Tuesday, November 25, 2008

First, the good news!

I haven't fallen off the edge of the earth.

What, you want more good news? Okay ... The earth is not flat. But how that qualifies as good news I do not know.

I meant to update this thing before now but I was tied up with more important matters. And perhaps the only person to whom this matters is my Mom. Sorry Mom. Got tied up.

And that's the end of the good news. Now for the less than good news.

My score on the July exam sucked only a little less badly than it sucked when I took the exam in February.

My writing scores still suck out loud. But, on the bright side, my raw MBE score went up to 135. That's 12 points higher than my Feb '08 MBE score.

But I have got to figure out why I get passing scores on most of my practice essays, then proceed to stink up the ones I write on the actual exam.

My raw written score was 550. That's a neat clean average of a very rotten 55 on the written portion of the exam.

I want to think that my poor performance on the exam is due to some sort of test anxiety issue, but I think the real reason is that I haven't practiced enough essays. Or, at least, I haven't practiced them in the right way. Or perhaps its a combination of both. But if it is some sort of test anxiety issue I'm pretty sure the solution is to practice more essays.

I've received some very valuable advice from my friends as well as from all of you out there in blogville. Please know that I very much appreciate the consideration and I will respond to each of you as soon as I am able to set aside this other matter. I will only reply when I have sufficient time to give everyone the consideration that you deserve, which should be some time this weekend.

My best to all,



Anonymous said...

Here's my advice on essays.

1a. If you use a checklist and can completely spit it out, there's no way you will miss an issue. Right when you get your essay, look to the call and identify the subject and write your checklist.

1b. Identify the BIG issues and focus on that first. The bulk of the analysis should be on these. You can pass an essay with a 65 if you nail the big issues.

1c. Identify the small issues but only a sentence or two on analysis, for brownie points.

2. Straight IRAC on the issues you identify in your checklist. Don't do anything fancy. Stick to the basics.

The issue is...
The rule is...
Applying the rules to the issue...
In conclusion...

3. Use headers, underline, indent.

Assuming you can analyze 'ok', I can't see you not passing using the above.

Good luck in Feb.

Anonymous said...


I have been told by some individuals in your blog, that the chances of passing the bar exam with a raw written of 562.0 and a raw mbe of 97, is pretty much slim to none. So I am just curious, as to what makes you think, that individuals such as you and I, who are currently underachieveing big time, on the written portion of the exam, can pass on the next try. I actually came down from my first try of 568.1 on the raw written and moved up from the previous 93 on the mbe raw. Million dollar question here is this, 1)what do we do different this time and 2) what tools do we use this time to accomplish that goal? Is it even realistic for us to expect passing this thing, if our skill level is so far below everyone elses. let me know what you think? good luck on the next and last try for you.

Gabriel N.

Anonymous said...


The difference between you and GP is his MBE score is way higher than yours. You need to bring that up to at least 120 or so to have a fighting chance. You have a scaled combined total of around 1250. You will need a lot of work to pass in Feb. I'd recommend adaptibar to get your MBE scores up.

Regarding the essay, I agree with the first caller. If your writing skills are lacking, you need to follow something basic as he/she suggested. Do practice exams. Like billions of them.

Regarding your PT, if you are scoring below 65, you need a tutor or someone that passed to really analyze what is going on there. It's too hard to give a bunch of generic tips for PT.

The Grand Poobah said...

Gabriel: I think I can pass on the next try because I know I can pass this thing. If I didn't know I could pass it on the next attempt I would throw in the towel, head to the locker room, and admit defeat. And defeat, my friend, is not an option.

I have faith in myself. And regardless of your past performance you should have faith in yourself too. You got through law school, you can get through this thing. All you need is someone to break it down in a way that makes sense to you.

Send me an e-mail directly and we can compare scars.

Anonymous said...

I see you at about 1340 with rhat you said.

If you keep your MBE score where it is, and improve your essay scores to 600, you pass.

As I see it, you know the law pretty darn well, since your MBE score is high. That should be doable with just a little shove in the right direction.

You can do it. I write essays very poorly, and I made it, so you don't need to be great, just ok.

Weezy said...


You are such an amazing person. Even now, you are thinking about whether we, your avid blog followers, are getting proper consideration.

I'm sending you my good vibes. Wish I could do more.


WC law mom said...


One thing that really opened up my viewpoint on the essays was that the essays go from general to eventually something more specific. MBE's jump to the specific immediately.

There's a right answer on the MBE. There's not really a "right" answer on the essay. You just go along, collecting as many points as you can via correct rule statements followed by very concise solid analysis. That's all.

In addition, parse out every... single... tiny... little... thing. It's rote. Don't try to be fancy. Be boring. Break every single thing down into separate bits.

Negligence: state the rule. Duty: State the rule. Analyze. Standard of Care: state the rule: analyze. Breach: State the rule: analyze. Causation: state the rule: state the rule for but/for cause: analyze:state the rule for proximate cause:analyze. Damages: state rule: analyze. Defenses: state any that apply and define: analyze, lather, rinse, repeat with additional defenses.

See how long and tedious and boring? Yep, that is the legal field. ;)

My scores shot up after really seeing how to avoid jumping to the conclusions and mixing issues so they get all muddled together.

OK, you have tons of people distributing advice. 'Nough said.

Now if I could just pull decent scores on the PTs....

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know why the bar makes you take the whole thing over again instead of just the parts you failed (e.g. passed MBEs, but not essays)? I believe it's different for other professional tests, like engineering and the CPA test. If it's simply to get the full amount of money out of us again, that just makes me bitter and sad.


Anonymous said...

The Bar requires you to take the entire test over because it would probably be a logistical nightmare to keep track of the partially passed status of thousands of applicants. In addition the standards for bar passage may change over time, as with the mpre, so they want to reserve the right to adjust the requirements. There are probably other reasons but that is my take.

Anonymous said...

I was following this blog ever since I found out about it a few days after the exam and wrote out my answers in the comment box. I am sorry to see you failed but glad to see you will not take no for an answer and are holding your head up high. You are handling a difficult situation well.

I think I did about 5 or 6 essays a day for a month near BARBRI's end. I also signed up for this website, I forget the name, "bar essays" or something. It has a HUGE database of prior exam questions and answers, you can see other examples of 65's, 75's, even 80's, (and 50's and 55's as well). That helped me gauge what I could and could not get away with. (It also scared me because sometimes there was really little or no difference between a 65 and a 75; probably was just whether the bar grader was falling asleep or not!)

Essay scores can be brought up. Low MBE scores are harder to improve, I think, so you are in good shape.

Something I noticed when studying was that if I was not using a fact, I was probably missing an issue. Every fact in an essay is important; every fact in an essay should be used in some way. This was also constantly repeated to us by our essay instructor in BARBRI. I still remember what he would tell us all the time: "spot the issue, make up a rule, and USE THE FACTS."

When I wrote an essay I would read the facts, I would underline the big facts that jumped out at me, then I would read again and scribble relevant rules in the margins as I read, underlining more and noting sub-issues. My rule notes were just simple one or two word notes that would cue me when I began writing what rule I wanted to use, like "neg" or "misrep" etc. etc. My outline then was essentially the fact pattern underlined with my notes in the margins. My essay itself was usually following the fact pattern with every issue being its own heading. This allowed me to usually skip making an outline. If it was really complicated, like a CP essay or something, I would write a very brief skeleton outline, but all in all this saved me 5 or so minutes from actually writing out a full outline which I never do. I don't know if this is good advice for everyone but it worked for me on the exam and throughout law school. This is where doing millions of practice essays comes in handy; you really learn a method that suits you and then the method almost becomes second nature. After you do enough essays you begin to realize that your essential approach can always be the same, and eventually this saves you valuable time.

That link you posted earlier about the "model" answers was interesting; did you read the interview with the bar grader? I thought was he said was very instructive:

The rules are not as important as how you analyze them with the facts. Like the first poster said, if you follow a basic IRAC outline for each issue you can train yourself to do this. Each issue is a heading, (headings are very important) first sentence can either be the issue again as a sentence or the basic rule, then the rule if you didn't say it in the first sentence, (be brief with the rule, it is not where the points are) and then the first words you type after are "in this case" or "applied to the facts here" or something that prompts you to begin analyzing. If you are having trouble analyzing just repeat the fact, like "bob tried to punch sue but missed, and even though sue said she was not afraid, an assault occurred because blah blah blah blah." If a rule like negligence has different elements, parse them out and analyze why the facts show those elements are present or not for each one.

Conclusions are essentially meaningless. There is no right or wrong answer.

PTs are a different animal and as suggested you should seek the advice of a personal tutor. But, the usual rule rings true: analysis analysis analysis. Use the facts! These exams are testing your ability to follow instructions and parse our the relevant facts and analyze them coherently. Good luck and I hope your next test is your last.

Anonymous said...

Me in a nutshell; 1)received a very low LSAT score, 2)barely got through a not so good CA accredited law school, 3)humbled and now humiliated, having flunked the bar exam twice, February 2008 and July 2008.

