Friday, November 21, 2008

Alrighty ... um, ... then.

Applying for the #%$(&*^@&*% February '09 Exam. Check.

Extending the Moral Character Determination. Check.

Digging the ^&$%&^@%$ books out of the garage
where I stowed them just a few short weeks ago. Check.

Practicing my "Yeah, I failed the &*^%$&*&^%^&
(*#(*#@^%*(#@%^ (*#@$^&*(# %)(&@*#(%&
$(*#@(*&$^ (#*$&@#(*$& @#(*$^ #@ !!!!!!!!!!!
Bar Exam again, so what?!?" speech! Check.

List, to be continued later...... Check!


Anonymous said...

Grand Poobah,

So sorry to hear that you didn't pass. Out of curiosity, what law school did you go to?

How have your classmates in your graduating class done?

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to hear the news, Grand Poobah. I've been following your blog these last few months when waiting for results myself.

I can't possibly know the hell that you've been through with this thing since I was lucky enough to pass, but I do highly respect you for your determination and tenacity.

I strongly believe that success in life is how you deal with the cards you've been dealt. Do you pick up and carry on and persevere or do you give up? Your choosing the former time and time again shows that you are successful.

Good luck next time! Believe in yourself, memorize everything, learn how to apply it, and relax during the actual exam. I suggest practicing Tai chi to help achieve the right state of mind.

Anonymous said...

GB: First, let me say I know exactly how you feel! After graduating from a top 10 law school and practicing in NC for 9 years, I moved to Calif. and failed the bar exam 3 times--this was my fourth and finally last (successful) attempt at the exam. I was embarrassed, depressed, etc. etc. in the past; however, I realized that I was not including the analysis expected by graders of the essays & PTs. I finally found and enrolled in the Bar Code courses (I was merely a student/not a sales rep for the course). I can't say enough. Please consider this option. The courses are full of multi-repeaters. It was really an "aha" moment. The feedback was invaluable and the tips, particularly for the PT made the exam manageable and I honestly had very little anxiety going into the exam. Your essay recaps have been very similar to mine--we knew the law but the presentation likely missed the mark. Keep at it and please consider this course. Good luck, my friend!

Anonymous said...

This was my 8th time taking it and was done if I didnt pass this time. The experience of the earthquake and feeling like the Bar Examiner didnt care about the affect that it had on me, was hard to swallow. So, dont quit. I used Tyler's materials, the site where you can pay to review past exam and Adaptibar and that's what worked for me. Also, on the last day, I just remembering writing on every single issue I could for all three essays, because a former classmate had told me the night before that some to the essays are worth more than 100pts. So, I did not let up on any of the issue while following Tyler's method to a t. Good luck and hopefully it wont take you 8 tries to do. Hang in there, dude!

Anonymous said...

Nothing beats a failure but a try, so try and try again until you hit it. Don't give up.

Anonymous said...

Grand PB, I'm sorry that you've experienced a setback of this nature once again. I admire your perseverance. I also admire your ability to inspire others as you relentlessly pursue your dreams. I also admire how you so openly share your thoughts, feelings, and insecurities with the public. It takes courage to do that.

Since you share such sensitive aspects of yourself with the public (though I'm sure you spare us lots of more sensitive, personal information!), I think it would be easy for you to share something else with us of a far less personal nature: I propose that you post a representative essay or PT from a bar you failed for the group's collective feedback. Sourcing ideas to the Internet-mind often yields constructive criticism and keen insights. Your bar prep coaches and materials don't seem to have done the trick so far. They've just taken your money and time. Give the collective mind of the 'net a chance to help you pass. Your countless, self-professedly grateful readers owe you some useful feedback given all the comfort and inspiration you've provided them. (Doesn't the Cal bar give you your answers if you fail? If they don't give you your answers back, then consider posting a representative practice PT or essay that you've completed under realistic testing conditions.) I'm sure you'd benefit from having your loyal readers survey the damage with their own eyes. Some of your readers passed the bar on their first attempt (that includes me) and know a thing or two about writing top-flight (or at least decent) legal analysis under grueling time pressure.

You see, we don't really know the quality of your legal analysis and writing. The common trope of the commentariat on this blog is that you "know the law cold." If so, then your organization, analysis, writing quality, or all of the above must be the problem. Commenters are baffled that you consistently fail the bar. They seem to assess your analytical prowess based on your post-bar summations of the essays on the test. But most of those posts are just summaries of the facts with some legal buzzwords thrown in. Obviously, the quality of your analysis cannot be evaluated based on those cursory, drive-by-shooting-like posts. You write them in a folksy, vernacular tone replete with idioms that I doubt you use on the bar exam (or do you?). Those posts are basically just hand-waiving at the issues. I understand that you're writing a blog, not an essay, so the tone is appropriate. But why don't you post a representative answer so we can help you improve the quality of your actual answers in the future?

Now, when you get your scores back, it may be apparent that you did quite well on the essays, but screwed up the MBE royally. However, based on your previous posts, the MBE doesn't seem to be the problem for you. The essays are likely still the problem.

Anyway, I thought I'd throw out the idea. Do with it as you please. Just trying to help.

God bless you, Grand PB. I wish you the best and hope you pass in Feb. '09.

Anonymous said...

GP, so sorry to hear it. I failed feb and lucked by this time. Your blog kept me going, and you've created a nice community here. Good luck to you, you most certainly have what it takes if anyone ever did.

Anonymous said...

you inspire me GP. I have been following your blog for over a year, and have been rooting for you this entire time.

I am currently working/living in Beijing and the results came out at 10am here.. checked your blog.

I wish you nothing but the best. there are so many people in your corner..

Anonymous said...

I've definitely been there, and I definitely feel for you. I think there's a special solidarity that comes from having gone through something as hard as this, that people who've passed the first time or easily just can't understand. You're so courageous, and so strong for taking it again. I wish you all the best.

Anonymous said...

You will make it to the finish line.
This was my third time and I finally slayed the dragon. I was out celebrating and could not stop thinking about you and how much I know what you must feel right now. Remember that most people never tell you how many times it took to pass this exam. I am up at 1:30 am tryingto tell you my heart goes out to you and I can assure you this is something that is within your grasp just go get it!!!!

