2020 February California Bar Exam

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2020 February California Bar Exam

Postby a male human » Sat Nov 16, 2019 12:52 pm

This is a thread for discussing preparation for the 2020 February CBX (post-mortem for 2019 July exam also welcome).

As usual, I'll drop in some helpful info collected over the years.

Wondering where to start?

I've been hanging around these TLS bar threads since 2013 and have seen the most effective tools that helped people pass the California bar. I've updated the below for your enjoyment.

Recommended resources

These resources seem helpful to CA bar takers. Feel free to suggest your ones you've found helpful!

[+] Spoiler
Investing in resources is an indicator of success, but you also shouldn't just buy everything willy nilly. The more choices you have, the more confused you're likely to be (and waste time on things that ultimately don't help).

So what are you supposed to buy? Well, I did the testing for you, as well as gather intel on what seems to be working for other California bar takers. On my second attempt at the CA bar, I've tried some that helped me pass, and I've tried some that didn't add any value. I won't include the latter.

Below is a list of resources I picked out that should give you the most bang for your buck. No need to overcomplicate things or go broke. Do your due diligence, pick a few resources that will work for you, and scrape all the meat off the bone.

You may not have the patience or mental energy to think about this if you're shell-shocked, gripped by anxiety, or overwhelmed with this beast of a task. You might be going through a rollercoaster of feels.

That's OK. Take solace in knowing that all the information and materials are out there. All you need to do is USE them.

Quick notes on the most effective supplements for...

- MBE on a budget? Emanuel's Strategies & Tactics for the MBE 6th ed. (7th ed. coming out in November) (see description and an inside look below -- will set you back ~$60-90)
- MBE if you have $365 to shell out? AdaptiBar (see description below and a review)

Which one should you get? You can improve your MBE with either or both of these excellent tools. S&T has a broad selection of questions as well as excellent explanations, which is where you learn after doing the questions. Get AdaptiBar if you have the budget. AdaptiBar has all the official questions (including Civ Pro questions) but not the best explanations. If you want to pass on AdaptiBar, you could alternatively get the NCBE MBE study aids (only the Simulated MBEs have answer explanations, though).

- Essays? BarEssays.com (see info and samples below, as well as a review)

- PTs? I don't know of a sure-kill supplement, but I have put together a guide (ver. 1.6a). Unlike the MBE or essays, PTs are better learned through exposure to a variety of them over trying to deeply understand the answer. Look at the past PTs and the sample answers. Focus a bit more on rules and analysis (vs. issues and rules for essays)

Search by [star-ID] to jump to the description of a featured resource, tagged by sections of interest:

[*1] Strategies & Tactics for the MBE Vols. I & II (Emanuel) + Civ Pro resources [MBE]
[*2] AdaptiBar ($30 off) [MBE]
[*3] Law in a Flash [MBE] [Essays]
[*4] BarEssays.com ($25 off) [Essays]
[*5] Past CA essays and performance tests (and a guide to own the PTs) [Essays] [PTs]
[*6] Options for condensed outlines and approach sheets [MBE] [Essays]

[*1] Strategies & Tactics for the MBE Volume 1 (Emanuel 6th edition): This is the MBE bible.

It's great (and may be the only MBE supplement you need) because it comes with 600 or so representative MBE questions that are all genuine and were previously administered (with the exception of author-written Civ Pro questions). I encourage you to study with the real deal.

Each subject is prefaced with a discussion of the tricky areas and how to deal with them. Some subjects have an overview of the major topics. There will be tips that revolve around multiple choice in general. The 200-question practice test at the back can be done to gauge your progress sometime in the final month leading to the bar.

How to use: Read the primer for each subject, answer every question on a separate sheet, and analyze their explanation in their entirety, including (A) through (D) for each question, including questions you get correctly. So essentially, go through the book cover to cover (which is what I did). It's worth it.

So what does it look like inside? Pics incoming:
Subject overview

Link: 6th edition (2016) -- includes excellent author-generated Civ Pro questions

Get it in very good condition at least so that you don’t see the previous owners’ markings. Will run you about $50-90 (price fluctuates a lot).

