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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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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How to Pass the California Bar Exam with a Focused Approach of Discipline and Consistency

Got yet another success story, by a reader who shared with me a very detailed and specific recap of her journey to pass the 2020 February California Bar Exam (26.8% pass rate) on her second try.

It was too good not to share.

Before:

  • Big bar course made her “dumber,” wasted her time, DRAINED her energy and time. She was too wiped out to memorize or practice
  • Did not even know how to START any essay
  • Panic, doubts, insecurities, mind games, pressure

After:

  • Practical and effective approach
  • Used the right tools for her
  • Enjoyed herself because she could see herself getting better

Key takeaways and full story below…

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Tom goes from many-time repeater of the California Bar Exam to passing after changing the “how to” principles of bar preparation (while working full time)

Tom* sat for the California bar exam several times—many times. He didn’t have any particular strengths when it came to essays, the MBE, or performance tests. It was an overwhelming ordeal from the start.

“I struggled with all of them because I think the whole process was overwhelming. In law school, they told me that if you wanna pass the exam, you need to lock yourself in a room and don’t think about having a relationship. . . . I kind of believed it and subconsciously realized I’ll never be able to do that, and I think I struggled on all facets. That’s from a psychological level.”

At the same time, like many bar takers, Tom was also working to support himself while preparing. This is a common obstacle among success stories. (But as you’ll see below, it isn’t a handicap as much as you might think.)

“I was working two jobs and doing some consulting work back when I took in July of 2017 and just missed it. I worked one job in February and July this time. But I’m working full-time. I mean I don’t have a lot of time.”

On top of that, he also had dad duties. But he decided to focus on what moved the needle.

“I have an autistic son, but mostly it was the working. I had to put 110% at work, and do that with the practicing. I use the word ‘practice’ because to me ‘studying’ is counterproductive, which you describe that in [Passer’s Playbook 2.0] about not wasting too much time.”

More specifically, “practicing” paid dividends for Tom.

“When I use the word ‘practice’ in my mind, it helped me consciously . . . because I feel like every moment I’m spending is valuable and it’s giving me dividends. It’s repaying me. Whereas if I just keep going over the definition, it’s meaningless. But if I’m going over an issue in an essay and I see how it’s tested and I reverse engineer the question, or I go over an MBE question which also helps with the essays as well, that’s beneficial.”

Everyone preaches practice, but what does “practice practice practice” really mean? Tom stacked several principles that finally resulted in his passing the 2018 July California Bar Exam (which had the lowest pass rate on record for July exams in CA: 40%).

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