Thursday, May 29, 2008

Alrighty Now ...

As it was so poignantly stated by Anonymous, it's time to get to work.

And if it wasn't Anonymous who said it, then Anonymous said it. Or perhaps it was Anonymous. Eh... I lose track. Doesn't matter though. I'm just glad it was said.

In fact, it's actually beyond time to get to work. It's more like "Time to get back to work after the morning break."

Regarding my previous comment about not using a tutor for this go-round. I'm taking half of that back. For a couple of reasons. The biggest reason that I'm going to get some help is that my scores went down from July.

There. I said it. God, that was tough. It hurts like hell but I'll try it again.

My. Scores. Went. Down. From. July.

Blah. Blech. Ugh. Painful, that is.

My score was still in the 1300's, but I went from the middle of the top half to the middle of the bottom half. So I think I need to do more than simply get better at what I'm currently doing, because if I get too proficient at my current style I'll easily work my way into the 1200's. (;-)>

Not only am I going to have to work on my writing, I'm going to have to make a major change to my essay structure. This is much more than simply fixing a leaky roof and putting on a new coat of paint. There's mold in the walls. I'm going to have to take it down to the studs and rebuild it. (Pardon the construction analogy, but it seemed to fit.)

The next biggest reason I’m hiring help is that I don't want to do a major remodel like this without expert guidance. I need direction from someone who knows what the Bar is looking for. The choice now is between two programs, both of which specialize in writing and are staffed with people who have years of experience as graders.

When I said that I’m taking half of my statement back I meant that I’m avoiding the programs that feature a review of the substantive law. Any time spent in an organized program listening to a lecture on, say, the Rule Against Perpetuities is a waste of my time.

So, there go ya’! Every day’s an adventure from here through the end of July.


chardrian said...

I was in the 1300s my first time as well. I agree the essays are the most important part to work on. The multiple guess part is basically just a test on how well you take multiple guess questions. The essays are weird too, because it really is just a 6-7 point test. Since it is graded in 5 point increments and you basically are going to get a score between 50-80 no matter what. So getting one extra point by spotting one extra issue on each essay, to me, is the difference between passing and failing.

Anyhoo - keep grinding, the results should come.

Anonymous said...

GP, here's my personal experience with the bar exam. (i'm going to be a 3rd time taker this July)

My first bar exam July 07, I scored in the 1360's and this last time I scored a 1423 on my first read. The difference, I completely prioritized memorizing my outline as my number one goal. I did not take any bar courses including any tutors for the second time around. I used adapitbar for the mbe's (approx 2000) and scored a 124, so I'm still sticking with adaptibar.

As for essays and PT's, I just plan on writing more this time than last. As explained earlier, my second time around I just kept typing my outline out over and over again, until it became second nature. But unfortunatley, memorizing verbatim takes a great deal of time for me, so my ability to practice essays this last time suffered greatly. I plan to change that this time around by writing out the entire barbri essay book for each subject. Also, I plan to do one PT per week. Hopefully, this will be enough to knock this beast out of the park. See you on the other side....meaning on that pass list in NOV!

Anonymous said...

anonymous up above: You will recall a lot of the law by sheer practice in the essays. The more essays you practice, the more law you use. By the 50th essay, you won't have to memorize all the different Products liability causes of action. Who forgets the elements of negligence anymore?

A good way to memorize and also work on your memorizing at the same time. Instead of typing your outline, type the essay answer over and over again. Take a model answer, a CA Bar sample answer or your own answer and do that over and over again. That will cut out a lot of the misery with memorizing. Also, by doing an overabundance of essays---you could sort of write the law in your own words, during the exam incorporating it into your analysis.

The law and applying it---practice it simultaneously while learning the law...through focusing more time and effort on the essays...big time. By the 50th essay you do on defamation, you will be able to write the elements of defamation, Constitutional defamation, defenses and anything they wanna know about defamation in your sleep. Good luck!!

Anonymous said...

To anonymous at 12:09 pm who is taking it for the third try...any other advice you have would be of great help. I am a first non passer with a score of 1386...blew the MBEs failed 2 essays but passed the essay sections as a result of 2 75s on both PTs....should I consider tutoring...or just do the barbri program on my own and keep writing and I did sing up for adaptibar. Thanks!

