My experience of passing the California bar on my sixth attempt (February 2018 exam)

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justanotheruser

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My experience of passing the California bar on my sixth attempt (February 2018 exam)

Postby justanotheruser » Sat Nov 24, 2018 5:44 pm

So, the February 2018 exam was my 6th attempt and I passed. Even now, I still get ridiculously happy whenever I think back to the moment when I found out I passed. But I also know how some of you may be feeling. For the longest time, I only felt like I was digging a deeper hole and convinced I would never be able to climb out. But I'm here to say things will get better and what felt like the impossible was very achievable looking back. So with that said, I wanted to share my experience and hopefully be of help to anyone reading this.

1. GENERAL BACKGROUND

I almost passed the July 2017 exam based on my strength on the MBEs (scored just under 1500). What really hurt me was getting a 50 on the PT after spending too much time on Essays 4 & 5, leaving me with 30 minutes for the PT.

I'd say the two biggest changes I made up front were (1) setting aside a full 10 weeks to study (as opposed to 7-8 weeks) and (2) making a detailed day-by-day study calendar. I think I started studying by the 2nd or 3rd week of December. Planning ahead ensured I would cover a certain number of MBEs by test week but, more importantly, that I would cover almost every essay topic. Based on predictions/common sense, I would prioritize certain topics (e.g. if Torts was long overdue, I'd do 10-12 essays by the end of my study plan). But I also made sure I'd do at least a few essays even for topics less likely to appear (for me, the number was about 4-5 essays per 'unlikely to appear' topic).

I almost always studied at a library. A typical day of studying would run 9 to 6... but obviously there were moments to rest/chill (e.g. break time, lunch). I was in a position to be able to study full-time for all 10 weeks, so YMMV if you're trying to study while working. A commitment I made up front was to make sure I prepared for everything. The temptation to double up on my strength (MBE) was alluring, but given that I was failing over and over again I had to try something different. So I put in the time to become well-rounded for the written portion of the exam.

Based on my study calendar, I did 30 MBE questions and 2-3 essay subjects a day. Every 2 weeks (I picked Wednesday), I would swap out the essays for a full practice PT. As I got closer to the exam date, I did a practice PT almost every week. Around the midway point (Week 6), I did a full practice bar exam -- the written portion on Tuesday and MBEs on Wednesday. Needless to say, it was all under test conditions.

2. MBE (Materials used: Emanuel's Strategies & Tactics + Adaptibar)

As mentioned earlier, I did 30 MBEs a day, and that's how I would begin each study day. In total, I did about 1900-2000 questions in total (including repeat questions).

I first used Emanuel's Strategies & Tactics to develop a foundation (in terms of forming a strategic approach to MBEs), and then I used Adaptibar exclusively. As I go through the set of 30 Qs, I'm marking down questions I'm "uncertain" about. Once I finish, I go through not only the wrong questions, but the ones I marked "uncertain" as well. When you're reviewing questions, don't just look at the correct answer... but try to figure out why your wrong answer choice was wrong. In the short run it felt like a burden, but it really benefited me in the long run to do that.

As I review answer explanations, I compiled them on a google doc. Before each 30 question set, I would review the google doc and trim/delete or edit the answer explanations (in my own words) as necessary. Make sure to clean up the doc often because the doc can get very lengthy (20+ pages). My overall average on MBEs was 83% and closer to 87-88% for the last 1000 questions. I also know, based on the NCBE score report, that I got over 1500 on the MBEs when I passed the Feb 2018 bar exam. Also, FWIW, I finished both sessions of MBE day 17-18 minutes early.

That being said, people have commented dissatisfaction w/ Adaptibar, and I can echo some of those shortcomings. The answer explanations were pretty lacking at times. But if I felt dissatisfied with an Adaptibar explanation, I would use what I learned from S&T plus my own substantive knowledge, and analyze in my own words why the answer choice was what it was. Something something when adaptibar throws you lemons. The repeat questions is, unfortunately, something I just had to deal with... but to the extent that I could, I'd still go through the entire process of going through the MBE question even if I remembered the answer.

I will also agree that on the actual MBE, a lot of questions felt like a 50/50 question whereas such questions felt like it made up 10% of my practice problems at most. I didn't use the MBE question packs from NCBE, but a lot of people have highly recommended them in terms of being closer to the problems on recent exams. So I'd definitely check those out as well.