Anonymous said...

GP, do you take an essay/ PT prep class separate from the MBE, one that actually reviews your past failed exam essays? Does anyone have suggestions as to which one is good and works? Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Your Blog kept me going for months especially your "count down." I was depressed as usual after each exam. I needed to read how everyone else felt and your blog helped me feel better (and sometimes worse).
I am truly sorry you didn't pass THIS TIME. Best of luck.

Anonymous said...

It took me 8 times to pass the CA Bar Exam. If I had given up, I would not be practicing law today. I know exactly how you feel, but please don't ever give up. My heart goes out to you. If I can pass, anyone can!!!

Anonymous said...

Forget the laptop. Write the exam. Write the practice tests. Write the exam. It will focus your thinking and your writing.

Anonymous said...

Hey Poobah:

I've read your blog several times over the past 2 years. Yesterday I passed on the 3rd try. Keep trying is all I can say.

You've helped a lot of people get through tough times, and congratulations for that.

One thing, don't use Liosi any more. He didn't help me; he's a huckster. His method is not all that good, plus if you are doing it over e-mail you are missing a lot. You need somebody face to face. I know a guy on the westside who will help you. e-mail me:

david said...

I did pass. But on my 6th. attempt. Don't give up. I got closer each time, and this time, while I absolutely felt I bombed two question, I did try to analyze them and felt I aced two questions. Thank you for your site. DON'T GIVE UP.
David Slawson

Joy said...

GP -

Like everyone else I too have been following your blog for a while. This was my second time - and I am so happy to say I did pass, but my heart goes out to those still out fighting the dragon. You have provided an immeasurable amount of hope and encouragement to so many of us. Thank you.

I would also like to add that I too used the Bar Code materials this time, and signed up for the class. I can't say enough good things about it.

Best to you and your family. There are many of us out here who will continue to root for you!

Nicole said...

So sorry to hear - but hang in there. Keep trying - your blog has been an inspiration to many. I admire you're perserverence. Don't give up and good luck!

Anonymous said...

The bar should have given EVERY site in Southern California 5 points.

Anonymous said...

Poobah: What can I say buddy - I am really sorry. Keep at it.

To anyone reading this blog who is looking for a private tutor in the SF area (though he does phone appointments too if you are far away) I highly recommend Steve Harris, Esq. If you can't afford a tutor, his books are awesome as well.

I'm a two-time failee who just passed after using his services.

Check out his website here:

Good luck to all repeaters - the Lord knows I feel your pain.

Anonymous said...

GP - as everyone else as said, I'm sorry. You'll know more next week what the problem was/is. I've followed your blog for over a year. I passed this time (second attempt) and your blog and the comments have been very supportive. I agree with the person who said it might be a good idea to post an essay or PT for others to see. I took John Holtz "Maximizer" course for the PTs up in SF and that may have been what helped me pass. But I suppose I may never know. I wish you the best in Feb. 09. You will pass!! Keep persevering.

Marsha said...

So sorry, Poobah - I have no words of wisdom - only to say that I'm rooting for you, and I know others are, too.

Anonymous said...

Ok just got my scores. I missed by three points. Not sure to be happy I came close or sad that I failed. See you in February.

Anonymous said...

So sorry to hear the news, but you are in good company. I enjoyed reading your blog as this was my 5th damn time taking it too. I have to pay down some debts first before taking it again, but I wish you well in Feb...

Anonymous said...

I passed NY and FL in 1 try each; now I failed this one for the second time. What is that these graders want?

It is frustrating but let's cheer up GP we will do it next time. Don't give up.

The Grand Poobah said...

Anon: Worry not. An old wise guy once told me that I won't fail until I quit taking the darn thing.

Okay, maybe he isn't that old.

But he is wise. (;-)>

And, now that I think about it, he just might be a wise guy!

The Grand Poobah said...

Anon 11/21 11:02: That sounds like a good idea (I think!)

I might not post everything but I will try to post a representative sample.


kris said...

Hey GP

Believe me, I know how it feels to work your socks off for bar exams and not get your reward [as soon as you want].

I hope you give yourself some time away to recharge your batteries before you hit it again.

God bless and never say die!

calbar blondie said...

Hi GP,
I am not quitting either. LFT(like your little box says on the right!)

Best to you,

Anonymous said...

hey gb,
i've been following your blog and am sorry to hear about the results. i'm sure many appreciate your blogging here and gain valuable information.

my thought is that sometimes being selfish is necessary... not telling you to stop blogging, but i couldn't help but wonder whether maintaining your blog and having such a large following of people rooting you on puts more pressure on you when you're taking the exam. just my thought... do what's best for you, and you only, and knock it out in february... good luck! even if you don't blog your whole experience, everyone will still come back here to congratulate you when you pass in May...

Dedicated to the Law said...

Your blog and your comments are helping me. I failed the July exam as well. I knew BarBri didn't work for me, but I didn't know which others to contact since I went to school in D.C. Well the comments on your blog just gave me some tips.

Also, your blog helps me see that I am not alone. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

See you in February!

D.C. Girl said...

Dedicated to the Law- i went to law school in D.C. as well and failed the first time... I hated barbri but Bar Breakers and Bar Essays were what helped me pass the second time.

And GP, i'm rooting for you all the way!!

Dedicated to the Law said...

D.C. girl thanks for the advice. Could you tell me what the full tile of "Bar Essays" is? I can't find it on Amazon. But I already bough Bar Breakers after reading your review and the others!

Thanks. inwawe at

last call at the bar said...

Sorry about that, GP! Hang in there and at least give yourself a mental break for a couple of days - i.e. watch TV, read some brain candy, go to an amusement park, play video games.

I sat July 08 out and am back in the saddle for Feb 09. I blocked everything "bar exam" out for 9 months and am starting fresh. I've begun with a tutor in the Bay Area who has is own method, study plan and materials and has been doing this for like 20 years. Two people I know were sucessful after working with him and I'm told he has a success rate with repeaters somewhere in the 90% range. Hopefully that's the recipe for getting over my bad habits and writing a passing exam.

You clearly know the law at this point so put away your flashcards and BARBRI books. My advice (for what it's worth) is practice essays and MBEs, read and outline model answers to see the patterns, redo MBEs you've consistently gotten wrong over and over, and get an experienced grader to critique your practice exams as harshly as possible.

