Monday, May 18, 2009

Alrighty then ...

... The raw numbers:

Essays: 60, 50, 55, 60, 60, 55

PTs: 50, 60

MBEs: 145

It's time to back my way out of this rabbit hole and re-evaluate my writing.


Anonymous said...

do you write or type?

either way, you must not be going fast enough, because you must know the law (or how to just make it up).

Anonymous said...

That's a great MBE score! What was it scaled?

Anonymous said...

Your written scores suck! How do they compare with your previous onces because I remember your scores a lot higher!!! Were these scores given after a second reread?

Chin up, your MBE's are awesome! Barbri use to have a few years back a book comparing different essays based on grades. Check it out.

Today is your first step to passing. Have a good Monday!

Anonymous said...

Your MBE score is impressive (at least to me). It seems that your PTs need an overhaul. I could never get over 130 at the MBE; passed IL and NY in the first try but failed CA 3 times and I am done (frustration!). I wanted to move to the west but I guess sunny California is not meant to me.

A friend of mine who passed NY, TX, FL and CA (in that order) all of them the first time he sat, told me that I had to understand what is that the graders wanted. However, he was unable to tell me clearly what the hell is that they want. Maybe a grader or ex grader could help you.

All the best for you, I do hope you do it the next time.

Anonymous said...

I've passed three bars on my first try, one of which was CA. After seeing your latest MBE score, I know you have the native intelligence to pass the bar - you just need to learn how to write the exam and give the examiners what they want in the format they want it.

I'm sure you've heard this before, but it's true - the bar exam isn't about knowing the law, it's about playing the game. You clearly know the law, or you wouldn't have such a good MBE score. All you need to do is package your knowledge in a way in the essays and PTs that the bar graders believe demonstrates competency.

I strongly suggest that you devote very little time to studying for the MBEs this time around and ALL of your time to writing as many essays as possible - and MIMIC your style to the released answers and the sample answers in the Bar/Bri essay books. It may not be "your" writing style, but let's face it - whether your writing style is objectively good or bad, the bar examiners ain't buying it, so you need to do what they want you to do. Just for this exam - then, when you get your license, you can go back to doing things your way. :)

I wrote tons and tons of essays to study for all three of my exams. After awhile, it will become rote. On the day of the exam, you will have the formula (it IS a formula) in your head, and you will just barf it up on the paper. It doesn't matter so much what the fact pattern is, or what the law is, or whether you are right - it matters HOW you make your argument. In a "lawyer-like" way. I know, ugh. But that is what you need to do.

Also, one subjective pointer - I hand-wrote all of my exams, even though I had the option of typing them all. I know some people can't/won't hand-write their exams because they are worried about time constraints, cramping, etc., but my feeling is that if you are writing in a stream-of-conciousness format without the ability to cut/paste/outline/delete on your computer, etc., you will be much more focused and get it right on paper the first time - i.e., no second guessing or rearranging.

Good luck! I have been following your blog, and I know you can do it. Hang in there.

Dave Kwon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Did anyone's raw written score go up, but scaled score go down from the July bar? I didn't know they scaled the written portion different every bar.

In July, my written score was a 588.5 raw and 1371.54 scaled.

In February, my written score was a 590 raw and 1356.3553 scaled.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sisyphus said...

Anon @ 3:25p.m. - This shows how the bar controls how many attorneys they want to allow in each administration. Go to the second yellow page in the packet that was sent to you with your scores. There you will see the formula for the scaled written score. This formula changes every administration of the bar.

F-ed up thing for me is, I think with the raw written score and MBE score I received for Feb 09, I would have passed the July 08 bar.

Anonymous said...

I sympathize with you, GP. I just missed passing the California Bar by 0.55% or 11 points out of 2000.

I feel like throwing up.

Anonymous said...

Essays: 55,50,50,55,70,55
PT: 50, 65
MBE: 138/153(CL 23, K 26, Crimes 24, E 23, RP17, T 25)

Raw written: 565 (and I wrote 4 essays to prepare...I guess we see what that sort of preparation translates into). Tuesday was especially rough. Bought the Adachi book and I'm going to use it fully. No third chances for me at my age.

Raw MBE 138, Cal., scaled 1531.000

Total scaled score: 1353.0351

Did the MBE (although I am an old lawyer from another era and state) because I like multiple choice tests. In hindsight that was probably wise.

Used the PMBR 6 day course to prepare for the MBE and did another 500 questions online. Friends tell me that I should be doing 50 MBE's a day for the next 70 days, which is alot of practice questions.

So can anyone share their thoughts on other sources of MBE questions: like Rigos or Bar in a box... How do they compare to Kaplan/PMBR? Thanks.

Anonymous said...

please advise what mbe program you used. thanks.

Anonymous said...

GP. I emailed you through your worrk. I used a private tutor and passed. I know you can do it.

Anonymous said...

Dude, GP, that first day Performance Test was brutally hard... I had never been so utterly confused by a library in all my practice experience. I managed to pass somehow, but I am positive that almost all of us wrote garbage answers to that prompt.

