McGeorge Bar Prep

What You Need to Succeed on the CA Bar Exam

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  • January 2017
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The Importance of Self-Assessment

Posted by mcgeorgebarprep on January 19, 2017

The previous post explained that realistic practice is the key to success on the bar exam…but what about review?  Answer review is almost as vital as the act of writing out exams under timed conditions, but bar applicants cannot get professional feedback on every essay and PT they simulate, especially if they simulate as many as they should.

Many applicants think that they are incapable of reviewing their own exam answers, and this sometimes dissuades them from simulating exams on their own if there is no one available to provide feedback.  Not so — you ARE capable of reviewing your own answers!  Getting feedback from outside sources is great, but self-critique is just as great, if not better.  The better you get at recognizing flaws in your own writing, the easier it will be to eliminate those flaws as you write.  You need to be your own best critic when you’re sitting in the exam room next month.

Below are two charts to help you methodically compare your answers to the sample answers.  If you complete them for multiple exams, you should start to see patterns for improvement — e.g., not using enough specific, relevant facts, regularly missing certain issues, following a different argument order than that recommended by PT task memos, etc.  Even if you can’t complete a chart every time you write a practice exam, you still can read the sample answer(s) with the same methodical comparison concepts in mind.

So yes, feedback is great, and you should take advantage of it whenever possible — through the Extra Feedback Program and your bar review company, for example — but don’t be discouraged by the prospect of self-review.  And most of all, keep practicing!!

Essay Answer Comparison Chart

PT Answer Comparison Chart

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Practice Makes Progress

Posted by mcgeorgebarprep on January 14, 2017

Some things are more frightening than others:  going to dinner for the first time with your significant other’s family…singing in front of an audience…writing a practice essay when you don’t know the law very well…

We can’t help much here with the first two things, but there is tried and true advice that will allow you to overcome the third:  just do it.

Most law students are perfectionists, or at the very least are harder on themselves than anyone else.  Complicating matters is the nature of bar study; it is not humanly possible to know EVERYTHING about every single testable subject, so it is impossible for perfectionists to reach the perfection they crave.  Yet they keep striving toward that goal, knowing that simulating practice essays is a vital step toward success on the bar exam, but pushing that task back further and further as they try to learn the law just a LITTLE better first.

Do not fall into that trap.  If someone waits until she feels like she knows the law well enough to write a practice essay, she never will write a practice essay — until next summer, when she’s studying for the second time and more willing to accept that writing practice is absolutely necessary.  Do not allow yourself to be that person!  If you have not been simulating practice exams faithfully yet, start doing so TODAY.  Your goal by the end of February should be at least 30-40 fully simulated essays and 5-6 PTs.

At this point, it is okay to have your notes open nearby if you feel like you must; but sometime in the next couple of weeks, close your books and just dive in.  Either way, abide by strict time rules (60 minutes for essays, 3 hours for PTs), outline your answers before starting to write, don’t take breaks in the middle, and don’t look at the sample answers until you are finished.  And really simulate the exam; issue-spotting alone is not enough.

But what happens if you can’t remember the rules and you wind up writing the worst answer in the history of bar answers?  Nothing.  That’s why it’s called “practice.”

Well, it’s not entirely true that nothing will happen.  You will learn the law.  You are FAR more likely to remember rules after actively struggling with them in the context of a fact pattern for an hour than you are if you just passively read them in an outline.

If you are a perfectionist, and even if you’re not, do not wait to fully write out practice essays until you learn the law.  Fully simulating timed practice exams and comparing your work to the sample answers is a HUGE part of the learning process.  Bar writing practice may not make perfect, but it does make progress toward never having to study for the bar again!


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“Sterile IRAC” Lecture Tuesday @ 6:00

Posted by mcgeorgebarprep on January 2, 2017

Happy New Year!  This is a friendly reminder that McGeorge students and graduates are welcome at the upcoming “Sterile IRAC” lecture with past CA Bar grader Belia Ramos.  For more information, see this earlier post.

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Winter 2017 Extra Feedback Program

Posted by mcgeorgebarprep on December 15, 2016

The Extra Feedback Program allows McGeorge graduates to submit selected practice exams for individualized comments from an experienced bar program grader.  All graduates taking the CA Bar Exam are welcome to participate, whether planning to sit for the first time or retaking the exam.