Good luck!

LFT, for damn sure!

-Last Call

Anonymous said...

I am in the same boat and it sucks. I was wondering how you did on the MBE's. I know you used adaptibar and I was going to sign up. I have old BAR BRI software and I was wondering if you thought it was worth the money? Or if the old software would be the same result?

Anonymous said...

I feel your pain. My 3rd bar too. Third time my PT's were 55/60. Two 65's would pass me. I am consistent on every bar exam across essays & mbe's-130 raw (and PT's). I've taken Holtz, and another PT seminar, used Tyler's book, and practiced dozens from Cal Bar site. Very frustrating to get 70's or 75's on essays (along with some lousy essay scores from missed issues), and not even a 65 on a PT!. GP,are you having this problem? I'm at the end of my rope. Can anyone tell me /us how to write a passing PT? Yes, I've had my share of 75's and 70's on the essays, so I know I can write! Thanks and best of luck to all you repeaters! Congratulations to you passers!!!!


Anonymous said...

Send me an email at if you want to know of an expensive but albeit amazing PT Workshop in Los Angeles. I am a third time taker who finally passed and I'd love to help others.

Anonymous said...

I've been a follower of your site through 3 failed bar exams, almost obsessivley monitoring the countdown timer. Like you, I will be sitting for the Feb. 09 bar. If you find it helpful - I believe I will - perhaps you would be willing to share information regarding past exam and practice performances. Might there be a commonality to our writing styles or analytic approaches which passers don't share? Please email me at and hopefully we can benefit from each other's feedback. Best of luck on the next one and view this as an opportunity to build another layer of "character", be a better lawyer and a stronger person. I know you've been told this over and over as I have and is little consolation, but, nevertheless, it carries a ring of truth. Godspeed.

Anonymous said...


Sorry to hear about the news. I was fortunate enough to have passed the bar on my first attempt.

Please let us know where you went wrong on the exam.

Finally, out of curiosity, where did you attend law school and what was your class rank?

Anonymous said...

WTF is wrong with you people asking GP which law school he went to and his class rank? That really pisses me off! He's nice enough to share all the information that he does... Will knowing his law school and rank allow you to advise him better on how to pass in February? Stop being nosey and curious and give helpful advise instead of prying...

Anonymous said...

I totally agree. What's the relevance of which law school he went to. And if I were GP, I would not post an essay sample. Just bring it to a tutor for evaluation but what is a bunch of anonymous posters going to do but probably give bad advice.

Anonymous said...

One's law school and class rank have nothing to do with passing!

STOP asking!

Anonymous said...

Actually as the stats show, the law school is relevant. Grads from ABA schools do better than those from CA accredited schools, who do better than those from non-accredited schools.

Anonymous said...

The premise of your argument is flawed because obviously, GP and all bar takers have already finished law school and thus law school attended is a factor that absolutely will not change and will have no bearing on whether he passes the Bar in February. Therefore, there is no point inquiring on which school or rank.

Students from Harvard as well as students from unaccredited law schools fail the bar exam (obviously not at the same rate). The point is, law school and rank cannot be changed. What is needed is a new approach to passing the Bar, not disclosing additional irrelevant personal information to insecure and nosey law school ranking whores...

Apologies for the negative tone of the post, but it pisses me off when people act like jerks and hide behind cyber anonymity and ask questions of a nice guy like GP that they surely wouldn't have the balls to ask to his face.

Anonymous said...

So is your intention to implicitly suggest that if GP were to have attended a non-ABA school and rank low that the stats are against him? So what?! There many many successful practicing attorneys who passed on their 8th time. And there are plenty of people who graduated from ABA schools near or at the top of their class and didn't pass on the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd attempt.

The Grand Poobah said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Grand Poobah said...

Alrighty then....

There's a link on the right side of my blog that will list every post I've ever made. It's easy enough to search.

I've written before about my school and my class ranking. I attended a part-time law school (ALU) working full-time for two of those four years.

My school's pass rate is low. Those of us who pass must work much harder at it than those who went to an ABA or CBA school.

The student body is composed almost entirely of working adults for whom law is a second career, and who attend class while working full-time.

Despite the low pass rate, those of us who are determined eventually do pass.

Anonymous said...

I attended a first tier school, but not top 25, and attended their night program. I scored a 164 on my LSAT but ranked around the 36 percentile when I graduated. I also worked full time throughout law school and also while trying to study for the bar. I have to pay a mortgage, support a family, so I don't have the luxury to quit my job or take time off. That said, I failed the bar 2 times already. So, obviously, LSAT and tier 1 doesn't guarantee passing the bar. I'm just saying...

James said...

i think the people asking about gp's law school and rank are simply looking to snub their noses at the rest of us. just as those who attend top tier schools fail the ca bar, there are those from lower tier schools who pass. moreover, how can that info be constructive?

gp, i do feel for you as i've failed the bar three times and finally passed this time. i did a few things differently this time. one thing i did was work on the pt's a little more than i had previously. the previous times i pushed pt's until the end and by that time i only had a chance to fully write out one or two--maybe. i have a suspicion that i'm not alone in doing this. i also think that i worked out some of my timing issues, which kind of did me in on previous exams. i'd be glad to expound on that later.

anyways, keep pushing on and just know there's a lot of people rooting for you!

Bar Daze said...

Hey, GP ~ so sorry that you are going to have to grind it out one more time. I like the suggestion that someone made about posting a full essay and/or PT. Your blog has been and is a source of information and inspiration since you began this journey - I'd like to see you reap some tangible reward in the form of constructive (or would that be deconstructive?) feedback.

In the meantime, I notice once again that this is a second career -- you were an IT guy. Do tell, I really need an IT guy (yeah, TX, not Calif) and don't have the faintest idea how to locate one that I can rely on. Email consult?

Anonymous said...


I'd retake barbri for the sole reason that ideally, they'll get your writing to resemble what most of the bar takers have and what the graders want. While, some of these other bar courses may work for some people, it's my understanding that they cause your writing to stick out in a negative way.

In addition, I also suggest that you post some of your legal writing on here so we can all help you get a passing score in Feb and you can rename your blog "I passed the California Bar Exam".

