Monday, November 23, 2009

I've Decided To Skip ...

... the Ontario Exam Center this time. (Hah! Gotcha!)

On my application for the February 2010 exam I listed Pasadena as my first choice of locations with Ontario as my second choice (San Diego third).

My mail just arrived. I got into re-read for the first time. My raw scores on the first read were, (drum roll please) ...
  • Essays: 60, 65, 60, 50, 70, 55
  • PTs: 55, 55
  • MBE: 134
On the second read ...
  • Essays: 60, 65, 60, 50, 60, 65
  • PTs: 50, 55
  • MBE: 134 (no change, obviously)
Scaled written = 1342. Scaled MBE = 1504. Total Scaled = 1398

So, I brought up my average essay scores, I blew huge chunks on my PTs (as usual), and I failed to maintain my edge on the MBEs.

And that's the rest of the story.

41 comments:

Anonymous said...

Grabd Poobah,

What would you recommend for someone like me?

I got 3 60's and 3 55's on the essays. I got a 60 on PTA and a 75 on PTB.

But I got 101 on my mbes. What should I do? Micromash? Adaptibar? PMBR?

Anonymous said...

Same boat here. Did ok on the essays - 60, 62.5, 60, 60, 65. 57.5 but blew on the PT's 57.5 and 55. 125 on MBE's. A 60 and 65 on the PT would have passed me.

I need to figure out how to improve my PT's. Sounds like thats the only thing thats stopping you as well. Lets brainstorm how we can do that. Any ideas? So far I only found one book "PASS PT" on the subject. Also, seems Vivian Dempsey has a PT course. I don't like tutors personally. I think they waste study time, but am thinking about it for the PT's. I just dont know how to do well on them. Any Ideas? Any one? Buheler? Bueiler? (Sp?)
I need to fi

Anonymous said...

Alright, now you have me curious. What were the scores on all of your previous tests?

The Grand Poobah said...

Anon: 6:02: I like the Emanuel MBE program.

Anon: 8:31: Rounding roughly (but perhaps within five points): 1380, 1325, 1345, 1375, then this 1398.

Anonymous said...

Hi GP and all, for the July exam I bought the Rigos Bar Review Series for CA essays and PT - they were helpful and I suspect they helped me over the hurdle.

Having taken the exam several times, I concluded it is important to focus on being good at MBE first (because it is objective) and then PT (because one PT = 2 essays) so you definitely cannot blow PTs and good PT scores will provide some cushion for the more difficult and unpredictable essay portion of the exam.

Next for essays, focus on being strong in your essays for the 7 MBE subjects (7 because of crimpro) and PR which is always in the mix somewhere.

If you have time left, get strong on CP, Trust/Wills and Corporation in that order.

For the July exam, I was mostly typing out essay answers and reading PT answers (Rigos review for PT - new to me for the July exam.) I have already been through just about all the review books and study aids out there.

I did the obligatory PMBR, BarBri and Holtz classes for my first attempt. Attended one essay writing seminar in prepping for one of the subsequent exams.

Mostly, I studied on my own using the various review books out there to either make my own notes or just read the essay answers.

I hope the above helps a little. Good luck all and thanks GP for being there for all repeaters who needed moral support at one time or another.

kris said...

What was the pass mark?

Anonymous said...

Kris - Pass is 1440 out of 2000 with written section carrying 65% and MBE 35%.

Scores below 1390 is a straight fail, scores between 1390-1439 gets a second read and average of first and second read must be 1440 and over to pass.

Problem is second read usually lowers score so target is to clear the 1440 and not have second read at all.

Anonymous said...

I suspect that you may be suffering from the fatal flaw of knowing the law TOO WELL. I've seen it happen to the brightest of individuals. The pit fall that this causes is that your analysis (which is THE most important part of you essays) is probably too conclusory. The purpose of the bar is to demonstrate you can reason yourself out of a paper bag. If it was just a matter of memorizing the law, more people would pass.

This one piece of advice that I found helpful from my friend who passed the first time around (as I was going into the second)... Pretend you're explaining to a little kid. As you wrap up each sentence, imagine that there's a kid right there pestering you with "Why?, why?".

I knew the law at least 10x better the first go around. Because of my circumstances, I didn't have time to listen to lectures or read outlines my second time around.

Anonymous said...

Hi GP,
Getting to second reread must have given you hope. You were competing with graduates from top tier school and did not do so bad!

