Jared passed the 2023 July California Bar Exam on his first try, despite being in a panic in the last month of bar prep, while juggling family duties and working full-time.
💬 “I was in a ‘I have to pass!!!’ panic the last six weeks prior to the exam. For context, I spent four years doing law school at night, I have a family, and I work full-time.”
💬 “I had a mini-panic a month before the exam, because I just didn’t think the material or schedule was working for me.”
I like this story because it once again emphasizes the lesson of pivoting from “trust the process” to “trust yourself.”
💬 “My strategy was idiosyncratic and focused on what I needed to do to pass.”
- Quick stats
- Resources Jared used to pass the California Bar Exam on his first try
- Here’s how Jared made that pivot from “trusting the process” to becoming the author of his success
- 1) Taking ownership of your bar prep
- 2) Stop studying and start learning
- 3) Your approach to bar prep may look different from everyone else’s
- Jared’s full story
- Attempts: California Bar Exam 1x
- Weakness: Essays
- Unique challenge: Balancing full-time work, family, and bar exam studies
Resources Jared used to pass the California Bar Exam on his first try
▶ BarEssays [CA only]
This is the all-stars shortlist of resources if you want to pass in California.
Here’s how Jared made that pivot from “trusting the process” to becoming the author of his success
1) Taking ownership of your bar prep
According to Jared, this was the MOST important lesson that he took away from me:
Taking ownership of your bar prep.
💬 “Magicsheets/Approsheets are great and helped me focus on core concepts, but more than that your advice to make the prep “mine” was the most impactful. It’s not enough to just “trust the process”. As you say, it is essential to diagnose your own needs, create a plan, and attack it daily.”
💬 “I signed up for your Magic Sheets and Approsheets, and internalized your message that you have to make the prep your own and really focus on what you need to do to pass the bar.”
💬 “Trust your instincts and focus on your weaknesses, don’t worry about swimming up stream and deviating from the standard plan. You are the author of your success!”
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, you are the dean of your own studies. But it takes more than one repetition for the message to stick to you. (Same with memorizing the law.)
This idea framed his entire bar prep. This was the first-order thought that propagated throughout his preparation.
2) Stop studying and start learning
Here’s how he prepared for the essays (the weakest portion), the MBE, and performance tests.
💬 “I type slowly, and essays were my weakest section, so I attacked this two ways . . .
I used Baressays.com and found scored answers (receiving grades between 60-75) that I thought were a good overall answer to each essay question after I had cooked an outline for the practice question. . . . Additionally, I attempted to outline faster in practice (10 minutes max for most essays) so that I would have more time to type and, so that during test conditions, I could fit in the 10-15 minute read/digest/outline work without running overtime.
And more importantly, after identifying an ideal essay answer, I would then retype it as fast as possible (nearly word for word, or with minor corrections). This allowed me to internalize what a “right” answer sounded like (answer structures, concepts, rule statements, etc). . . . Essay writing is so mechanical, and always has felt forced and unnatural to me, even after law school, so I wanted to imitate a style of essay answering that would be predictable and easy on the grader.”
If you’re not taking the California exam, you can still use representative answers from state bars. For your enjoyment, I painstakingly collected and posted MEE and MPT questions and answers from UBE states here.
You may be hesitant to put pencil to paper because you’re scared of failing at practice (like Cara initially did), but the obstacle is the way.
Jared went from “How can I possibly do this” to “That’s all?” We are capable of unlimited evolution.
💬 “A question may leave you wondering “How can I possibly adequately answer this question in 45 minutes???”. After you read 2-3 essay answers that received 70 and 75 point scores and clocked in at on average 1300-1400 words, you begin thinking “That’s all? I can do that.” It’s a great confidence builder on the essays, and great practice for dealing with actual exam conditions (speed, efficiency, scope of answer, etc.)”
Although he was stronger at the MBE, he didn’t neglect it. He knew there was an overlapping benefit since the essays also test MBE subjects.
Great! That’s part of the tripod approach, a minimally effective approach to get the largest return for your efforts.
💬 “I didn’t take my strong areas (MBE) for granted. I studied just as hard for MBE’s knowing the cross-over benefit for essays, and also that scoring very well on my strengths may help at the margins of lifting my overall score (and by extension my weaker areas).”
To sum it up, he focused on doing what he was going to do on test day and imitating what he thought was the ideal answer until he felt confident. Confidence comes from competence.
For the performance tests, he chose not to practice them consistently, saving them for last.
I don’t personally recommend this (you want to measure how you do ahead of time), but hey, there is no one right way to do this. The only right way to do it is what you deem is right.
💬 “I drilled this consistently during the last four weeks of the prep period, and focused on essays (my greatest concern), only working on performance test questions the last couple of weeks of the prep period.”
3) Your approach to bar prep may look different from everyone else’s
This segues into the next point that what you do may look strange to other people. You don’t need to do what other people say! If it makes sense to YOU, then do it.
For instance, he didn’t do any full practice exams.
💬 “I did not complete any full practice exams, because I knew those were not something that I would benefit from, and I trusted your advice that I needed to focus on what worked for me. Thank you for that advice- you are 100% right on this.”
Jared even warns that his approach may not be replicable or advised. I love that this was HIS approach. This was only for him, free from “trusting the process”—someone else’s process.
He only did what would benefit his preparation. Is it possible that you’re doing things that aren’t benefiting you?
💬 “I knew I was probably only going to get one chance to take off the 8 weeks and dedicate myself to studying for the Bar, so I basically studied a minimum of 12-13 hours every day, except Sundays, when I normally studied for about 8 hours. My whole approach was idiosyncratic, and I am not sure it is replicable (or advised).”
I’m just sharing one out of a million ways it could work. To show you that there ISN’T one absolute right path. To empower and encourage you with the possibility that you CAN pave your own path instead of getting lost on the beaten path.
You could take inspiration or copy Jared’s method, but it doesn’t mean it’ll work for you. You need to think for yourself and craft your own plan instead of begging people to share their tips and tricks. Remember that most advice is from their perspective, not yours.
For example, would you be willing to use a 3×5 note card like Jared did? It’s very specific to his preference.
💬 “I highly recommend quantifying your studying. Later in the prep, I began keeping a 3×5 note card as a chart where I listed each subject, and then I would mark off each time I studied/reviewed that section of notes/outlines/Magicsheets.”
Or you could just follow a cookie-cutter plan. It could absolutely work for you! I’m not saying otherwise.
Is this making sense at all?
The point is to take ownership of your bar prep. It’s not about following Jared or me or anyone else. You could take inspiration, but everything is a mere suggestion. You are the executive decision maker. You are the dean of your own studies. See point #1.
💬 “My strategy was idiosyncratic and focused on what I needed to do to pass, but I guess that is the point, know yourself, and get to work taking ownership of your Bar prep!”
This is awesome, Jared! Here’s the list of resources he used again.
If you could author your own bar prep and do it your way, how would you do it?