Anonymous said...

To GP and everyone else-
Listen, I just wanted to thank you for your heartfelt efforts and patience in this grand mess called the California Bar Exam. Yours and other anonymous postings have been helpful to this 'multiple-failure' poster.
I just felt compelled to let everyone know that though I too am feelin' low down(see you all in Feb.-yippee!), I don't think that class rank, school, etc have anything to do with it.
I could go into how I work hard full time and support my family, a 2 year old included, and pay the house payments and bills and how that its gonna be real hard to pass this sucker- but hey, what's the point?
Everyone has their trials in life, and I won't apologize for trying to be a good father and husband and person and have anyone feel sorry for me.
And having said that I wouldn't trade one thing in my life for having passed a stupid exam. Yeah, sure I'd love to 'slay the dragon' 2, but there comes a point in life that I just realize that its more important to be a good happy person than an SOB.
Anyways, having said that I hope and wish we all end up
CONQUERING OUR DEMONS in whatever way shape or form they may present themselves.
Best Wishes to all of you next go round!:)

Anonymous said...


Anger got me through the bar exam. Good luck in February.

Anonymous said...

Look, it's irrelevant now since we all graduated and I'm not here to debate it but for people to deny the statistics, you guys are lying to yourselves.

There's a real correlation among the different factors...what tier law school and LSAT and the bar passage rate. Don't kid yourselves to make you guys feel better.

I'm not trying to dump on lower tier schools or low LSAT scores, but come on. You guys got to face reality here.

GP went to a non-ABA accredited law school. Who gives a damn!?!?!? But to say it's not a factor is ridiculous. I'm not saying he can't pass, and I'm not saying he might have passed on the first try by going there, but come on. Don't make foolish statements. The statistics proves everything. They don't lie.

James said...

someone who graduated from yale has a statistically better shot at passing than someone from say, anywhere else. i just don't see how it's constructive/relevant to spew out that "factor".

statistics prove everything? really? they don't lie?

"There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." The statement refers to the persuasive power of numbers, the use of statistics to bolster weak arguments, and the tendency of people to disparage statistics that do not support their positions. Courtesy of Mark Twain and Wikipedia.

Anonymous said...

to anonymous poster above, no one is denying the stats... the stats are clear, but the anonymous posters inquiring about law school and rank are missing the point...

for the purpose of advising a JD on how to pass the CA Bar after several unsuccessful attempts, it's hard for me to understand how knowing his law school and ranking would be relevant. yes, we all know that students from top law schools pass at a higher percentage, so there is no one is disputing that "statistics prove everything".

It's clear that knowing whether GP went to Harvard or to a fourth tier school will not enable anyone to give him better advice on passing in February. Yes, it may possibly explain why he didn't pass on the first or second time, but should he quit blogging and stop soliciting advice as if his law school and rank somehow will preclude him from ever passing the CA Bar?

Anonymous said...

After all the hullabaloo going on with the previous posts, maybe really getting back to the basics might be the key. I am a repeater who opted out on July and going over my Feb 2008 essay (which sucked in a major way). MAKE SURE YOU REALLY KNOW THE LAW. If you really know the law, you can apply it, manipulate it and ferret through the fact patterns. Look at these bar essays answers. It goes past memorizing. We may think we know the law, because we have it all memorized, but make sure your knowledge really allows you to adeptly apply it quickly in that hour. If you really know and understand the particular law or rule, you will not be conclusory. You can talk about it a little more and explain the whys and becauses of your analysis.

Make it like second nature. There are rules you REALLY KNOW already. You could actually sit and talk about an essay answer, apply the rule and give the reasoning quite well. That will help with giving a good analysis--because you really can't analyze without really knowing the rules and how to apply them in your argument.

Just my 2 cents. But try it on an essay that you already know the law--like a basic torts essay. I bet you could talk the analysis to your wife or neighbor quite well. If you can do that, you can put it on paper.

Love ya, GP, and soon we will get to the other side. the champagne will be a chillllllllin.

Anonymous said...

It's getting snarky in here.

The Grand Poobah said...


I think the school I attended and whether it was ABA, CBA or otherwise, what my class rank, LSAT score and/or GPA were, is mostly not relevant.

I say that because I really had very little choice when I decided to attend law school at the age of 45. I couldn't attend school during the week. I couldn't attend classes every night of the week. My options were limited. And I didn't have to take the LSAT because I had enough education to get into a part-time law school without it.

Most of the criteria used to measure traditional law school students doesn't apply to people like me who are going at this as a second career. I was in the top 25% of my class, but, because the class size was only about 40, that statistic is almost meaningless.


Greg said...

I was sorry to read that you failed. I've been following your blog for a while, and I was sure you were getting things set straight to pass this one, based on reading the changes you were going through.

I have no great insight into the process; I just passed on my first attempt, so I may have less than most. That won't stop me more than it stopped anyone else. My gut feeling is that the best thing I did was nail down the PTs. My school had a semester-long class devoted to developing PT skills, and we took 8 graded PTs during the course of the semester -- graded by a professor, not by a BarBri grader who doesn't give a damn. There's a technique to nailing PTs, and if you get it and can walk in feeling confident of a 70 or 75, the stress of the other essays (assuming an average MBE) melts away. Of course, I won't find out how I did; maybe I blew chunks on my PTs and did better than I thought I did on the two Contracts essays.

What is certain is that there are many elements that determine whether one passes or fails this moronic exam. Looking at the list of non-passers from my school was pretty surprising. There were at least 5 people I attended classes with, who offered meaningful classroom conversation, are bright and intelligent, and studied like mad for this exam. Where you went to school and where you ranked may be predictors of how you'll do, but they certainly are not factors in your score.

Good luck in February. Find those areas still nagging you on this thing and learn the techniques needed to convince the graders you should pass an exam that has nothing to do with the practice of law.

(forthguy from the FJR forum)

Anonymous said...

After making your headings, explain how every fact has a impact on the outcome of the question based on applicable law. I went to a crap law school and I passed on the first try by following the above rule in conjunction with mimicking the general pattern followed by released answers on the calbar website.

Colin said...