How do you tackle a pt exam? I passed but th PT was never an issue for me. I always consistantly received above 70.
I have a method that I think works.

How many points were given extra for the mbes?

Anonymous said...

I've been following this blog for quite some time and I just want to say, GP, I'm rooting for you.

I'm going to offer some unsolicited advice that I think might be helpful. I sincerely hope this doesn't come off as obnoxious, because I really am just trying to be helpful. So here goes.

I took to the performance tests quite easily. I think it was a combination of my excellent legal writing professor in law school and a good boss at a law firm. As a result, I didn't study for them at all. One practice PT through Barbri and that was it. I passed without a problem.

In your instance, I think you need to stop looking at the PTs as a bar exam strategy and start looking at them in terms of actual law practice. Take a break from the books and get your hands on some well written pleadings and look at those. See what the lawyers are writing and how they are writing them. Find an excellent legal writing instructor to tutor you. Ask a friend who's in a very fact heavy area of law - employment law or criminal law - if you can talk to them, review their pleadings, etc.

I was an older student when I went to law school, and went to school at night, so I see tremendous value in experiential learning and don't think classrooms teach you everything.

My guess is that you are probably a lot like me. You worked through law school and went to a non-traditional program because you probably prefer that type of atmosphere. And it worked out for you. So, why not embrace that when preparing for the bar, and look for more experiential ways to learn the material? It might resonate with you a little better than the traditional classroom and bar prep methods.

Best of luck!

ACF

Anonymous said...

Hi GP,

Just wanted to let you know that I am rooting for you as well. I just passed the July exam on my first attempt, and I just wanted to pass along some knowledge I received from a professor. He said that it is almost impossible to pass the exam if you flop on the PTs because, as a previous poster already mentioned, these are worth 2 essays. With that said, you should definitely focus on PTs this time around. Try to complete at least 20 PTs before February and you should be able to recognize the patterns and structure your PT appropriately. A large part of doing well on the PTs is STRUCTURE/ORGANIZATION and citing the hell out of the cases.

Just wanted to contribute my $.02. Stick with it and we all know you will get it done soon enough!!

Anonymous said...

I just passed the July 09 CA bar on my second try. First try was 17 years ago. I can say what helped me this time was practice, practice, practice, and I mean really doing the writing, reading sample answers and using suggested writing styles on your essays.

Of particularly good use was the Jeff Adachi (sp?) Bar Breaker book. Make sure you get the New Edition because it has the material required by the CA bar after 2007 in it. That book really gives you great tips for writing each essay type and for each subject area. I am sure there are other good ones out there, but this is what worked for me. Then you just need to write essays in each subject area. I would suggest at least 3 practice essays on each subject...more if you are having problems in a particular area.

Also, I did over 3000 MBE questions. I paid for BARBRI and used their SmartStudy program, and did 25-33 every day at lunch while I was working, and then 100 every day when I took time off closer to the bar exam. There are other programs you can use too, but the important part if doing the practice questions. Most people suggest you do a minimum of 2000-3000 as practice before you take the bar exam.


As for the PTs, I don't know what to recommend for those. I have always really liked them having worked in a law office for many years, and writing briefs, etc almost daily. If you don't have that luxury, I would suggest just getting the past questions and model answers from the CA state bar, and work from there.

I wish all of you the best of luck.

Anonymous said...

For Essays......Buy Adachi's Essay book (it is pink)

For PTs....do a lot of them and you will see that they all ask you to do the same thing...read the instructions, follow the instructions EXACTLY. There is a library which has the law and a set of facts that you must apply to the law you are given. Read the legal library once, pull out the law, type it into your essay, read the facts once and write them into your essay....done. Don't waste your time outlining.

Finally...tutors are a waste of time and money. IRAC is the key.

Good luck to all. GP you are an inspiration.

Anonymous said...

For MBEs....do thousands. You will see a pattern after a while. If you can get your hands on PMBR books, use them, they are much harder and they will force you to learn the law that much better.

Anonymous said...

ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS ($100) to anyone who has the 2009 (Blue) Conviser and would like to part with it.

My email is: gan32@cox.net

Thank you in advance.

kris said...

It looks like progress to me. So you dipped your multi-guess a bit from last time, but you have improved your essays. There must be a formula for the PTs

Is doing the PT the same as writing a legal memo?

Anonymous said...

GP,

So long as you read quickly and can type, performance tests should be a helpful buffer for you against the essays - not a point of stress.