3. ESSAYS (BarEssays.com)

For me, essays were a huge bugaboo. Since my MBEs were strong enough I thought I could take the path of least resistance with essays. For past bar exams (that I failed), I would look up predictions (e.g. BarSecrets) and do 3-5 practice outlines per predicted topic. I figured that if I did decently on 2-3 essays, I could pass the bar based on my MBE performance. I also found the prospect of preparing for essays absolutely daunting, and often found myself paralyzed w/ fear/doubt/reluctance.

I was wrong time and time again. Part of it was laziness. Part of it was fear -- fear that there was no way I could possibly tackle that many essays for that many topics. If you are in the same position, let me just assure you -- practicing essays ended up being nowhere near what I feared it was. Will it take some grinding and long hours on occasion? Yes. But let me also say that within a few weeks (pretty early on in the process), you start noticing patterns right away and feeling comfortable because there is, relatively speaking, only a finite set of fact patterns that show up for each topic.

An overview of how I practiced essays: During the first 2-3 weeks of studying, I would only do ONE essay per subject (so two total essays that day since I covered two essay subjects a day). In these initial weeks, I would fully write out these essays WITH an open book + a 2-hour time limit per each essay. In short, I tried writing as good an essay as I could. It helped me get familiar with the essay topics and start slowly building a foundation. I won't lie, this part was pretty grueling (but it does get easier). After that, between weeks 3 through 8 roughly, I outlined essays (and increased from 1 essay to 2-4 essays per subject). During the last two weeks before the exam, I only issue spotted 8-10 essays (covering 2-3 essay subjects) a day.

In all this, BarEssays was a fantastic resource. After I'd be done writing/outlining/issue-spotting an essay, I would compare what I had written with what had been written (or not) on papers scoring 60, 65, and 70+. If there was a rule or strategy I'd frequently forget, I'd make a note of it on a google doc. I'm only speaking for myself here, but I did not have to rote memorize anything. Simply being able to articulate rule statements in my own words was enough, even if it didn't match the "standard" wording on BarEssays. On this point, it was actually encouraging when I saw how many of the high-scoring essays on BarEssays were far from perfect. Some people advocate memorizing the 13 most frequent rule statements per each subject. Do what works for you best. Once I had a few weeks under my belt, I saw how facts trigger certain issues and how most essays repeat only a finite number of fact patterns.

4. PT (http://www.ncbex.org/exams/mpt/preparing)

Please don't neglect the PT. It's alarming how often people take it for granted even though it roughly counts twice as much as an essay. As mentioned above, my mindset changed when I realized I could have passed the July 2017 exam if I had time to finish the PT (and score 60+) instead of running out of time and only scoring a 50 like I actually did.

When I passed, I did about 7-8 FULL practice PTs. My focus every practice was getting my timing down. My goal was to finish reading+outlining in 30 minutes so I could have an hour-ish to write. During practices, I would mark down how long it took me to finish outlining and start writing. I think my first PT or two, it took me nearly an hour to read/outline everything. But I got better and better. The key was, during this reading/outlining phase, to focus on finding the exact law and specific exceptions to set up the super basic outline. I found that highlighting and transcribing every highlight was a big time killer.

I did all of this with the strategy of doing the PT first and then the two essays in the afternoon session in mind. I practiced doing the PT first (btwn 1h30m to 1h45m) and being prepared to spend 50-52 minutes on Essays 4 + 5. On the actual bar exam, I spent just under 1 hr 40 minutes on the PT before moving on to the two essays in the afternoon session. Obviously I could have been a bit quicker, but this was far better than when I had only 25 minutes (in total) to start and finish the PT in July 2017.

5. FINAL THOUGHTS

Let me just reiterate some key points that changed my thinking/approach when I finally passed the exam..

- Be kind to yourself. When building my calendar, I tried to squeeze in a 'free day' once every 7-10 days. Most of the time, I used it as a review day, but sometimes I used those days to hang out with friends or other fun things. Nothing is worse than being burnt out, but trying to force yourself to study.

- There were so many times when studying for the bar exams that I failed that I found myself staring at 3 different commercial outlines and being paralyzed by the amount I thought I was supposed to memorize. But the bar exam is not about rote memorization. On essays, it's testing if you can establish minimum competency in actually engaging w/ the facts in the question. On MBEs, memorizing rule statements is a waste of time if you can't see how they operate in the context of the fact pattern.

- I'm not saying there is no place for review, but all things being equal, I almost always chose practice problems over reviewing/memorizing. Related to my above point, I found that by doing tons of purposeful practice problems, you end up memorizing and learning a ton naturally. And, unlike rote memorization, you're often learning the law in the context of fact patterns.