I think maybe the point in this whole "what school did you go to" is that some programs prepare their students better than others for the type of approach you'll need to be successful on the CA Bar Exam.

I got my law degree from a Canadian university and had little experience in US law other than what I learned from BarBri and cramming for two months. I passed on the first attempt.

Obviously I had no idea how I did on the multi-state questions and when I was practicing I was scoring around the 70-75% mark.

But, what I did notice is that the CA Bar exams questions were just like every law school exam I ever wrote. So, my luck in passing probably had a lot to do with the fact that I had years of practice at writing these types of exams under the same type of time pressures. Ironically, I failed every BarBri exam I got graded, but I did learn something each time. I think what eventually is successful is showing them you can think through both sides, even though you are only representing one. The best lawyer is the one who can see what the other guy will argue and either counter it, or admit there is no way around the argument. Like the PT workshop guy for BarBri said - show them you think like a lawyer.

Oh, I went to school part time as well, and did all my studying at night, while running a research lab, so I didn't have endless hours to study either.

Having said all that, I admire GP for sticking to it. The exam is obviously meant to work as a gatekeeper, not on merit, but simply on numbers. Seriously, is there any difference between a 1439 and 1440 other than state bar deciding to pass on numbers rather than ability.

Anonymous said...

I found your blog after the bar exam--thanks so much for creating it.

You seemed to have hit so many of the issues. I suspect it may have been your analysis or structure. I recommend that you post several of your practice exams (or your actual exam, if the bar gives that back to you) for those who passed to review it.

roygbiv said...

GP, I've been following your blog around the "key moments" (i.e., immediately before and after the exams, and the release of exam results) since right about this time last year when I searched the web for others' experiences to help mute the bitterness of my own. When I finally saw something other than the dreaded "the applicant number entered does not match a name on the pass list" last Friday, I honestly thought I was dreaming. Words cannot describe the feeling, but it is a feeling I truly wish you to have. And I know you will have it because you're not a quitter. Take that from someone who's sat through every Cal bar exam you have. If a fouth-tier, bottom-of-their-class, near-dropout can do it, so can you. Pardon the cliche, but where there's a will, there's a way. And you have more will than most of the posters on this board combined. When you've spent as much time toiling over the bar exam as we have, it will always be a part of you, even after you've banished it to your past. That's why every time I think of the wretched thing, I'll be rooting for you until you pass. To the poster who spoke of solidarity among repeaters--amen.

Anonymous said...

Its 91 Days til the Bar,
I'm tired, sick, full of dread, got boatloads of student debt no mortal can hope to repay,
The peanut gallery is either laughing or criticizing me and my life choices,
I'm beset by professionals who tell me that while they're sure I'll pass maybe I'm just not a good testtaker,
I got 15 outlines,
many outdated,
too many distractions,
too few rest and
even less hours to prepare not to mention even less true backers in me...

and I'm wearing sunglasses!

HIT IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Groundhog Day needs to change. No more waking up to another bar exam. In his book Candide the French writer Voltaire gives his main character Candide more pain and suffering than anyone can stand. Yet after each hardship Candide exclaims that this is the best of all possible worlds. So I have decided that not passing the bar helps me avoid the disappointment of applying for an attorney position in a terrible economy. This is the best of all possible worlds.

Anonymous said...

Have you thought of skipping July to refuel and get away from this damn thing for a few months? Give yourself a rest, have a blast with friends and family, and let you life fill with moments where you're not viewing the world as a hypothetical bar exam question. I've met a few people who didn't pass until they finally stepped away from it for a bit.

Anonymous said...

I echo the suggestion that perhaps a break from the February bar might do you some good. I say this simply because I know there's a limited supply of study materials available and at some point, you aren't testing yourself on new information any more, and perhaps you are relying too much on memory and not enough on cold knowledge of the law.

But, if you do decide to give it a go, I've got two suggestions. First, use the PMBR MBEs to practice. I've taken two state bar exams and have used Barbri for one and PMBR for the other. I felt much more confident about the exam that I used PMBR for...their practice questions are better written and they seem to have a heavier focus on many of the things the MBE tests on.

Second, if the PTs are giving you trouble, I recommend getting away from the study materials and getting some real life examples. Find a lawyer in criminal law, employment law, or some other highly fact-specific, litigious area of the law. Sit down with one of their summary judgment motions or motions to dismiss (as well as the opposing sides) and look at how they set the briefs up, use facts persuasively, and present their arguments. I don't think that the PTs can be taught, I think that they become much easier when you have some real world experience in legal drafting. I think getting away from the study materials and focusing on how real lawyers do these types of things might help you get some fresh perspective on what the examiners are looking for.

Best of luck to you.

Anonymous said...


Sorry my man, I was really saddned to hear the news about your failing the CBE for the third time. I am almost right there with you my friend, matter of fact, I am probably more confused than you just about now, as I have just received my scores in the mail, here is what I found out.

First Try: (Essays 60-60-60-50-55-55), (Performance Exams 55-70) and (MBE's 93/200).

Second Time meaning this time: (Essays 50-50-52-45-70-55), (Performance Exam 60-60), (MBE's 97/200).

As you can see, I dropped from a first time TSS of 1269.1599 to a second time TSS of 1255.4729. That is a 1% drop in TSS since the first time. I am certainly going backwords here, with no road mao and no paddle. I have no clue, what I am even going to do at this point. I have no idea where to start in trying to correct my many inefficiencies, in trying to rectify the meeded skills to pass this exam. First time I took Barbri for the essays and performance exams, PMBR for the MBE's, second time I tried working on the essay writing on my own, i took Fleming's for the performance exams and again studied out of the PMBR for the MBE's.

If anyone has any idea please chime in any time. here is my basic question.

Given that I have moved backwards, in my attempts to pass this exam, what am I to do?

Question 1: What do I do, to increase my motivation, perseverence, discipline,and most important work habits?

Question 2: What materials would be best suited for me, given th fact that I am paddling backwords here, in my attempt to pass this monster?

Any input would be greatly appreciated just about now.

Thank you all and may you all have a blessed and happy thanksgiving.

Gabriel N.

Anonymous said...


I just passed the bar... my second attempt... like you I was struglging with the essays. A friend recommended Bar Graders to me... they were great. I still have some left if you are interested.