You need to keep two simple things in mind. First, do EXACTLY what they're asking you to do in the memo (and nothing more!). Second, you need to constantly keep your audience in mind - and if they tell you who your client is - tell the reader why your approach serves the client's goals.

The PTs are about following directions. They aren't hard once you realize what they want you to do. If you're getting below 65s on them, something's wrong with your approach.

I wish you the best of luck in '10, GP.

Anonymous said...

GP,

Just passed on my first time, but PT's were my sore point too.
Have you tried that PT Workshop, they only charge you if you pass, so it might be worth a shot.

I ended up not doing it and just practicing PT's with my friend. What finally clicked with me for PT's was that its a lot about clarity and organization. I HAD to take a 5 minute break, then used 15 minutes just to make a very rough outline of my whole answer, then fill it in (alloting roughly equal time for each section).

Good Luck on your next one!

Anonymous said...

Hmmm... from your comments on the essay issues, it sounds like you should have passed each. It sounds like your headings and writing needs work. Use the format in the book the Bar Code and you should pass. (and of course work on PT's)

Anonymous said...

I have been following your blog since you started. At times, I read it more than others. I actually sat near you in Feb. in Ontario but with all the stress of the exam, I was foolish and didn't introduce myself. I have commented before. I wanted to tell you that your blog is and has been inspiring. I am proud to say that I have finally passed this exam on my NINTH TRY. Don't give up! Keep going! In the end, YOU WILL PASS. I was reading some of the earlier comments, SKIP ADAPTIBAR AND MICROMASH. Stick to the PMBR books and rotate wtih something else, I really like Strategies and Tactics for the MBE's.

Anonymous said...

For MBEs, the BarBri software is great. It allows you to take timed questions, allows you to specify the number of questions you want to do, and lets you flag questions to revisit.

It also has an electronic copy of the Conviser built in. When you miss a question, you can see the relevant part of the Conviser linked.

GL.

Anonymous said...

Dear GP, I believe your only problem is PT. Practice all the past PT exams and remember the structure of the answers. You will find that there were only several types of answers. This really works for me and I believe it will work for you in 2010. All my best wishes. by a foreign Chinese lawyer who tried several times

JLB said...

Agree with the commenter who said you my know the law too well for essay exams.

The key to the bar exam has more to do with law practice than one might initially think. The law for the bar purposes is not totally correct. The idea that one should memorize the law and never refer to it in practicing is a recipe for malpractice. So from those perspectives the Bar is worthless.

That being said, however, the skill that you must master on the bar is getting people who want to spend as little time as possible reviewing your writing to the point as quickly as possible. That is your audience. They have no patience for rambling, no patience for things that are not truly relevant (this is in contrast to most law professors by the way), and no patience for writing that does not bring them to an understanding quickly.

Bar graders are not the only folks in the legal profession that share such a mentality. They are everywhere in practice. They are judges, law clerks, and hot shot partners. To me this is the only aspect of the bar essay that has any value in determining whether one is competent to practice law. It's less a question of knowing the law, though this is very important for your MBE score (which I believe you should focus on as well), and more a question of what kind of communicator you are.

The suggestion about writing to a little kid is an excellent one, no doubt. I would take it further, however:
When you get to the PTs and read through them make an outline based on whatever precise language you can find in the assignment or problem (e.g. answer the question absolutely as straight forward as you possibly can) Think about what you would be expecting to see if you were grading this question. All PT answers should be utterly conventional. Save creativity for when you pass.

This game is all about getting the grader satisfied as efficiently as possible. Same with say a motion - get the law clerk or judge satisfied quickly, a memo, get the partner satisfied as quickly as possible.

Keep it absolutely simple. Your answer should have 0 creativity. You don't have to vary word choices, sentence beginnings, or paragraph beginnings. This is not a creative writing exercise; no one cares about your writing style (you are, no doubt, a good writer) let that go in favor of pure and utter convention designed to get the grader to the answer they are looking for quickly. All of the most important theories should be at the beginning. All of the least important theories should be at the end. Analysis is always done in a separate paragraph. That paragraph always, every time, starts with the same exact opening phrase (e.g. here, in this case, analyzing or the like).

If it is a PT each paragraph beginning is the proposition or conclusion that it stands for.

JLB said...