I do not recommend the 5th edition (2012).

[*1] Strategies & Tactics for the MBE Vol. 2 (Emanuel): This is the expansion pack to Volume 1, containing different questions. It's in a format where the answer appears right beneath the question. If you're doing a question for practice, you'll have to carefully cover the answer as you do each question.

The valuable feature in Vol. 2 is how the questions are categorized into labeled topics. For example, Q45 on page 166 is filed under Chapter 5 Formal Proceedings -- I. Grand Jury Proceedings -- A. Self-incrimination and immunity.

For better or worse, some headings contain answer spoilers for the concepts, e.g., Q46 on page 167 is filed under B. No right to have attorney present in grand jury room, which gives away the answer.

Nonetheless, if you liked Volume 1, this is great for additional authentic MBE questions, especially if you know or want to improve on specific issues.

How to use: Get it as an optional add-on to Volume 1. Don’t get it without Volume 1. Use as a supplement for specific issues.

What it looks like inside:
Question (1)
Question (2)
Table of contents (index)

Link: [url=http://amzn.to/1icMz6S]2012 (latest) edition

AdaptiBar (below) is another great addition or alternative to the above Emanuel's books. It comes with the entire universe of questions released by the NCBE, at a higher cost.

Scroll down to [*7] for more information. Go here for my totally unbiased review. Feel free to PM me for a $30 coupon.

If you're re-enrolling, there's a substantial discount, no need for a coupon.

[*1] What about Civ Pro? There aren't a lot of questions to practice with.

You can get official Civ Pro questions from AdaptiBar, or the MBE study aids store.

For free Civ Pro MBE questions...

- BarPrepHero has a practice exam with 30 Civ Pro questions here, not written by the NCBE.
- The NCBE offers 10 sample questions here.

[*2] AdaptiBar ($395/365): You know what this is for.

If you're on the fence, check my unbiased and totally original review (which some bar prep person took certain "inspirations" from)... AdaptiBar Review: Is It Worth It?

This program is web-based and accessible via PC (desktop or laptop) and mobile devices. It automatically adapts and adjusts to your individual strengths and weaknesses.

In total, there are at least 1,955 MBE questions (all 1,530 original NCBE-released questions + 200 simulated Civil Procedure questions + 15 new Real Property questions + 210 official questions from the now-unavailable 2017 MBE Study Aid including at least 30 past Civ Pro questions). Subject performance and timing analysis feedback are provided. In addition, the program allows users to create printable PDF reports of questions that were answered incorrectly.

Moreover, the online app adapts to your strengths and weaknesses and can create customized full-length tests, too. Additional information regarding the program can be found in this flyer and at http://www.adaptibar.com/pricing.aspx.

Link: AdaptiBar

It is indeed rather expensive, but it’s probably the single best comprehensive option to study for the MBE, assuming you have the budget. Feel free to reach out for an offer code for $30 off.

If you're re-enrolling, there's a substantial discount, no need for a coupon.

[*3] Law in a Flash cards: I bought 6 boxes of these to patch up my weak subjects. They were especially handy when I had to be out, like when I was waiting in line at Starbucks to buy some scones to bribe a friend to give me used Barbri books, and I could whip out a few cards from my wallet to learn some tricky Evidence concepts. Or when I was trying to learn about federal jurisdiction while waiting inside a noisy store.

I'm generally against flashcards, but I have to admit that working through the various hypothetical scenarios helped explain the concepts.

Link: List of LIAF products

[*4] BarEssays.com: One of the most popular resources you'll see mentioned around the forums.

What does it look like inside?

Check out my my ultimate BarEssays review: Why Practicing Is Not Enough.

Here's a sample: Check out this essay that scored an 85! Imagine if you studied this and produced the same results on the bar...

If you're wondering what makes a passing essay vs. what doesn't on the California Bar Exam, this is a large repository of actual graded essays and PTs submitted by those who didn't pass.

But this doesn't mean the essays are all sub-par! While there are essays scored 40 and 50 that show what is not passing material, there are essays that earned 75, 80, or even 85.

The advantage of this repository is the variety of real answers you can study.