I agree your numbers, on first glance, make it look like you need to focus on writing more than law (since you MBE was so high). However, you appear to have dipped on the non-MBE subjects (Civ Pro, CA Evidence, and Corps), which indicates to me that there probably IS an element of black letter law deficiency contributing to your numbers. I say this as a means of encouragement. I don't think you should get too hung up on being "bad" at bar writing... You're good enough to get 60s when you know the law (and when the law in a PT is straightforward, rather than that crazy foreign law business on day one of the Feb exam!). With a high MBE, 60s across the board on writing would pass you. You have the skill to do this. You're getting better every round, it seems, so think of this attempt as a chance to round out your already strong knowledge of MBE law, with a mastery of the non-MBE stuff (including all those CA distinctions... those damn distinctions!)

I guess I'm saying, yes, you should keep practicing writing as many essays as possible, but I also think hitting the non-MBE subject flash cards is an important part of you overcoming the July exam. You can know your essay formats cold, and type like the wind, but it wasn't gonna help you in February if you hadn't studied the rules for discovery in a civil proceeding.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I recommend using Bar Graders (

I used it after I did not pass the first time to: (1) critique all my essays; and (2) to do practice essays through its web-based program (I purchased a set of 20 essays--its option of buying 40 essays was excessive and quite expensive).

Getting a critique from an actual former bar grader on my essays after getting them back from the State Bar was extremely helpful. She told me tips such as to really stick to the IRAC format as that is what the real bar graders are looking for. Here is another tip the bar grader told me: for Community Property essays, your essay must always start with the preamble that is taught in BarBri (i.e. "In California, all property acquired during marriage is presumptively community property..."). If this preamble is missing, the grader is going to see that your essay is different than other essays, and is going to start reading it more in depth (which is not a good thing-be a sheep and do not have an essay that sticks out to the grader). These are some examples of what I learned and why it is helpful to have your essays critiqued by the people who have graded actual bar exams to get their insights.

And if you do its web-based practice essays, you will get critiques by actual former bar graders. Their critiques were harsh, but very constructive. Again, the got on my case when I deviated from the IRAC method or when my analysis was weak. I did its essays to address problem areas, and periodically to gauge my improvement.

Doing this in conjunction with BarBri (sticking to the schedule RELIGIOUSLY), and some essays from Adachi's Bar Breakers, helped me pass the 2nd time around. I found that the feedback given by BarBri on essays to be turned in was generally bad; I needed real feedback, and when correcting your own essays, one may have a tendency to inflate their own score.

I don't work for BarGraders, but it really worked for me, and I think its services really helped me pass the second time.

GP, looking at your total written score, your essay average is 56. You need bring up the average to around 62.5 (which ironically, is still considered a failing score for an essay) to pass the exam overall. Your MBE score is great; it is high enough to get waived into the DC bar and MN bar.

If you are having trouble issue spotting, have an issue spotting checklist for every subject, and memorize them. BarBri has great and almost complete checklists in the essay workshop workbook. To memorize the checklist, write out the checklist periodically (ideally everyday)-you could xerox a bunch of blank checklists and fill them out until the checklist is committed to memory. You will then have most of the issues in memory that can be discussed in a particular subject area. Then in the essays, run each fact through the checklist.

I hope this helps, and continue hang in there. The CA Bar Exam is passable. But you have to know what you did wrong, and not repeat it next time.

Anonymous said...

Guys-- can someone tell me if a good bet for repeaters ? I spoiled my essays on this Feb bar and need some sincere
advice about how to approach essays on the upcoming July CBX .

Thx !!!

Jaybad said...

GP - I continue to read your blog primarily because you bring out the human element that many at law school leave behind. Hope you don't mind!

Anon @ 10:58 - I passed the bar the first time, but re: the Civ Pro essay, I don't remember writing about discovery so much. Instead, I focused on the rules for adding in a party - impleader, if I remember right, (the copy shop was not a party to the lawsuit). Although I don't know if my passing scores were marginal or good, I think it is possible to miss a few issues - perhaps one or two key ones too, if your analysis makes sense.

Hope this helps!

Anonymous said...

Your best bet: Hire Steve Harris, bar tutor:

Other, cheaper suggestions: WINNIN' TIME by Steve Harris:,, Barbri's Performance Advantage, PMBR 6-day.

Anonymous said...

I need some advice here - I had a second read in July - 1st read score of 1398. MBE was 119 raw. If I recall, essays were approx: 50, 55, 55, 60, 65, 65 PTA 60, PTB 65.

For February, I worked one on one with a well known tutor, did many more practice essays, not as many MBEs. I only had like 3 graded last time (Adachi Essay Advantage). This time, maybe 15 to 20 y a tutor. I thought I knew my strengths and weaknesses and because of it, I felt less good about it after it was over because I thought I knew what was expected out of me and felt I screwed up on a few. I did not expect to get 50s in Torts or PR. Something is wrong. How can I do better on more difficult subjects like Evidence and Civ Pro or Contracts?I guess I was right, because I got 3 50s and 3 55s PTA 60, PTB 50.

I didn't even get a second read. I went down about 200 points! I don't know what happened. Are the testers grading harder or something else? I'm pondering on what to do, but I did decide to go for it again. This time, with a relaxed attitude about it all. I think life stress and distractions, whether you know it or not, affect test performance.

Anonymous said...

everyone is making this too complicated.

just take barbri.

if you fail, just pick up where you left off, working to master your memorization and essay skills, while doing some MBEs. Barbri has all this

(side note: i am not a barbri employee)

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous10:09 AM: I am licensed in another state and at my wits end over the CA bar exam. The first time I took the exam I did not study at all and received a higher score than this time--I have received around 1420 more than once and this time I also dropped 100 pts. I could have saved myself the trouble and not studied at all for those results. However, I did look at the scaling of the essays this time. It was more harsh than previous times.