Good Luck,

James said...

gabriel, you're in a tough spot because of the vast improvements you would need to pass the bar. have you considered taking the bar in another state? i hate to be discouraging, but...

never give up said...


How did you study this time around? when you were studying did you critically assess your essays to the "model answer"? i failed the first time ended up in the re-read stage n was ripped a new one overall. i knew i needed help on my essays and i hated bar/bri but i loved and the bar breakers books. seeing the scores you need to score on an essay and comparing your answer with an essay of that score, then also comparing it to the model in bar breakers and the cal bar's site was immensely helpful.... if you are able to really pin point how your essay is different from a 70 and are able to mimic it, you will be okay. for now i would suggest you sign up for and see how your essays differ from a higher scoring essay... if you can't see the difference maybe you should invest in a tutor... and don't believe people when they say that they can't tell the difference-- there is a definite difference.

as for the mbes how are you practicing them? i was terrified of the mbes the first time and all i did was study for them and didn't do any practice essays (which is why i failed). all i did the 2d time was 25 questions a day but i read every single answer (whether i got the question right or wrong) and i note carded every answer i got wrong... it sounds tedious and inefficient but it worked for me and many of my friends...

the only person that can tell you how to maintain your motivation is yourself. but i will tell you one thing, i studied 5-8 hours a day the first time spending hours upon hours "studying" the materials ineffectively and it was just a huge waste of time. the second time i worked f/t and i studied a good 3-4 hours a day... but i really used my time to scrutinize my essays and really understood where my essays were lacking. so if motivation and discipline is a problem, take heart-- it doesn't take 8-10 hours a day to pass this thing.

hope this helps... kick some ass!!

Anonymous said...

Hello All,

I guess, I should rephrase my question for this forum. Please see the details of my original post up above.

Is there any one of you out there, who is humble enough to share the truth about their scores, who earned a 1269.1599 or below on the first try, followed by a 1255.4729 on the second try and who successfully passed on their next attempt, be it the third try?

Given my scores stated above, coupled with the fact, that I must be a total retard, for moving backwards instead of forwards, what is the one and most efficient tool, that I should be using, in improving my 1)essays, 2)performance exams, and 3)mbe scores?

If you are going to chime in, make sure that you meet the most important criteria in passing helpful information to me and that happens to be: you must have scored as poorly if not worst than I, on both attempts, than you have found the right methods of brushing up your skills, in order to pass on your third attempt. Please don't chime in and tell me that you took the bar for the first time and got a 1390 for example, that would disqualify you from sharing you story here.

What I am trying to say here folks is this: I am wanting to hear from other individuals that have scored extremely poorly on the exam both times, than have found a way to remedy their steep climb to a passing score on the third try.

I really need some help here big time. The first time I failed this thing, I felt dissapointment, but now folks, I not only feel dissapointment but also humiliation beyond words that I can express. I am wanting to find the tools that are custom fitted to my individual needs, as pertaining to the poor results that I have earned on my first two attempts.

Any and all help is appreciated, but please if you are going to chime in, make sure that you fit my profile, which is a very humble and very humiliated, two time failure, who has earned scores of 1269 and 1255 respectively, the past two attempts.

Gabriel N.

James said...

gabriel, when i went to visit a bar tutor for the first time, he asked me for my failing scores--1360, 1390, and 1410. i asked why and he said that he would most likely NOT be able to help me pass if i scored in the 1200's to low 1300's on previous attempts. he wasn't saying it's impossible, but he definitely wasn't optimistic about it. that said, i wish you and all other retakers the best.

Anonymous said...

James, I have no clue as to why you keep chiming in. You have never scored as low as I have, so you should not even be entering this conversation. I GET YOU LOUD AND CLEAR, as far as you are concerned, i probably do not have what it takes to pass this exam in CALIFORNIA, now try telling that to my wife and three children, who depend on me to do just that.

Gabriel N.

Anonymous said...

I knew a guy who passed the CA bar a few years ago after three prior failures reports that he had an undiagnosed anxiety disorder which was apparently contributing to his difficulties. He never knew he had it, had none of the usual symptoms. He ended up having a doctor prescribe Xanax for use on the test, and his score improved significantly and he passed by a good margin. Has anyone ever studied this issue as an explanation as to why some otherwise excellent students have trouble with the bar exam? Seems like this might be worthwhile.

Anonymous said...

"...he passed by a good margin."

Hmmm...that statement is suspect.

Anyway, passers and others, please grade this PT (PTA) from July 2008. Thanks! Be a bar grader!

PT-A: Pearson v. Savings Galore

To: Mary Hamline
From: Applicant
Re: Pearson v. Savings Galore

1. SG falsely imprisoned Pearson because he was confined by SG’s employees’ physical intimidation and assertions of legal authority.

The common law tort of false imprisonment is defined as unlawful restraint of an individual’s personal liberty or locomotion. Imprisonment is the unlawful exercise or show of force by which a person is compelled to remain where he does not wish to remain. The defendant must intend to restrain the plaintiff, by words, acts or both. Actual force is unnecessary. The Restatement of Torts defines confinement by (1) actual or apparent physical barriers; (2) overpowering physical force, or submission to physical force; (3) threats of physical force; (4) other duress; or (5) asserted legal authority.

In the Rafton case, the court interpreted the Restatement by adding that the confinement must be against the plaintiff’s will. It said that if the plaintiff voluntarily consents to the confinement, there can be no false imprisonment, adding that moral pressures, such as when the plaintiff seeks to clear her name of an accusation, is not against the plaintiff’s will and fails to establish confinement.

In Pearson’s situation, SG did restrain Pearson’s personal liberty. Pearson returned inside the store and remained in a room for one hour. Pearson does not contend that any physical force was used. However, the demeanor and physical characteristics of all SG’s employees involved were intimidating. In the parking lot a big strong-looking woman yelled, “Hold it right there!” She grabbed Pearson and said, “I saw you take those cashews and you didn’t pay for them” The success of Pearson’s claim for false imprisonment will turn on whether SG used duress or assertions of legal authority to cause Pearson to remain in the room for one hour, or whether on the other hand Pearson remained voluntarily in order to clear his name of an accusation of shoplifting.

