Friday, June 6, 2008

Hey, what happened while I was gone?

I wasn't really gone, as you know, I was just hunkered down with my books.

For the last week I've been focusing on the subjects with California variations. I'm taking more time with them upfront and I'll hit them again in the last two weeks. I don't want to screw up an essay for lack of familiarity with the California distinctions.

I've been outlining and writing essays (copying, actually). Using the released questions, I make my own outline then I reverse engineer the released answers and compare my outline with the one that I pulled from both of their answers. Next, I fill in any holes in my outline, re-write it for clarity, then either write my own essay or copy both of the released essays.

I've focused primarily on essays in an effort to get back in that groove. I'll resume the MBEs next week. And I'm reserving Sundays for PTs.

That's pretty much it. Same old, same old. Next verse, same as the first. SSDD (or more appropriately, SSDGBX).

I haven't been posting much because I've been partaking in the comments. While it may seem to you that I only post here once per week it seems much more frequent to me because I get a copy of each of the comments. So my exposure to the content and running commentary is greater. I'll probably continue this pattern until the exam.

I ran across a great resource for those of us who are repeating the CABGX. it's a Yahoo! group populated with repeaters. It has a wealth of very useful suggestions for study methods as well as miscellaneous other helpful stuff. The group is called California Bar Exam Repeaters. It's a good companion to the other more established discussion group, California Bar Exam Primer, which is populated by first timers, repeaters, and those who are years away from taking the exam. The topics of conversation are somewhat more varied on the Primer group.

That's about it for now. Happy studying!


Anonymous said...

i never thought to read the comments til this post -- i am missing out on half the blog!

Anonymous said...

Pooh-bah -

We both took the July 07 test. I started reading your Blog a few weeks before, and it helped to know somebody was feeling the same things that I was.

I got good news in November, and am a practicing lawyer. I check your blog occasionally, when I have friends from law school that are in study mode, and they tell me how much it sucks to be them. Your site is a great reminder of that anxiety, and it feels good to remember how much better things are now (sorry, bro- I feel terrible for you. I feel like a vampire making myself feel better by contrasting how I felt when I was in your shoes. But I do it anyway :))

I want to e-mail you a spreadsheet I made during Bar-Bri that allows you to run different scenarios on your scores on the exam. Its really eye-opening. Its shocking how shitty you can do and still pass. The key is to do a generally good job, and not fuck up the PTs. Seriously- I'll send you the spreadsheet, and you can run the numbers. Get 4 65s and two 60's on the essays, get a 65/60 on the PTs, and get about 130 on the Multistate, and you are a lawyer.

Its that easy. More importantly, DON'T FUCK UP THE PTs. THEY WILL KILL YOU. Its damn near impossible to come back from double barrel 55s on the PTs. Pack it in on a few essays, hey, not a problem. Tank the PTs, see you in February.

Drop me a line at and I will send you the spreadsheet. Play with the numbers, and it will shock you. You obviously have a fundamental problem with the essays- you simply need to fix it.

Seek out Rosemary LaPuma, the new assitant director of academic assistance at USC- she is totally nuts, but she is probably the single reason I passed the Bar in one shot. She is one hell of a problem-solver. She can teach you to write an essay- seriously.

Anyway, shoot me an e-mail and I will give you the spreadsheet. Its insane how it breaks down.

Anonymous said...


They have the updated spreadsheet with the February 2008 scaling in the chart on the California Bar Exam Repeaters.

The guy is right. It does help. You will be able to see options. I am considering the implications of getting 55s on 2 out of six and what I have to get on the rest and still pass and if a higher MBE score will help.

Go look at the chart. Click on the link in the Cal Bar Repeaters blog that says files. It's there.

Anonymous said...

Hi all, it appears the strategy is to score high on MBE and PT and do a decent job on the essays (i.e. 60s and 65s) - will that guarantee a pass? Risky proposition but worth a second ponder!

Anonymous said...