Anonymous said...

Tougher scaling of the essays and a notoriously high doling out of 55s when previously they would have received 60s or even 65s is problematic.

Change of Venue said...

Grand Poobah, you are a gutsy guy to post your scores along with your pic. Having just taken (and failed) my first California Bar exam, I am weighing whether I want to ramp up my contract services and wait out this market economy at lower rates, OR take the exam in July 2009. I've combed through your blog for insights and to develop a game plan to succeed on the next bar exam that I take. This lead to examining other's tips and tricks, as well as some of your links. THANKS for being a one-stop shop for repeaters and first-timers.

kris said...

For GP

Anonymous said...

GP, what are you studying today, the elements of negligence again?

aminla said...

I second the comments of
Anon May 19, 2009 12:03 AM

I can't say enough good things about Bar Graders (

I also used it on the second try and passed. I had low scores before too.

They critique your essays and that is very valuable in figuring out what YOU are doing and not doing. I identified some bad habits that I needed to break.

IMHO, 40 essays is not excessive if you need the help. And I found BG to be much less that private "tutors." You can always buy the 20, and then force yourself to others on your own. But this is your future, and you might want to consider getting all the professional feedback you can, not just what you or a friend might think is good.

I went a little crazy and did 10 to 15 essays per subject (some from BG, and then some old Barbri and from the Cali website, which I had a fellow firm associate and a trial lawyer friend grade. I NEVER, repeat NEVER's like self exploratory surgery ;)

I even repeated some essays to burn into my brain some really lame mistakes that you will make under pressure (like confusing 5th and 6th A. right to counsel)

It was grueling, but by the time Feb. 08 came around, there was hardly a scenario I had not seen (there is a finite catalog of issues they can test you on.)

I remember the Community Property preamble and other tips from BG as well.

The critiques are tough and will make you feel stupid...but that too will pass.

I really see little use for Barbri classes. I think they waste precious time you can spend writing, writing, writing...and re-writing, re-writing, re-writing. Get used to that if you want to be a lawyer.

BTW, I am not connected to BG either. Honest.

It is passable. Go slay the dragon!

Anonymous said...

Write the exam; do not type.

Anonymous said...

they cut the essays in half at bargraders and not owned by the same people Instead of 40, you get 20 for the same price.

Anonymous said...

I passed this time. It was my 6th try. Do not give up. However, I agree with others here that your MBE score shows you know the law while your essay/PT scores show you are not giving it to the graders the way they want it.

One of the attorneys who leases an office at my firm has been a grader several times. She reviewed one of my essays from last summer and I wrote out two new essays for her. She told me this: The Bar is giving you (if you pass) the ability to hang out your shingle and start up your own business. Before doing that they want to see that: 1) you can tell Joe Blow who walks in off the street what his legal problem is; 2) tell him what law applies; 3) how it applies to the facts in his case; and 4) how his lawsuit will turn out.

When I took the test this time, I answered my questions as if I were talking to that client. I kept it simple and straightforward - in and out. Evidently it was enough because I passed. I also wrote out flash cards for every single answer I got wrong on my practice MBEs and learned them so that I had them down COLD on Wednesday. I had reached a "plateau" with my MBEs and I needed just a few more points to put me over. Your score looks good though, so you're already there.

Remember, structure your answer for the guy who walks in off the street. AND STOP SPENDING SO MUCH TIME ON THIS BLOG!! You're wasting precious time here! Trust me, seeing the words, "The applicant number you have entered matches the name on the pass list" and getting the "Congratulations" letter is WORTH IT!!

Good luck.

Anonymous said...

hey poobah, you gotta please share how you got your MBE so high! tips? books? methods?

thanks again. we will slay this thing!

The Grand Poobah said...

Anon 4:56: Thanks for the tip. I've heard that before and I believe it is exactly correct. It's what I have been trying, and failing, to achieve. I appreciate the reminder.

Regarding the blog; if you look back over the last 10 months or so, since the end of the July '08 exam, you'll see that's exactly what I've been doing. I've been spending drastically less time tending the blog. So, congrats, you win on both positions.


However, I can no more abandon this blog than I can the bar exam. But, before you go off on me, as have so many others, please recognize the obvious reallocation of priorities.


The Grand Poobah said...

Anon: 11:28: Kelly asked me a very similar question in an e-mail. Here is what I sent her in reply (with a couple of corrected typos):

I’ve used many (most?) of the MBE programs out there except for MicroMash, which, I believe, is owed by BarBri. I’ve avoided MicroMash because I have all of the BarBri books and I didn’t want to spend money on something I already have.

I used Adaptibar for the first exam I took. I liked it because they license their questions directly from the NCBEX and presented them unchanged from the form they were in when they appeared on the bar exam. The only place to get unadulterated questions is from the NCBEX or from Adaptibar. All of the other programs, BarBri, PMBR, FINZ, everyone, has to modify the NCBEX questions because they haven’t purchased the license to use them verbatim. The only problem with using the original MBEs from the NCBEX (including the ones you can buy from them directly) is that those questions are no longer used on the bar exam. They started using a new format starting February of 2007 in response to the PMBR lawsuit.

