How to gain an unfair (but totally legal) advantage on your bar exam essays

Use these approach sheets to tackle essays and systematically “spot” relevant issues to rack up points...

...and go from BLANK PAGE to FINISHED ESSAY, even if you have no idea where to start


Introduction to Approsheets | Full Samples | Testimonials

Buy Approsheets (CA or UBE/MEE)

Or go back to the Make This Your Last Time blog...


Ah, twice a year, a juris doctor’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of the bar exam.

When you think about the bar, you think of... essays!

You haven't felt like you've had to BS so artfully on the fly since that night you accidentally confessed your infatuation to your crush over AOL Instant Messenger (RIP) or mishandled notes passed around in class.

"I never exactly know where to take these issues or where to even start. What am I supposed to talk about? I feel like I'm randomly pulling issues out of thin air."

Does that sound like you? The essay portion of the bar is a mystery no matter how long you've been studying for it and no matter which state you're in.

In fact, every single fellow repeater of the bar exam I talked to needed to improve their essays to pass.

Chances are, you're one of many struggling with knowing which issues to talk about. Either too many ("kitchen sink" approach that risks annoying the grader with irrelevant issues) or too few (AKA "squeeze out random words, and with their powers combined, it's Captain Bullshit").

The essay you open stares you in the face without breaking eye contact. It's like a riddle with no solution. Is the answer "somewhere in the middle"? (No, make a conclusion.)

That fact looks important... Hmm, that's definitely (probably) negligence...! What other issues can I pretend to know...?

Have you seen a sushi chef turn seafood into magic?

Should we also cut leftover produce into pretty flowers to add edible feng shui to the plate? I guess there’s something poetic about making art out of something people will consume immediately.

Or should we dump everything in and be done with it? It's all the same in the end, you nihilistically point out.

Oh Bar Exam, of course, you won't show mercy. To increase your chances of being on the pass list, be mindful like a pro sushi chef:

  • Understand the facts and figure out the right, relevant slices of issues being tested
  • Firmly apply well-stated law to the facts
  • Organize it all into a delicious, logical, legible, easy-to-read presentation (I'm talking IRACs laid out like a sushi boat, not jumbled into a mixed poke bowl)

(Metaphors aside, no, it is not advisable to just throw in whatever issues and rules you happen to remember, even if the grader will consume your essay in 2 minutes.)


That's cool, but isn't the problem that you keep missing the issues (not to mention the little sub-issues that leak points you deserve)?


What? You can't be bothered to know how to "spot" the issues! There are more pressing matters like remembering the overwhelming amount of bar law. Maybe THAT'LL solve all your problems!

"Just memorize the 'black-letter law' and I should be good to go, right?"

I'd caution against limiting yourself to that level of preparation. "Knowing" the law is table stakes. You'll quickly see that actually answering an essay is more challenging that it plays out in your head because knowing the rules is very different from knowing how to use those rules.

It's probably easier to read the outlines, sleep on it (maybe literally), and hope osmosis takes care of the rest. Too bad hope is not a strategy.

Many examinees spend the majority of their time merely trying to memorize the rules and assume that will take care of the rest. And I get that. There's a METRIC SHIT TON of law to know, so it is definitely critical.

But consider this: Without the seeds of issues, IRACs can’t sprout in the first place.

Put another way, although you can still get partial credit if you make up a rule or shove in facts until your application looks hefty enough, you will get ZERO credit for an issue that is never raised.

To that end, you should also focus on how to nail down the issues and confidently present them to the grader.

It's not enough to just know the rules in theory. That's just half the equation. To learn the rules means to learn how to apply them as well.

Even if you knew all the law, you still need to present the right ones by first identifying the issues they want you to.

That is, memorizing rules is merely the basic cost of entry. You get to use the rules once you've come up with the relevant issues.

And by the way, a given subject (even a given issue) probably has its own unique approaches. Yes, "just IRAC it, dude" does not apply equally to all subjects.


Wait. Hold up. How do I do that exactly?


I've discussed the concept of issue checking over issue spotting: Rather than thinking of it as spotting issues, you are checking for issues given the facts. 

To me, “spotting” implies that you just “see” these issues out of happenstance rather than deliberately matching the facts with preexisting issues that are known to be tested. (You can find out these tested issues through practice and perhaps starting with a skeletal subject-matter outline from your state bar.)

If you knew that there was a tendency for Waldo to be near people with bright blue clothes (I’m making this up), wouldn’t that make the game simpler, more systematized?

Similarly, the facts don't straight up tell you what the issues are, but there are signals that indicate their presence between the lines.