- Things that appear scary or daunting at first is often anything but. I refused for a long time to fully lean into essay preparation because I didn't want to deal w/ all those topics, all those rule statements, etc. When I finally leaned into it for the Feb '18 exam, I realized within 2 weeks that this was not at all what I feared it would be and that it was a much more manageable (though tough) task.

This is already a long enough post as it is, but feel free to message me if you have any specific questions.

FinallyPassedTheBar

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Re: My experience of passing the California bar on my sixth attempt (February 2018 exam)

Postby FinallyPassedTheBar » Sat Nov 24, 2018 10:20 pm

Thanks for this post. I passed July 2017 after many failures as well. And your experience/passing technique nearly mirrors my own.

Anyone else in a similar situations should consider following this method IMHO.

b290

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Re: My experience of passing the California bar on my sixth attempt (February 2018 exam)

Postby b290 » Sun Nov 25, 2018 9:17 am

justanotheruser wrote:4. PT (http://www.ncbex.org/exams/mpt/preparing)

Please don't neglect the PT. It's alarming how often people take it for granted even though it roughly counts twice as much as an essay. As mentioned above, my mindset changed when I realized I could have passed the July 2017 exam if I had time to finish the PT (and score 60+) instead of running out of time and only scoring a 50 like I actually did.

Exactlly. PTs are free points.

For the UBE, people don't practice enough for the MPT. That's even knowing that an MPT is worth 3 times that of an MEE essay. :shock:

I ended up doing much of the things you did for the MBE. Also, your Final Points section is right on - some of which, I had to learn firsthand.

Thanks for taking the time to post, you're helping others with this. Well done counselor! 8)

My $.02

justanotheruser

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Re: My experience of passing the California bar on my sixth attempt (February 2018 exam)

Postby justanotheruser » Sun Nov 25, 2018 10:34 pm

FinallyPassedTheBar wrote:Thanks for this post. I passed July 2017 after many failures as well. And your experience/passing technique nearly mirrors my own.

Anyone else in a similar situations should consider following this method IMHO.


Thanks! I think one of the key adjustments for me was realizing there wasn't a magic shortcut and that there was no substitution for being organized and working hard.

b290 wrote:For the UBE, people don't practice enough for the MPT. That's even knowing that an MPT is worth 3 times that of an MEE essay. :shock:

I ended up doing much of the things you did for the MBE. Also, your Final Points section is right on - some of which, I had to learn firsthand.

Thanks for taking the time to post, you're helping others with this. Well done counselor! 8)


Appreciate your comment. My only regret is I didn't make those key adjustments sooner, but I guess that was just part of my own story/journey.

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Re: My experience of passing the California bar on my sixth attempt (February 2018 exam)

Postby lexingtonhr » Mon Nov 26, 2018 1:33 pm

justanotheruser wrote:So, the February 2018 exam was my 6th attempt and I passed. Even now, I still get ridiculously happy whenever I think back to the moment when I found out I passed. But I also know how some of you may be feeling. For the longest time, I only felt like I was digging a deeper hole and convinced I would never be able to climb out. But I'm here to say things will get better and what felt like the impossible was very achievable looking back. So with that said, I wanted to share my experience and hopefully be of help to anyone reading this.

1. GENERAL BACKGROUND

I almost passed the July 2017 exam based on my strength on the MBEs (scored just under 1500). What really hurt me was getting a 50 on the PT after spending too much time on Essays 4 & 5, leaving me with 30 minutes for the PT.

I'd say the two biggest changes I made up front were (1) setting aside a full 10 weeks to study (as opposed to 7-8 weeks) and (2) making a detailed day-by-day study calendar. I think I started studying by the 2nd or 3rd week of December. Planning ahead ensured I would cover a certain number of MBEs by test week but, more importantly, that I would cover almost every essay topic. Based on predictions/common sense, I would prioritize certain topics (e.g. if Torts was long overdue, I'd do 10-12 essays by the end of my study plan). But I also made sure I'd do at least a few essays even for topics less likely to appear (for me, the number was about 4-5 essays per 'unlikely to appear' topic).

I almost always studied at a library. A typical day of studying would run 9 to 6... but obviously there were moments to rest/chill (e.g. break time, lunch). I was in a position to be able to study full-time for all 10 weeks, so YMMV if you're trying to study while working. A commitment I made up front was to make sure I prepared for everything. The temptation to double up on my strength (MBE) was alluring, but given that I was failing over and over again I had to try something different. So I put in the time to become well-rounded for the written portion of the exam.