But you probably knew all that. I included it here simply to explain why I went to Emanuel’s new MBE program. In May of 2008 I heard he had reconfigured all of his questions to match the NCBEX’s new style. MY scores went from 128 on the July ’07 exam and 123 on the Feb ’08 exam, to 135 on the July ’08 exam then to 145 on this latest exam. I started using Emanuel’s new program in May of 2008. I credit his program for my improvement. That, and seeing many, many, many repetitions of the fact patterns. So, some of the credit for my higher score comes from the fact that I’ve failed the damn exam four times and have done so many practice MBEs, and the rest of the credit I put on Emanuel’s revised program.

Of course, it helps that I took as much time as I needed to review my outlines in an attempt to find the correct answers when I was practicing. I didn’t think it would help me to guess at an answer only to get it wrong, so I took as much time as I needed to review the fact pattern and the outline before I picked my answer. I worked through them slowly, a few questions at a time, and wrote out the correct answer, or a summary of it, after I did three or four questions.

So, I would suggest that, if you can afford the Emanuel program, I would go with that one. I have no affiliation with them, I just like their program.

So, there, in a very large nutshell, is my MBE program.

Anonymous said...

thanks a lot poobah. i'm gonna look into emanuel's prep. i remember seeing their fliers on campus.

back to the drawing board guys! best

Anonymous said...

hey poobah,

do you suggest the Rigo books?

Anonymous said...

Regarding Anon's posting asking about MBE styles.. I passed on my first try this February and had completed no less than 6000 MBE's prior to the exam. The Kaplan/PMBR sample questions seemed to most closely mirror the MBE's I saw on the bar exam. The funny thing is that no matter how often you see a specific legal principle tested in the MBE's in your prep course, the CA Bar Examiners find a new and demented manner in which to test it on the actual exam. Anyone remember the MBE asking whether a presidential veto with a valid (but non-stated) ground is sufficient when the stated purpose is an improper exercise of executive power? No matter how many you do, you can only be so prepared for those types of questions.. Good Luck to all of you..

Anonymous said...

The unspoken truth that no one will tell you. Not your
law school. And especially not your big bar review
course. Or your average tutor, for that matter.












If you are not a believer, try any one or more of these and see if you can pass the CA exam. Take this serious people, it is the unspoken truth, whether you want to believe it or not.

Anonymous said...

OK. How can you try number 8?

Anonymous said...

The fact that many foreign trained lawyers pass this exam makes # 8 inapplicable.

Anonymous said...

This 11 reasons list is dumb. I passed on the first time, with bad grades from a tier 3.

I said this above, and will say it again: DO BARBRI (be a part of the cattle).

In fact, this is the best summary:

Anonymous said...

Have you tried the cheat sheets from The Bar Code? I just passed this Feb and it was my 3rd try. I was able to stick completely to the cheat sheet for the PR question and the defamation question. 2 weeks before the bar I started memorizing the cheat sheets word for word. I think that if your writing strays, this will be the best way for you to stick to IRAC and keep it simple.

Anonymous said...

GP in 15 years:
"I'll be 65 years old when I get the news that I passed. This is a fourth career. My grandson passed five years ago and I am clerking in his office. I spend 25 years in IT and the past 15 collecting judgements. I am the GP.

Anonymous said...

I don't know why some of these other posters have to be so rude and discouraging to GP. He is just trying to pass this test like the rest of us. Best of luck to you, GP! Don't ever give up - I'm not, and I'll be there with you in July.

Anonymous said...

the truth is that da man is either gonna pass or not,
like the rest of us

I dig his doggedness and bravery.
An inspiration to us all.

And now I'm gonna tell you how I'm gonna pass the July Bar,

I'm gonna hit the outlines hard, do hundreds of MBES if not more- really lookin at my wrong answers

Take dozens of essays and PTs

Have someone brutally tell me I don't pass muster,

Then 2 weeks before,
I'm gonna memorize me cheat sheets and for 3 days I'm gonna
IRAC dully til the cows come home

Then I'm gonna go home,
sleep, pray a lot

Then I'm gonna get the good news much later than I ever expected round Turkey day.

Sounds cool huh?
Wanna play along?:)

P.S. If all else fails I could always just move to Nevada or some other state, pass that bar,
California's broke anyways!

Anonymous said...

You are so close that you can't give up! Your determination will eventually lead to you passing this exam. I finally passed this time on my 7th attempt, and that feeling of success after all the hard work is like non other. It is completely worth it!

I agree with a previous poster about the Bar Code. That book is great and very helpful. The writing style is succinct and to the point and should help increase your essay score. If you would like the book, I still have a copy and could send you the book. Your MBE's are phenomenal. I'm sure with some work on your writing skills your name will be on the pass list in November.

Oh and another thing that helped, stay away from negative people and those that say you can't make it. You have to be positive and know that you will pass, this is just another obstacle in life and you have made it this far!

Good luck to you, and I know that this bar exam you will pass! Just believe!

Anonymous said...

Hate to be the pessimist here but honestly GP you are not even close to passing with those scores. Why do I say this? Because I (and I passed on my 3rd try, BTW) know what you are going through and it seems that you are not being honest with yourself regarding your weaknesses.