If you think that makes the process robotic, great! You want to be robotic when you IRAC. You don't want to be a creative artist here.

Because essays aren’t real life, you don’t need to be inventive or creative with issues. The examiners plant each fact intentionally, like an Easter egg hunt.

So what you want is a finite list of testable issues and the data or experience to tell you which issues appear often or are important. Then, after narrowing them down based on the facts, check for each of the available issues.

Combine the above with practice, and when you're on the hotseat, you’ll be able to open that essay leaflet with near-precognitive clarity and real confidence knowing what to do at a given situation.


I'll do you better...

What about a done-for-you system that will give you the confidence to virtually guarantee that you'll identify the relevant issues on the essays, whenever you need it?

I came up with a unique resource to do just that.

"I passed the CA bar. I must say that I found both the Approsheets and Magicsheets very helpful."

Marisa Magicsheets Approsheets x

Introducing: Approsheets


I have only made this letter longer because I have not had the time to make it shorter.
—Blaise Pascal

Approsheets are a roadmap for attacking (and even starting) the essays.

These battle-tested one-pager essay approach sheets (checklist or flowchart) take you through structuring your essays or outlines in a sequential manner, focusing on the most frequently tested issues.

If you see X, then you talk about Y. 

Even if you know all the law, you still need to present all the relevant issues.

One major pitfall of answering an essay is discussing some issues but not others. A checklist or flowchart approach ensures that you don’t forget the related issues—to not have staircase wit come to you after the exam.

Try them out for yourself:

Full Samples

Criminal Law Evience (CA Ver.)
Approsheets - Crim Law Approsheets - Evidence
CA Community Property UBE Secured Trans
Approsheets - CA Community Property Approsheets - Secured Transactions


"I am pleased to announce that I passed the February CA Bar Exam. . . . The flow charts from the Approsheets were amazing and it helped me attack the essays by maximizing my points for each essay. . . . I was shocked to have passed and I wish I would have found both Approsheets and Magicsheets for the October exam."

"I had no idea how to write a bar essay based on the law I knew. Your Approsheets are exactly what I needed."

"I successfully passed the Minnesota bar exam with a wide enough margin to also practice in other states (got a 267). Thank you so much for your help and guidance. I sincerely couldn't have done it without you."

"I am an attorney applicant who doesn't have the time to prepare my own attack plan. Approsheets were perfect."

"What I like about your study materials is how straightforward they are."

"I was doing a google search for ways to improve bar essay answers because I draw a blank as soon as I read a question even when I know the law and can spot the issues. Your tips are like a roadmap to get me started. Thanks again!!"

Approsheets "were a great quick review"

"I also bought your [Approsheets] which I think are just fucking amazing for approaching questions"

"My essay answers were meandering and missed a ton of issues. That's where I think Themis falls short. . . . I think you've identified the better way. Thank you."

Why one page per checklist/flowchart?

Come on, you really don’t need yet another giant stack of papers on your desk. I’ve distilled and purified the essentials so that you can benefit from the most important issues.

Maximum coverage with the minimal dose. More than enough for minimum competence. There is clarity in simplicity.

What about templates? Templates tell you what to write so you can provide complete details and structure (also important).

You could very well use full plug-and-play templates that take you word by word. They have their benefits. But that's not what Approsheets are about.

Approsheets take you issue by issue so that you don't miss out on points in the first place. No issue = no IRAC = no points.

In other words, if you want a detailed explanation of the approach, this is probably not for you. Check out the full samples above.


How will Approsheets benefit you?

  • Know where to start on an essay question (an overarching roadmap of important issues and sub-issues)

Approsheets can help you with "how to get an essay started" and "issue spotting and practicing"

  • Include relevant issues and sub-issues in your outline/answer (issues to discuss are underlined and grouped together depending on the facts)
  • Rack up hidden points (reminders to discuss easily missed related issues, including exceptions and defenses)
  • Visualize the checklist with a flowchart (a separate page where you can literally follow the arrows to see what issues to consider next)

"Not only do you have to understand the bare basics of black letter law and the numerous exemptions and exclusions, you need a visual attack plan for application. These resources simplify the process and address content that is applicable to the most common fact patterns tested over and over"

"I've noticed I have been feeling intimidated by the BLANK PAGE. Never had that feeling before. So fuck it."

  • Calm your nerves so you can focus on the task even under pressure (you can even print and carry your plan of attack on one sheet of paper)

"I used the Approsheets to help me get over the fear of an MEE question . . . Otherwise I'd draw a blank"

"Brian Hahn's approsheets and magic sheets are why I passed the Florida bar (and it had been 20 years since I last took a bar exam)"

Magicsheets Approsheets peace of mind

"Brian's approsheets were my best friend in the final days - I took them with me to the hotel and would mostly just review those each night."

