2021 February California Bar Exam

Discussions related to the bar exam are found in this forum
Forum rules
Anonymous Posting

Anonymous posting is only appropriate when you are sharing sensitive information about bar exam prep. You may anonymously respond on topic to these threads. Unacceptable uses include: harassing another user, joking around, testing the feature, or other things that are more appropriate in the lounge.

Failure to follow these rules will get you outed, warned, or banned."
User avatar
a male human

Posts: 2213
Joined: Tue Mar 31, 2009 2:42 pm

2021 February California Bar Exam

Post by a male human » Fri Jan 15, 2021 3:24 am

This is a thread for discussing preparation for the 2021 February CBX (post-mortem for 2020 October exam also welcome).

I'll start off by listing some resources that might be helpful based on years of posting in these California bar threads.

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 Volume 1 7th ed. (see description and an inside look below -- will set you back ~$60-90)
- MBE if you have $225-365 (after discounts)? UWorld or AdaptiBar (see descriptions below and comparisons of both here)

Which one should you get? You can improve your MBE with any of these excellent tools.

S&T has a broad selection of questions (over 750 questions including a full simulated exam) as well as excellent explanations, which is where you learn after doing the questions.

Get UWorld or AdaptiBar if you have the budget. AdaptiBar has almost all the official questions but not the best explanations. Get UWorld if you prefer a lower cost and much better explanations. Check out the AdaptiBar trial here and the UWorld trial here.

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

- PTs? I have put together a guide (ver. 1.6d). Unlike the MBE or essays, there's nothing to memorize, and 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] UWorld ($75+ off) [MBE]
[*4] Law in a Flash [MBE] [Essays]
[*5] BarEssays.com ($25 off) [Essays]
[*6] Past CA essays and performance tests (and a guide to own the PTs) [Essays] [PTs]
[*7] Options for condensed outlines and essay approach issue sheets [MBE] [Essays]

[*1] Strategies & Tactics for the MBE Vol. 1 (Emanuel 7th edition): This is the MBE bible.

It's great (and may be the only MBE supplement you need) because it comes with 750+ representative MBE questions that are all genuine and were previously administered (now including 30 real Civ Pro questions and the author's explanations). I encourage you to study with the real deal for the most part, although you can mix in some simulated questions to vary the style of questions.

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: 7th edition (2016) -- includes past 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).

If you have the 6th edition, you can still make good use of it. Decide whether these key differences between 6th and 7th are worth it to you:

- 30 actual Civ Pro questions (with explanations by the author). Civ Pro questions were author-written in the 6th edition
- New questions that have been tested more recently in other subjects

If you don't have either the 6th or the 7th edition, get the 7th edition.

I do not recommend the 5th edition.

[*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: 2012 (latest) edition

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

You can still get official Civ Pro questions from the 7th edition of S&T, AdaptiBar, or UWorld. You can also get them from the MBE study aids store, but note that some study aids may not come with explanations. One of the three mentioned earlier is recommended.

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): This is an online platform for MBE practice.

If you're on the fence, check my detailed review here.

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 https://www.adaptibar.com/pricing/

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] UWorld MBE QBank

The new player on the MBE block. UWorld is a strong alternative to AdaptiBar.

If you’re on the fence, take a look at my detailed review. Direct comparison of AdaptiBar UWorld here.

UWorld offers an online MBE question bank with thorough visual explanations, charts, etc. Feedback is where the learning happens, and the explanations are where UWorld shines.

The QBank comes with 1,350+ most recent licensed questions, with new questions regularly developed by their legal team. Older NCBE questions are not used but are reformulated to reflect current testing styles. More features coming…

Should you get AdaptiBar or UWorld?

Get AdaptiBar if you want more robust analytics and all 1,742 available NCBE-licensed questions. But older questions have less value.

Get UWorld if you prefer to learn from simplified, visual explanations at a lower cost. UWorld offers 1,350+ most recent licensed questions and constantly develops new ones. UWorld reformulates any questions in older formats to the current style, and doesn’t offer outdated questions.

You can also check out the trials for both to see which you prefer:
AdaptiBar trial
UWorld trial

Get 25% ($75+) off the UWorld MBE QBank through this exclusive link until Jan 31, 2021. Use code "bhmbe25" if the link gives you any trouble. After Jan 31, it is likely going to be 15% off. Please PM me for that after Jan 31.