Based on my study calendar, I did 30 MBE questions and 2-3 essay subjects a day. Every 2 weeks (I picked Wednesday), I would swap out the essays for a full practice PT. As I got closer to the exam date, I did a practice PT almost every week. Around the midway point (Week 6), I did a full practice bar exam -- the written portion on Tuesday and MBEs on Wednesday. Needless to say, it was all under test conditions.

2. MBE (Materials used: Emanuel's Strategies & Tactics + Adaptibar)

As mentioned earlier, I did 30 MBEs a day, and that's how I would begin each study day. In total, I did about 1900-2000 questions in total (including repeat questions).

I first used Emanuel's Strategies & Tactics to develop a foundation (in terms of forming a strategic approach to MBEs), and then I used Adaptibar exclusively. As I go through the set of 30 Qs, I'm marking down questions I'm "uncertain" about. Once I finish, I go through not only the wrong questions, but the ones I marked "uncertain" as well. When you're reviewing questions, don't just look at the correct answer... but try to figure out why your wrong answer choice was wrong. In the short run it felt like a burden, but it really benefited me in the long run to do that.

As I review answer explanations, I compiled them on a google doc. Before each 30 question set, I would review the google doc and trim/delete or edit the answer explanations (in my own words) as necessary. Make sure to clean up the doc often because the doc can get very lengthy (20+ pages). My overall average on MBEs was 83% and closer to 87-88% for the last 1000 questions. I also know, based on the NCBE score report, that I got over 1500 on the MBEs when I passed the Feb 2018 bar exam. Also, FWIW, I finished both sessions of MBE day 17-18 minutes early.

That being said, people have commented dissatisfaction w/ Adaptibar, and I can echo some of those shortcomings. The answer explanations were pretty lacking at times. But if I felt dissatisfied with an Adaptibar explanation, I would use what I learned from S&T plus my own substantive knowledge, and analyze in my own words why the answer choice was what it was. Something something when adaptibar throws you lemons. The repeat questions is, unfortunately, something I just had to deal with... but to the extent that I could, I'd still go through the entire process of going through the MBE question even if I remembered the answer.

I will also agree that on the actual MBE, a lot of questions felt like a 50/50 question whereas such questions felt like it made up 10% of my practice problems at most. I didn't use the MBE question packs from NCBE, but a lot of people have highly recommended them in terms of being closer to the problems on recent exams. So I'd definitely check those out as well.

3. ESSAYS (BarEssays.com)

For me, essays were a huge bugaboo. Since my MBEs were strong enough I thought I could take the path of least resistance with essays. For past bar exams (that I failed), I would look up predictions (e.g. BarSecrets) and do 3-5 practice outlines per predicted topic. I figured that if I did decently on 2-3 essays, I could pass the bar based on my MBE performance. I also found the prospect of preparing for essays absolutely daunting, and often found myself paralyzed w/ fear/doubt/reluctance.

I was wrong time and time again. Part of it was laziness. Part of it was fear -- fear that there was no way I could possibly tackle that many essays for that many topics. If you are in the same position, let me just assure you -- practicing essays ended up being nowhere near what I feared it was. Will it take some grinding and long hours on occasion? Yes. But let me also say that within a few weeks (pretty early on in the process), you start noticing patterns right away and feeling comfortable because there is, relatively speaking, only a finite set of fact patterns that show up for each topic.

An overview of how I practiced essays: During the first 2-3 weeks of studying, I would only do ONE essay per subject (so two total essays that day since I covered two essay subjects a day). In these initial weeks, I would fully write out these essays WITH an open book + a 2-hour time limit per each essay. In short, I tried writing as good an essay as I could. It helped me get familiar with the essay topics and start slowly building a foundation. I won't lie, this part was pretty grueling (but it does get easier). After that, between weeks 3 through 8 roughly, I outlined essays (and increased from 1 essay to 2-4 essays per subject). During the last two weeks before the exam, I only issue spotted 8-10 essays (covering 2-3 essay subjects) a day.