James said...

gp, have you decided which tutoring service/class you're going to use? i was also looking into the ones you mentioned, but i'm going to check out the free essay advantage session sunday to see how that will be. has anyone taken essay advantage? i think adachi is going to teach these sessions in san francisco, so hopefully they'll be worthwhile. i also thought about adaptibar since my mbe score went from 150 raw to 128 this previous time (i didn't practice as much this time because i thought i would do as well again--crap!) what do you guys think of adaptibar?

WC law mom said...

Have you used Cheat Sheets in Action? I picked up 10 points per essay applying Whitney's stuff. You can get the book without paying for the course, although the course is good and they offer it in SoCal.

Anonymous said...


This is anon 12:09. I'll give you advice but you should take it with a grain of salt.....I take that back, make it alot of salt.

I personally have not been tutored, but I have taken Barbri's Essay Advantage. Overall, I am content with EA for two reasons. One, it forced me to write essays. Two, the procter (Tina something) drilled the importance of memorizing the law, which I would agree is very important. But is that worth 1500 dollars to everyone? I doubt it.... If you have the discipline to force yourself to write essays and keep memorizing, you'll save 1500 bucks. Thats what I did the second time around (I did not re-take this course), and that's what I plan to do for July 08. As for whether a tutor is right for you is largely a personal decision. I personally don't want to sway you either way because everyone's needs and learning styles are different, but I do have a certain level of misgiving on spending 5 grand or more for a tutor.

But based on your scores (your PT's were great btw), I would focus more on memorizing the black letter law and practicing mbe's. IMO passing requires a good balance between memorizing the law, practicing PT's and essays, and doing MBE's. But I'm sure you and all the other bar takers already knew that....sorry if the advice was vague but I hope it helped.

Anonymous said...

Hey Anon...thanks a ton for the words of advice...I have the essay advantage outlines....I guess I will focus more on learning the smaller areas of the law that I had to look over last time as a result of needing to memorize for the's going to be ok...we are all going to make it this time around...I just know it!! BTW I signed up for adaptibar and it's been great...and I also bought the strategies and tactics book for the MBE by Emanuel and that's been great also...just in case you need more help with the MBEs.

GP...hang in there we are all in this together!

The Grand Poobah said...

James: I just signed up with BarGraders and Adaptibar.

WCLawMom: I have Whitney's book. I've used it more as a reference than a primary tool. It's good but it doesn't cover everything so I only reference it when I get stuck. But I like it.

Anonymous said...

To Anon 1228:

I totally disagree about the retyping an essay answer over and over again. I knew a student in first year who was smart in his field but didn't "get" what profs were looking for on exams in law school. I remember him typing an answer (posted from the previous time the prof taught the class) over and over. It did nothing for him. He dropped out second year.

You need to really understand the law and what the Q is asking, not just type someone else's answer.

--from a 1st time passer

JLB said...

What were your individual scores? What was your MBE score - did you pass that?

The Grand Poobah said...

On the written part, a couple of 50's and the rest 60's. 123 on the MBEs.

My written average went from 595 to 570.

I believe my problem lies in the sequencing of events. I'm finding the issues, I'm just building my answers out of order.

Anonymous said...

The whole memorizing thing is not the best way to go... but if some guy or woman up there said they were typing their outlines. If you are going to keep typing and typing outlines over, then type out and keep reading the essays where the law is being applied.

But I can agree with you. All the memorizing in the world won't help if you can't apply the law to the facts in the essay and apply it fast.

I don't know, people learn differently, I guess. I am trying to minimize the memorizing. And, for me, the law is coming through practicing the essays. Right now, I use an outline that I did to look sort of like flow charts for each subject. and break it down to smaller topics in each outline.

For me, I go right to what I need in the outline and I am pretty much set up to write the essay. The more I keep doing these essays, the more I am recalling without even memorizing. By the end, right before exam time, if we do enough essays, we shouldn't be still memorizing the rules for a products liability claim or a Dormant Commerce Clause challenge... or those degrees of homicide and murder.