[*4] 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

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

What does it look like inside?

BarEssays Review.

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 a free essay answer bank for more sets of graded student essays.

[*6] Past essays and performance tests: The CA State Bar releases exam questions from each administration of the past 5 years here.

You can find links and downloads to CA essays and PTs and MPTs, and selected answers going back to 2001, here.

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

If you need to quickly find California essays organized by subject, here is an essay locator -- a list of essays organized by subject and issues contained therein (you can help fill in the issues).

[*7] Options for condensed outlines and essay approach

- 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.
- Lean Sheets are another condensed outline available for all 50 states. A basic but budget-friendly option

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)
[+] Spoiler
https://irenehong.co/2019/05/12/the-ult ... -bar-exam/

Previous TLS threads you can dig through for extra help
[+] Spoiler
2020 October: viewtopic.php?f=41&t=305358
2020 February: http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/v ... 1&t=303600
2019 July: http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/v ... 1&t=300726
2019 February: http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/v ... 1&t=298763
2018 July: http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/v ... 1&t=286381
2018 February: http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/v ... 1&t=283574
2017 July: http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/v ... 1&t=274836
2017 February: http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/v ... 1&t=271217
2016 July: http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/v ... 1&t=260090
2016 February: http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/v ... 1&t=260833
2015 July: http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/v ... 1&t=244425
2015 February: http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/v ... 1&t=240022
2014 July: http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/v ... 1&t=225140
2014 February: http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/v ... 1&t=220409
2013 July: Http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/v ... 3&t=213457

Best of luck!


Posts: 6
Joined: Sat Jul 28, 2018 4:19 pm

Re: 2021 February California Bar Exam

Post by goingwest » Sun Jan 24, 2021 1:01 am

Good list. For those who are looking for flash cards, I recommend Premier Bar Prep (premierbarprep.com). I found the Q&A format very helpful when I was preparing for the exam.


Posts: 30
Joined: Fri Nov 21, 2014 11:25 pm

Re: 2021 February California Bar Exam

Post by JDMBALLMMS » Wed Feb 24, 2021 10:31 am

So unusually quiet on this forum.
What happened?


Posts: 47
Joined: Sat Dec 15, 2018 12:28 am

Re: 2021 February California Bar Exam

Post by Heyall » Wed Feb 24, 2021 9:10 pm

I thought the essays were reasonable. I'm suprised they seemed to test less rules this years than any set of exams I can remember.

The MBE's were very straight-forward.

The PT was a nightmare though.


Posts: 30
Joined: Fri Nov 21, 2014 11:25 pm

Re: 2021 February California Bar Exam

Post by JDMBALLMMS » Thu Feb 25, 2021 9:53 pm

Less rules may be an attempt to conform with MEE pattern and take into consideration the environment and circumstances sitting in a remotely proctored exam.

The PT followed also the MPT pattern focused on key issues raises ie confidential relationship bothering on fiduciary duty and the contract as it relates within the purview of the Business Agreement document and questions raised by the client. Probably not a typical PT.

Want to continue reading?

Register now to search topics and post comments!

Absolutely FREE!

Anonymous User
Posts: 370249
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: 2021 February California Bar Exam

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Feb 26, 2021 4:10 pm

Heyall wrote:
Wed Feb 24, 2021 9:10 pm
I thought the essays were reasonable. I'm suprised they seemed to test less rules this years than any set of exams I can remember.

The MBE's were very straight-forward.

The PT was a nightmare though.

Do you remember which MEE subjects were tested?


Posts: 30
Joined: Fri Nov 21, 2014 11:25 pm

Re: 2021 February California Bar Exam

Post by JDMBALLMMS » Sun Feb 28, 2021 10:01 pm

The Essay questions were from:
1. Evidence
2. Contract/Remedy
3.Community Property
4. Professional Responsibility
5. Real Property

User avatar
a male human

Posts: 2213
Joined: Tue Mar 31, 2009 2:42 pm

Re: 2021 February California Bar Exam

Post by a male human » Mon Mar 08, 2021 11:15 pm

Want to continue reading?

Register for access!

Did I mention it was FREE ?

Post Reply Post Anonymous Reply  

Return to “Bar Exam Prep and Discussion Forum”