Facts about me; 1)i do not know the law and the nuances, as proven by a 93/200 MBE score followed by a 97/200 MBE score, 2)i do not know how to write and analyze properly, as proven by my essay scores of 60-60-60-50-55-55, followed by 50-50-52-45-70-55, 3)i do not know how to get through a library and fact file and analyze properly on the Performance Exams, as proven by my 55-70, folowed by a 60-60.

Question 1

What do I do right now moving forward, to learn the black letter law. (read my text books again, memorize the Conviser, do thousands of MBE's, write hundreds of exams, what?)

Question 2

What do I do right now moving forward to learn how to properly read, understand, issue spot, outline, write and analyze a fact pattern. (practice on my own, take a class, get a tutor, do online tutoring, what?)

Question 3

What do I do right now moving forward, to learn how to read a Performance Exam, understand what I am reading, issue spot it, outline it, write on it and analyze it. (practice on my own, take a class, get a tutor, do online tutoring, what?)

Mind you, I have taken and failed the exam twice already, so I am basically seeking the most efficient and most economic way to improve on my lack of necessary skills to pass this exam.

If you feel like chiming in and helping me out here, I would greatly appreciate it.

Happy Thanksgiving Day to all.

Gabriel N.

Anonymous said...

My first scores were not so great 1250 overall, and my essays were dreadful.

The second time I really zeroed in on the essays and PT (if you do the essays to death, you will learn the law well enough for the MBEs). Writing is 75 percent of the test. I will focus here on the essays; I did about 25 PTs.

First I wrote more than 250 essays, yes about 20 per topic, incl. civ pro, wills, trusts, etc.

I started out writing the essays untimed, do 5 of these for EACH topic, making sure they are in various subtopics. Then you take your answer and carefully compare to the sample answer, then you compare to a good, reliable outline. This is a diagnostic tool. You find out whether you know the rules fifth amendment right to counsel or fourth amendment searches, or both, or neither.

Then the real work begins. Do a miniumum of 250 timed essays. That's 250 hours, about 3 hours a day for about 80 days, or fewer days if you squeeze in 4 or 5 essays on weekends. You have two months and two weeks. You can do it.

I had two friends grade about 10 of the timed essays and give me detailed feedback; the rest I checked against practice answers.

I also wrote some of the same practice essays twice or three times. There is a rhythm that you fall into to pull off a good essay. I was so practiced that when I went in the second time, I was on automatic pilot.

You do not need to pay money to work with a tutor or sit in a class. Now is the time for the bare-bones zen approach.

Finally, ditch the laptop. Write your practice exams and your bar. I did write essays on Christmas Day and get writer's callouses and cramped hands, but I passed last February. I know you can too.

Anonymous said...

Question for all,

What is the equivalent to the Micromash Program (for MBE's)to both the Essay and Performance Test portions of the exam?

I do not have the finances available, to hire a private tutor, and I do not learn very well in generic classroom settings/programs.

Any information would be appreciated.

Gabriel N.

Anonymous said...

"Write your practice exams and your bar."

How can you compete with professional typists, paralegals and admin? Great analysis is directly related to time. You handwrite 3 sentences of analysis. The professional typist type's 10 sentences. This is one of the secrets, many passers who claim they are great at analysis, won't tell you. Once you learn how to write an essay or PT, it simply becomes a competitive physical exercise.

Because you (poster) were able to compete with professional typists, you may be a gifted handwriter(physically). The average handwriting speed is 30 wpm (1/2 to 1/3 the speed of most passers who type). This is the bar's dirty secret. I wish passers would come clean about this and quit claiming it is all just about analysis. Of course it is (primarily), but your 10 lines of average analysis is a 70. Another persons 3 lines of quality analysis is a 60. People need to think about that before they try handwriting or even typing. If you are a normal person who produces 30wpm (handwriting or typing), you really need to question your output. Can your 3 sentences of brilliant analysis compete with 10 lines of fair analytical prose?

Remember, the passer who claims they studied for 4 hrs per day for a month and was hitting 130 on his mbe's, wrote a handful of essays, and really didn't do much for the PT's, is not brilliant. They are simply a professional typist, but they won't tell you this. As such, be very suspicious of a person that says to "just model the CA Bar sample essays & Pts"). Two words for people who can do this; professional typist.


The Pink Elephant in the room that nobody will talk about.

Anonymous said...

GP, sorry you have to go through it again. I have decided to take a break from Feb and sign up instead for July.

Pink Elephant is right about professional typists - I noticed how fast the young applicants next to me type so I am disadvantaged immediately where speed is concerned. I also have problem writing boring - I get bored with the scripted style required and that demotivates me.

So, I have decided to take the time necessary to brush up my speed and practice writing boring so I can better my chances of passing in July 09. Taking very seriously the good advice of poster above about writing 20 essays per topic - I am okay with MBE but my essays and PT scores are inconsistent because as I said writing boring is extremely difficult for me!

GP, good luck with your Feb 09!

Anonymous said...

A friend sent me this story.
Only law students will truly find this hilarious.


Anonymous said...

To all who FAILED :
I failed 5 times and then decided to hang it up. Told myself I was too dumb and did not want to torture myself anymore. Then at the last minute, right before the last deadline to sign and pay that extra amount for being so late about registering for the bar, I said, "what the hell?" I'll take it again and maybe I'll get lucky and see some of those essays I've been practicing.

The difference this time around was that I was not stressed, didn't give a damn and hardly studied.

I passed on the 6th attempt !

I did not even count the days or give a damn because I just knew I would fail because I did not study.

Boy, did I fall off my chair when I read my results that I passed. I did not even bother checking the internet, just waited for the mail.

I think the other times, I had lost so much sleep and put too many hours studying. I studied so much I couldn't really focus anymore.

But GP, this is what everyone tells me. It wasn't the not giving a damn they think made the difference. It's taking it all those times. I studied hard the first 5 times and it must have somehow sunk in.

Just think of how more prepared you will be when you take this test for the 4th time.

You will pass. I know you will.

Anonymous said...


I'm a 42 year old who stopped practicing law for 10 yrs to do the kid thing full-time and took the CA bar in July and thank goodness, passed. I've been reading your posts pre-July taking the bar and obsessively post-July waiting for the results, and my heart goes out to you for having to go through this ordeal another time. Your blog has been such a positive part of my bar experience that, like many others, after logging in to see if I passed, I immediately logged in to your site to see if you did and was so frustrated to see that you didn't make it and was literally sick to my stomach.

Because the CA bar is such a bear, despite going to a top-tier law school and graduating very high in my class, I had no clue if I could pass or not. Way too many smart people have not passed to ever feel comfortable. (note to some of the prior posts -- I handwrote my exam since I am a dinosaur and went to law school pre-laptop -- so it is possible to pass doing the handwriting thing -- that being said, I would have used a laptop the second time around had I failed).

I know you have received many offers of assistance from others. But, I too, would be happy to informally read and critique your practice essays or PTs as you gear up for the Feb exam. If you are interested, I can give you more info about my credentials off-line and clearly this would be for no cost. But, I am a decent writer and I think that carried me through doing this bar despite a huge time lapse between this and my last bar. Your blog was truly a savior as I felt completely isolated from the rest of the world trying to study for the bar amidst the chaos of my husband and kids, working part-time and living in Truckee, where there are no other folks taking the darn bar.

So, if you want any random extra assistance, let me know. And, if not, I am pulling for you with all my might in February.


Anonymous said...

Laura, how did you study / practice the PT's? Did you write out practice Q's? Any macro advice re PT approach?

Thanks and congratulations!

Anonymous said...

GP & Gabriel:

GP, I have been following your blog for some time, and truly feel for you and Gabriel N. I just wanted to pass some information on that the two of you may find helpful. I externed with the Honorable Judge Takasugi in Los Angeles. He is a wonderful man, who overcame great odds (Japanese internment camp) to ultimately become a Federal Judge. He currently offers a free bar class to people who have failed the bar multiple times. This is a great opportunity, especially since Gabriel mentioned that she cannot afford a private tutor, and I am sure that your funds are stretched as well. You can find a link to the program, and how to apply at: http://www.ccba-la.org/takasugi.html.

Gabriel -- you sound so discouraged. Do not give up. As a wise man (??) at Barbri once said, "EVERYBODY passes" :).


Anonymous said...

GP - obviously with a raw MBE of 135 (that scales to about 1510) you know enough law. Also, it's clear you understand that your weakness is not the info, but getting it down on paper in a form that the bar examiners are looking for.

Two words - private tutor.

But, find someone with a reputation for helping people like you, who have struggled with the writing, and been able to turn them around to be successful. You don't want someone who has coached Harvard Law graduates, you want someone who has taken third stringers and gotten them into the starting lineup.

Anonymous said...

Dear GP aka soon-to-be ESQ
A private tutor is a good idea BUT don't go with one unless you do your homework first! I went with "Bar with Bobby" in Los Angeles and paid lots of money (over $6000!)and some students paid even up to $8000! He was selling me hope and I took it hook, line and sinker.

Find a tutor that has experience, is dependable, reliable and knowledgable. The tutor gave us mini outlines that he passed off as his own. I discovered later it was his notes from BarBri's course. The essays we had to write were chosen from the BarBri essay book and he expected our answers to be a "rewritten" version of their answers. He also didn't know the law and expected us to obtain our own material for the new subjects. What did I pay him for? I expected him to know it.