Some of these topics come up nonstop.

Hopefully, this will work for me. I am getting the law, getting an adequate layout, can spot the issues... and continuing to strengthen the analysis and time factor. But you're right-- anonymous first time passer--you really have to know the law... how to know it is the key and everyone learns differently.

Anonymous said...

And I have about had it up to here with tutors... One person I know spent over $5000 and the goofball tutor sent her to a dog whisperer to get over her exam hostility.

If that is not a total rip I don't know what is. I think she had to pay extra for the dog whisperer,too.

Anonymous said...

To: Anon 8:10 PM

I'm curious as to what "you" think is the better method compared to say memorizing the black letter law? Quite frankly, I don't see the point of writing essays using an outline for several reasons. One, the bar exam itself won't allow it so why practice using something you won't be able to use during the bar? But to each his own, as everyone's learning methods and strategies are different. With that said, I'd like to offer some constructive critism on your method. By only practicing previously written essays and "minimizing your memorization," you run the high risk of seeing a question or issue on the bar not previously raised. So with that said, I know memorizing sucks, but I really don't see any other way around this beast....hell it even helps on the mbe's by memorizing rules!

Anonymous said...

Using an outline while practicing your essays, will help you learn your layout of those essays for the exam. You are memorizing and learning the law simultaneously as you practice essays when you use your outline,doing practice essays in the beginning. Memorizing doesn't have to be a separate activity.. or at least not as much as people think,

My flowchart outline is broken down by elements and so I have my subtopics and my elements. From my outline, I have a pretty good idea how to set up my essay answer.

You learn certain activities by doing them... Yes, you have to know the law, but you can also learn it by practicing it. It doesn't have to be such a separate step in the learning process.

Sacuzzo and Johnson are masters at the study of how the brain recalls things. The more senses you get involved with learning and memory, the more you organize your information before you memorize, and the more you practice or utilize what you want to recall, the easier you will recall it. Active learning. This is an activity based way of memorizing. The more rules you have in long term recall, the better off you will be at exam time.

Practicing (repetition) with the information you want to recall works because you are using more of your senses besides rote repeating. Like learning to play a song on the piano. Those notes on the page are memorized by the doing of the activity.

And seeing that essays is the biggest part of your grade, the correlation should be that at least 65% of your time should be spent doing essays--making sure you know how to put them together and analyze. This test is not a memory test, although you are required to recall rules from your memory so that you can analyze. The major component is writing the essay. The rules are just one component of that essay.

Do you really think there is no value to practicing essays right from the beginning? Why do all these tutoring places, universities and programs all have practice exams? Most of the people that I know that passed did it almost solely by overdosing on practicing essays. I mean they did over 100 essays and PTs.

Practicing with the rules also helps you in the event you can't recall the exact wording of the rule. Go look at sample essays. They regularly make up rules for their essays.

You must know the law, for sure. I contend you can learn the law in conjunction with struggling through an essay from the very beginning.. by your 125th essay, you know the law. A review right before exams is all that you would need hopefully.

Anonymous said...

Like I said before, everyone learns differently, applies different strategies and tactics (good book btw). I can agree with most things you have said.....but as far as practicing with an outline to write an essay...I'm not on board with that one. If anything, I believe it to be a handicap although I'm willing to bet you think otherwise. But thats just my opinion and nothing more. And, its not necessarily that I think there is no value in that type of learning, rather I think its more beneficial to learn the law prior to writing your essays. In anycase, good luck in your studies and do what works for you. Everyone's style, needs and learn abilities are different and there is no one size fits all for this beast.

Anonymous said...

I agree, do the essays as though you were taking the exam--closed book and timed. Otherwise you are relying on a crutch.

Anonymous said...

This was my strategy for passing the essay portion the second time around: intitially, do all essays open book and notes. If you need to work on your writing exclusively (like your analysis), do it w/o pressure of memorization at first. Good Luck!

JLB said...

Hmm. How are they out of order? For instance in the torts essay on this last exam (which was MY first and last) it seemed to me the issue was a lot about duty and breach.

And it seems to me in such a question you have to talk about duty first, as without duty, breach is irrelevant.