In all this, BarEssays was a fantastic resource. After I'd be done writing/outlining/issue-spotting an essay, I would compare what I had written with what had been written (or not) on papers scoring 60, 65, and 70+. If there was a rule or strategy I'd frequently forget, I'd make a note of it on a google doc. I'm only speaking for myself here, but I did not have to rote memorize anything. Simply being able to articulate rule statements in my own words was enough, even if it didn't match the "standard" wording on BarEssays. On this point, it was actually encouraging when I saw how many of the high-scoring essays on BarEssays were far from perfect. Some people advocate memorizing the 13 most frequent rule statements per each subject. Do what works for you best. Once I had a few weeks under my belt, I saw how facts trigger certain issues and how most essays repeat only a finite number of fact patterns.

4. PT (http://www.ncbex.org/exams/mpt/preparing)

Please don't neglect the PT. It's alarming how often people take it for granted even though it roughly counts twice as much as an essay. As mentioned above, my mindset changed when I realized I could have passed the July 2017 exam if I had time to finish the PT (and score 60+) instead of running out of time and only scoring a 50 like I actually did.

When I passed, I did about 7-8 FULL practice PTs. My focus every practice was getting my timing down. My goal was to finish reading+outlining in 30 minutes so I could have an hour-ish to write. During practices, I would mark down how long it took me to finish outlining and start writing. I think my first PT or two, it took me nearly an hour to read/outline everything. But I got better and better. The key was, during this reading/outlining phase, to focus on finding the exact law and specific exceptions to set up the super basic outline. I found that highlighting and transcribing every highlight was a big time killer.

I did all of this with the strategy of doing the PT first and then the two essays in the afternoon session in mind. I practiced doing the PT first (btwn 1h30m to 1h45m) and being prepared to spend 50-52 minutes on Essays 4 + 5. On the actual bar exam, I spent just under 1 hr 40 minutes on the PT before moving on to the two essays in the afternoon session. Obviously I could have been a bit quicker, but this was far better than when I had only 25 minutes (in total) to start and finish the PT in July 2017.

5. FINAL THOUGHTS

Let me just reiterate some key points that changed my thinking/approach when I finally passed the exam..

- Be kind to yourself. When building my calendar, I tried to squeeze in a 'free day' once every 7-10 days. Most of the time, I used it as a review day, but sometimes I used those days to hang out with friends or other fun things. Nothing is worse than being burnt out, but trying to force yourself to study.

- There were so many times when studying for the bar exams that I failed that I found myself staring at 3 different commercial outlines and being paralyzed by the amount I thought I was supposed to memorize. But the bar exam is not about rote memorization. On essays, it's testing if you can establish minimum competency in actually engaging w/ the facts in the question. On MBEs, memorizing rule statements is a waste of time if you can't see how they operate in the context of the fact pattern.

- I'm not saying there is no place for review, but all things being equal, I almost always chose practice problems over reviewing/memorizing. Related to my above point, I found that by doing tons of purposeful practice problems, you end up memorizing and learning a ton naturally. And, unlike rote memorization, you're often learning the law in the context of fact patterns.

- Things that appear scary or daunting at first is often anything but. I refused for a long time to fully lean into essay preparation because I didn't want to deal w/ all those topics, all those rule statements, etc. When I finally leaned into it for the Feb '18 exam, I realized within 2 weeks that this was not at all what I feared it would be and that it was a much more manageable (though tough) task.

This is already a long enough post as it is, but feel free to message me if you have any specific questions.


Thanks for the helpful insight and tips! I will definitely apply it this upcoming bar cycle.

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SilvermanBarPrep

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Re: My experience of passing the California bar on my sixth attempt (February 2018 exam)

Postby SilvermanBarPrep » Mon Nov 26, 2018 4:17 pm

Congrats! Both for passing but also for your persistence.

--Sean (Silverman Bar Exam Tutoring)

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Re: My experience of passing the California bar on my sixth attempt (February 2018 exam)

Postby barjamie8 » Tue Nov 27, 2018 1:04 am

Congrats!!! I had a similar experience and passed with most of the same resources you mentioned. The great thing about these resources is that they are all very inexpensive. Everything combined for less than $500.

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Re: My experience of passing the California bar on my sixth attempt (February 2018 exam)

Postby justanotheruser » Mon Dec 03, 2018 4:14 am

bump

JakeTappers

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Re: My experience of passing the California bar on my sixth attempt (February 2018 exam)

Postby JakeTappers » Sat Dec 15, 2018 7:22 pm

First, congrats on passing if I haven’t said already. Second, damn this is scary with those hugely high MBE scores/adaptibar percentages. Care to post your essay scores?

justanotheruser

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Re: My experience of passing the California bar on my sixth attempt (February 2018 exam)

Postby justanotheruser » Sun Dec 16, 2018 12:25 am

JakeTappers wrote:First, congrats on passing if I haven’t said already. Second, damn this is scary with those hugely high MBE scores/adaptibar percentages. Care to post your essay scores?


