Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Some random thoughts....

FIrst off, I want to thank everyone for their kind condolences and words of encouragement. I am at once surprised and touched by the breadth and depth of your support. Appreciated, it is, very much.

I was aware that people were still reading this blog after July's debacle despite the fact that my frequency of posts had dropped off. But I didn't know specifically what they were coming to read. I now have a better understanding of your reasons for visiting. I can't make a list because it would be too long but, speaking generally, it's because we share the common goal of trying to overcome the last stubborn obstacle that stands in the way of obtaining our license. I recognize that this is a broad and generic, not to mention very obvious, way to describe our mission, but trying to articulate a more specific definition would take me many hours and would probably still end up being too vague.

Anyway, thanks for reading, thanks for sharing, thanks for your support, and thanks for persevering in your own struggle to pass this exam. The one thing that we all have in common is that we will succeed.

And second, in no particular order of importance:
  • I felt like I had been run over by a truck when I read the bad news last November. But this time, I think the truck backed up over me a few times, burned rubber on my broken body, then unloaded the heavy equipment it was carrying and used that to fold, spindle, and mutilate me. I'm just now raising my head up to look around and see if it's moved on. Next comes the Bactine and band-aids.

  • An anonymous commenter asked about my motorcycle(s). I used to have two. I sold one after the July exam to pay some bills before I found a job. But I still have my original 1989 Yamaha FZR1000. It's an oldie but it's still a goodie. In case you're interested, here's a review.

  • As tough as things seem right now, it could always be worse. To be where we are right now, trying to get our license, in California, we're in a much better place than much of the world's population.

  • I have to go to work now (I know. This is not really a 'list item', but I gotta' go.) I'll likely continue this list later, but I felt like I needed to put some things out there and this is a start.


Bitter Quasi-Lawyer said...

I'm glad to hear you're doing well, GP. I'm pulling for you, and I hope to hear good news from you in November!

Anonymous said...

GP - I will also be taking my states's bar again for the 3rd time this July. I am licensed in another state, but for some reason can't get this state's license. Just know that I am feeling many of the same feeling you are and I know that this time around, we will both be successful! I truly believe this exam is all about taking it 1 day at a time and not getting overwhelmed. Lets try to make sure that we are doing everything we can each day. Come July, we will be prepared for the test and ready to take it on. I have all the faith. :)

Anonymous said...


I recently took the February CBE for the first time and failed miserably. I got a total of 93 out of a possible MBE question correct, which pretty much says that I 1) do not know nearly as much black letter law as I should and 2)or I have a real weakness in focusing on this reading and comprehension part of the exam. I was wondering if you or anyone else can give me some pointers on how to 1)better use my time to relearn the black letter law so that it sticks (understand it and memorize it). Any input from you or anyone else would be greatly appreciated. i am looking at taking the exam again in July. May God help us all.

Gabriel N.

Anonymous said...

Hi Gabriel...I got a 97 on the MBEs this february and it was my first time but passed my essays, which means that I knew enough black letter law but was having difficulty w/the reading adive, practice, practice, practice it is not about quanitity but quality you need to sit down and really understand why you are missing it...hope that helps :)

Anonymous said...

hi guys, I know it is scary but make sure you get some sort of flashcard system going and going over your repeated mistakes on the MBE's.

It is okay to get ten in a row wrong because you get them wrong in practice so you don't get them wrong on the test.

MBE's were my weakness and doing the flashcards to learn distinctions cold were the key.

Anonymous said...

Hi GP,

I read your blog constantly because I didn't really have anyone else around to talk to about the exam.

Your answers looked really solid and you did more than I definitely!

Will be curious to see exactly what happened there. I will be rooting for you all the way! Hang in there. You're my hero!

Anonymous said...

Is 1386 close? Anyone...and what do you guys means by making flaschcards for the mbes? Just write out the law? HELP! I bombed the MBEs :(

Anonymous said...

Hi GP. I also failed the July 2007 Bar and I share your pain there. This time I won the CBX lottery and passed the Feb Bar, but my best friend didn't.

I just wanted you to know that I am 50 - also 2nd career coming from IT - and so it is possible. Hang in there and Good Luck to you! Those PTs this time were HORRIBLE.

Anonymous said...

"Is 1386 close? Anyone...and what do you guys means by making flaschcards for the mbes? Just write out the law? HELP! I bombed the MBEs :("

Dont mean to sound like a jerk, but go to the state bar website and read about the exam and what a passing score is. To pass this exam you really need to understand what a passing score is and how to achieve it. This is the biggest exam in your life, you should at least spend 30 min so you can understand what needs to be done.