A private tutor should also be available. This tutor was never available because he came in at 11 a.m. and left at 4:30 p.m. because he had to take the bus. What happened if I needed to review over my essay after 4:30 p.m.? He was suppose to stay in the office till 7 p.m. Calling was not allowed.

I should have left but it was already too late because the bar review course require payment in full. He wouldn't give me a refund either. It was 4 1/2 weeks to the bar so I continued. I regret that.

So please make sure you have actual testimonies from students WHO PASSED. Do your research! Ask questions, see what materials are being used. Hire a tutor that inspires you to pass not one that treats you as a second class student.

Anonymous said...

Dear GP,
It sounds as if you just need to have someone read your essays. Practice does make perfect but have someone grade them for you. Try Flemmings or Paul Phau. Flemmings 8 weeks course is amazing and I know 7 attorneys who taken his course and passed. Some of friends took Paul Phau and also passed. They are essay driven. Tagasuki is more law oriented and it sounds like you already know the law based on your MBE's.

Let an experience bar reviewer review your essays. It makes the world of difference.

Good luck!

Steve Zikman said...

Hi GP,

I am an environmental attorney originally from Canada and it took me three times to pass the CA bar. It's definitely a journey and you will get there. Stick with it.

Feel free to apply for my private tutoring/coaching tuition scholarship. The deadline is Dec 8th. More info is at www.strategicbarcoach.blogspot.com. I also invite you to email or call me if you have any questions: steve@zikman.com or 626-441-0405.
All the best! Steve

Anonymous said...

Maybe it's just me, but a guy who says it took him 3 times to pass the bar is not my idea of an "expert" on how to pass the bar.

Hey, GP, I am a Canadian IP attorney who passed on the first try (February no less), and I'd be willing to help you for free - dead serious. Email me at ascus@sbcglobal.net and we can talk about it in more detail.

p.s.I used to be a University Prof. so teaching an learning is something I have a little experience in.

BTW - This offer is only open to GP.

Anonymous said...

I handwrote and passed. I've heard handwriters actually pass at a higher level than typists. When I handwrite I tend to aim towards making every word important as opposed to zipping through it like a racehorse. If you stay calm and manage your time well handwriting can assist you in making meaningful analysis as opposed to plopping a ton of meandering conclusions on your screen. But thats just me.

GP, if I were you I'd try a conjunction of handwriting and analysis heavy as opposed to rule heavy essay writing.

Anonymous said...

Also, the words "because, here, and in this case" should be all over your essays and PTs.

Anonymous said...

Hello Everyone,

It took me 6 times before I finally passed and I hv been coming to this blog for over a year. I doubt it is from lack of preparation on why repeaters don't pass. I do think test anxiety has a huge roll. I know I suffered from it but it wasn't until my last attempt that I practiced for that as well. My 2 cents is for the last month when you practice your essays and mbez is to do everything as a session of the test. It takes alot of time to put the test together yourself,but, it is worthwhile.
Every morning I went to the library I got one fot he study rooms where they had a blackboard or something and i would write my outlines out for example: Criminal procedure well they ask questions covering these amendments 4,5,etc.etc. 4th amendment as it relates to crim pro is.....the most crucial part is what other areas can be asked. con law/crim K/article 9
it might take me 30-60 min depending on the topics i was working for the day. Bottom line is that i was writing from memory/owning it instead of the flash cards/or reading outlines to make sure i had it down. it took some time but it was good for me.
In terms of the practice, I would do half an exam under time conditions alternating each day from morning to afternoon. I was more comfortable and as I got closer to the exam. Did it help, I did pass but who knows, still test anxiety was an issue just like learning the law that I incorporated into my daily practice...keep grindin'

Laura said...

To the person who asked about PTs,

I didn't write out a lot of PTs -- but, I most definitely did for the regular essays. With PT's, I'm not sure you gain much by writing them out (state subject essays -- definitely, as the more you right the rule statements for each subject, the more they are imprinted in memory). That being said, I think PTs are the best place to improve if you've failed the bar before since there is nothing you can do substantively to prepare for PTs. What you can do, is outline them and be comfortable with the various writing styles that might occur. And, what is critical there, as in law school tests, is to be able to write or type quickly. I spent less time outlining than suggested and then wrote my butt off. I really think being able to get a lot on paper helped a lot especially with the 2 PTs we had as I could have written a lot more than I did had I had the time.

Frankly, I think if you were one of the students in law school who did well on essays and got the IRAC concept, you will do well on PTs. However, I studied with several colleagues who were really smart and did not get the law school essay concept and thus did not do as well as they should have gradewise in law school. If that is your reality, I think it's probably worth investing in a PT seminar/course.

In terms of general prep, because I lived too far away to take any live course, I bought the PMBR and BarBri courses second hand on Ebay and also paid full price for Micromash. I did absolutely every single micromash MBE on the computer until I got them all correct (because I wanted to get my $ back if I failed) and I did every single MBE in the PMBR and Barbri materials as well -- but definitely not getting them all right. I did my own substantive outlines after looking at all the outlines I had and I listed to the PMBR MBE tapes (downloaded from CDs) on my Ipod or in my car every free moment. I listened to nothing but PMBR tapes in the car and grew to love the contract guy from Davis and find the evidence guy quite boring.

If I had failed the exam this time, I would definitely have invested in Baressays.com, but I hadn't heard about them when studying. At least, it's a relatively small outlay compared to the rest of the materials.

I think it's a horrible, depressing process and you are worn down from the get-go because of the crummy passing stats. I am pretty decent at writing and can't promise that I can make any difference, but I have enough empathy for those of you who have to go through this again, that I would really be happy to give you a writing critique of an essay -- PT or substantive -- if you want. It seems to me that a lot of folks who fail really know the law or should from all the hours spent studying, but get in trouble in their organization or writing ability.

Best of luck to all in February -- Laura

Greg said...

In response to Laura, I tend to disagree on the PTs. I think practicing PTs is perhaps more important than practicing essays, especially if you you're already good at writing law school exams.

Why? There's not that much difference between writing a winning law school exam and writing a bar exam essay. There's a bit more exaggeration in bringing out issues and addressing them and some exaggeration in formatting, but the key skills are the same.

PTs, on the other hand, have little to do with law school essays. There's no "correct" law on a PT. PTs are all about technique, and practicing at least one of each type of PT is important to get the technique. Outlining a PT is a waste of time, because the task memo gives you the outline, anyway. The keys to answering PTs are: 1) read the task memo; 2) read the format instructions, if they exist (July 2008 was weird, in that neither PT had them); and 3) write the memo according to the task memo and instructions.

Most importantly, if one can master those tasks, there's nothing else to be done in preparation for the PTs. There's no law to learn. There are no rules to memorize. PTs, if looked upon properly, should be the easiest points on the bar exam.

Anonymous said...

I understand why we all focus on passing the bar, but thousands of newly licensed attorneys are about to enter the California market in December, 2008 in an economy facing significant unemployment. I wonder how many who have passed the bar in the recent past have actually found employment as attorneys in California.

Anonymous said...

I was hoping that someone would have chimed in by now and answered my questions, but I was mistaken at that, so I thought perhaps I should ask my questions one at a time, so here is the first question:


I graduated law school in May 2007. I took and failed the February 2008 exam. I again took and failed the July 2008 exam. It is my contention, that I am lacking the required substantive knowledge to pass this thing, as evidenced by my scoring 93/200 and 97/200 on the MBE portion of the exam. I will be looking to take the July 2009 exam again for the third and hopefully last time.


What do I do with myself, to better learn the Black Letter Law, so that I can escalate my MBE scores to about 140. (Do I restudy my text books, do I study the Micromash or Adaptibar outlines, WHAT???)

It is IMPOSSIBLE for anyone to pass this animal, unless they have a grasp of the law. I don't seem to have that necessary grasp, therefore I have fallen on my face trying to succeed on both the MBE's and in isuue spotting and writing essays.

What should I do for the next three months to escalate my understanding and usage of the Black Letter Law?

Thanks for your input.

Gabriel N.

Anonymous said...


Sign up for adaptibar and do at least fifty questions per day. Every time you miss a question, read the answer. At the end of each week, go back and read the answers for all questions you missed that week.

Do a 100 question exam at the beginning and end of the week and chart your results on excel to see that you are making steady progress.

Do one subject per week and then repeat the cycle. If you cannot get your MBE up past 120, do not take the exam in FEB but continue to prepare for July. Walking in the room without getting your MBE score above 120 is just a recipie for disappointment.

Good Luck!

Anonymous said...


I forgot to add. Take the PMBR short course just before the exam so you can get a real idea of what your score will be. The practice exam in that course is curved against the same people you will be taking that exam with.

Go get em!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your two responses. the one thing that concerns me about Adaptibar is this: they claim to have the whole universe of MBE questions at their disposal, yet they only have 1250 total questions that you can practice on. Certainly the CA Bar Examiner has a lot more questions in their tool box to test from than the 1250. secondly, if you are to do 50 per day, that means that you would have completed them within 25 days and than you would be working from memory and that's not really a good thing when it comes to improving your ability to learn the nuamces of the thousands of questions available to the examiner, no?

