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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Giving what the essay graders want to see on the California Bar Exam: Q&A with BarEssays founder Gil Peles

When I think of supplements for the essay portion of the California Bar Exam, the first one I think of is BarEssays.

You’ve probably heard of it. BarEssays is one of the most popular study supplements for the essay portion of the California Bar Exam. It’s a collection of more than 3,000 real graded high- and low-scoring essays and performance tests from past California bar exams.

If you’ve ever wondered what an actual good answer is supposed to look like, this is how you can improve your essays—by comparing your practice essay to a variety of real graded student examples. I also wrote an in-depth review of the site here.

But how can you make the best use of it?

I asked Gil Peles, founder of BarEssays, if he would like to talk about that, and he agreed.

Here are some of the nuggets you’ll pick up from this Q&A:

  • How can you tell what the bar examiners want to see (and what you might be doing wrong)?
  • Formatting: What’s the difference about essay answers you want to write on the bar exam (as opposed to in law school)?
  • What kind of IRAC does Gil recommend for the bar essays? What should it look like?
  • How early should you start working on essays?
  • What can you do with your practice essays to get the most out of them?

Take it away, Gil:

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Passing the California Bar Exam with the “Tripod Approach”?

A coaching client and I were on the phone discussing strategy for the upcoming California Bar Exam in July.

The good news was that his MBE scores from previous attempts were already on track to pass the bar exam in California. He consistently got scaled scores of over 1440.

(If you’re taking the exam elsewhere, you’re already halfway home free with a good MBE score according to the “tripod approach” I’ll describe in a bit.)

The issue was that he couldn’t consistently score well on the essays. The essays he thought were the best, he’d get a 55 on them. The essays he wrote fewer than 1,000 words and thought were his worst, he’d get a 65 or more.

BY THE WAY: You don’t “pass” the MBE, or an essay, or a performance test. You pass the EXAM with enough total points—all or nothing. I will throw my keyboard out the window and hope it falls on the next person who talks about “passing an essay with a 65.” How does grading work for the CBX? Read.

Given his situation, I suggested a couple of approaches that would focus on a few key areas that would easily bring him over the hump to pass the California bar in July, once things “clicked” for him…

One of these is the basis for the Tripod Approach, which is a minimally effective approach where you focus on a few key portions when preparing for the California Bar Exam to get the largest return.

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