You MUST learn how to WRITE for the bar--period. You will NEVER pass until you learn how. It is a learned skill and for some reason you seem to think that more studying/memorizing will do it for you. As you've found out 4 times now, it doesn't help.

My $0.02: Sit out July 2009. I know you won't but you should very seriously consider it.

Really learn to WRITE for the bar over the next several months. You are doing yourself no favors by just taking it over and over, using the same techniques. Its simply not fair to you (or your family I imagine) to just keep throwing up a hail mary every 6 months.

Change your mindset. Admit that you don't have the skill set to pass--yet. Give yourself a real opportunity to pass by learning and mastering the skills you need to pass--how to WRITE bar exam essays/PTs.

Good luck...

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:39...
You either know GP personally and have a personality conflict with him, OR, you've got a bad case of little man's complex. Anyone want to take bets on what's eating 4:39?

Anonymous said...

Anon: 4:39 Were you and Michael Vick partners in the dog fighting business?

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:39
How can you say that a highly intelligent and educated professional who studied 4 years at a Law School is not able to pass this damn exam? many foreign lawyers who never step foot at an American Law School and whose first language is not English passed, some of them in their first try.

Of course the GP can and will pass eventually. We have plenty of cases about people who needed to sit 4, 5 or more times.

I think you are too young and I assure you that what really matters in life is persistence, even more than talent.

Anonymous said...

Why do some feel the need to demoralize a person(s) they don't really know? To the person that posted it: please look yourself in the mirror and realize your statements you attempt to project on others says more about you than it does about them.

Really, this is not a compliment to you. Work on that and you don't need to worry yourself about what GP does or doesn't do or where he will be and at what year in his life. You have plenty of work to do a a real flaw in your psyche and personality.

Change of Venue said...

Please take my survey about your Cal Bar experience. This is the first in a series of surveys that I hope will be helpful to newbies and repeaers, alike.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:39

I agree with you. While you were just sort of joking around with GP, I think it is more likely he will not pass the bar then will pass the bar, and I don't think even the GP would disagree with that. It is fine to keep the faith and there are examples of people who pass on their 4th-5th attempt but there are WAY more that do not and fool themselves into thinking they can each try. It would be like me trying to go in and hit a homerun off Randy Johnson. Sure I would nick a couple or get a few hits but I would never hit it out of the park because it just is not possible for certain people to do certain things. My sister can't pass the bar, she could try 50 times and sometimes get closer then other times, but she would never pass, and GP is in the same boat because he is too old to learn to write well enough to pass obviously. I think that is what Anon 4:39 was getting at, albeit in a mean manner. Prove him wrong GP, that would be great, but like him, I have zero faith that you will at this point, you already failed the easiest bar in state history.

Anonymous said...

Uhh, since you have all the answers here, oh wise one posting at 10:17 AM. Which exam was the easiest bar in state history?

And just a reality check: What does it matter, oh wise one, whether YOU yourself have faith in anybody here to pass, especially GP? Do you really delude yourself with that overinflated ego of yours that what YOU say makes an impact in the bigger picture of taking this exam?

Why would you find it so important to tell this man who has this blog named GP that you yourself have no faith in him? Because you actually think that would bother him..and that what YOU feel (because faith is simply a feeling or emotion) matters. Wow. Truly, you have problems far deeper than GP's learning "how to write well enough to pass obviously". Even if it were obvious, why would you find it compelling enough to bring it up? Once again, you think what you say matters.

Anonymous said...

A person makes a decision. There is an old saying, "We draw a line in the sand. If you are not with me, you are against me." So with that, take your nasty asses and go denigrate someone else.

GP is going to take the exam, going to pass. If you are not supportive with that end goal in mind, get lost. Say something that helps. Lose the emotionally charged negativity. It adds nothing to resolution, positive results, and goal orientation. Got it?

Anonymous said...

Hi, i would appreciate any comments on Paul Pfal. Have any of you used his program and lassed?
thanks a lot

Anonymous said...

10:17, at least proofread your insults:

"I think it is more likely he will not pass the bar then will pass the bar,..."

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:50

Paul Pfau is an excellent tutor. He is responsible and totally dedicated to his job. In the end it will mainly depend on you; however, if you have the potential to pass, he can find your strengths and help you exploit them to your convenience.

Anonymous said...

Hey Grand Poobah

Been following your blog for a while now, I have failed cal 3 times and Washington state once. Like you, I keep getting the same scoring numbers. Like you, I have run the gammut of courses. I tracked down a one on one tutor for this summer's exam who specializes in our situtations, worth checking out.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:50,

Paul Pfau did not work for me - my scores dropped 200 points. My friend also took Paul's class and failed the bar. While Paul is a nice and empathetic, his course materials consisted of illegible, handwritten notes, new writing method that did not translate well on the bar, and he did not work with any of us 1 on 1 so could he possibly "find your strengths and help you exploit them them..."

Save your money and print out every published CA Bar essay question. I issue-spotted (15 minutes/essay) over 80 essays, read the corresponding A & B answers, and typed out about 25 essays to pass the CA Bar.

Anonymous said...

Can someone recommend a tutor in the bay area? It seems that the best ones are in Southern California. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

"GP is in the same boat because he is too old to learn to write well enough to pass obviously" Um yes, it is a well know fact that anyone over 40 can't write. So what's your excuse? Are you over 40 as well? Or are you under 10??

Anonymous said...