Yes, it will work. If you got a decent MBE score in the 130s (raw) or above and got decent PTS--you could bomb an essay and still pass. If you ended up averaging 60 on the essays, 65 on the PTs and high 130s raw on the MBE (which would be scaled into the 150s)--yes you could pass.

As to the essays, if you did really well (70 or 75) on
two, then you could bomb one (50) and still pass.

This is based on the scaling for February 2008. It will change a little for July, but not drastically, so give yourself a little room.

Anonymous said...

it could work.
but i don't think it would work for me. i don't know...just seems too risky. you just never know what they will throw at you and how you will react. i'm going to focus on strengthening my test-taking skills in all test sections.

Anonymous said...

But you can basically be mediocre on almost everything and be close. My Tuesday was straight 65s and my Thursday was straight 60s.
A 127 MBE put me at 1433, so just one mark more on any essay/PT _OR_ a 130 MBE would have done it. Interestingly, my second read changed most of those 65s to 50s and most of those 60s to 70s, so obviously the readers are just rolling the dice with us.

Anonymous said...

i know. but the whole study-just-enough-to -barely-pass didn't work for me the first time.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I'm definitely not advocating studying just enough to barely pass. My failure was the product of 60 consecutive 12 hour days. I'm just saying that there is some margin for error.

Anonymous said...

oh. i see. i definitely agree on that point then.

Anonymous said...

I'm the guy with the spreadsheet.

I'm ABSOLUTELY not reccomending trying to min run any section and try to make it up elsewhere. That is a fool's gamble. Your goal should be to get passing scores in each category- PTs, Multistate, and essays. The value in the spreadsheet is that it teaches you NOT to freak out on any one subject- you can pack it in pretty good on an essay, or even two, and still pass.

Most importantly, DO NOT NEGLECT THE PTs. They will kill you. If you are in the final week, and you have a choice between trying to learn something you have traditionally sucked at, say Corporations, or doing a practice PT, for God sake, do the PT. Don't waste time trying to "get" a subject that might not even appear when you can spend that time on the PTs.

A little secret- odds are, if you can do a decent PT, you will probably do OK on a generic essay, because you will understand IRAC, how to condense, and how to stay bland and formulaic. If you can then do well on the multistate, you will know the rules for at least 3 essay subjects (they almost always make 1/2 of the essays standard commonlaw subjects- the ones on the MBE.)

Rules + essay writing skills = passing essay. Passing PTs + passing MBE + passing at least 3 essays = esq. Its just that simple.

Anonymous said...

As i read many of the "if you get x on the mbe's and y on the essays you only need z on the PT's" and all the various combination, I am struck by approaches to the exam that are a "how do I avoid failing" or "what is the minimum success I can achieve and pass" as opposed to "how do I make sure I pass"

anon 10:30 nails it although I think the formula is even simpler.

A. rules + essay writing skills = passing essays and PTs

B. rules + reading skills = passing MBEs

A + B = ESQ

The whole "I can fail one and still pass" makes the assumptions that you only fail one. Also, the attitude of even thinking it's okay to fail becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy - rather than fight to take an hour and pass that essay, one becomes content to say "what the hell" because after all you did the math and you can fail an essay and pass the bar exam. You have to answer every question with the goal of giving the best product possible in the time allotted, not - don't assume the marks you gave away on one question will somehow magically appear in another.

If you strive for mediocrity that is exactly what you get, and as the February 2008 proves, the median score (i.e. 50th percentile) is a failure.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely agree about the PTs. You *must* pass the PTs. I don't know if it's the sort of thing you can really prepare for though.

Just remember that the right answers are in the facts themselves. You never have to come up with anything. Otherwise your essays would not be objectively and easily gradable. You're not being asked to reason. You simply need to recognize that one passage of facts is responsive to the question, and you need to copy it out verbatim and put on an appropriate heading.


Anonymous said...

It's not about settling mediocrity. We are not on the Survivor Show. This is a licensing exam.

