Hannah passed the 2023 February CA Bar Exam, one of the HARDEST exams with a 32.5% pass rate (even lower than the 2022 Feb exam).
She did it efficiently and effectively:
- on her first try
- with 7-8 weeks of studying
- while attending to two toddlers and a biglaw job!
I’m excited to share Hannah’s story and 4 BIG nuggets of wisdom I distilled from her story.
(Babe, wake up! Another banger of a passer story just dropped.)
- Attempts: California Bar Exam 1x (after Texas Bar Exam 1x in 2019)
- Weakness: Feeling resistance to MBE
- Unique challenge: Time constraints with responsibilities as mom and biglaw attorney. Disillusioned with big bar review course
Materials she used to prepare:
▶▶ Past essays
That’s it! Less time means you have to be more selective about your resources.
4 BIG insights from her study approach:
Here’s how you can be MORE prepared doing LESS (and with a simplified set of tools).
You’ll see her full story below, but here are some actionable nuggets I extracted. Don’t say I never do anything for you.
This is obvious (to some) but not easy to do.
Also, what does it mean to “practice practice practice”? It means you:
- Test yourself with a question.
- Review the ground truth (sample answers and answer explanations).
- Adjust your knowledge and understanding so you don’t make the error next time.
Hey, this is exactly how to train artificial intelligence!
Here’s how Hannah trained her AI:
💬 “I started studying in early January watching the short AdaptiBar videos, reading your outlines, and doing multiple choice questions (20-50 per day). I added a new MBE subject every 3-4 days, starting with my best subjects. I always read the explanations for missed questions & made notes in my outlines as needed.“
💬 “In February I started the CA essay topics with a similar approach but instead using just your outlines and published essays on the Cal bar website. I read the outline once & your essay approach, completed an essay using the outline for repetition with the material, and then read the model answer. After 3 or so essays on a topic, I put the outline away and went from memory.“
💬 “An essay takes 45 min to 1 hour of writing plus 5-15 min reviewing answers, revising my essay & reviewing outlines if necessary. I’d take a short break between essays, so I worked on 70-90 minute cycles.“
💬 “It can feel awkward at first to begin practice questions when the material is so new and/or you’ve only reviewed it once. But it truly is the best approach.“
OK, that was a basic one. How about this next nugget?
✅ Motivation comes from action.
Seriously, stop with the “I don’t have motivation” self-talk.
You do have a reason to do this—to pass the bar, become an attorney, and put a prestigious job in your dating bio!
Some people will pass on you because you’re a lawyer, though. A harsh road lies ahead of you.
For now, put those fish pics away and look at what Hannah did when the road was harsh:
💬 “I also enjoy writing; there was a much bigger motivation hump for multiple choice practice (which is why I made myself do it every single weekday). The hardest part was just keeping my phone away!“
That’s discipline and composure.
Hannah did MORE of it when she found it harder to get motivated! She leaned INTO the discomfort.
As noted earlier, Hannah tackled practice questions even when it was awkward at first.
Doing is less exhausting than thinking about doing it. Do FIRST, and you shall receive motivation and momentum.
Wait for motivation to fall from the sky…and you’ll have a nice view of the clouds all day.
I know it’s hard to get motivated and break away from distractions. Bar prep isn’t THAT fun.
Focus is almost a superpower these days. If you read Hannah’s full story below, you’ll notice that she focused really hard on bar prep even while juggling work and kids.
You gotta concentrate however you can, too.
Throw your phone on the bed. Grab your emotional support animal. Pray to all deities who are still taking on believers. Get a banana for scale.
But probably, the easiest way to escape the numbing exhaustion is to stop being fixated on lectures that are longer than feature-length films (especially if you’re a repeater). Your job isn’t to transcribe videos or fill in all the blanks. What a waste of time and energy.
💬 “I used the full Barbri course and spent days watching videos and reading enormous outlines that I never revisited.“
Focus allows you to make good use of your limited time. Otherwise, your days might expand to 12 hours every day, which is absolutely exhausting for this marathon process.
And if you want more time… Make the time.
Little pockets of time can also percolate throughout your day.
💬 “When my kids fell asleep at night, I tried to do 10-20 additional AdaptiBar questions, but I only did that on days I thought I’d be able to retain the information.“
💬 “I was too busy on weekends to study much, but I tried to squeeze in reading one outline when I could. My weekday studying was always interrupted with work demands as well.“
✅ It’s OK to get help.
Especially if you don’t have time, like Hannah.
People love to say they value their time, yet they will break their backs.
Hannah decided to lighten the load on her back.
You’ll be able to pay off those student loans FASTER once you pass the bar exam.
💬 “I have a nanny so I was able to study pretty efficiently during the day.“
💬 “Because I still had a bad taste in my mouth from Barbri, I decided to try something different & stumbled across your sheets. I ended up purchasing your sheets because it seemed like a streamlined approach well-suited for my life circumstances.“
I’m not saying to max out your credit cards or take out more loans. You could buy back your time like Hannah, ask for help from family or friends, or both. I was fortunate enough to live with my parents and work part time on my second attempt.
Also, you don’t need everything, just what you need.
Notice how relatively minimal her study tools were. If you want to get overwhelmed, use all the resources.
Here’s Hannah’s full story on how she passed the 2023 CA Bar Exam with full-time work as a biglaw attorney and a mom:
Tell me if this inspires you to think about your own approach.
Nice work, Hannah! I just want to shower you with kudos for juggling all these.