Please share your thoughts with me regarding this concern of mine.

Thanks again for chiming in.

Gabriel N.

Anonymous said...

To all the people that pass the bar on 3+ attempt.....
I really don't get it...you have most likely lost that job offer that you had out of law school ( if you had one). You obviously don't know how to analyze like a lawyer -otherwise you would pass right away or the second time out.
I mean, most of the people who do not pass go to those garbage law schools that shouldn't even be allowed to exist. The graduates of those schools can never pass the bar, and if they do, by some miracle, they never get any decent offers. Look at the pass rate that of ABA schools- it's like, what 75%, this year?
My point is, don't waste your money, your time ,and your health- try something else.
(No hard feelings)

Anonymous said...

GP, like the last poster said, tou may as well just hang it up right now, why even bother?

The Grand Poobah said...

Anons: Of course. You're right. Pass the Hemlock please. Whatever was I thinking? Now, where did I put that application for the AADP (American Association of Dead People?)

I wonder if they still have my reservation on file for the space for my rocking chair on the front porch of the Useless Person's Home?

It looks like I better call Jonathan and Greg and tell them to go ahead and hire someone else for the work they're waiting for me to do when I pass the bar exam.

And I better call the City and the County Clerk so they can cancel my business license and my FBN because I'll never be able to get my business off the ground now that I have failed the bar exam three times. I mean, jeez, why would I want to hire myself when I'm obviously so useless?

In fact, I'm so disappointed that, at 51 years of age, I won't be able to work 60+ hours per week at the local BigLawFirm, Inc. that I'll just have to resign myself to living on state aid, for what's left of my miserable life. Maybe I can take over nearest street corner and sell drugs for Thunderbird money.

In fact, I know of a very nice freeway off-ramp that's not occupied. It's in the shade most of the day and there's a Starbuck's close by in case I get sleepy. I hear a guy can make $500+ per day, tax free, just by holding out his hand.

Yeah, that's the ticket!

Anonymous said...

GP, you good humor is not lost on me. I appreciate your zest and gumption. Failing the bar does not mean you will make a bad attorney, but let me ask you this : if your friend was about to have heart surgery, would you recommend someone who went to a correspondence medical school and who took the boards 4 times or someone who went to a top tier school and aced the boards on the first try?
I was a bar grader, not so recently. (An actual bar grader, not the apprentice.) Just wanted to figure out what the mystery was all about. Guess what? No mystery=(
As i was grading those blue books on the BART, on the way to work, from the first glance i could tell a passing score from non-passing. Analysis of the facts, that the ticket. I never got in trouble with the committee for passing too many essays.
Again, my point is- you have a gift, people are drawn to you, to your good nature and zeal. However a lawyer, you are probably not.
Signed- No Hard Feelings.

Anonymous said...

I guess I am a bit confused as to why, this bar exam grader wasted valuable minutes of his worthless life, inviting himself into this blog, that seems to be reserved for LOSERS only, as he puts it. Can it be that he himself sucks as an attorney? can it be that he himself is unemployed? can it be that he has been disbarred by now, if for nothing more, perhaps just for having a shity attitude towards the human race?

Listen you !@#$ sucker, spend your time eloquently somewhere else, not invading blogs such as this one, where people who are hurting from having failed the bar exam in the past, are trying to help each other out, to the best that they could.

For your information you piece of shit of a human being that you are, some of us have excellent opportunities waiting for us after the bar exam. I for one did not go to a ABA school and I barely got by, yet I had the privilege of doing two intenships with one of the most reputable sports agents in the sports, perhaps you know him as Jerry Maguire in the movie at leasrt.

Lastly go to hell, you piece of shit of a human being, if I ever needed an attorney, your type would be the last kind that I would hire to represent me. Now hop back on to your Bart and blow off. i really do hope that I am speaking and representing everyone's view on this blog in dealing with an asswipe like you.

Anonymous said...

Dear Poster,

I take great offense at your post. For one, i never called anyone a looser for failing the exam.
Second, i am merely expressing my opinion, based on reading countless essays, that a person who doesn't pass on 1-2 attempts is probably will not make a good lawyer.
Third, i do practice law, and in my practice i come across a wide spectrum of attorneys. To be a great attorney you need to think quick on your feet, so to say. You are presented with a problem and you must solve it quick. On the bar exam you prepare for 4-6 months, to solve a one hour long problem.
Finally ,there is really no reason for you vitriolic post: i do not wish to insult anyone, i am merely suggesting that if a person can not pass an exam that is a minimum qualification for an attorney, perhaps it was not meant to be.

Anonymous said...

Like I said before, Mr. or Mrs. "past bar exam grader". you really are an asshole who has no life what so ever. The few great lawyers that I know, certainly do not spend their free time, reading blogs such as these, when they have some time off. Usually lawyers who are great at what they do, spend their free time loving and playing with their families and friends, having sex with their counterpart and having more sex with their counterpart. Like I said before, blow the !@#$ off, you are not invited or wanted among the underprivileged and underachievers.

The Grand Poobah said...

No Hard Feelings: You're partly right. I'm not an attorney as you picture an attorney. I will be an attorney, however. And, because I have high personal standards for the work I do, whatever type of law I decide to practice, I'll be a good attorney.

It's a little disturbing to me that many (most?) kids who become attorneys have such disdain for anyone who doesn't fit their idea of what an attorney is supposed to be. They have this picture in their head, and if you don't resemble that picture you shouldn't be a lawyer.

It's no wonder the big firms keep associates away from clients for a few years. Almost all of them need an attitude adjustment.

I'm sure there are exceptions, but ...

Anonymous said...

I think it is great that there are a variety of bloggers here, including gainfully employed attorneys.

However, I agree with some of the posts that question why a successful attorney would spend his time reading the posts here and then offer such harsh criticism to those of us that are trying to pass the bar.

All of us share something wonderful in common - we must love the law. We all realized it was not easy. Even being a doctor is easier. Their passing rate is 90 %. You just need the money to enroll in medical school and graduate, then you are home free.

Being an attorney, especially in California is very very difficult, especially since a law degree, from any school, even those very expensive ABA schools, is not worth a shit if you don't pass the bar.

John F Kennedy did not pass the bar until his 3rd attempt. Are you suggesting that maybe he should have hung it up and thrown in the towel too?

The people that are reading and following these posts want so badly to enter a profession of their dreams.

Perhaps you should remember that before raining on their parades or word your criticism so there is not so much of a bite.

Your comments are appreciated however. But as an attorney, I am sure you have the "ability" to write in a diplomatic way.


kris said...


I think it's all about learning the formula they want to see and cranking that out. It can't be about brains, because look at some of the aholes that have passed CalBar! ;->

I get the feeling BarBri ain't cutting it - and that there are many charlatans out there willing to take one's cash.

I got lucky in my jurisdiction. A few friends recommended a particular Bar school and I never looked back. I practiced and practiced their stuff and got feedback.

I know I don't have unlimted funds but people like Bar Graders Essays etc might be able to assist with nailing the formula.

BTW: I have NO idea whether Bar Graders Essays are any good. I mention them for illustrative purposes only (!)

All the best GP and others who are still working hard.

Anonymous said...

To the anonymous bar exam grader who posted such relevant and astute advice:

It's spelled loser, not looser. Got it? Guess they didn't teach you how to spell at bar exam grading school.

Anonymous said...

The bar exam gtader is likely a middle school student playing on the computer. He or she decided to jerk the chains of want to be attorneys. Don't pay attention to this baby.

Anonymous said...

Thank you folks, we have arrived at the same conclusion about this make believe bar exam grader. he is nothing more than a !@#$%^& baby, with no people skills and no true love for the game, sort of speak. So there you go bar exam grader, we are all going to plow ahead and pass this beast at some point in time, like it or not.

Anonymous said...

To bar grader: I can't count on both hands the people I've known who have moved to NY and other states (and passed 1st time) after failing CA once or more. I also know some that immediately moved out of state after graduation to avoid the CA Bar. They are all practicing lawyers. Although not factually true, you should at least qualify your statements by saying you feel that those who don't pass CA the first time may not be suited to practice in CA. Moreover, based on your criteria that JD's should pass on first try, you must admit that most who fail the CA Bar are certainly capable of practicing in Utah or even NY. Finally, remember that America is littered with practicing lawyers who can't pass the CA Bar.

Anonymous said...

Hi GP,

I have been reading your blog over the past year, and I was wondering what method you used to boost your MBE score. I was using Adaptibar and scoring 75-80%, just to be disappointed with 119 on the last bar exam. I am very interested to hear what you used. Thanks so much for your help.

Anonymous said...

"you would be working from memory and that's not really a good thing when it comes to improving your ability to learn the nuances"


That is the point.

Once you have seen a trick once, it is easier to spot the next time.

Also, though the questions may differ, the nuances are universal.

If you can remember - this is a question about the dormant commerce clause, you are doing better than if you say. Oh yeah, the milk question is answer C...

Best of luck to you!

The Grand Poobah said...