I got high enough, i.e in the 70s and bombed on 2 (did not finish), got good MBE scores, and my PTs were in the 60s. After all was said and done, bearing in mind the 2 essays I did not finish-- I mean it was real bad on one.-- my first read was 1426. That is the reality of it.

This is not a lawschool exam where one of us will Am Jur and get a nice reference manual from some place. Just trying to pass.

So, the guy is right. They grade in 5 point increments. The PTs are hugely important. And even if it goes against your grain, there is room for a blunder in this exam.

You get the license whether you get 1445 or 2000. No one will give you a prize for being number 1 for the scoring on the bar exam.
This is a government licensing exam. It's about passing, not about "being all we can be". Save that for your clients and when you practice.

Anonymous said...

I don't see why it freaks people out to see that the Bar has built in a human element to the exam. They give you room to make a mistake or two and still pass. That is a good thing to realize. It alleviates some of the stress in trying to be perfect.

That should be comforting, not fuel for discouragement and dissent.

And say what you will--mostly anything to do with a government agency is the hotbed of "mediocrity". I highly doubt ANY candidate is mediocre. The median score for the CA Ba exam should not be the criteria or a barometer on who is mediocre.

Guess the Stanford person that did not pass suddenly became mediocre when she took the CA bar exam. This state's bar exam process is an anomaly--like no other in the country. Passing this exam is no indicator of future stellar attorneys soon to hit the Court house.

Anonymous said...

PTs: 65 and 70


2/3 MBEs (127 raw out of 190)


*ALL 60s* on the essays

gets you to

(per July '07)

Anonymous said...

hi. i will pray for you so that you will pass the bar exams. may i know if you're a Catholic? by the way, i recently passed the bar exams in my country Philippines in which the passing rate was only 22.19%. i intend to take the california bar exams also someday. The best of luck to you. please send me your real name at my e-mail add, i'll have the nuns at the monasteries pray for you. I really works.

Anonymous said...

It really works.

Jonathan L. Kramer, Esq. said...

I just want to know one thing: Who is the person named Anonymous that is such a prolific poster! :-)

Biff, thanks for signing your name so we can put 2 + 2 together. Other anons, as a FOTGP, I ask you to at least sign a name so we can tell who you/they/everyone else is!


FOTGP's sometimes employer.

teeniekp said...

Sorry Jonathan, I am Anon # 4 on this post, also if you recall the person who travel rather frequently to Europe - will identify myself as teeniekp from here on : ) : )

Actually thought about you when I was in the Alsace region of France in March, saw a very quaint structure almost like a silo but built beautiful and with taste, (trust the French!), and there were very discrete antennas attached to it - probably for cell stations.

Cheers and a great week to you, GP and everyone else who is working hard to get pass the finishing line in July.

lostkiara said...

I am one of the anonymous ranters on here. Hopefully, all of us will be chilling some champagne and celebrating after this saga. We' all in this together. You're the best, GP. When it seems like "What the hell am I doing?" and things get depressing, you've brought many an anonymous bar candidate back up. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Re: Agency/Partnerships/Limited Liability Companies

Is there anyone out there that would be kind enough to email me a few sample questions and answers dealing with the above recently added subject. I know it has not been tested as of yet, however, I have this itch, that they are going to pound us with it in July.

If you can help with this, I would like to extend my deepest thanks to you.

Gabriel N.

Anonymous said...

G. Poobah:

You will pass or fail on the basis of your demonstrated ability to answer objective multiple choice questions and (less objective) essay questions. You will not pass or fail based on your intricate knowledge of the bar examination's scoring process or whether you're able to remember that "all you need" to get is a couple 60's on the PTs and average a 65 on the subject essays.

Seriously, of what relevance is knowing that you must average a precise essay score? Besides allowing you to allocate your scarce studying time when the test is nearing, I can think of no non-neurotic reason to know such trivia. It is precisely this type of neurosis that will not help you become an attorney nor aid in your law practice should you eventually pass.

