts and ends.

The October 2020 California bar exam was my fifth attempt, but I was finally ready to pass.  Let me tell you why you should never think you’re not smart enough or good enough to pass, or that it must not be meant for you.

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How They Passed the First Online California Bar Exam: Keep Your Bar Prep SIMPLE!

2020 was an unprecedented time for bar exam takers.

They were given extra time to study (until October for the California exam). Everything went remote/online, including the exam itself. There were only 100 MBE questions, making each one count that much more.

We all had to adapt and push through the fog and uncertainty.

I got a couple of success stories from readers who passed the 2020 October California Bar Exam and cut through the uncertainty using a simple, minimalist approach…

Jeff emailed me to let me know how he passed on his FIRST try, despite his initial unrest and reservations about the preparation process.

“This whole experience has been a total mindfuck.”—Jeff

Stephen let me know that he had been out of law school for 10 years… and how he passed on his first attempt.

“It’s damn hard to be a decade out from school and take the bar.”—Stephen

Preparing for the bar exam isn’t EASY, but it is SIMPLE. Ignore the noise, and focus on what moves the needle!

Below, you’ll see how they approached their quest to pass the (first-ever remote/online) bar exam — getting it one and done as simply as possible.

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