I'm assuming you're asking about my July 2017 exam? Here are my essay scores... since my final score was within range, the essays got a second read:

Essay 1: 65 / 60 / 62.5
Essay 2: 60 / 65 / 62.5
Essay 3: 55 / 55 / 55
Essay 4: 70 / 60 / 65.0
Essay 5: 60 / 65 / 62.5

I would just add that I *get* why it looks scary that I didn't pass despite doing pretty well on the MBEs. I would just add that I'm surprised (in a good way) I came that close given that I was trying to go all in on the MBEs -- meaning that I was woefully underprepared for the written portion of the exam.

As I said in the first post, if I had prepared for the PTs ahead of time, maybe I get 65-70 on Essays 4 + 5. Or if I prepared for the essays more thoroughly, I get a 65 instead of a 55 on Essay 3. I think my strength in MBEs gave me a certain floor, but when I finally had an all-around study plan that ensured I'd practice plenty of essays and PTs, it made sense that I finally passed the exam in February 2018.

LMK if I can clarify anything. Good luck!

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Re: My experience of passing the California bar on my sixth attempt (February 2018 exam)

Postby JakeTappers » Sun Dec 16, 2018 1:37 pm

justanotheruser wrote:
JakeTappers wrote:First, congrats on passing if I haven’t said already. Second, damn this is scary with those hugely high MBE scores/adaptibar percentages. Care to post your essay scores?


I'm assuming you're asking about my July 2017 exam? Here are my essay scores... since my final score was within range, the essays got a second read:

Essay 1: 65 / 60 / 62.5
Essay 2: 60 / 65 / 62.5
Essay 3: 55 / 55 / 55
Essay 4: 70 / 60 / 65.0
Essay 5: 60 / 65 / 62.5

I would just add that I *get* why it looks scary that I didn't pass despite doing pretty well on the MBEs. I would just add that I'm surprised (in a good way) I came that close given that I was trying to go all in on the MBEs -- meaning that I was woefully underprepared for the written portion of the exam.

As I said in the first post, if I had prepared for the PTs ahead of time, maybe I get 65-70 on Essays 4 + 5. Or if I prepared for the essays more thoroughly, I get a 65 instead of a 55 on Essay 3. I think my strength in MBEs gave me a certain floor, but when I finally had an all-around study plan that ensured I'd practice plenty of essays and PTs, it made sense that I finally passed the exam in February 2018.

LMK if I can clarify anything. Good luck!


Thanks a lot. I guess my only question is what was your raw on July 2017 for mbe? Trying to learn percentages.

justanotheruser

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Re: My experience of passing the California bar on my sixth attempt (February 2018 exam)

Postby justanotheruser » Sun Dec 16, 2018 3:29 pm

JakeTappers wrote:
justanotheruser wrote:
JakeTappers wrote:First, congrats on passing if I haven’t said already. Second, damn this is scary with those hugely high MBE scores/adaptibar percentages. Care to post your essay scores?


I'm assuming you're asking about my July 2017 exam? Here are my essay scores... since my final score was within range, the essays got a second read:

Essay 1: 65 / 60 / 62.5
Essay 2: 60 / 65 / 62.5
Essay 3: 55 / 55 / 55
Essay 4: 70 / 60 / 65.0
Essay 5: 60 / 65 / 62.5

I would just add that I *get* why it looks scary that I didn't pass despite doing pretty well on the MBEs. I would just add that I'm surprised (in a good way) I came that close given that I was trying to go all in on the MBEs -- meaning that I was woefully underprepared for the written portion of the exam.

As I said in the first post, if I had prepared for the PTs ahead of time, maybe I get 65-70 on Essays 4 + 5. Or if I prepared for the essays more thoroughly, I get a 65 instead of a 55 on Essay 3. I think my strength in MBEs gave me a certain floor, but when I finally had an all-around study plan that ensured I'd practice plenty of essays and PTs, it made sense that I finally passed the exam in February 2018.

LMK if I can clarify anything. Good luck!


Thanks a lot. I guess my only question is what was your raw on July 2017 for mbe? Trying to learn percentages.


No problem. Not sure what my raw MBE score was, but my scaled score ended up being 149/1490.