"Helped me a lot especially to keep me confident and have a good checklist of everything . . . Pretty great value for the price. Thanks."

  • 30-day refund policy (if it doesn't help you, just email me to get a full refund)
  • Lifetime updates (automatic email delivery of whatever tweaks, rearrangements, optimizations I make in the future)


Here’s what you get

You’ll get a set of essay approach sheets in the form of checklists, templates, and flowcharts (jump to full samples). Each subject is its own PDF file. 

These subjects are included in both the CA and UBE versions:

  • Business Associations (agency, partnerships, corporations)
  • Civil Procedure (FRCP and/or CA)
  • CA Community Property
  • Constitutional Law
  • Contracts
  • Criminal Law
  • Criminal Procedure
  • Evidence (FRE and/or CA)
  • Professional Responsibility (ABA and/or CA)
  • Real Property
  • Remedies
  • Torts
  • Wills & Trusts (Trusts & Estates for the UBE)

UBE variant includes...

  • Secured Transactions
  • Conflict of Laws
  • Family Law

Some of the above are not tested on the UBE, but the extra subjects may be beneficial depending on which state bar you're taking. The UBE variant does not include CA Community Property.

You’ll also get up to two bonuses:


Bonus 1: Performance Test Toolkit

  • A specific step-by-step approach to solving a PT
  • Templates and examples
  • Where to find plenty of PTs/MPTs to practice
  • Avoiding the common trap of running out of time
  • And more...

Bonus 2Pocket Guide for Your Bar Prep: 17 Strategies to Get Un-stuck and Un-frustrated by the Bar Exam

[Included only with the Magicsheets + Approsheets set]

  • What did I do wrong my first bar attempt (and what did I do my second time)?
  • What do you do if you can’t find time to practice?
  • When do you memorize the overwhelming amount of law & what do you prioritize?
  • And more...


If you're reading this, you know my free material is unlike anything out there. You can expect the same with my time-tested premium material.

So again, I am taking on 100% of the risk with a 30-day money-back guarantee. If you find that these are not for you, email me for a full refund.


"I was also terrified of the essays - my weak point - so the Approsheets were a godsend - both in terms of calming me down and helping me structure an attack plan for each subject!"

If you want to see the relevant issues, attack your essays with confidence, and collect hidden points, click below now:

Get Approsheets (Full Set) — $60

Click here to go back to the samples again.


If you're feeling extra ambitious, Magicsheets (my premium condensed outlines) are the perfect companion tool for attacking the essays with Approsheets. You can get both (and a bonus guide) while saving over $20:

Get the Magicsheets + Approsheets Suite — $127 (save over $20)


"Definitely should have been studying earlier. I should have bought your magic/appro sheets earlier. They are very good - the best condensed outlines I have seen."—Katy R.


"I used both your Approsheets and your Magicsheets guides, and I can tell you that it is money well spent. I took the 2017 July California Bar Exam, and I am happy to say that I passed the first time I took it, thanks in part to Approsheets and Magicsheets Your guides helped me out during the last month of review, because they provide quick, easy, and crystal clear rules and flowcharts to succeed in both the Essay and MBE exams. I will definitely recommend your product to future test-takers, and to my school's Academic/Bar Exam success coordinator. Feel free to post this on your site, but this is simply a glowing 5-star review of your product. Thanks!"


"I started reading your entries about the fallacies of 'issue spotting' and I immediately felt like you identified a problem with my essay writing that I was trying to put a finger on. . . . a lot of your strategies speak with a clarity that most bar preps are either unable or afraid to employ. Your outlines seem to have the same clarity"


"I also highly recommend [Magicsheets and Approsheets]. They are boiled down rules sheets and how to approach essays"


"Issue checking" (rather than "issue spotting") flipped my whole approach to identifying issues. Let me explain why I am unapologetic about Approsheets.

What is "premium"?


There's something fishy going on...

Your law school didn't really teach you how to "spot" issues. They just told you to without explaining how.

So what are the passing half doing to win? All this time pressure and things to remember. How are you supposed to get through an essay that seems even harder than final exams?

Put simply, it’s an investment in your own success, to cut open your own path.

If there's one thing I learned all too late, the people who grab the cum laudes and bar cards first invested in themselves. Law school taught me that in this day and age of planetary connectivity, you will suffer if you rely on your “self” only and try to reinvent the wheel.