Since the Extra Feedback Program’s inception in 2010, McGeorge graduates who participate have passed the bar at higher rates than those who do not.  Mark your calendar now and don’t miss out!



Questions and answers are available below:

Question 1: PT

(PT Answer)


Question 2: Torts

(Torts Answer)


Question 3: Con Law 

(Con Law Answer)


Question 4: PR

(PR Answer)


EFP Schedule in PDF



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Bar 101 Wednesday @ 6:00

Posted by mcgeorgebarprep on December 12, 2016

This is a friendly reminder that McGeorge students and graduates are welcome at the upcoming “Bar Exam 101” lecture with past CA Bar grader Belia Ramos.  For more information, see the post below.

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2 Bar Preparation Lectures with Belia Ramos

Posted by mcgeorgebarprep on December 1, 2016

All McGeorge students and graduates are welcome to attend the following lectures:

(1) “Bar Exam 101,” a lecture with Belia Ramos, will take place on Wednesday, December 14, from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m.

Bar Exam 101:  Belia Ramos is an ex-CA Bar Exam grader and longtime tutor who will walk you through real-world information about how the bar exam is graded, practical study tips and advice on how to structure your study schedule, and specific suggestions about how many practice exams and MBE questions you need to complete to succeed.  To RSVP and get room location information, please email


(2) Ms. Ramos also will present her well-received “Sterile IRAC” lecture twice in January:  Tuesday, Jan. 3 –OR– Wednesday, Jan. 11 (same lecture on both dates), also from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m.

Sterile IRAC:  Ms. Ramos will guide you through a proven strategy for attacking essay questions on the California Bar Exam. You will walk away with concrete examples about how to outline an essay exam answer by identifying the issues, rules, and, most importantly, the relevant facts in the essay prompt, all of which translate into a strong and passing essay answer.  Please email to RSVP for one of these dates and receive room information.



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For Those Not Celebrating Yet

Posted by mcgeorgebarprep on November 19, 2016

While we are thrilled for those who received positive results last night, we are mindful of those who are not celebrating yet.  If that applies to you, please know first that this score does NOT define you or your ability to have a successful career.  More tremendously successful lawyers than I can count were not successful on their first CA Bar Exam (previous Dean of Stanford Law, anyone?).

When you receive your score sheet, you are welcome to take a picture of it and email it to me so I can review it and see if it suggests any areas on which to focus moving forward.  If you plan to take the February 2017 exam and graduated from McGeorge, I encourage you to participate in the free Extra Feedback Program, the schedule for which will be posted here on the blog as soon as it is ready (likely later in December).  Any McGeorge graduate in the area also is welcome at the upcoming bar lectures held on campus:  Belia Ramos will host “Bar Exam 101” on Dec. 14 at 6:00 p.m., and “Sterile IRAC” on Jan. 3 or Jan. 11, also at 6:00 p.m. (RSVP & get room info at

If you do plan to forge ahead and attack the February exam, do yourself a favor and make the most of the next few weeks.  It may be tempting to put things off and give yourself a break until after the holidays, but that will cause you to lose over a month of time — which, as you know, makes a big difference!  You don’t necessarily have to dive in at 100% right now, but sit down and make a definitive plan for how you will use this time to your advantage.  Just saying generally that you’re going to “study” won’t cut it.

For example, there are 42 days (six weeks) from November 20 until January 1.  If I were studying during that time, I might focus first on the seven MBE subjects, devoting six days to each.  Here is a sample breakdown:

Day 1: 10 Con Law MBEs with quality answer review, making flash cards or notes for those rules, and review 1/3 of the substantive Con Law outline & make flash cards or notes

Day 2: Same (10 Con Law MBEs w/ answer review and second third of the Con Law outline, adding to flash cards/notes)

Day 3: Same (10 Con Law MBEs w/ answer review and final third of the Con Law outline, adding to flash cards/notes)

Day 4: 20 Con Law MBEs with quality answer review & flash cards/notes

Day 5: Review flash cards/notes; write & review 1 Con Law essay

Day 6: Day off (It’s okay to take a day off now, but don’t take a day off each week during “crunch time” in January & February!)