Abandon IRAC completely. The reason: the reader has to read the entire paragraph to understand the basic proposition. There is nothing to prepare the reader for the conclusion and they are forced to dive in the entire paragraph. The details shall always follow a sentence that sums up your conclusion. This is sometimes called CRAC. (Conclusion Rule Analysis Cases) Notice: Conclusion comes first. Inductive arguments are made second, and analogical arguments are always made at the end. This is the same way advocacy writing is normally done.

Some writing profs will tell you that this format does not work for objective memos. Baloney. This format can work just as well in objective memos. In such case you simply alter the position paragraph to paragraph.

As for the source of the PT issue, I believe, in part, that this stems from your technical background (I am also technical and sympathize with that). In law practice you are to provide analysis to the partner or judge so they don't have to do it. You are teaching them the law and the reasons why you are right. You are NOT (as it sometimes feels like in law school) telling them things they already know. You cannot assume that your audience knows anything about the law. You need to take the PTs (and probably the essays) with the former mind set.

JLB said...

Abandon IRAC completely. The reason: the reader has to read the entire paragraph to understand the basic proposition. There is nothing to prepare the reader for the conclusion and they are forced to dive in the entire paragraph. The details shall always follow a sentence that sums up your conclusion. This is sometimes called CRAC. (Conclusion Rule Analysis Cases) Notice: Conclusion comes first. Inductive arguments are made second, and analogical arguments are always made at the end. This is the same way advocacy writing is normally done.

Some writing profs will tell you that this format does not work for objective memos. Baloney. This format can work just as well in objective memos. In such case you simply alter the position paragraph to paragraph.

As for the source of the PT issue, I believe, in part, that this stems from your technical background (I am also technical and sympathize with that). In law practice you are to provide analysis to the partner or judge so they don't have to do it. You are teaching them the law and the reasons why you are right. You are NOT (as it sometimes feels like in law school) telling them things they already know. You cannot assume that your audience knows anything about the law. You need to take the PTs (and probably the essays) with the former mind set.

Anonymous said...

The Bar Exam is not rocket science, it is all about IRAC. Everyone who passes thinks they know the "formula" for passing the bar. There is so much crap put out by "experts". Stick to IRAC and make it easy for the grader to read. It is that simple. Abandon IRAC completely is perhaps the worst advice I have seen so far.

JLB said...

(1) There is indeed no specific formula.

(2) But IRAC should be abandoned to the extent it requires you to not explain the conclusion up front. No need to build suspense on the bar exam. I'm aware that IRAC has a different definition to different people, despite the seemingly straight forward acronym. But abandoning 'rigid' IRAC in favor of a format which puts the conclusion first, which is what practitioners ordinarily do, will make it easier to read. Otherwise practitioners would rigidly follow IRAC and always 'build suspense, by putting their conclusions at the end. I suggested a related CRAC format instead, particularly for the PTs. Unfortunately the advice I gave does take some more in-depth thought about what IRAC is and why it is not efficient for the reader, and divorcing oneself from dogmatic academic 'rules' The two items you list, IRAC and make it easy to for the grader to read, are, at the extreme, impossible.

But some people would call CRAC IRAC. It all depends on how you interpret IRAC. The issue is generally implied by the conclusion postulated; therefore CRAC could be considered a 'form' of IRAC at least as far as the first three letters are concerned.

Anonymous said...

i agree w/anon 11:48
you want your essays to be like everyone else's.

Anonymous said...

Dear GP
I came to your site, as I do every time results are posted - hoping I can finally open that bottle of champagne I bought to celebrate the good news that you passed with you. I live in S.F.

Guess that bottle will have to sit in my office until next year when you pass. I will pray for your passing success again.

I did not pass until the 10th time, which was more than 10 years later (I skipped a couple of years in the middle, and then only took the exam once per year) - to spread out the studying. I learned this from friends who passed on their 5th, 6th, 8th attempts. Trying to CRAM every time for every 6 mos cuts down on the quality of your studying.

The friends that advised me said it's almost impossible to cram 14 subjects into a studying schedule of only 5 mos - it's like throwing a lot of food into a blender, hoping you will recognize something that comes out the other end.

You need to FOCUS on just a few subjects at a time, so that you can recall the law since we never know what the bar examiners will throw at us. We have to be an expert and be well versed on all the subjects.

Studying one year can accomplish this - so good luck to you. I hope that you reconsider tackling the next exam so soon. Perhaps you can try for the July bar and give yourself more time to prepare, a little time to relax too.

I will follow your site until I hear the good news Grand Pooh Bah.

I want to drink that champagne !