Anon 8:30: Well, I'm sort of operating from a position of strength there. I've always been very good at remembering details. As a result, I've always done reasonably well on the MBEs.

My score on the three exams I've taken have been 128, 123, and 135. I attribute the jump from 123 to 135 to the Emanuel MBE program. They've written a bunch of MBEs to reflect the style that the NCBEX has gone to in the aftermath of the PMBR fiasco.

Distance Law said...

The past bar exam grader stated:

“You obviously don't know how to analyze like a lawyer -otherwise you would pass right away or the second time out.”

So, should you pass after two attempts, it will not be because of a lawyer-like analysis, but because you were lucky? If that is the case then we have the intelligent ones passing the bar through lawyer-like analysis on the first or second attempt, and the rest, who are not so intelligent, but pass the bar by luck, albeit disguised as lawyer-like analysis.

As a bar grader, and when you are confronted with a lawyer-like analysis, how do you tell the difference between those truly worthy of being a lawyer, and those who are just lucky? When you are looking at the essay, you have no background information on the applicant, so as far as you know he could be a Harvard, or Yale grad, or he could be from a “garbage law schools that shouldn't even be allowed to exist.” There is no way to tell the difference.

As for those who “aced the boards on the first try,” I would suggest that a great many of them have most likely done the same throughout their lives. They have a self-awareness of, and high regard for, their own intelligence, which is reinforced by others around them. Many have gone through life where they were the smartest person in the room. They knew it, and so did everyone else. Some would say such people were lucky to have been born that way. However, such people have most likely experienced little, if any, failure. When failure does occur for them, they tend to give up easily.

How a person reacts to failure is through intelligence, experience and luck. While one may be able to get by with only one of those, I would not want to depend on it. Should I search for a doctor or a lawyer, I want a guy with a good mix between the three, because life isn’t fair, and failure happens. Reaction to that failure tells me more about people than degrees on the wall, their class rank, or how many times they took the bar.



Anonymous said...

To GP: The reason they keep associates away from clients has nothing to do with their people skills. It's just cheaper to bill. It's all about $.
There is no "picture of an attorney", and if there was one no one would care.
My reason for posting here is not to persuade or dissuade you from becoming a lawyer- you already made that decision. I am merely questioning whether it is worth for someone in you position to keep investing your time and money, only to ultimately get a 45K offer, after spending (at this point 2 years) trying to pass.

To John: My friend, the reason doctors pass the boards with the 90% rate is because they do not have unaccredited or distance medical schools. The weed people out early on. Now, i know nothing about GP or where he went to school but looking at his results and the essay average ,I am willing to bet that he went to an unaccredited law school ( by ABA standards). I feel that is is extremely unfair to take someones money only to produce such result. Same goes for "bar tutors".
My friend, the bar exam tests your minimum qualifications. It is not a difficult exam, don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Look at the numbers- this year it was what 75% of all the ABA, fist time takers? There are states with the union that have pass rate lower then that. The reason the bar pass rate is so low here is because it gets diluted by non-Aba, correspondence school folk. My friend, i submit to you, yes, those people may break through by some miracle, or after 6+ time maybe pass the bar, but is it wroth spending valuable time only to get such a small offer?
P.S. JFK Jr. ( i assume you meant Jr.) never took CBX; he was licensed in NY

To DL; You wrote :"When you are looking at the essay, you have no background information on the applicant, so as far as you know he could be a Harvard, or Yale grad, or he could be from a “garbage law schools that shouldn't even be allowed to exist.” There is no way to tell the difference."
Don't jump to extremes, lets not talk about Harvard or Yale or Boalt or UCLA - i assure you you when you read their analysis there is not questions whether to pass. Lets talk about Santa Clara or Southwestern or any other T2 school- the differences is adherence to the call of the question and analysis of the facts to the law that applies. As i said before, i don't know anything about GP but i bet he is a recipient of a non-aba diploma. Not passing judgment on him, merely going out on the limb, based on the the score info provided by him.
Finally, to all the hateful annons: Friends, the reason you fail is because you misread, and straight make up facts. Examples: I never said i am current bar grader - i said i graded in the past; Details to non issues - it doesn't matter how you spell loser- you understood what i meant; Ridiculous assumptions- i never called anyone an underachiever- that is a label you put on yourself.
Signed- No Hard Feelings

The Grand Poobah said...

No Hard Feelings: I don't think anyone is disputing that there is some truth to your argument.

However, would you walk into an AA meeting and tell everyone in attendance that they are nothing but a bunch of drunks and losers and that they should give up now and go back to being drunks and losers because there's no chance they'll ever ascend to the upper echelons of high society?

I hope not.

And while my analogy is not exact, is illustrates my point.

Taking your proposal to its logical conclusion would result in the closing of all non-ABA schools. The intent of the State in passing the legislation allowing less-than-ABA schools to operate in California was to open up the practice of law to a segment of the population other than that to which the practice of law was currently available.

So, with all due respect, allow me to suggest that you take your argument to your local politician. Perhaps he will give your ideas a better reception that that which you received here.


Anonymous said...

No Hard Feelings,

Like I said before and like everyone has already come to realize; 1)you are full of shit about being a practicing lawyer and a past exam grader, 2)you are an asshole with no life what so ever, 3)you probably should spend some of your 24 hours a day of free time, looking the ads on Craigslist and see if you can get laid once in a while, that in itself will uncork your fucking asshole personality. Like it has been said to you before, !@#$ off and find another blog to invade.

jkaiho said...

i have passed the az bar and the ca bar both on the first try and i am not as smart as some of my friends who failed. the best advice i have ever gotten is to pick your battles and study strategically. focus on the big issues and screw the small ones like rule against perp, and those areas that are a few points on the multiple choice. focus on the essays but dont beat yourself up if your essays dont match perfectly the answers given by barbri. the test sucks, but you only need to get a C on the damn thing. good luck. iam now hopefully moving to CA soon. Any advice on finding a legal job in the LA area?

Anonymous said...

No Hard Feelings:

You are truly being disingenuous. If you were being honest with yourself FIRST OF ALL, you would see that you are attempting to portray yourself with an air of superiority. However, maybe you haven't done sufficient intro- spection to truly be honest with yourself.

After all the negative feedback you are getting, you still insist on treading the same ground, i.e. touting (ever so subtly) how great you are and belittling your readers here.

You are full of yourself. Did you know the Dean at Stanford did not pass the first time? Oh, forget it. This is about YOU. Not GP or people from unacredited lawschools. This is about YOU telling everyone how superior you are from the masses.

You do it subtly which makes your conduct that much more deplorable. You know exactly what you are doing. Your posts are not meant to help anyone here, but just another opportunity for your own self-aggrandizement.

Anonymous said...

One more thing, No Hard Feelings:

Your theory about passing the CA Bar is flawed because it fails to account for the low pass rate of already licensed attorneys. I believe their rate is at tops about 35%. I am sure they did not all go to unaccredited long distance law schools. But hey, you came here with your personal "I LOVE MYSELF ALOT" agenda.

Anonymous said...

To GP: I am not lobbying to close the unaccredited law schools. I tried to say it subtly but i guess no one here understands it- abandon your law school style of analysis and adopt one of the ABA. That is the only way to pass the exam. There is no trick to it...really there is none.
P.S. Your count down says that you are taking it for the last time?

To reasonable annons: It is not a theory, my friend- it is the truth that is in the numbers. Practicing attorneys always have a hard time passing the bar in other jurisdictions 1) they do not have time to study to local nuances and 2) they dont take it seriously.
I am not here to put anyone down- i'm asking you to re-evaluate your choices.
To the unreasonable annons: What can i say that haven't been said already by your letters from the state bar?

The Grand Poobah said...

No Hard Feelings: I think you've hit the nail on the head as far as my having to write to the graders expectations and not my own. After 30+ years of writing for pleasure, if you will, I'm having a difficult time adapting to the Bar's style. It would be easier if my school hadn't reinforced my current writing style by giving me good grades on my written work. But that's one of the trade-offs I had to make when I decided to attend law school at this point in my life.

But it is what it is at this point. I'll adapt, improvise, overcome. My timer says this is the last time I'm taking it because I intend to do what it takes to get a passing score. Like I said earlier, if I didn't intend to pass I would just pack it up and make my reservation at the nearest freeway off-ramp.

Cheers. It's all good.


Liz said...

Got my scores back last week, and I failed because I was whipped by the third day. I was passing on the first 3 essays, CPT, and MBE. The third day I had convinced myself that I had bombed the MBE (not!) and when I got up to use the restroom during the test in Ontario and saw all 2,000 of us, I started to think "there's no way!"

Is there any hope for me in Feb? Anyone have my same experience? Any successful outcomes? If not, I feel better just throwing my experience out into cyberspace. :-)

Thanks again for this blog GP, you're a rock star.

Anonymous said...


Perseverance!! You've got it. It will serve you. I do recommend something for the test anxiety. While doing more essays/PTs will be good, if you have bad test anxiety is may be deep-seated it may be what's getting in the way. I recommend self-hypnosis CDs. I had test anxiety as well as and in addition to doing tons of MBEs, essays, and PTs, I listened to self-hypnosis CDs nightly. While I still had anxiety when I went in the testing room, it didn't control me. I also recommend visualization techniques. I'm serious athlete and have used visualization techniques for years prior to competitions. I don't have scientific proof that it help me succeed in such endeavors, there has been some research indicating that visualization and hypnosis helps with that extra mental edge you need (in addition to hard training!. Here's a link the CD I used. Good luck:

No Hard Feelings said...