Pfau's system did work for my sister as she passed in her first try. She needed a tutor badly as she had to substantially improve her writing skills. A tutor cannot make a miracle, a good one can help you, but it will mainly depend on you.

Anonymous said...

hey poobah, im sorry you did not cross the finish line this time around. i have been following your blog since july 2007, which was the first time i took the bar. i subsequently passed on my 2nd attempt in feb 2008.

i got a tutor -- tina post. she was fantastic. i had similar scores like yours this time around, and she taught me to write. shes expensive as hell -- i paid around $9 grand, but i hear shes now charging around $15k.

here are my two cents for free:

first off, know the law. take convisers mini, retype the outline for each subject and go through the outline filling in the outline. USE AS FEW WORDS AS POSSIBLE. as you will never remember sentences, but will remember words. this takes a long time to do -- but you must do this to adequately learn the law.

secondly, learn to write. use EVERY single fact the bar examiners give you. if they tell you a fence is 6 feet high, you write well, it could have been 9 feet. etc etc.

you can see how this is done in the sample essays.

also, your MBEs are good -- for those who are struggling, get Emanuels MBE book. its only $40 and its short. they give you explanations on wrong answers too.

hit this book hard for 1 month, then run with the big PMBR books.

i know statistically it seems impossible to pass for all of you multiple time bar takers, but stay positive, be around good energy, and best of luck!

Anonymous said...


give up the blog, and focus on the exam. you probably spend WAY too much time being admin here.

and for what?

unless you're making money on this, just give it up, it will run on its own, or let a couple other people admin it with you.

Anonymous said...

Do you know if they separate the repeaters exams from those who are first time takers before they start the grading process? can anyone help? I find it odd that July repeaters have EVEN a lower passage rate than feb repeaters!! There is some game going on during grading! I think they have separate slots for first timers and a separate for repeaters.
Are there any former BAR graders who could answer this question? I would greatly appreciate it.


Anonymous said...

Stay away from outlining. Write essays; get them graded. That is the way you learn the law, how to write the rules and how to apply the rules, how to reach conclusions about your fact pattern. This is an organic process.

If you want to pass, you will stay away from reading and making senseless outlines.

Anonymous said...

Have you noticed if you do better in Feb than July or vice versa? I took the bar 3 times. I passed this last Feb. The first time I took Feb 08, I got a 1390. The second time I took July 08 I got 1330. My tutor said it is very common for scores to drop from Feb to July b/ the competition is more cut throat in July. I had decided that if I failed Feb 09 I would not take July and would wait for Feb 10 to take it again. Just wondering if you see a difference in the 2 bars?

Anonymous said...

There is no repeater pile when the exams are graded. They are completely anonymous.

The only "non-anonymous" portion occurs during the re-read process. The graders are aware that they are grading re-reads and probably can't help but grade tougher.

I reccomend Steve Harris as a Bay Area tutor:

Anonymous said...

2:04, I took part of Tina Post's program as well (and passed) but I don't think she's worth $15K. Not even close. She thinks waaaay too highly of herself and her put downs of people who failed the bar the first time (which was 99% of her class) got old real quick. If you've got a writing problem, she's good but I would only take one of her courses (I think it was $1K, maybe $2K for the writing course) rather than hire her as a tutor. Her materials are nothing more than old essays and PTs that she's repackaged. She was formerly with BarBri and she developed her PT approach with them (and they still teach it) so it's not like she's got a product/style that you can't get elsewhere (for a lot less).

Anonymous said...

I did not notice personally a change in the scores b/w Feb and July but I was looking at the complete statistics on the state bar and realized that Feb passage rate is a lot higher for repeaters than it is for July takers. And the Fist time takers have a higher passage rate in July than in Feb. None of this makes sense to me!!!!

I took the BAR the first time this Feb and got 1420 the second read was a joke b/c they gave me EXACTLY the SAME scores I got from the first read.

Now I think as a repeater my chances are lower b/c of the statistics they have published which is WHY I came to believe that BEFORE they start grading they separate exams into PILES:
1) first timers from ABA approved
2) First times out of state
... etc.
3) Repeaters
BUT so far I don't know for sure ONLY one person stated that it is anonyms however he/she did not state the source of his/her knowledge i.e. former BAR grader or just heard rumers.

If anyone can answer, please do and state the source of your knowlege or is it just speculation.

Thanks alot.
PS. GP best of luck to you man. Hats off to you b/c you are really hanging in there. It takes alot of strength and you got it :)
Also thanks for providing this web. When I got the results on 5/15 I was really disappointed and I found consolation on this site when I saw alot of people are in the SAME boat.

Anonymous said...

GP: what did your total score add up to?

The Grand Poobah said...

My total scaled score was 1365.8811.

Anonymous said...

3:57, you might do better looking at official sources for your information rather than stressing about bar grading conspiracy theories on a blog comment board. That said, 2:47 gave you correct information. If you spent a minute on the actual CA Bar website, you'd find that the official grading policy is outlined in great detail:

There is no one "out to get" repeaters. It's just a matter of learning to write like a lawyer. Practice, practice, practice, and eventually you'll pass. It's a waste of time to look for ways to game the system.

Anonymous said...

12:37 Thanks for the link you provided however I have read that before and it does not contain any information as to separating the exams of first timers or repeaters.

Anonymous said...