Pearson states that all the SF personnel involved were large and physically intimidating, from the woman who accosted him in the parking lot and who led him back inside the store, whom he described as a big strong-looking woman who grabbed him, to the two security guards who looked like ex-boxers or wrestlers. After they placed him in a small windowless room where they remained with him, they left him in the room alone. He believed he heard the door look, and he could hear the three of them talking directly outside the door. At this point, Pearson was having an anxiety reaction. He had difficulty breathing and needed to sit still in order to calm himself.

The SG personnel told him they would let him go if he gave up the name of the young man he had been shopping with. The fact that the SG personnel said they would “let him go” indicates they were detaining him and further that they had the right to do so. Pearson was not motivated to stay in order to clear his name because Pearson was clear that he had done nothing wrong and the store had no right to detain him. He kept repeating that.

Pearson admits he did not actually know whether the door was locked, because he never tested it. He also admits that he never just tried to walk out of the room over the course of the hour. But he did think that if he did try to leave they would just have grabbed him and put him back in the room.

SG’s employees by their intimidating size and demeanor indicated threats of physical force. The store detective’s use of the term “take him in” implied arrest. This is an assertion of legal authority. The SG employees kept repeating “we don’t have to let you go,” indicating that they had a legal right to detain him. Furthermore, the terms of the release also assert that SG had a right to detain Pearson.

Therefore, the intimidating conduct, demeanor and words used by SG employees confined Pearson. Pearson did not volunteer to remain in SG’s back room. Therefore, Pearson can prove all the elements of false imprisonment.

2. Pearson can prove actual compensatory damages in the value of the groceries lost and in his psychiatric medical expenses and can show punitive damages because SG confined Pearson for more than an hour even though SG employees did not suspect Pearson of shoplifting.

Punitive damages are recoverable, according to the court in Peterson v. Zelie, when there is clear and convincing evidence of defendant’s malice intended to cause injury or despicable conduct carried out with a willful and conscious disregard of the rights or safety of others. In this situation, the store detective who grabbed Pearson in the parking lot admitted from the outset that Pearson had not taken the cashews. She said, “That’s right, you didn’t (take the cashews); it was this guy, right here.” When Jeff ran away and Pearson again repeated that he had not done anything, the store detective said, “I don’t care. You come with me right now. You and your fast friend are in big trouble.”

SG employees who detained and questioned Pearson kept trying to get him to give them the name of the fellow he had been shopping with. Their entire motivation was to get the suspect’s name. At no time did they accuse Pearson or attempt to get Pearson to confess to shoplifting. SG employees were clear from the outset that Pearson had not shoplifted.
Despite that, they continued to assert their right to hold him for over an hour.

The Peterson court also defined punitive damages as comprising oppression, which it defined as despicable conduct subjects plaintiff to cruel and unjust hardship in conscious disregard of plaintiff’s rights. Pearson states that the store detective and the two security guards kept returning to the room where they held him. Pearson said he was having trouble breathing because he was so anxious. It is difficult to believe that the guards would not have been aware, as they were studying Pearson during questioning, that he was experiencing difficulty breathing. Detaining him, knowing he was innocent when they could see he was in physical distress was cruel and unjust hardship.

The Peterson court also stated that punitive damages were justified when defendants engaged in fraud defined as intentional misrepresentation, deceit, concealment of a material fact known to defendants, with the intent to deprive plaintiff of property or legal rights. First, they tried to intimidate him into giving them the name of their friend in exchange for which they would let him go. Then, after an hour when they realized that would not work, they conditioned Pearson’s freedom on signing a waiver of liability. That document deliberately misstated what SG employees knew to be the true facts. They knew Pearson was not suspected of shoplifting and that SG had not detained Pearson based on that belief. Furthermore, the SG employees knew that they had not detained Pearson for only so long as was reasonable to investigate their suspicions. They forced Pearson to sign the release that contained known untruths before they would consent to release Pearson. This amounts to

3. Shops Galore will not succeed in defending that the release of liability that Pearson signed was valid because the document was the result of an improper threat.

In Gaspard, the court held that for a release of liability to be valid, it must not be made under duress. There is a line, the court reasoned, between hard bargaining and an improper threat. Examples of an improper threat are when the threat is an accusation of a crime or a tort, where it holds our action of criminal or civil prosecution in bad faith, where such a prosecution is not a validly held belief.

Here, the store detective stated at least twice that she was going to have to “take in” Pearson. This could have meant bringing him back inside the store, but the terminology of “taking someone in” commonly means arresting them or taking them to the police station. At the time the store detective used this term, she had not yet identified herself as a store employee, giving added weight to the threat of arrest.

The Gaspard court further defined an improper threat as one that would harm the recipient but not benefit the one making the threat. Here, SG’s personnel continued to insist they had a right to detain Paulson. Holding him for over an hour harmed Paulsen, especially in light of his anxiety and difficulty breathing. The threat in no way benefited SG, because Paulson had done nothing wrong. He could not give back any merchandise or admit any guilt.

The court further said that the threat was effective because of prior conduct of the threat-maker which had been unfair. In this case, from the outset SG store detective knew that Paulson was not the shoplifter. The accusation and frog-marching him into the store under color of legal authority of “taking him in” were unfair dealing which lent legitimacy to SG’s holding Paulson for over an hour.

Lastly, the court in Gaspard stated that impropriety is found when that which is threatened is use of power for illegitimate ends. Here, SG had two objectives in detaining Paulson, both of which were improper. The first was to force him to identify his fellow shopper. SG employees stated they would let him go only if he named his friend. Second, when they realized Paulson would not give them the name, they induced him to sign a waiver of liability as a condition of letting him go. This is outrageous conduct on the part of SG, since the employees knew that they had wrongfully held Paulson knowing he had not engaged in shoplifting. They sought to escape liability for their illegal conduct by holding him still longer until he signed a waiver of liability.

Both motivations for holding Paulson were illegitimate, the second an attempt to cover up the initial illegitimate motive.

For these reasons, the release of liability in invalid due to SG’s improper threats amounting to duress.

Greg said...

Are you looking for people to critique an exam writing service? That looks awfully similar to this:

That said, I find it pretty overwhelming. For someone who talks up her ability to tailor PT answers to what the graders are looking for, this one doesn't seem to follow the tendencies I've seen, at least from the last 5 or 6 years.