Friends, please don't get caught up in the minutia..self hypnosis? Give me a break.
You are adults for Pete's sake...=)

Shocked and Motivated said...

We're going to slay this dragon! I want you to pass this beast of an exam.

By the way, I'm a big fan.

Anonymous said...

This "No Hard feelings" guy is so arrogant. It cracks me up. That is a guy I'd never hire. Oh, and I'm a partner at a prestigious law firm in the SF Bay Area. My daughter just found out she didn't pass the July bar. She went to a T1 school. She'll make a great attorney. Don't pay any attention to NHF.

Anonymous said...

Question for The Grand Poobah family:

Have any of you used the following methods, to successfully pass the respective parts of the CBX?

1. Bar Graders for the Essay portion of the exam.

2. Micromash for the MBE portion of the exam.

3. Bar Essays for the Performance Test portion of the exam.

Your input would be greatly appreciated.

kris said...

oh F-off "no hard feelings"

Top football (soccer) teams in England use it with the vew that ANY advantage is worth pursuing.

BTW, speaking of football, I think I'll take advice from Alex Ferguson:

"Only true champions come out and show their worth after defeat- and I expect us to do that"

Anonymous said...

Here's my tip:

Since you're okay with MBE, don't spend as much time on them. Keep reviewing your outlines 1 subject a day and do a few practice questions each week to keep your head fresh.

Then buy the bar breakers books by ADACHI. They will teach you a step by step writing approach. Work on your writing - it's weighed more and it's your greatest weakness.

And don't focus on what you've done well - I think that makes you focus on what you think you're good at, and not what you need to be good at. This is the biggest problem I think you have and I've mentioned it before on this blog (I found this blog while studying for the bar this summer).

Anonymous said...

Dear GP,

I just passed the bar after an embarassing 5th try. You and I have similar tech backgrounds and did law as a second career, so I hope you will consider my advice. Yes, absolutely you need to focus on your writing. But, you need to hire a tutor who actually reads every practice essay your write and gives you feedback. I hired a tutor this past round, and made him read and give feedback on every essay. He also taught me invaluable time management and issue spotting strategies as well as most importantly...formatting. I was a total cynic at first, but let me tell you, when the clock started ticking on day 1, I owned that exam.

I have so much confidence in you and will keep my fingers crossed for Feb!

BTW, the tutor I worked with was Paul Pfau. I would not recommend him to anyone with a weak knowledge of the law, but if you are strong on the law and just need to learn timing and writing strategies then I would definitely check him out.

Anonymous said...

Not sure if you've seen this book, but it was essential to my success passing the bar the first time. It will set you back some coin.


It's a great template to memorize, then just fill in the blanks with the facts of the question presented to you.

Just write, write, write again, and write some more. Use the book each time you write an essay to memorize her templates.

Anonymous said...

I am in the same boat as well, taking the bar exam again this Feb. This will be my 7th time. I missed passing this time by 25 points!! My Written Raw Score was in the 600's but MBE raw score was 101. Any suggestions on how to bring up the MBE portion? I have used Adaptibar, Barbri MBE books, PMBR books, and the BarPassers MBE books in the past. I have even written out the wrong rule statements and reviewed them. I feel like there has to be some strategy for passing the MBEs.

GP you will pass this time, I know a lot of people who passed on their 4th try, there is hope! I think you really need a positive attitude and not look at the bar as something which is overwhelming but something which is completely attainable. Once I changed my perspective, I felt that all those hours of studying became easier.

To all who have passed and who are attorneys, congrats. There are so many of us on the other side who are dying for that State Bar Number! Good luck all and happy studying, february 2009 we are all going to do it!!

Anonymous said...

Nice of so many posters to recommend different courses, tutors, and books for passing the bar. This is advertising for the promoters of each of these courses, tutors, and books, and you should send your checks to The Grand Poobah. Many of us were born at night but not last night. Stop the phony promos.

Anonymous said...

Just missed on my third try. My score was 1388. At least I am getting closer, but the test sure doesn't take prisoners. Looks like the first essay cost me a pass. Oh well there is always February.

No Hard Feelings said...

Dear Kris: Why do you insist of swearing? Is your lexicon that limited? Why not debate in a civilized matter?
British football clubs can afford to fail- even in failure they have fans who bring them, their hard earned pounds. As for repeaters, its usually not the same.
Coincidentally, i don't like that the bar releases it's statistics. If you pass who cares how many people pass with you....and if you fail, does it really make you feel better that there are more people in your shoes?

Anonymous said...

Hey GP: just wanted to show you some love...still rooting for you.
All the very best.
(Stripper works a bar exam pole)

Anonymous said...

Perhaps he uses the webname "no hard feelings" because he actually has none in his nether region - thoughts? Doh?

Andrew said...

Hey Bro,

I took the bar with you the first time in July 2007; I think that is when you started this website.

At any rate, I know you have heard it a million and three times, but: I am really rooting hard for you.

I love your attitude; hard work ALWAYS pays off. Doesn't it? Shit, it always has for me.

Be easy,


Z-Brilliance said...

GP: Keep fighting. I studied like crazy and luckily passed on my first try. When I get sworn in on Thursday I will be thinking of people like you who will eventually join me in the legal profession.

One thing I must say, the people who are complaining about the typers and are handwriting their exams: grow up. Those typers were not the ones who made you fail the exam. The other thing I want to point out is just about every test center in the state was either computer or written, they didn't have typists and writers in the same centers for the most part or even the same room.

We live in an age where anyone under the age of 60 should at least have experience with a typewriter. I don't type extraordinarily fast, but I enjoy using the computer because I can copy and paste my words around. I walked out of the bar exam believing that if I did pass, it was because I aced the Performance Test sections, which are the easiest sections on the entire bar exam.

I cannot believe people want to blame computers: no one forces you hand-writers to take it by hand. Welcome to the 21st century, do you think a judge is going to accept a handwritten motion? Enroll in a typing class, and learn how to type.

I take great offense at someone suggesting that the computer was responsible for me passing, and that I am a professional typist. I studied my butt off for this test. The computer didn't have any part of it.

I don't know why people do not do well on the PTs. Especially this go-around. They were two simple memos. All you did was follow directions, it had little to nothing to do with the law. If you follow the directions you can do really well on the PTs.

The BARBRI guy even mentioned that he believed non-lawyers would do better on PTs than lawyers because non-lawyers would read the directions and follow them, while lawyers would argue with the directions and do things not on the directions and put in unnecessary info.

GP, you can pass the exam. You already have a solid MBE score. I don't know what mine was, but when I took the practice MBE with BarBri, I bombed it. I scored just under 50% right for the exam. I was crushed. In my life I have always been good at standardized tests and multiple choice especially. I got a 172 on the LSAT and taught LSAT classes for Princeton Review. And you did better than I probably did on the MBE section.

But on the essays, what do you think you missed? As I sat at the table of test-takers before the PT began eating lunch, we all went over stuff. I mentioned things that everyone cringed at forgetting and then they mentioned things I cringed at. Apparently I got enough of it right.

Anonymous said...

Hi GP,

My friend, did you get my email on Sunday, after we spoke? Will you be mailing that out to me? Thanks a lot my friend. Have a great day.

Gabriel N.

Anonymous said...


"I am in the same boat as well, taking the bar exam again this Feb. This will be my 7th time. I missed passing this time by 25 points!! My Written Raw Score was in the 600's but MBE raw score was 101."

Most repeaters can learn much from you re writing. You clearly know the law or you wouldn't be able to issue spot because knowing the law is the key to spotting every issue. I'm a repeater, but I will share all I know about the MBE. I went from a 119 (prior bar using Barbri & PMBR) to 130 mbe using Micromash, and missed passing by 20pts. The day I started Micromash, I was hitting 50%, so I improved significantly (did about 1000 mbe's in their program) before the bar exam.

Will you please tell us about your essay & PT strategies (scores), and why you think you are such a good writer, and do you have any tips for writing passing essays & PT's. Also, what were your scores the first attempts until now? Did your writing improve significantly (and how?) or were you always a great writier? Thanks for your help. It is very rare to see such a strong writer with your mbe score. I hope we can all help eachother.


Anonymous said...

Your MBE score is awesome. Congrats on that.

I know these comments have gone back and forth between handwriting versus computers.

I'm going to suggest handwriting the exam. It focuses your writing. Because you can't cut and paste, you are forced to come up with a precise outline right away and stick to it. I believe the result will be more organized and to the point than if you type.

When you are trying to figure out what tutors or preparation methods to use, I recommend finding someone who will grade a mix of computer and handwritten timed essays for you. Give both approaches a shot in early January and compare the results. If you are doing better on the typed ones, then at least you know your approach is the best one for you.