So true, about how the exam is graded. But it does not address how they come up with their scaling formula. Although they say it has something to do with making sure one exam that may be more difficult is "valued" the same as an easier exam, that absolutely sounds like a bunch of malarkey.

Because how would they scientifically and accurately quantify that? That is almost hilarious that a bunch of PRIVATE attorneys believe they have the science down of writing a proper exam and scaling it properly. That about beats all. These committee members have an awfully high opinion of themselves, when other states, grade their exams so drastically different from this group.

Anonymous said...

Even the NCBE comes up with the bell curve for their scoring, but oh no, not the CA Bar Committee. Just based on the pass rates, can you envision what the graph would look like if you plotted the scores? Professional testing firms would immediately look at the exam and question its validity based on the numbers that came out or the scaling formula. Unless the pass rate was predetermined through the use of a greatly different scaling formula from prior exams. People who create exams and administer them would question the validity of the test as a whole. Even NCBE throws out questions when everyone gets it wrong. They at least take a look at those.

Anonymous said...

And please, get off the "learning to write like a lawyer" gig. There are too many fine attorneys who are licensed in other states, and write just as lawyerly as the next and then do not pass in CA. What is it? The water? They come to CA and can't "write like a lawyer" any longer? Too funny. It is a licensing exam and a whole lot more is going on than testing for competence here.

Anonymous said...

To GP,
I passed the bar a couple of years ago, but come to this site because I am praying every day for your success and always want to check to see if I can go get drunk and celebrate the good news that you passed.

I am a fan of yours because of what you wrote and what others wrote back to you - really helped me.

You are an inspiration to all.

You would be a great attorney because you are someone who cares - I can tell that because you are so giving in this blog.

I know you have heard this many times from others, but hang in there. You will make it the next time.

My bottle of champagne I bought sits at my desk and waits for you to pass.

Study hard GP, you will make it this time.

Like others have said, your scores indicates that you know the law. Don't give up.

Your devoted fan,
J Soriano, esq.

Anonymous said...

I would say the "secret" to the essays is not so much "writing like a lawyer" but "writing like a good little bar-taker."

Passing answers look like this:

Presentation Clause
To become law, a bill must be presented to and signed by the President within 10 days. In this case, Bill X does not become law because the president was unable to sign it due his being stuck in a submarine until day 11. Thus,
Thus, Bill X is not law.

You aren't going to get a 95 for this type of analysis, but you will pass if you spot the issues. Spot them, state the issue in a heading, state the rule simply, say whether the rule is satisfied or not, and then a simple conclusion.

Blogger said...

I won't blow smoke up your skirt and tell you that your writing was okay. You know you're better than that. I don't know if we discussed it, but Bar Graders is absolutely the way to go for essay writing and PTs (although John Holtz was also helpful - I used a hybrid of the two theories). Wait, I know you said you bought some. But you need to attend their seminars. Go and see and maybe spend one on one time. This is within reach. And, rockstar MBE!

Keep the faith. You'll get there.

Your neighbor.

kris said...

God bless Attorney Soriano.

See children, not all lawyers are assholes.

Anonymous said...

Okay. I've followed your blog for quite awhile, found the comments amusing, annoying, puzzling, and sometimes aggravating, often entertaining. Here's the deal: I passed the CA bar on my 5th attempt, July 08. I took' July 05, Feb & July 06, sat out the entire year 07, got into re-read with a great score in Feb 08, and ultimately passed in July 08.

This past February I took NY & MA concurrently and passed both. For CA and NY I used my laptop, but MA didn't have that option and I had to handwrite my answers (something I hadn't done since 1L six years ago).

The MBEs were never a problem for me either. You don't need to spend much time on them at all if you're taking the July exam. What you need to do is use The Bar Code cheat sheets book and memorize, memorize, memorize. I had similar essay and PT scores, and there is just no way to pass when your scores overall are in that range. Plus I know someone {greybird} asked a question before results were posted, and wondered if he could pass if he hadn't finished one of the PTs. You answered that his chances were as good as anybody's. Not really. I spent a small fortune on 2 tutors who were basically useless, and utterly no help at all on the PTs. My tutor last year is awesome, and he finally showed me how to slow down and read the question without rushing an answer. What I've learned from each tutor - good and bad - is this. You must finish each essay, and PT in order to pass.

When you've had a tough time with the bar exam, the best advice I can give is to utilize only resources from people who have actually worked as bar graders! Everything else is a crap shoot. Heck I guess I could charge thousands of dollars to repeaters and tell them all the stuff I gleaned, but I'd rather really help people.

I know you used visualization technique last time (PowerDreams?). Last summer I took acupuncture 2x week for the 4-5 weeks prior to the exam - it really helped with test anxiety, and with learning to calm myself down. I attribute my prep and the acupuncture to remaining calm during the earthquake, and finishing each task as required.

I'm sure you can do this - and also similar to you I've had major family obligations each time I've taken the exam - it's not impossible, but it's frustratign as hell when your results don't change.

Best of luck - I'm happy to email anybody with specifics about tutor and other info.

Anonymous said...

hi, who is your tutor? Do you mind sharing the information? Like your message a lot.

Anonymous said...

My tutor was Patrick Lin.
Definitely a great tutor, and he has worked as a bar grader so he knows what he's talking about.