Love,
your loyal follower and admirer

Anonymous said...

you are an inspiration to many. perseverance is a wonderful characteristic. that said, it's a waste or your time to focus on the mbe's. Unless and until you improve your PTs you'll have a rough go of it, and your essay writing is close, but you're not consistent yet.

The bar exam is a formula....I know because it took me 5 times to pass. Frankly your blog is interesting, but I don't know how much it's helped you.

Anonymous said...

I know that you read every single comment, so I will say this even though you really dont need to hear it...

The essay questions are over-rated in terms of points. The PT's are sooo important because you don't have to study them, you just have to figure out how to write them. Make it simple. It's silly really to be so wordy, and that goes with the whole of the exam. Break you answers up into small little segments, with big bold headings. Follow the PT's format, and like I said, don't get wordy. Just make it simple and organized. If you master the PT's, there is no doubt in my mind that you will pass.

Scott said...

Poobah, looks like the PT's are killing you. Have you tried John Holtz's seminars? He does PT only.

legis said...

You seem to be doing well with essays so if I were you I'd keep doing whatever you've been doing with those.

Your MBEs probably need to be a bit higher. For anyone who needs to raise MBEs (including myself) I really truly believe that the answer is 1) to focus study on topics that are tested most often (like contract formation and negligence and Constitutional Law Individual Rights (like due process): http://www.barwriteblog.com/2005/06/three_mbe_tips_.html) and 2) go slower and analyze the hell out of each question (10 or 15 at a time). You have no idea how this emphasis helped me finally get a passing score on the MBE after years of getting 120s.

As for PT's, it looks like you need help on those. I don't know what to say about that, because I haven't found an approach that consistently helps in getting high scores. I often do well on those because I favor experiential things but sometimes I really blow it, like I did this past summer. Maybe you should go to a PT specialist for those.

I still think you should skip Feb and just use that time to focus on improving whatever you need to improve, but it's up to you. Good luck to the both of us! :D

Anonymous said...

Did you take the Emanuel MBE Exerciser or did you take the MBE Refresher course?

I really really need to get my MBE's up. They are killing me.

Anonymous said...

Here are the basic rules that I followed for the PTs:

(1) Follow the instructions to the letter -- even if they are absurd
(2) Use the language in the task memo verbatim to organize the answer (headings)
(3) Cases are there for elements, not legal reasoning
(4) Graders look for keywords, not concepts

(1) and (2) ensure that you get the outline right, i.e., that the grader's expectations of "what's next" won't be frustrated. (3) is critical. Don't use the cases to support your legal argument -- there is none. The PT is not a legal test. It is a reading comprehension and text filtering test. The cases will give you the exact structure of the pseudo-"legal analysis" and/or the elements for which you will have to gather the facts. (4) means that there are a handful of "issues" in every PT that need to be addressed. My rule was: Anything that's repeated more than twice in the case file or the cases is an issue.

Hope this helps.

Anonymous said...

I failed the July bar too. Now I am considering to take the February one. Have any of you heard of a rumor regarding the curve of the February's pass rate? I am just wondering why the pass rate of February's bar was always very low. Any ideas? By the way, I didn't take the Barbri review courses. I am wondering whether any of you have a very nice Barbri review notes that I can purchase? My email is xliuxiao@gmail.com. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

What was the raw passing score for the MBE portion?

Anonymous said...

As a repeater (passed on 5th try), i recommend san diego. If nothing else it's a change of venue, and frankly the proctors are much more relaxed. I took it...pasadena, pasadena, san diego, san diego...century city!

Anonymous said...

Pay for Tina Post and you would have passed this exam because you would have 75's on both PT's

Sean McGinnis said...

Good morning. I wanted to let you know that MicroMash is giving away 7 free bar reviews to repeaters on December 21st. We are celebrating the success of two of our customers who passed their respective exams on the 7th and 9th try. You can find more detail, including entry procedures on our web site: http://www.micromashbar.com/FREE-Bar-Review-Contest.shtml

Please feel free to pass this information along to anyone that might be interested. Also, feel free to contact me directly with any questions you may have.

Thanks.

Sean McGinnis
Managing Director
MicroMash Bar Review
sean.mcginnis -at - micromashbar.com

Anonymous said...

I think it sucks that your 70 essay went down to 60 on re-read. Something does not smell right there. How can it differ by 10 full points? They are supposed to be grading for overall performance or "holistically"...according to a former bar grader/tutor.