As for Gabriel N, my only advice to you is to practice, practice, practice. Do the MBEs in small sets, untimed. Do 10 questions, review all the answers, even the ones you got right. Do not move on to the next 10 until you've outlined and reviewed and understood every single question. Even if you have an outline for the issue, outline it again. I created dozens of little mini-half page outlines on stuff like contributory negligence and the various types of murder and homicide. Using this method, I got myself from a raw score of 90 on the Barbri simulation at the end of June to a 141 scaled on my state bar exam (not CA, mine released the score).

Best of luck to both of you!

Greg said...

In response to XZ, and because I've been trumpeting the PT as the path to easy points, here are my tips. (These are drawn both from taking several timed PTs, as well as from my school's class on the process, which was crafted by our legal writing director, Honigsberg, who also does BarBri's lectures on the topic.)

1. At the start of the exam, first go to the task memo and tear it out of the packet and set it aside, so that you can easily refer to it as you write. Remember: the key to a high PT score is not a "right" answer, but answering the question. Organize your answer according to the task memo.

2. If there is a format memo, tear it out for handy reference, too.

3. Decide whether you prefer to read the Library or the File first and stick with it. In practice, experiment and see which you like better. (My preference was to read the File first, but I know lots of folks who preferred the Library.)

4. Make notes on the key issues of each case, so that you know how they apply to the facts in the File.

5. Highlight and note any multi-factor rule. If there is a multi-factor rule, you'll probably want to use it. When you use it, give the rule. Then, in separate paragraphs, address each factor in the rule, with at least one or two sentences. (They'll look like stubby paragraphs, and that's fine. However, they shouldn't look like you've given only an outline. You need to show analysis on each factor.)

6. Start filling out the answer from the outline you crafted from the task memo. I tried to finish the reading by the 75-minute mark, but YMMV. Remember to cite and underline each case. Underline each short cite, too, just to show you're still using it. Be clear in your analysis: use the facts, apply the facts to the rules, explain why the facts apply to the rules. (You should be doing those in all of your essays.)

7. Don't leave your answer looking unfinished. It's better to complete all of the questions from the task memo first than it is to pad the rest of the exam.

8. Make sure you've answered all of the questions in the task memo. Did the memo tell you to address your work to a lay audience (e.g., closing statement, client letter, etc.)? If so, make sure you ignore the suggestion to cite to cases. Don't use fancy jargon. Did the memo tell you to include a statement of facts? If so, include one. Did it tell you not to? Don't include one! (If you do, you're not following directions.) Did it tell you to write a persuasive memo? If so, make sure you do so. Did it tell you not to (i.e., did it tell you to analyze the merits or to assess whether you have a case)? If so, write it objectively.

The PT is eminently learnable, and once learned, it gives easy points.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting re the PT's (and essays incidently). It was very informative. I wish I could help you with the MBE. Many here scored higher than my 130 raw. I'm planning on using Adaptibar instead of Micromash this time - to save money.


Anonymous said...

I was the writer with the 634 raw written score and 101 MBE. My writing has improved over the many times I have taken the bar. I honestly think that The Bar Code Cheat Sheets book is the way. I would write out the templates and memorize the format for each area of the law, and then practice using it with actual test questions.

The Bar Code really helped me, because I found that in my prior essay writing for the bar, I was not very clear or organized and did not approach the essay in a clear and organized manner. I really think the graders want to see your analysis in a step by step manner, (E.g. Negligence essay, go through duty, breach, causation, damages, step by step, the Bar Code book has a great approach)

In terms of the PTs, I honestly did not practice them as much. I just approached them as a work memo as if my boss gave me an assignment to write for a client and went through it really logically.

The funny thing is, once I started seeing this test as if the questions were real life scenarios which clients had come to me for, I think I used my common sense and logic more, which resulted in more creative arguments and analysis.

However, I'm still puzzled on the MBES. Any advice would really help? Thanks!

I hope we all pass this time. We all were bright enough to get into law school, stay in and graduate, so we are definitely good enough to become attorneys!!! We can do it, we have to stay positive!!


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Dear No Hard Feelings:
I just checked out your little blog. Nice picture. I have a little saying..."Those who are ugly on the outside cannot afford to be ugly on the inside". This applies directly to YOU.
I find you hideous.
You are also a douche.


Anonymous said...

For the Multistate - What should I use (MicroMash/ Adaptibar, etc?) Since MicroMash also offers Essay review, is that better ??

Thank you for your suggestions & advise

Anonymous said...

To GP - you have impressed me with this blog generally, and with your refusal to give up, specifically. I am also impressed that you, unlike certain other posters, have chosen to maintain a professional demeanor even when confronted with opinions such as those held by NHF. This is, after all, YOUR blog. It is important in life and in the legal profession to strive to see issues from multiple viewpoints. This is a difficult time for many who were not successful in their attempts to pass the Bar Exam, and the emotions jumping off the page reflect that. NHF, I understand the truth in what you are saying, yet I question the wisdom in posting such comments to this blog at this particular time. At the risk of re-hashing that which we already know, yes, there is a lesser degree of success on the Exam by non-ABA takers. GP's conscious decision to proceed in the face of such statistics only further evidences his courage and strength. Personally, I transferred from a lower tiered school in danger of losing its accreditation to a top tier school. While I can say from first-hand experience that there is a difference in ability between such schools, I witnessed no less passion from my fellow students at the lowered tier school. In many ways, there was an intensity at the lower tier school that could not be matched by the school I transferred to, because the students at the school I transferred from were literally fighting to remain in school and to make a better life for themselves and their families. They were reminded repeatedly of their school's failure at the Bar Exam. Yet, they continued to fight and study. Some passed the first time, and some did not. But even those that failed their first time persevered, eventually passed, and applied that same passion in becoming respected attorneys. In any case, NHF, I respect your opinion as a past grader and those comments from posters who are understandably upset, frustrated, and sick of the Exam at this point, but I am disappointed with the level of discourse that has followed NHF's post. GP, I wish you the best in succeeding this time around. You truly have been an inspiration for many.

kris said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kris said...

"Dear Kris: Why do you insist of swearing? Is your lexicon that limited? Why not debate in a civilized matter?"

My bad: yes "f-off" is horrific. Maybe next time you stretch our collective good-will and humor to breaking point, I won't restrain myself to "f" and will type out the remaining three letters.


The English football analogy is apropos. People fail all the time. That's life. What separates us, and the measure of a champion, is the ability to dig deep, get up, suit up and keep showing up.

I've worked for one of the top dawg US firms in the world. I didn't pass first time, and they were very kind to me, leaving the door open for when I did.

What's irritating is you're trying to pass yourself off as the font of knowledge- when the reality is you're a bluffer.

Anonymous said...

From XZ: Greg, Thanks again for the response. Disregard my comment re you needing to pass the MBE (I mixed up recipients). Obviously you passed. Congratulations!

To SB, Thanks as well. I like the Bar Code templates. I mostly used Bar Breakers because the less structured approach worked for my writing style, but I missed issues and ended up with 60's. I'll probably follow her templates this time. I wish I could help you with the MBE's. I don't know enough about why I score how I do. For example, I was scoring 145 raw on Micromash - then I scored 130 raw on the bar. Two days before the bar I took the latest/real mbe offered on line by NCBE and scored 156 raw (averaged per 100 Q's). I never scored more than 60% on PMBR.

Best of luck!


The Grand Poobah said...

Anon 8:43am: I just had this discussion with a friend. I've only used Adaptibar and, while I think it's a very good service, I believe MicroMash may offer more. MicroMash comes with outlines and the program apparently is adaptive, in that it tracks the subjects you're weak in and offers a greater number of those subjects until your strengths and weaknesses balance out.

If I had to make that choice today, I would choose MicroMash. But that's just me.

Everyone Else: Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your answer and advise re MicroMash.

Be Strong !

Anonymous said...

GP as well as others on this board are more than capabable of passing this exam. It's probably just a mental block or some unnecessary anxiety when you take your exam.

This might sound counter-intuitive, but for the time being, try not to think of the "Grass" as being greener on the other side, and this MIGHT make you calmer when taking this beast of an exam. The CA Bar Statitics are staggering this time around... %61.7 overall pass rate. The legal market is tough in CA and thousands of graduates who have already passed the Bar might be in worse shoes than you (they have to pay $300-$400 dues now, on top of loans, and no job). Lots of people from my class of 2007 passed the CA Bar the first time and had to settle for $45-$55k workers comp, ID, or other low paying law jobs. Personally, I moved out of state to VA to accept a $70k Federal Gov job which does not require CA Bar membership.

Anonymous said...

I don't think the photo at "no hard feelings" is actually of him. If you click on the photo the link has "konstantin habenskiy" at the end. That name is not in the Cal Bar directory. If you Google it you come up with some Russian actor. Just an FYI for those who were curious.

Anonymous said...

Flemings? (It's actually spelled with just one 'm') Did someone actually recommend Flemings? OMG. O. M. G. I can't even convey how much I disagree with that recommendation. Rather than disparage Jeff Fleming, I'll just say this: Ask around. Based on my experience, you'll find Fleming's proponents few and far between. I know plenty of folks who have passionately colorful things to say about the program and not one of them would be g-rated enough to post on this blog. Do your homework before jumping on that bandwagon.