[Repeat for the other six subjects]

You might think this schedule is light compared to how you studied last summer, and it is; the holidays are busy, and you should spend time with loved ones if you can.  Quality review of the MBE subjects — to re-familiarize yourself with them, not to memorize them yet — will give you a solid foundation moving forward into the more intense study period after the new year when you do need to start memorizing, and it will reduce the likelihood of burnout.

That said, make the time your own.  You know yourself best, so focus on your weak areas first so you can revisit them more often later, and if you want to do more, go for it.  Just make some kind of daily schedule for yourself so you will be far more likely to make it happen.

If you would like to set up an appointment to discuss your schedule or preparation strategies, you are welcome to email me and we can arrange it.  Either way, I wish you all the best moving forward!


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Everything will be okay.

Posted by mcgeorgebarprep on November 16, 2016

If you took the July 2016 bar and feel a little on-edge right now, you’re not alone.  To me, this period of waiting and uncertainty was the worst part of bar prep, and it all came to a head during the week results were to be released.  It’s much easier said than done, but please try to remember that no matter what happens on Friday night, IT WILL BE OKAY.  It may feel like your entire life hinges on these results, but it really doesn’t, so try to keep as healthy a perspective as you can.  Remember that the people who love you on Friday afternoon will not stop loving you on Friday night, regardless of what the outcome is — and don’t those people matter more than anything else?

I know this is hard, and I know it’s no fun.  I also know that whether your score is high or low, it does NOT define you or your ability to have a successful career.  So take a deep breath (or 20), and remind yourself that everything will be okay no matter what.

I’m rooting for you!  Please keep me posted either way.

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Mastering CA PTs Lecture

Posted by mcgeorgebarprep on October 8, 2016

Any McGeorge graduate planning to sit for the CA Bar Exam this February is welcome to attend one of the following lectures focused on CA performance tests (PTs):

Tuesday, October 25, 6:15 p.m.

Friday, October 28, 2:45 p.m.

Tuesday, November 1, 2:45 p.m.

These lectures are all the same, so you only need to choose one.  If you do not know about the three-hour PTs that will appear on the February 2017 CA Bar, or if you know but would like a refresher regarding how to attack them, this lecture is for you.  It likely will last around 2-2.5 hours.

If you are interested in attending, email Professor Lee with your date choice and she will provide you with the room location and materials to read in advance.


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MBE Changes

Posted by mcgeorgebarprep on September 1, 2016

The NCBE has announced that starting in February 2017 there will be 175 scored questions on the MBE, and 25 unscored “pretest” questions. (In the past it was 190 scored and 10 unscored.)  From the NCBE:

“MBE scores will continue to be expressed on a 200-point scale. Because MBE scores are equated and scaled, scores will still be comparable to those earned when there were more scored questions. The change was made in consultation with our testing and measurement staff with the goal [of] further strengthening of the MBE. The change should require nothing different in terms of preparation for the test.”

Although they assure us that this does not affect the difficulty of the test and that it does not mean that applicants should prepare differently, fewer graded questions means that each individual question will be worth a little more.  And that’s okay, because you have plenty of time and the tools you need to prepare to knock that portion of the exam out of the park.

My advice for getting a head start on your MBE prep is to use Adaptibar every week, starting now (even if you plan to sit for the exam in July).  On the weekend, pick a subject and complete 5-10 untimed questions and review the answers — that’s it.  You don’t need to kill yourself, or even to start memorizing the law right now; but this will help you revisit rules that you may not have seen for a few years.  Don’t worry if you don’t answer all (or any) of the questions correctly right now, as long as you review every answer.  Careful, slow consideration of the questions and answers is vital, and it will help you understand the law, setting a firm foundation for when the time does come to start memorizing.

You also can use that time as an opportunity to make some flashcards, or whatever other study aid you prefer.  For example, if you review just five questions each week and make a flashcard for each rule tested, you would have a stack of 80 cards by the end of December.  Taking little steps like this now can give you a major head start later.

If you are graduating in winter 2016 or spring 2017 and do not know how to purchase Adaptibar at the special McGeorge rate, you are welcome to email me at That software is required in PASS I and Remedies, but even if you are not taking those courses until next semester, you still can purchase it now, start practicing early, and retain access through your 2017 bar exam.

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