Keep your eye on what is relevant and ignore the rest. If you want to engage in counterproductive chatter, become a psychologist of the Freudian variety. Otherwise, keep your mouth shut, stop licking your wounds and get the job done.

California Attorney At Law

Jonathan L. Kramer, Esq. said...


It's easy for us to give counsel to candidates regarding what is or isn't important to passing the bar. We've already done it.

Each person has his/her own way to cope. Knowing Brian personally and professionally as I do, I believe this is a healthy outlet for him. For others, blogging might not be, but it's a personal issue best left to the candidate.

I do not doubt that Brian will pass the bar. He will get the job done.

Jonathan Kramer, Esq.
Currently reporting from Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania

teeniekp said...

CAAL, I doubt this blog is intended for licking wounds. I see it as a way for bar applicants to share their perspective about the CalBar exam. Each reader takes a little something from it. It allows us to reflect on our mistakes and make the necessary changes. It also alert us to resources that might prove helpful. There is a positive way to look at this blog and a negative way. You appear to prefer the latter.

Anonymous said...


Knowing the rules and the criteria for entry is all part of it. Why does the Bar even list what is the passing score if it weren't relevant and merely neurotic trivia as you suggest?

When people are paying substantial sums of money, investing huge amounts of time and effort into preparing to take this exam, it is wise from a business perspective and in many other ways to know the "beast" or know the "enemy" so to speak.

People look at the statistics and numbers for a reason. It is called weighing the odds and risks and all sorts of things, so that you can determine where your performance will fit in the statistics.

None of the information is neurotic and useless. Not knowing what you are dealing with, i.e. busily doing essays and MBEs and not having a clue what it takes to pass, could result in you using your limited resources in the wrong places. If you only need a 65 to pass, why would you keep beating yourself up striving for a 100 when from these neurotic trivia numbers, we can now conclude it is not likely you would get 100 or that it is even necessary.

Knowing the playing field is managing your limited resources in the most prudent and beneficial way to get maximum results. The true neurotic spins his wheels, busts his ass and goes nowhere fast.

Anonymous said...

Question for the group - Has anyone ever used Walton's Strategies and Tactics for the MBE? I need to boost my MBE score and someone told me about the Walton book, but I am wondering if anyone here has ever used it? If so, was it good? Thanks in advance for the guidance. Hope everyone's studying is going well.

suzanne said...

Yes, I used it for the February exam (which I passed). This was my second time taking the exam--my MBE score is what did me in the first time. Who knows if it was my MBE score that allowed me to pass this time, but I recommend the book. It had some great strategy tips for each subject in the beginning. And although the practice questions are the same ones you can get from the Bar examiners site for $15, their answers are highly detailed.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Suzanne! Truly appreciate it. The only one I can get my hands on is from December 2005, but I imagine, it'll do just fine.

Anonymous said...

GP -

Can you tell me where the cal bar repeaters blog is? I'm trying to put my #s in and I can't find the repeaters blog. Sorry if it's in plain view and I'm missing it?


The Grand Poobah said...

Are you talking about the Yahoo! Group? If so, you can get there from here:

anoninblue said...

Hey, so what did getting your essays back reveal to you?

The Grand Poobah said...

CAAL: Thanks for the advice, but I wasn't participating in the "How few points can I average to pass" discussion.

It's good information to have in our back pocket when we fail so we can figure out what we need to work on for the next exam, When I failed in July '07 I created a spreadsheet that allowed me to play with the numbers and explore all of the possibilities. It's worth knowing but it only takes a few minutes to get the big picture.

Anoninblue: The most important thing that I figured out that I write very good IRaC, and that I need to quit doing that and start writing irAc.

James said...

i figured out that i write very good Crac--i mean Crap.

Anonymous said...

Hi Poohbah,

I took the California Bar exam last July and luckily passed. I remember reading you blog on multiple occasions while studying for the exam. It was reassuring that other people were going through the same emotions as me.

I wish you the best of luck next week!