This will tell you how close you were:

Anonymous said...

Re the 1386: if you get 1390 or higher, your exam goes to a reread. 1440 is passing. So 1386 is just below the reread cutoff, so it is close.

I think someone already answered the flash card question, but for me, I would generally jot down a statement of the law I missed. Sometimes instead of a law statement I would write down some little tidbit I kept getting wrong. It just depends. Sometimes it might be a definition of a term/concept I was not familiar with. I found for me the actual act of handwriting out something helps implant it in my brain.

Anonymous said...

Bear in mind, there is the possibility that you were off on the bubble thing on the MBEs. On the February 2008 exam, I caught my mistake before the time was up and found I had answered the same question twice or put it on the scantron thing twice.

What I do most of the time is circle the answer in the book and then fill in the scantron about 10 at a time. Seems to help from getting messed up.

It could be fatal if you were off on the scantron. Be real careful when you move your answers to that scantron in the exam.

93 -- If you did well on essays and did well in practice, this could be a possibility what happened to you. Make sure you circle them in the book. Then at the end, go over each one (It won't take long) and make sure they are all filled out in the right spaces.

Anonymous said...

someone mentioned on this blog that they used
i checked it out, but for some reason, i am hesitant. any more feedback on this product?

Anonymous said...

GP and all others,

I personally will be praying daily, for all of us individuals, that must regroup and start studying daily again, so that we may earn a passing grade on our next try in July.

I strongly believe however, that each and every one of us has earned and deserves the right of enjoying this holiday weekend, with our loved ones. I for one will be in the starting blocks, as of Tuesday morning at 10:00am, ending each study day at 9:00pm.
I will be very much focusing also, on providing my body with plenty of nutrishment, vitamins and daily exercise.

I will be spending 3 hours per day reinforcing my knowledge of the black letter law, by not only studying the Miniconviser, but also studying The Bar Code Cheet Sheets.

I will be religiously writing 2 essays daily, under timed conditions and having them reviewed by a tutor.

I will be doing 33 MBE's daily, followed by correcting them and making out flash cards for any of the ones that I miss. This time around, I will actually take my time and really see why I fall apart on certain concepts as opposed to others.

I will be doing approx. 4 Performance tests and having them read by the tutor.

I wish each and everone of us nothing but health, stamina and a clear frame of mind, so that we may take this long road ONE DAY at a time, in the hope and prayer that we can put this exam behing us once and for all.

Good luck to all of you.

Gabriel N. :-)

Anonymous said...


Hang in there. I passed the Feb. 08 CABX; this was my 4th try. I know what it is like to fail, it is devastating, and the down time is worse each time. But it is that much sweeter when you pass.

To be honest, I didn't think I passed this last time. The #1 tip that I have is try to remain focused when you prep. Take breaks! When you are burnt, take a day, two days, three days off. I took the weekend off this last time. In other words, don't run a marathon before you go run a marathon.

For those with weak MBEs, there is hope. Get Strategies and Tactics by Walton. It runs about $50.00 and is very useful. It bumped by RP score from 17 to 22, Con law from 18 to 23, crimes from 17 to 24, torts from 18 to 22. But beware, just b/c you did well in one area on the previous exam doesn't mean you will keep the same score. For instance, on my first attempt, I had a K score of 24 and evidence score of 24. But I neglected these areas b/c I thought I had mastered them, and they dropped down to 18 on my 2nd attempt.

Another thing is to work your weak MBE's in the week leading to the exam, use walton if you are low on cash. I used her 1988 edition for this last time (it was a hand me down from my sis).

On the essays, This last time I fully wrote at least one essay EVERY day starting in Feb. YOu make think it is a waste of time, but it will ensure you can make Sh*t up under the pressure of the exam. When you are prepping this july, & you don't feel like writing, just remind yourself how bad you want it. Also, pick random essays, don't keep writing torts or crimes exams because it makes you feel good. Through yourself into the cage with the tiger(for me, it was writing corps & trusts exams, where I felt my analysis needed work). Lastly, don't start wrting untill you have thought about the exam. For me, I had to force myself to stand up and walk away from the exam and think about it a few minutes.

Finally, you don't need all day to study. I did it this last time on about 5 hours per day & I worked part time bussing tables. I have failed previous exams studying full time.