First, the question is calling for an objective memorandum, yet the headings used are those used for persuasive memos.

Second, the big multifactor test is broken out, but then the individual elements aren't addressed clearly and individually. Analysis is just all lumped together.

Third, it doesn't cite all of the cases. Now, it doesn't always seem relevant to cite every case, but check the model answers, and you'll find that most every time every case is cited. The funny thing is, the James case is noted in the outline for the answer, it's just excluded from the answer itself.

Fatal? It's hard to know. But generally, I find the answer somewhat messy and difficult to follow.

roygbiv said...

Gabriel N.--

Start with the MBEs and just do as many of them as you can. When you review the answers, be sure to review all answers, even the ones to questions you got right. This is invaluable in honing your ability to discern the patterns (and yes, there are patterns) used over and over in the MBEs. There are only so many ways the examiners can test the same rules of law and only so many variations of fact patterns they can use to do this. So focus on the MBEs first, because without a decent MBE score, it's near impossible to hit the magic 1440 on the essays and PTs alone. Get the MBEs under your belt so you can feel confident and even look forward to them on day 2. They are the ONE part of this test that is predictable. Any decent bar review course will even break the 200 questions down into exactly how many questions will be from each sub-area of law under the 6 major MBE areas.

As for the essays, there is no substitution for memorizing the key rules of law and being familiar with how to apply them. What's absolutely critical is that you: (1) Become proficient at issue spotting, because if you miss the issue entirely, you miss all the points allocated to it by the graders. The way to do this is practice essays and review model answers so you can see all the issues that can properly be raised. (2) Memorize CONCISE, black-letter rules of law. Not only will these be easier to memorize, you won't waste valuable time on the exam regurgitating overly detailed rule statements (especially important if you handwrite or are a slow typer). Also, if you don't know or cannot remember the rule, MAKE IT UP as best you can and apply the facts based on that. You will get some credit. (3) Use EVERY fact in the question. There are no "red herrings" on Cal bar questions. Every fact is there for a reason and it is your job to figure out why. (4) Think organization. The bar graders look at hundreds of answers to the same question over and over again and on average, spend no more than a few minutes scanning the answer to see if the big issues were raised, the rules are reasonable, and they are applied to the facts. It's a very superficial process (which is why sometimes essay grades are just luck of the draw depending on which grader reads your answer). Any one who's had their essays read more than once and failed can tell you the grade variation between the different readings. Make your answer as easy as possible for the beleagered graders to read: Separate all issues and subissues into short, concise paragraphs and use headings and sub-headings galore for each.

As for the PTs, practice truly makes perfect. As some have said, PTs really cannot be taught. You just have to practice them. Real world experience can help. Above all, you must (1) finish them, and (2) use every case statute or legal authortiy provided (on this, even just citing to a case, even if you didn't actually use it gets the job done, because all the graders are doing is keeping a mental checklist of which authorities you cite and making sure you cite them all. And perhaps most important, (3) just follow the directions in the instructing memo. The beatuy of the PTs is you don't have to know any substantive law. They're mostly an exercise in following directions. If you think of them this way they won't be nearly as daunting.

Anyhow, that's my quick two cents. Don't mean to sound like a generic bar review course, but the things I enumerated I do believe are the essentials.

Best of luck.

Anonymous said...

I passed on my 3rd attempt after I SKIPPED ONE EXAM. Our minds need a break, otherwise you will fail again. It becomes one large blur.

The break for me helped me tremendously. I watched TV, took a vacation, ate dinner with friends I had not seen in months and had a "life" for 3 straight months, then I started studying for the bar exam after skipping one. I studied less than previous ones too - making sure I took OFF EVERY OTHER DAY to relax, got my exercise (short walks and jogging). On previous attempts, I studied 8 hours straight and took off from work 3 straight months.

On my 3rd attempt, I continued to work full-time and only studied 2 hours per night, every other night, then studied 4 hours each day on the weekends. That was all I needed.

I was refreshed and relaxed.

I like other bloggers strongly suggest you skip the Feb. exam.

Take a much needed break. It will do you good.

good luck to all.

Anonymous said...

GP: I just discovered your blog tonight and have been browsing through some of the comments. I passed the July '08 Exam after previously failing the Exam and passing the Bar Exam in another state and practicing out-of-state the last few years. I really wish I had discovered your blog earlier as it may have helped me to pass the exam when I took it previously, knowing there were others out there in the same boat who could share their experiences with me.

My advice to you is not to skip the February '09 exam. I think its important to study while the information is still somewhat fresh in your mind. Figure out your weakness(es) and work on them. For me, it was the essays. I was so focused on memorizing and getting the black letter law down, instead of concentrating more on the analysis, which I think is what the examiners really care about. I would look at past exam essay answers of successful applicants and wondered how these people passed when the rule and/or analysis was flat out wrong. Then it finally hit me that the examiners don't care so much about getting it right as to raising and arguing the issue in the first place (which doesn't completely make sense to me sometimes). As someone once told me, the exam isn't about necessarily about having the right argument, as it is about making the argument itself. The law is an adversarial system- one party will always be deemed wrong.

I did a modified self-study to prep for the exam and took a course offered by The Study Group. The amazing thing was that I had never heard of this bar review program before I went on a Google search for bar review courses that were an alternative to BarBri. The course was reasonably priced and came with a money-back guarantee if I didn't pass. Plus, The Study Group was just acquired by Kaplan, Inc. last month, which to me shows that others are impressed with them as well.

I know this is redundant, and perhaps the last thing you want to hear, but really, hang in there. I know how you feel. I can tell you that there is light at the end of the tunnel. All the best!

EBA said...

Has anyone here passed or know of anyone who has passed the California bar exam who had a 150 LSAT or lower? If you do random searches on the calbar attorney website, you'll notice that 80% of the members are either from law schools that have high LSAT scores or they're from top undergrad schools (thus, high SAT).

I personally have not met anyone who did not have a high LSAT score (160+) who has passed the Calif. bar. I have a low LSAT and this does not fare to well with me. Any info from anyone who has passed with a low LSAT would be greatly appreciated. THANKS.