Did you talk about Duty first? I assume you did. I can't think of any other way to do it, honestly, and I consider myself fairly creative.

In talking about duty, it would make sense to start with duty in the most general sense first, and then work one's way down through the more specific tests, like, for example, attractive nuisance, doctrine. I know some may disagree, but I think that doctrine is best thought of as an extension of duty, the extension of the foreseable plaintiff to a feeble minded child if you will. Etc.

So if order is your problem, by induction we can solve that with two simple rules for your exam:

(1) Always talk about the first element first that is-if the first doesn't apply the second is irrelevant. The order they came out of the cases and were distilled into our pretty little barbri outlines isn't coincidence - even if you don't understand it, it isn't worth questioning just keep that order. No exceptions.

(a) In accordance with that rule, you must always speak to each element, in that order no matter how straightforward its establishment in the facts. Always always talk about it. If it is straightforward merely state such and don't spend anymore time on it.

(2) Always speak about the general rule first. In general, defendant has a duty that extends to foreseeable plaintiffs. A defendant landowner has a duty to trespassers when ....
Always the general to the specific that is always the order. No exceptions. You can be fancy in your brief once you're a lawyer. Not here.

Finally, one more thing. In terms of IRAC. There have been several people that have talked about it including barbri and hords of others on line. To be honest, everyone seems to have their own version of what the heck IRAC is even from barbri grader to barbri grader. That said, I have a simple way of tricking them into thinking I'm always doing IRAC - or am I, who really knows?

Let's say we are talking about the duty issue. For the general rule we would say:

In general...
(new paragraph)
In this case
(new paragraph)
*Conclusion:* (declarative sentence)

However, landowners have a duty...
(new paragraph)
(new paragraph)
*Conclusion:* (declarative sentence)

Thus, for me, I always, every single time, began my analysis paragraph with either "In this case," or "Here," Again, I've seen your writing; we all know you can write and write well. This is about passing though; be methodical; write methodically.

I mean, take this with a grain of salt; I passed this time and it was my first time so, in actuality, I may know less than those who failed about what scores correspond to what. But this was my method, and I guess it might have worked.

Finally, minimize the study materials. Don't get confused about all these different people's advice. It doesn't matter. What matters is whether the grader thinks you answered the question. Keep it simple and it's hard to argue otherwise.

Take it for what it is, more well intentioned advice.

The Grand Poobah said...

You're right, of course. And when I say I'm building my essays out of order, I mean that I know the law, I spot the issues, I write about everything that the released answers contain, yet I get failing scores instead of passing scores. So I'm guessing that I'm simply building my essay incorrectly. That's why I've employed some past graders to tell me what I'm doing wrong and how to fix it.

I think the core of my problem is what mnmph says. What's that? I was mumbling, you say? Pardon me, let me say that again.

I think the core of my problem is what CAAL says. I write too casually on the exam. Besides spotting the issues, I need to write seriously, short and to the point. That's one drawback of doing this at my age. It's the "Old dog, new tricks" problem. I want to write about everything I see and explain it thoroughly. And that's just wrong. I need to pick the major issues, explain them completely, and summarize the minor issues.

Anonymous said...

Omg, GP, I think you are on to something. My trouble is I want to be completely thorough on everything. Even the minor issues.

Complete. We can't be complete in the bar exam. I am one of the people that takes everything in order. I am complete up front then run out of time at the end and have barely nothing at the end. Or it snowballs. I am complete on essay 1 and 2 and take a huge dive on essay 3 due to going over on essays 1 and 2 in this compulsion for being complete and thorough.

Stupid, I know. I have to really get over doing that.

The Grand Poobah said...

Anon, one more thing I need to do, and I just figured this out a few minutes ago, is that I need to quit trying to explain 'why' something is the way it is,or 'why' something should be a certain way.

In my daily life I'm always thinking about why things are the way they are in an effort to better understand, or to explain, a puzzling situation. Similarly, on the essays, I'm not satisfied with 'here', 'because' and 'therefore'. I'm constantly wasting time, and confusing myself, with trying to completely explain why something is the way it is.