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Re: My experience of passing the California bar on my sixth attempt (February 2018 exam)

Postby JakeTappers » Sun Dec 16, 2018 6:47 pm

Dang. 149/175 I would thing was autopass. Terrifying. Posted elsewhere but taking full exam after getting 60/65/55/55/60/60 on attorneys. Seems like I’d probably fail still even with 149? Calculators say otherwise but your stats don’t. And I’m only hitting 65-75% on adapt. Not 88!!!

FinallyPassedTheBar

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Re: My experience of passing the California bar on my sixth attempt (February 2018 exam)

Postby FinallyPassedTheBar » Sun Dec 16, 2018 11:51 pm

Below 70% is danger zone on Adaptibar IMHO. You want to be at mid-70's to 80% by the time the exam rolls around.

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Re: My experience of passing the California bar on my sixth attempt (February 2018 exam)

Postby justanotheruser » Tue Dec 18, 2018 3:18 am

JakeTappers wrote:Dang. 149/175 I would thing was autopass. Terrifying. Posted elsewhere but taking full exam after getting 60/65/55/55/60/60 on attorneys. Seems like I’d probably fail still even with 149? Calculators say otherwise but your stats don’t. And I’m only hitting 65-75% on adapt. Not 88!!!


Yeah, in hindsight, the idea of going all in on MBEs sounded nice but it never worked out. The only true game changer for me was putting in the hard work to improve my performance on the written portions.

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Re: My experience of passing the California bar on my sixth attempt (February 2018 exam)

Postby barjamie8 » Tue Dec 18, 2018 3:29 am

justanotheruser wrote:
JakeTappers wrote:Dang. 149/175 I would thing was autopass. Terrifying. Posted elsewhere but taking full exam after getting 60/65/55/55/60/60 on attorneys. Seems like I’d probably fail still even with 149? Calculators say otherwise but your stats don’t. And I’m only hitting 65-75% on adapt. Not 88!!!


Yeah, in hindsight, the idea of going all in on MBEs sounded nice but it never worked out. The only true game changer for me was putting in the hard work to improve my performance on the written portions.


Exact same thing with me. I got around a 150 mbe the first time and still failed.

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Re: My experience of passing the California bar on my sixth attempt (February 2018 exam)

Postby JakeTappers » Tue Dec 18, 2018 3:56 am

This seems shocking to me. I know the pass rate here is abysmal. But is it seriously true that you need 85% of the mbes right just to pass unless you are ABOVE average on essays??

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Re: My experience of passing the California bar on my sixth attempt (February 2018 exam)

Postby mathandthelaw » Tue Dec 18, 2018 5:16 pm

JakeTappers wrote:Dang. 149/175 I would thing was autopass. Terrifying. Posted elsewhere but taking full exam after getting 60/65/55/55/60/60 on attorneys. Seems like I’d probably fail still even with 149? Calculators say otherwise but your stats don’t. And I’m only hitting 65-75% on adapt. Not 88!!!


I believe he/she meant his/her scaled score was a 149. The scaled score does not equate to 149/175 raw. A 149 scaled score is give or take is a raw 128-135/175, and Joe Separac can probably provide you a more accurate analysis, but yeah, your calculator is correct.

A 149 raw score would likely equate to an almost auto-pass. Personally, I would not bank on the mult choice unless you do a simulated Barbri or Themis and have a very high score, like a 150/200 or above.

The July 2018 MBE I thought were really difficult, not the essays as much. I personally was not sure whether I would pass or not based solely on my concern regarding the MBE.

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Re: My experience of passing the California bar on my sixth attempt (February 2018 exam)

Postby justanotheruser » Sat Dec 22, 2018 4:52 pm

For those interested/following my approach, this coming week is right about when I started studying (9-10 weeks out from test week).

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Re: My experience of passing the California bar on my sixth attempt (February 2018 exam)

Postby justanotheruser » Thu Jan 10, 2019 2:47 pm

One final bump for visibility.

Good luck to everyone!

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Re: My experience of passing the California bar on my sixth attempt (February 2018 exam)

Postby justanotheruser » Fri Mar 08, 2019 12:42 am

justanotheruser wrote:One final bump for visibility.

Good luck to everyone!


Bumping for those looking ahead to the July 2019 CA bar exam.