The State Bar's selected answers are top of the top answers. It's unrealistic that your essay answers will look like them, although you could study these ideal answers to learn how to apply any rules you're confused about. One answer taught me Rule 12(b)(6) because some nerd had written a treatise on it.

There are over 3,000 essays that you can search by subject, range of score, year/month, and even typed/handwritten/both for anyone worried about handwriting. Some have grader commentary.

These essay examples are useful after you outline or write out an essay to check whether you discussed relevant issues and rules and used the facts properly. I'd look at least one below and one above 65, with grader commentary if available.

High scorers tend to discuss all the issues and much of the nuances—but do not necessarily have excellent rule statements or analyses. While you want to look like the 70-75+ people, you’ll notice that they don’t always look like the impossible Barbri answers. These are real answers you can compare to see where you stand.

Link: BarEssays

Feel free to PM me for a coupon code that will save you $25 on a subscription.

You can also check out my free essay answer bank for limited and exclusive sets of graded student essays. Please donate your past answers if you want to help future generations who want to stand on the shoulders of giants.

[*5] Past essays and performance tests: These might be the only free things you get from the CA State Bar. They release exam questions from each administration of the past 5 years.

Link: State Bar of California Past Exams

Note that there aren't too many 90-minute CA PTs posted as of yet. I'd practice with MPTs, which are also 90 minutes long. Get my PT guide (v. 1.6a) to find out where to find more MPTs than you'll ever need. Or find links and downloads to CA PTs and hella MPTs here.

If you need to quickly find California essays organized by subject, check these out:

If you're looking for convenient access to individual questions organized by subject and issue, check out BarIssues.com. However, this hasn't been updated since 2015.

For a budget version, here is an essay locator -- a list of essays organized by subject and issues contained therein (you can help fill in the issues).

I've also put together a guide to own the PTs (v. 1.6a), with a step-by-step approach to answering a PT, strategies (including how to not run out of time), templates, and more.

[*6] Options for condensed outlines and essay approach

- Lean Sheets are a well-known short outline available for all 50 states. A basic but budget-friendly option.
- Magicsheets are comprehensive condensed outlines organized in logical groups and indentations.
- Approsheets are essay approach sheets (one pager checklists and flowcharts) that take you from a blank page to a finished essay or outline. These sheets help you make sure you’re attacking all relevant issues and answering each essay completely. You get ZERO points for an issue that you never raise, even if you know the rule for it. An IRAC can't sprout from a seed that's never planted.

Extremely detailed guide from a first-time passer of the 2018 CA July bar exam (40.7% pass rate) (forwarded to me by the author)

https://irenehong.co/2019/05/12/the-ult ... -bar-exam/

Previous TLS threads you can dig through for extra help
[+] Spoiler
2019 February: viewtopic.php?f=41&t=298763
2018 July: viewtopic.php?f=41&t=286381
2018 February: viewtopic.php?f=41&t=283574
2017 July: viewtopic.php?f=41&t=274836
2017 February: viewtopic.php?f=41&t=271217
2016 July: viewtopic.php?f=41&t=260090
2016 February: viewtopic.php?f=41&t=260833
2015 July: viewtopic.php?f=41&t=244425
2015 February: viewtopic.php?f=41&t=240022
2014 July: viewtopic.php?f=41&t=225140
2014 February: viewtopic.php?f=41&t=220409
2013 July: viewtopic.php?f=3&t=213457


Posts: 1
Joined: Thu Nov 21, 2019 5:27 pm

Re: 2020 February California Bar Exam

Postby wegJK » Thu Nov 21, 2019 6:00 pm


Studying for Feb2020 exam and it would be great to have a group that logs-in their study periods online. I am motivated when I see other people studying. The website toggl.com has a 'team' mode and I can add you.


Posts: 40
Joined: Thu May 02, 2019 2:08 am

Re: 2020 February California Bar Exam

Postby hastingsgal » Sat Nov 30, 2019 1:17 pm

In the July 2019 discussion someone just shared a post of their journey passing the bar for the sixth time. I'm posting a link to it because I think it's a great post. I did many of the same things myself to pass.


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