How Doreen Passed One of the HARDEST California Bar Exams (33.9% Pass Rate)

The 2022 February California Bar Exam was a tough one.

The typical average raw written score needed to be on track to pass hovered around 60-62 points in past California exams that required a 1390 scaled score.

The raw written score needed to be on track to pass in 2022 February was an average of 62.78 points!

But Doreen managed to pass the 2022 February California Bar Exam…

  • Unexpected to her (“I don’t think I passed this bar … just [being] realistic” “I will probably take it again in July, and I will be using your methods and materials again” “I was completely prepared to treat it like a practice exam, learn from my mistakes, etc.”)
  • Even though essays were the bane of her existence, and
  • Even though she only had 6 weeks of preparation.

How did she do it? Her full story and takeaways below…

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How do Magicsheets and Approsheets fit into your other bar exam study materials?

There are a LOT of study supplements, resources, and outlines for bar prep. As time passes, more and more get added to your potential repertoire.

Sometimes, the sheer overwhelm causes bar takers to load up on all sorts of materials, attend every workshop, DM everyone offering something — spreading themselves so thin that they end up not using any of it!

The materials collect digital dust, and bar takers end up restarting at square one, exhausted. But “the great aim of education is not knowledge but action.” (Herbert Spencer)

I, too, offer study materials for the California Bar Exam and the Uniform Bar Exam. Here’s my answer to questions about them, including HOW to use them. This will be useful whether or not you use my material.

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The Value of Redoing Questions (You’ll See Them Again on the Bar Exam)

“How do I do MBE questions faster?”

“The way to approach these questions is not staying with me.”

“If I study a subject really well and circle back around to it after studying the others, I’ve forgotten half of the first subject.”

Have you ever felt that?

There is a SIMPLE and UNDERRATED way to fix this: Redoing questions.

“But wait,” you say, “I have seen and remembered those questions and answers before. Should I be worried because I am not practicing new questions?”

There’s only a limited number of ways they can test you, so it’s actually GOOD if you recognize fact patterns. If that’s not the point of preparation, what is?

We can’t expect to “get” something after reading or doing something once. So when it comes to preparing for the bar exam, should you really limit yourself to just doing things once and dusting off your hands?

That’s what causes you to forget. The more you cycle through the subjects, the more you’ll retain next time.

If you had to choose between anxious uncertainty about retaining the material vs. routine boredom, which would you pick?

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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:

  • Learn not just the rules but also how to present and organize the issues (with examples below)
  • 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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Write Essays as If You’re Preparing Your Essay Grader “Client”

When writing essays on the bar exam, it’s important to use good presentation to make it as easy as possible for the graders to consume.

It’s a test of empathy.

In fact, you should treat the graders as your “clients.”

I received an email from Max, a reader who took this perspective at least a step further. I particularly love that Max phrased it as preparing someone else for a presentation, because in the “real world,” your job is indeed to make your boss (a “client”) look good to their boss (whether their own superior or client).

Max mentions that he started doing better on the essays when thinking about essays in this “preparing” manner, rather than a more self-centric approach where you’re showing off your knowledge. He categorizes three different levels of preparing your client.

I felt that his insights were wasted to be archived in my inbox, so here it is (edited only to generalize for non-California readers).

I hope this gives you a helpful perspective on how to treat essay writing:

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