Like on the CP essay from February, I wasted time explaining why the QCP and QMP rules were established and what the intent was behind them. I need to quit doing that and stick with simple relationships.

I know. It sounds obvious. I'm sure someone's told me before. It must be a symptom of my wooden skull.

Anonymous said...

No No. I feel your pain, GP. I just worked through the July 2007 Evidence essay. Helper testifies that Mechanic told Helper to write "Inspected brakes--need repair?" on the work order.

I wanted so bad to go into a big long pile of stuff about the first part--the Declarant's command to Helper Go write (on the paper). I then went on to the stuff everyone talked about.

I am way too wordy. I went to vote and have been thinking about what you were saying for the past hour. I think you are on to something. I don't think we are wrong, Just not getting points on some of our stuff.

You're a logical thinker. You want to take it step by step, even the miniscule little steps in the progression of thinking. I am the same way-super detail oriented.

I am redoing this essay and now looking at what I should omit.

Anonymous said...


I think one the main reason to review the essays over and over again in addition to using it to learn the law is this -- these people really aren't that original at the end of the day. The same d&&& issues appear over and over again. They believe they have their favorites and preferences. For example, I saw a lot more 4th Amendment issues than 5th or 6th when practicing the Crim Pro essays. Although I made sure I was prepared for all, I felt I knew some of the odds going into the exam. This was comforting to me.

xrayspec said...

Many who fail the bar think that they know the substantive law cold --- the problem is they don't know how to write essays in the proper "bar form".

This is a bad assumption.

The exam graders do not take points off for talking about irrelevant things. (Though it may waste time.) They also don't take points off for not using IRAC or some other magic format (Though a well-structured essay will be easier to read.)

The points are in knowing the legal rules and being able to apply them to facts. This is not an issue of structure. This is an issue of substance.

Anonymous said...

xrayspec: I think you make a valid observation. I am finding this out as I go through essays. I may know the rule because of rote memory, but knowing the rules are more than just that. It will show up like a sore thumb in the analysis section if you know the rule but not what it means--how to use that rule by applying it in a given scenario of facts.

However, as to structure, I saw a couple of essays on BarEssays that got 50s and compared them to the CA Bar sample answers. Usually, they have glaring errors: missed a huge issue that the bar wanted discussed; (2) they start out with something off topic (not wrong, but not at issue); and (3) they hide discussion of an issue where you can't see it. Another thing that looks like it could cause a grading problem ( or a negative bias if you want to call it that) is misstating a legal term. Makes the writer look like they are bsing and don't know what they are talking about.

Lastly, if they talk about a non-issue, they go on too long about it. If Statute of Frauds is really not at issue in the essay question, don't go on about it for the entire page. I don't know if they actually grade off for that, but, it does get you thinking that maybe they have totally missed the point here.

I am ignorant to grading the exam because I am not a grader. But looking at the 50s, I see why they got a low mark, when I, as a novice grader, had a hard time figuring out where they were going.

Where I get mind boggled is how did some of these people get 75s?
Some of them are not good. That is where I think you are right. If you don't recognize the issues that they want noted and discussed, miss one and you are screwed. That comes down to law and understanding how to apply it. Even the sort of crappy writers that got 70s and 75s did spot the major issues and analyzed them.

I am a repeater and I cannot argue with the essays that I bombed. I would have given myself the grade that I got.

Anonymous said...

As I prepare to take the bar for a second time, I'm beginning to think that I didn't learn the law as much as I should have the first time around, or at least didn't fully understand what I was talking about and that's why I failed the MBEs (altohugh apparently able to BS enough on the essays). I was really close, so i know intellectually that I should probably take it again. I just know I don't have the same amount of time to spend on it this time around. I've decided to continue studying every night and weekend (I'm working while studying), but give myself until the end of June to make a final determination of whether to sit for it again or wait until next Feb and just keep plugging along through summer and fall. If at the end of June I still feel overwhelmed by the law, I will ask for my 60% of the cost back from the folks at the bar. I really don't want to do this more than twice and want to do right the second time. I've become a much happier person since being honest with myself that I really may not be ready to take it again so soon and ignoring what everyone else keeps telling me to do.