I wish you guys the best of luck.

Anonymous said...

I also didn't pass. :( I'm going to need to practice the essays a LOT more. I signed up for and will be comparing my essays to the graded ones from this website on a daily basis.

My MBEs were actually pretty good so more essay writing for me!!

Anonymous said...


I've enjoyed reading everyone's comments about study plan of attacks for the second time around. I'm actually working full time while doing round 2 of the bar. (Disclaimer -- I hope to never actually practice law and should have dropped out of law school after first year. The bar is simply to pad the resume and keep options open in the future. I actually like the non-law job I have right now a lot and like the career options at the company.) Anyway, I will only study on weekends and evenings and during lunch breaks. If anyone has been a part time studier before, what's the best approach you found?

I just missed passing in Feb (essays ok, MBEs not so much), which is why I'm willing to take another crack at it so soon. I am nervous about motivation, though. I love summer! Plus, I don't feel totally invested in this. I will say it makes me fairly relaxed about the whole thing at this point. Maybe that will work in my favor. Who knows -- it's the CA bar!


Anonymous said...

Hey Gramd Poobah,

I've been a fan of the Poobah for some time. Your humor and thoughtful perspective throughout this whole ordeal is inspiring. Most people in this situation become bitter and hopeless (e.g., the "Sh*t covered bear"). You seem to understand that the bar is not life. It is just one obstacle within one aspect of life.

Wishing you the best.

Your fan.

Anonymous said...

Wishing everyone on here, a happy and safe Memorial Day weekend. Starting Tuesday, let's all of us take the bull by the horns and show these folks at the CBE, that we are able individuals, who have earned a right to obtain a license to practice law in CA, come July.

Gabriel N.

Anonymous said...

I agree with writing an essay every day. it helps when you have a blow out on the exam. I passed in feb but i wrote this in essay 3

"The D right to counsel was not violated, as a party only has a right to counsel once he has been charged with a crime. Here he has only been arraigned, which is not a formal charge. Further, while some courts recognize that the right to counsel exists at arraignment, the Supreme Court of the US has clearly stated that arraignement is not a formal charge and there is no right to counsel."

end of analysis, completely false statement of law.

SO just practice writing and making arguments based on the facts. It works.

CalBarNone said...

Poobah: If you don't mind me asking, how much did you improve on your score from July?

CalBarNone said...

Or is it taboo to ask about it?

The Grand Poobah said...

Not taboo. Was out all weekend. My scores went down. Across the board. Trying to figure that out, I am.

Anonymous said...


You're a writer and a damn good one. Don't try to radically alter what comes naturally to you. Take your strong traits and incorporate that into your plan or method.

These tutors may have the next latest and greatest method to write an essay, but it just may not fit with your natural style.

You can learn a lot from the sample answers...even if the law is wrong. By now, we have the comes down to intense practice.

I looked back on my computer to the time period for studying for the Feb 2008 exam--and realized I didn't do nearly enough essays in each subject. In fact, I think I did not do any essays in some subjects. I should have seen this as an indicator--running out of time on studying resulting in running out of time during the exam.

However, that being said, I did move up in points and once again to the second reading stage.

At this point, it is practice, not rote practice...meaningful practice. Get into it. Really look at answers that passed, their analysis, their layout, etc.. and compare it to yours. Towards the end, do some essays and time yourself. You have the tools, buddy, and the writing ability. That is obvious. You don't need another method to pass. You already have everything you need.

If it is MBEs, it is not the number you do. Even if you get them right, engage yourself, talk to yourself and say why you got it right..why that answer you are selecting is the best.

This is all only my humble opinion-but you're good at writing, GP. You know it and everyone knows it. Stay focused, capitalize on your strong traits and bring that ability to the exam.

Anonymous said...

I like the bar breakers approach of never starting to write until 20 min had gone by. When I practiced my essays I really did this, and outlined and read the question very well for 20 min. Its actually pretty tough to do, but if you do it enough times you realize that you can give up these 20 min in exchange for a well organized essay that avoids the traps.

I actually had a law prof that gave 3 hour exams but forbid us to type anything for the first hour in an attempt to get us to outline and be organized. This turned out to be very helpful

Anonymous said...

Here is a little idea I picked up off Emerson's site. He has a short video on "How to Write a Bar Essay". Take a sheet of paper and draw a line down the middle. Put a column for facts and an issue column for the other side.