For folks like Gabriel who need some serious review, I'd try BarBri's iPod program and take the bar in July 2009 so you can get in on the early distribution option from BarBri and take a bit more time to really get in to the details. They don't publish details about the early distribution for iPod users on their website so give them a call for details.

If you are hurting on PE's and live in the LA area, you might try contacting Tina Post. She's a former BarBri lecturer who tutors and does concentrated workshops for PEs. She's not gifted in the personality department and thinks pretty highly of herself, but she's got a program for PEs that she really believes in and seems to work. I had taken and failed the CA exam then took her PE class. I don't know if the PEs were easier this last time or if her program actually worked (I didn't strictly follow it during the actual test--I just took parts that worked for me and used those) but I breezed through the PEs this time (and passed the exam).

I thought the first comment on this thread was the best. Solid, practical advice and I couldn't do any better. I think it's way overkill to do 20 full essays per subject, but that's just me.

p.s. GP--you are so close. That's a great MBE score and with a little bump in the writing scores your name will be on that pass list next time. After I failed the exam I made an excel spreadsheet to enter my scores (each essay, PE and MBE along with the scaling values) so I could play around with them and see how much more I'd need to get a passing effort. If you want it, let me know. I found it encouraging to see what 5 pts here and 5 pts there can do to someone score.

Best of luck,

Anonymous said...

Z-Brilliance said:
"I don't know why people do not do well on the PTs. Especially this go-around. They were two simple memos. All you did was follow directions, it had little to nothing to do with the law. If you follow the directions you can do really well on the PTs.

The BARBRI guy even mentioned that he believed non-lawyers would do better on PTs than lawyers because non-lawyers would read the directions and follow them, while lawyers would argue with the directions and do things not on the directions and put in unnecessary info."

That's some sage advice! The PE isn't the time to go out on a limb and try to impress the graders with your original thought (even if it IS brilliant). Follow the instructions, letter by letter. There's no better advice.

The young kid next to me was taking the exam for the first time and took a disproportionate amount of time before the exam began, to trumpet his pedigree from a Bearaliciously famous No. Cal. ABA school. I fell for it and was properly impressed. Until....until he told me that he refused to defend the DAs actions in the second PE (which is loosely what we were asked to do), instead, he chose the route of telling the examiners why the DAs charges were absurd, line by line. Guess what? Poor kid's name was not on the pass list. Makes me wonder how far he deviated from the calls of the question/instructions on the rest of the exam? Obviously too far. The best advice I've ever gotten was to follow the instructions and DO NOT deviate. Organize your answer strictly based on the flow of the questions/instructions.

Anonymous said...

I think the original "no hard feelings" has left and an impostor has taken his place unfortunately.

Anyway, I went to a tier 4 ABA accredited law school in CA and passed 1st try so I take umbrage with his assertion about wanting a doctor to perform heart surgery that "went to a top tier school" etc. etc. I read way too much of this crap online (funny it is always online; maybe because that's where people can be dicks anonymously?) If I was in the hospital in need of heart surgery and my friend told me to choose between two doctors based on what school they went to and how many times it took them to pass their boards, I would ask him "why the hell are you telling me this irrelevant information? HOW MANY HEART SURGERIES HAS HE PERFORMED?!?!?"

Not everyone is in this for the money or to work at a law firm, some of us are in this because we want to be lawyers. Your skill as an attorney is only as limited as your own motivation and your own honesty with yourself. Not a great writer but have a quick mind and good trial skills? Be a DA or a PD or do litigation. A superior writer and braniac with top tier credentials but can't speak publicly or conduct a decent cross examination? Be a junior associate somewhere writing briefs and motions.

What law school you went to and how many times it took you to pass goes out the window once you get that first job and get some experience and figure out what you are good at.

And perhaps some of the best advice I have ever heard, especially for the folks on this blog; remember what Eleanor Roosevelt said:

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.

Good luck to everyone here, you can do it and don't let anyone ever tell you otherwise.

Anonymous said...

I just passed July 08 CA bar. In my opinion, although knowing the rules, elements of the rule, exceptions and elements thereof is important, what is MORE IMPORTANT is the unique methodology and a paced program that works for YOU.

Among those who failed the bar again and again, many are very intelligent and diligent. They have tried almost every bar prep courses, have practiced thousands of MBEs, and have written dozens of essays. Why failed again? Wrong or ineffective method, among others, is accountable. If you get lost in a forest, the first thing is to figure out the right direction and path, not walking tirelessly around those confusing trees. For example, for MBEs, if you've learn the right method, sometimes you know what the question and answer will be right after reading the first few lines; For essays, if you grasp the method, writing is just formatic, analysis flows out naturally and automaticly in a formatic types of organization. You will have a lot to write about, to argue for or against. You no longer need to worry about what to write, or how to write it out; For PT, right method will speed you up by finding most of the headings in first half hour, digging out those golden rules from the library much quicker, locating the key facts in an anticipated way; and all these will ultimately save you time for writing, and prevent you from turning in an unfinished or hastened product, which will make your writing appear to be conclusory, which leads to lower grades.

Methodology is no doubt very important. However, it alone won't pass you. You must also have a paced program; the one works for you most efficiently and effectively, for practice is another key factor of passing the bar. Methodology and Practice (paced program) work together as two legs, missing either will slow you down, sometimes too much that you fail again and again...

If anybody needs help, I'm willing to work with you at a much lower rate than other bar tutors ($60 an hour vs. other tutors $120 per H).

If you have already known the basic black letter law, I will walk you through different method for different section (MBE, Essay or PT) and different subject; Point out those most heavily tested issues and rules (show you the pattern and plan of attack); Design a paced program for you, check on you daily to make sure you finish your daily practice (only if you are not self-motivated), discuss those difficult MBE questions, grade your essays and PTs.

On the other hand, if you are on ground zero, I will go through the rules with you, explain them till you understand, share my self-made outline with you...the basic pattern will be: introduce general concept and nature of a subject, then discuss those often-tested rules, followed by practice the rule-related MBE Qs, finally move to practice relative essays. After each subject is tackled, we change to the mode designed for those who have already known the black law as discussed above.

If you do not need long time tutoring, I am flexible: you can quit any time you want, as I charge by hour.

In addition, if you work with me, I will offer a free stress control session, as we all know bar prep causes high pressure and stress, in some cases, even depression... I will also be available during the tutoring period and the 3 test days to encourage you, inspire you if you need.

You might ask why I offer such a good deal? First, I want to help people pass, for your success will make my life worthier; second, I am eager to share my experiences with others and curious how they will change others’ life; finally, I did not turn in my moral character application right after I took the test, for I did not think I would pass, as I only studied 40% of my paced program due to my back injury.

Anyway, send me an e-mail at lydiamailexpress@yahoo.com if you need my help.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
The Grand Poobah said...

Anon 2:24: I think everyone shares your skepticism regarding tutors, especially one who has no track record. However, there are ways to communicate that skepticism without personally attacking the tutor. I know a couple of people who failed one exam then passed on their next attempt who would make excellent tutors. And I know a couple of people from whom I would not ask assistance under any circumstances. But I only know this because I know these people. If I didn't know them, and they offered their tutoring services to me, I would want to check them out before I paid anything, as I'm sure most serious people would.

Therefore, despite the fact that your opinion may be spot on, we need more evidence before we can pronounce guilt. That's why I'm deleting your post.

Please feel free to re-post your opinion in a less, for lack of a better term, abrasive, manner. Heck, in five years we may be hailing her as the best thing to happen to the world of tutoring since sliced bread. But until someone has an opinion based on personal experience, again, it's premature to pronounce judgment.


The Grand Poobah said...

As as P.S. to my last comment, I rarely delete comments because I prefer open discourse. However, I'm a little grouchy these days and my tolerance levels are low.

I don't moderate these comments because I trust everyone to be civil. So far, I've been extremely lucky. And compared to the discourse on some of the bar exam discussion boards, Anon's comments were benign.

But stress and sleep deprivation have me on a hair trigger.

The Grand Poobah said...

P.P.S.: I almost deleted the solicitation because I was a little uneasy with being a conduit for free advertising. And I may yet change my mind. But for now, as long as it doesn't become a regular practice, I'll leave it be.

Anonymous said...

Hi Grand Poobah,

Thank you for being a fair-minded person; thank you for not pronouncing me guilty for lack of evidence; thank you for insist on letting facts speak; thank you also for keeping our environment clean.

I am open-minded and welcome criticism, for I am no better than anybody else, and I do make mistakes. However, I prefer discussing issues in a civil manner, as we are a group of civilized beings. Meanness and spiteful spirit does not bring any of us up but down.

Finally, delete my ad. if you so wish, as you've earned my respect, and I want to respect your wish.

By the way, your writing shows you are a good writer; you developed your point very well. Just be as comfortable and persuasive as you are now when you are sitting in the bar. YOU WILL PASS:)

Happy holiday to everyone,


Anonymous said...

Hi GP:

I am happy you passed the July 2012 bar exam., and I didn't pass mine exam. Could you give me some pointer for PT and look at where I did wrong in that exam? I am living in Diamond Bar, CA. Thanks.