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Re: My experience of passing the California bar on my sixth attempt (February 2018 exam)

Postby CamaLegal » Tue May 14, 2019 6:17 pm

I really appreciated your post. I graduated from night law school in 2013. Most of my 30-person class has passed the Bar while I remain interminably paralegaling. I have a young family and really want to pass this thing. Am disappointed at my several unsuccessful attempts since 2013.

Last took it in July 2018 and quickly found I had forgotten nearly everything. My 6 weeks off work weren't nearly enough. I used Themis and found the lectures dull, though the online format and MBE practices were really good.

I remember taking Barbri in 2013 and recall that several of the subjects had great lecturers. I'm thinking this might be helpful to me as I re-learn law school, half a decade after I graduated. I've been given a full 10 weeks off work this time and I want to make the most of it.

Should I go with Barbri, which will likely help my memory come back on these forgotten topics, or Themis, which is less expensive but was somewhat boring?

Would appreciate your feedback.

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Re: My experience of passing the California bar on my sixth attempt (February 2018 exam)

Postby justanotheruser » Thu May 16, 2019 1:33 am

CamaLegal wrote:Should I go with Barbri, which will likely help my memory come back on these forgotten topics, or Themis, which is less expensive but was somewhat boring?

Would appreciate your feedback.


First of all, I believe you can pass this thing. I know because I believed for so long I was doomed to endless failure, until I finally turned things around.

Second, I only used Barbri my very first attempt and since then moved onto the resources I discuss in the main post. Based on your description, it sounds like Barbri would be the better choice since it makes for an easier study. But I would strongly urge that you consider some of the resources I mentioned using in my own studies.

Third, and maybe I'm splitting hairs here, but when I read "help my memory come back", it reminded me of a key lesson I learned when I finally passed the bar exam. Successful studying isn't about rote memorization, but it's about learning the basic rules (to a point) and then practicing them in real problems over and over again.

I hope this helps and good luck!

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Re: My experience of passing the California bar on my sixth attempt (February 2018 exam)

Postby Repeattaker123456 » Sat May 18, 2019 11:29 am

Hello! Thank you so much for your post. I really needed to see something like that right now. I failed the February 2019 bar exam yesterday on my 5th attempt. Needless to say, I’m incredibly disappointed and frustrated. I work full time, but my 4 attempts while at my job, my employer gave me two separate 6 week periods off work to study. I’m not sure how I am going to go in on Monday with my disappointing result, yet again. I’m also certain there won’t be an option for me to take any more time.

Historically, I’ve been weak in both MBEs and essays (including PTs), but over the course of 5 exams my MBEs climb steadily each time. The essays seems to be my kryptonite because it’s never improved. I hired a private tutor to help with essays last exam cycle, but I personally didn’t get much from the experience. I walked out of the exam feeling confident on MBEs and confused as heck on the essays portion. Until I get my scores, I won’t know what went wrong though.

Every time I finish the exam, I toss all my stuff aside and focus on life. After 2-3 months, I feel like I’ve forgotten what I learned. My question to you all is: Should I spend the next 15 days reading the Barbri mini conviser outline so that I can “re-familiarize” myself with the rules again before diving back in? I’ll definitely incorporate the lessons OP gave, but my instinct is to read the conviser so I feel ready. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

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Re: My experience of passing the California bar on my sixth attempt (February 2018 exam)

Postby Repeattaker123456 » Sat May 18, 2019 11:43 am

Hello! Thank you so much for your post. I really needed to see something like that right now. I failed the February 2019 bar exam yesterday on my 5th attempt. Needless to say, I’m incredibly disappointed and frustrated. I work full time, but my 4 attempts while at my job, my employer gave me two separate 6 week periods off work to study. I’m not sure how I am going to go in on Monday with my disappointing result, yet again. I’m also certain there won’t be an option for me to take any more time.

Historically, I’ve been weak in both MBEs and essays (including PTs), but over the course of 5 exams my MBEs climb steadily each time. The essays seems to be my kryptonite because it’s never improved. I hired a private tutor to help with essays last exam cycle, but I personally didn’t get much from the experience. I walked out of the exam feeling confident on MBEs and confused as heck on the essays portion. Until I get my scores, I won’t know what went wrong though.

Every time I finish the exam, I toss all my stuff aside and focus on life. After 2-3 months, I feel like I’ve forgotten what I learned. My question to you all is: Should I spend the next 15 days reading the Barbri mini conviser outline so that I can “re-familiarize” myself with the rules again before diving back in? I’ll definitely incorporate the lessons OP gave, but my instinct is to read the conviser so I feel ready. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!



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