Tie every fact to some issue or subissue. You will see that many of these facts in the pattern are linked to subelements. Or a factor of a 3 part test, etc.

Do that same thing and outline a sample bar answer.

This is where I get stuck. I find the issues pretty well. Then I have this big mess of issues and freak because I don't have a comfortable feel on how to get a quick good set up.

It gets a little easier the more essays you look at.

And timing for me is really my biggest issue.

I can tell ya what. Look at enough essays on BarEssays that bombed. (the 50s and 55s)--miss one issue that they expect to see or write about it and they can't find it--you're screwed. You better make sure the graders see underlining, head noting, something. Some guy bombed on the July 2007 property essay.. he was off a little...but he didn't totally point out the periodic the others I have seen. 55. He had it in there but it was in the text and said something like tenancy for a period. He also did not mention the way you terminate a periodic tenancy... Bomb and a 50.

Sacuzzo and Johnson also talk about this thing called "primacy effect". Load your good stuff up front. They say it sets the tone for the bar grader's impression for the rest of your grading. They see you know the issues,see how you've laid it out...looking for the key bar exam buzz words..then they look at the end to see if you finished it (that stands out like a sore thumb if you didn't.)

This 50 answer started out for a few sentences talking about Statute of Frauds. I think they didn't like it or wanna see it. So they gave him a low score.

To anonymous up above: Sometime, maybe post where you are at after this 20 minutes. Point to an essay and show what you have come up with after this 20 minutes.

If you go to the yahoo site that Travis has or somewhere, it would be interesting to see what you come up with after 20 minutes.

Anonymous said...

When they mail you your essays, what do they look like? Do they mark them up with comments or otherwise indicate how they came at the score tally, or do you just get a printout of your exam with the number at the top?

The Grand Poobah said...

Each individual essay and PT is printed on white paper and stapled in its own colored paper folder. There are no remarks or comments anywhere in the package. No comments on the individual items and no overall comments. You get back what gave you gave them. No more and no less.

Then your complete score, including the essays, PTs and MBEs, is printed on a label that is stuck to the cover of essay #1. This is a reproduction of the score you received in your "Dear Unsuccessful Candidate" letter.

That's pretty much it.

No "Thank's for playing, please try again." No "I'll call you tomorrow. I promise." No "Was it as good for you as it was for me?" No "Will I ever see you again?"

Anonymous said...

I want to take the exam in Ontario this time, but can't find a hotel room. Is there anybody (female) taking it there who would like to share their and split costs?

Anonymous said...


As a fellow repeat taker...I know how you feel. So, you have earned some time off & a little while to get back on the horse (or the bike). Either way, keep that positive attitude & you will be ready to crush the next exam.

Trust me, that's how I did it. But people will remember your behavior from here-on-out and not as much after you pass...which you will!

Anonymous said...

if you're scoring exceedingly low on the MBEs, you probably don't know the law enough. The essays require knowing black letter law generally but the MBEs test the slight nuances and remote areas of the law.

Anonymous said...

If you need essay help, and don't want to pay the ridiculous price of essay advantage or bar graders, i suggest going to Phil Lupton on ebay. I did take the Barbri July 2007 course but did not sit for the July bar.

when it came down to real studying for Feb, I opted not to take Essay Advantage (like my friends) but paid about $200 for Phil's service. I wasn't sure about it at first, but as a first time passer, i know it was due partly to having someone critique my essays.


Anonymous said...

Hi everyone,

For all of you that fall in the category of a second time taker as I do, we must approach our perparation for the next exam differently. What do I mean by that?

1) We need to stop being passive learners. Stop spending so much unproductive time reading those stupid outlines.

2) We need to crank out the daily MBE's and daily essays. All under timed conditions. Also, we need to get at least four performance exams done before the next exam.

3) I honestly believe that even we do not have all the law down cold, we will learn it by doing, rather than by reading about how to do it. Spectators do not pass the bar exam. It is the blue-collar worker, who gets down and dirty, that has a decent chance at passing next time.

4) Right or wrong, good or bad, organized or not, put pen to paper, and LET"S START CRANKING THE WORK OUT, between now and July 28. This is the only way to beat this thing.

Good luck all and all the best.

Gabriel N.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Amen. Thanks for motivating me to get to work Gabriel! :)

Phil said...

@Kris, Phil here, thanks for the kind words about the essay service.

For those that might be interested, I still offer the service but now via a dedicated website. I have a few spots left for the February exam. Please visit Best of luck to everyone on the February exam.