This is the problem with people who are proactive and creative. They try to be TOO original to solve their problems. Those who leap over the pioneers got their results not by reinventing the wheel or bootstrapping... but by getting the right help.

Sure, some lucky geniuses might practice essays for two weeks and pass because they remember everything from law school. Let them do it their way. You can use the resources that are right for you.


If you’re reading this, congrats. This is your unfair advantage. And I take pride in this. 

You can memorize and recite rules on your own, but maybe you want to see if you’re on the right path—to see if you’re getting the right issues and their discussion order for each particular subject.

Maybe you wish you had a magic earpiece that feeds you the right issues as you do the essays. Or even a virtual mentor who holds your hand and takes you through a step-by-step, systematic approach.

Approsheets are the crunchy solution I came up with.


On your quest for success on the bar, there's no need to reinvent the wheel. You could follow the paths I’ve already uncovered and many other bar takers have gone on before you.

It is my privilege and obligation to offer it, and it is your choice to step through.

Seller beware

I’m making this a no-brainer decision for you because all the risk is on me. I’ll show you mine and you show me yours.

Full samples—decide before purchase

Here are the full samples again:

I like systematic approaches. A pre-organized approach will make answering essays and drafting an outline feel more manageable—even automatic.

- Know where to start in an essay question
- Include relevant issues and sub-issues in your outline/answer
- Rack up hidden points

Keep in mind that Approsheets are not meant to be fully comprehensive but rather a tool to remind you to discuss the right set of issues at the right time. They do not have every possible issue, nor the rules. Approsheets are not intended to be outlines of bar law (see Magicsheets for those).

Rather, they present a map to navigate the most important issues—all on one page. Instead of panicking and getting lost in a sea of words, approach each essay with confidence while saving time and stress.


(She passed and got back to me!)

Marisa passed the CA bar x


30-day refund policy—decide after purchase

Here’s my personal guarantee: You will improve your essays. If not, you can ask me for a refund within 30 days of purchase. That’s right—use them for 30 days and decide if they’re the right fit for you or not. Simply email me with why you didn’t like them, and you will get all your money back.

(Can you do this with Lean Sheets? No, boycott Lean Sheets and instead consider Magicsheets, my premium condensed outline with the same 30-day policy.)


Battle tested with real bar examinees—decide vicariously

I'll continue to tweak and update them if I see ways to improve their accuracy or arrangement. You’ll automatically get any new updates so you don’t have to worry about being stuck with an older version.


Now if you're ready to attack the essays, identify issues with confidence, and rack up points all day long, click below:


Get Approsheets (Full Set) — $60

Click here to go back to the samples again.


If you're feeling extra ambitious, Magicsheets (my premium condensed outlines) are the perfect companion tool for attacking the essays with Approsheets. You can get both (and a bonus guide) while saving huge:

Get the Magicsheets + Approsheets Suite — $147 (save $30)

Approsheets, Appro sheets, Approach sheets, Attack sheets

Hey! Did you just skip down here?

Good, you've come to the right place.

I can't tell you if Approsheets are right for you… I can only tell you that they helped many others.

So let me STFU and let these people speak for themselves.


Cherise passed the bar exam as a Canadian lawyer

"For everyone freaked out by the essays (as I am) . . . I purchased the Magicsheets/Approsheets . . . I feel confident that they are helping me reach the end goal."

"I also highly recommend [Magicsheets and Approsheets]. They are boiled down rules sheets and how to approach essays"

"I also recommend [Magicsheets and Approsheets]. I can't say enough about how they have helped so many of us. AND they are affordable (Brian was a bar taker just like us. He knows how expensive this process can get)"

"Would echo the comments above about also using Brian's Magic and Approach sheets."


"it was an incredible reference point and cheat sheet to make studying that much easier"


Karrie passed her second time


Those essay sheets actually helped me a lot


Approsheets worth it


Approsheets for other states


Approsheets good





Marisa passed the CA bar x


"[Magicsheets] and [Approsheets] created by Brian Hahn [are] invaluable. This guy knows his stuff. . . . They are affordable and a gold mine."


See the privacy policy for information on how your data is used in conjunction with Gumroad or PayPal for purposes of payment and delivery of files.

Again, here's how to access Approsheets


Get Approsheets (Full Set) — $60

Click here to go back to the samples again.


If you're feeling extra ambitious, Magicsheets (my premium condensed outlines) are the perfect companion tool for attacking the essays with Approsheets. You can get both (and a bonus guide) while saving huge:

Get the Magicsheets + Approsheets Suite — $147 (save $30)


I wish you the best on your bar exam essays!