The conspiracy theories posted here and elsewhere about the state bar are useless examples of people chasing the perfect answer as to why they didn't pass the bar. Once exams are returned, and the examinee sees the scores on each section of the exam, it's obvious (at least it was to me, and I have a stack of 4 exams worth of failing answers).

Good luck to everybody - especially the repeaters. Also, I found it best not to talk with a lot of people about the exam during the study process. It raises anxiety about the exam and most people "what if" themselves into a panic.

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot

Anonymous said...

I agree focusing on the postive is better than trying to figure out if we are screwed by some sort of scheme. But I found this blog very helpful in terms of getting information and advice as to the difference types of bar prep and tutoring services, some type of emotional support, knowing other people are dealing with the same personal devastation.

I realized I am pretty ignorant about the bar preparation stuff after I came to thsi blog.

I failed feb 09 exam (first time). During my prep for Feb 09 bar, I never checked on any bar prep blogs, websites, or any other bar review books, except Babri and PMBR, never really understood why people said you need to " follow like a sheep" what barbri asked you to do and spend that many time on that, until I read all those blogs. So, the only books I used and the only source I had were just Barbri and PMRB, and I worked full-time...and I did not follow their schedule as a" sheep". I did not even turn in my PT assignments, but two eesays...., for instance.

anyway, I learnt a lot here. Now I know and already purchased some other good books and reorganize my work schedule....thanks to the information shared by people here.

So, thanks, and hopefull I will survive next time, as all of the repeaters here.....

Anonymous said...

Oh hey, I agree it's good to use this blog and other resources to figure out what works for people. About talking a lot with other people, I remember studying at the library and some people would just get really worked up about "predictions", or trying to figure out some easy way to learn a subject. Some of 'em are just tougher than others (and some people have their favorites). Memorization was really the key for me - basically writing out issues and rules from memory...tedious but ultimately what I feel put me over into pass territory.

Anonymous said...

10:49, I spoke to Patrick Lin after failing my 1st attempt. He was nice on our first chat, he said he would go over my essays with me. When i called him to schedule a time to do so, he said to first send him a deposit for his services. Other bar tutors will review your essays for free to see if they can help you. He didnt even want to do that, he just wanted to get paid.

I had a friend who used him and wasnt that happy either -- she failed after using his services.

I posted above about Tina Post, although pricey -- I thought she was great.

Anonymous said...

hi, i just want to know if its worth trying again and whether I should write or type.. My total score is 1411. In MBE, i got a scaled score of 1473 and in Essay and PT, i got 1371.

All my answers were subjected to second reading, and two answers were subject to deliberation because there were differences of more than 10 points.

It was my first time to take the exam in Feb. 09.

Its really frustrating.. I cant still get over it. I am planning to take the exam next February because I think July exam is too close and I may fall into cramming again, like what I did when I prepared for Feb 09.

I think my biggest mistake is when I chose to type rather than to write. I am not fast enough in typing. During the exam, I am so worried on whether or not I can finish my answer on time. I am not focus in organizing my answer, which is very important in passing.

Starting today, June 1 2009, I will start my review and every subject, I will practice 3 essay questions and I will try to compare my answers on the sample answer in the CA Bar website.

I hope I will pass next time!!! and now, I will give all efforts to pass the bar exam, Failing is emotionally draining.
It was my first time to take the CA bar exam

Anonymous said...

GP, when you pass the bar, are you going to combine your IT background with law? If so, how?

Anonymous said...

8:10am -

1411 is really, really close. Are you a fast writer?

Anonymous said...

i'd encourage anybody who gets into re-read to take the exam again on the next sitting. i got into re-read in feb 08, and passed july 08.

Anonymous said...

how close were you in Feb 08?

Anonymous said...

As to Patrick Lin, I decided to use him and will let you know if it is worht it or not.

I got my results reviewed by a few and all thought I don't need a tutor, myself think that way too, just need to practice and practice. But I don't want to take any chances after I failed 2/2009.

Anonymous said...

I got into re-read in Feb 08, i don't remember the exact score. But all my exams were read and scored twice, it was obviously the highest I had scored to that point.

Anonymous said...

I too was in re-read in Feb 2008 with a 1426. I skipped the July 2008 exam. I then took the Feb 2009 exam and dropped over 100 points, with the drop on the essays and PTs.

Anonymous said...

need some info from repeaters

Do you or did you buy new MBE practice programs/questions, or just re-do the MBE problems you did before (plus those left over)?

I attended both Babri and PMBR last time, not sure if I should buy some new problems

thanks a lot

Anonymous said...

I just used the same MBE materials I had. My MBE scores were never a problem. I used Finz and also the Walton/Emmanuel book. That was it.

The Grand Poobah said...

Anon 8:20: Yes, and no. I had some work lined up at one time, but I can't expect people to wait for me forever.

J. Soriano, Esq.: Thanks!

... and much thanks to all.

Anonymous said...

I was also re-read in Feb 09. (that was my first time taking the bar) I also hired Patrick Lin as my tutor this time around. I will let you all know how it goes with him. Our first meeting was informative so far.

Jun said...

Hey at least you gave it your best shot! And like everyone has been saying; your MBE score is great! I would suggest just studying a bit more and possibly do some mock-write ups or something. Don't give up yet! Good luck!

Anonymous said...

If you are looking for a former CA bar grader to be your bar exam tutor for Feb. 2012: