McGeorge Bar Prep

What You Need to Succeed on the CA Bar Exam

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Archive for June, 2017

EFP Torts Essay Due Tomorrow @ 6

Posted by mcgeorgebarprep on June 27, 2017

The next Extra Feedback opportunity is a challenging Torts essay, which is due by no later than Wednesday, June 28, at 6:00 p.m.  Find submission instructions, the question, and the sample answer here.



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Mid-Prep Motivation

Posted by mcgeorgebarprep on June 26, 2017

With Bar Month approaching and more bar applicants hitting the wall of stress and exhaustion, now might be a good time to share some motivational thoughts for the last half of the journey. I have been where you are: I felt frustrated, tired, scared, overwhelmed, and sometimes like an imposter (like it must have been a typo somewhere that let me graduate from law school in the first place). Hundreds of thousands of others have been there, too, and thousands more are here with you now. We did–and you will–get through it. Here are some things to keep in mind as you climb that wall:

The bar is an opportunity, not a punishment. 

You may feel like you “have” to take the bar because you’ve spent so much time and money and you need to get/keep that job, etc., but taking the bar is a choice.  Even if it may feel like the only one, you still GET to take the bar…and we are so lucky to have that opportunity!

There are so many people who never get to this stage and would give just about anything to be where you are: people living in repressive cultures, people who could not make the grades or find the funds to go to law school, etc.  You do not have to look far to find them.  We are lucky in so many ways, and being able to make the choice to take the bar exam is a big one. Be grateful.

This may be the last time in your life that you’ll only have one thing to do.  Enjoy it! 

Okay, “enjoy” might be a little strong, but honestly, often I am nostalgic for my bar prep days.  Every morning, I knew I had only one thing to do (even though that one thing had many components, like writing practice, MBEs, flash cards, exercise, etc.).  It was tedious (understatement), but I could be selfish with my time, and the people around me allowed it. Once you begin your career, it probably will be the opposite, as people pull you in all different directions at once and your devices don’t stop ringing and beeping with problems you need to fix yesterday…but for now, you are in control of your time.  Try to appreciate that.

No matter what, everything that really matters will be okay.

The bar exam is a test–that’s it.  It’s an important, difficult test that we all want you to pass on the first try, but it’s still just a test. Think about the things that really matter to you:  your family, your friends, your pets, your faith, your values, etc.  You have been working so hard, and you are going to pass the bar; but regardless of the outcome, your family and friends will not go away or stop loving you, and those things that really matter will not change.

The graders want you to pass. 

Graders are regular people with regular legal jobs who grade as a public service and who want to see applicants pass.  They did not write the questions, and they are not the enemy!  The bar is your chance to show off all the hard work and preparation you’ve done.  Graders have to get through huge boxes of answer books in very short periods of time, but you know how to write your answers in such a way as to make it easy for them to toss your papers onto the “pass” pile. Don’t dread the bar exam; be excited to show the graders how hard you’ve worked, and how awesome of an attorney you will be when they pass you.

Doable goals can help. 

I’ve talked with a lot of graduates so far this summer, and almost every one — from the top of the class to the bottom — feels like s/he is behind in some way. If you feel similarly, don’t look at the list of tasks you still have to complete as one giant mass; break it down into pieces.  For example, if there are four essays and 30 MBEs you needed to simulate but haven’t yet, don’t assume you need to find an open span of five hours to finish them.  Move one essay and maybe ten MBEs to one day, another essay and another group of MBEs to another, and so forth.  Set smaller, doable goals each day, and create a checklist for them.  (Do not underestimate that joy that comes from crossing something off!  I still do that every day and it makes me smile each time, no matter how small the task was.)

Do not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. 

Law students are accustomed to working as hard as humanly possible to be the best. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, and it’s good to aim for perfection, but don’t lose sight of the fact that there is no Witkin for the bar exam.  Do not get so caught up in “bar drama” that you lose sight of this; yes, it’s hard, but acknowledge that and keep going rather than wallowing in it.  The only way out is through, and as noted above, hundreds of thousands of others have made it before, and so will you.

Related to that, be careful not to allow anxiety to sabotage your efforts.  You graduated from a law school with a rigorous academic curriculum, and you can do this, too.  Keep practicing and working hard, and know that you absolutely, positively CAN PASS the bar exam!!



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Windows 10 Creators Update NOT Compatible with ExamSoft

Posted by mcgeorgebarprep on June 16, 2017

If you plan to take the July 2017 CA Bar Exam, please note that the Windows 10 Creators update is NOT compatible with ExamSoft.  Here are instructions for how to delay the update, and here are instructions for how to uninstall it if it’s already on your computer.  There also is a workaround, but when contacted about it, the CA State Bar said, “We will be advising takers that Windows 10 is not supported and if someone shows up for the exam and his/her computer doesn’t work because of that issue, he/she will be required to handwrite the exam, which is the case in any event where an applicant is unable to use a computer.”

We are waiting for the CA State Bar to release an official announcement, and we will link it here when they do.  We do not have any further information at this time, so if you have questions, you may contact ExamSoft Support, Technology Specialist Dan Breuer, or the CA State Bar (press 0 when calling on the phone to speak with someone directly).

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Free Feedback & Tacos

Posted by mcgeorgebarprep on June 14, 2017

**Reminder:  Submit your answer to the Extra Feedback Program Property essay by no later than tonight (June 14) at 6:00 p.m.**

And if you need some fuel before writing it, come to the Quad between 12:15 and 1:30 for a taco lunch sponsored by the CDO.  From the CDO:

Are you studying for the bar exam on campus? Stop by the Quad WEDNESDAY, JUNE 14 from 12:15 p.m.–1:30 p.m. for a taco lunch provided by Bon Appetit. Food is available on a first-come, first-served basis. If you passed the February bar or aren’t studying for the bar exam in Sacramento, please let us know!



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Bar Practice Opportunities

Posted by mcgeorgebarprep on June 12, 2017

All McGeorge graduates planning to sit for the July 2017 California Bar Exam are welcome to attend the following writing simulations.  RSVP* to (be sure to include the “1”) by the deadlines noted below to secure your spot and ensure that we have question and answer packets printed for you.

Preference for space will be given to graduates in BEAT and those who RSVP.  All sessions will begin promptly at 9:00 a.m. in Classroom H, so arrive early to set up, and be ready to begin writing at 9:00. Typists will be using Word, not ExamSoft.


1. Half-Day Essay Simulation (3 Essays)

Friday, June 23 -OR- Saturday, June 24

RSVP with your date preference by no later than Thursday, June 22, at noon.*


2. Full-Day Writing Simulation (5 Essays & a PT)

Saturday, July 8

RSVP by no later than Thursday, July 6, at noon.*

Like the bar exam, there will be a 90-minute break during this session from noon to 1:30 p.m.  Lunch will not be provided, so please plan accordingly.


*Note:  Graduates in BEAT do not need to RSVP. 


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Focus on Tasks, Not Time

Posted by mcgeorgebarprep on June 8, 2017

Several graduates recently have asked how much time they should be spending on bar prep each day.  That is a common question, but the answer truly depends on every individual.

For example, imagine that someone told Person X and Person Y that they need to spend eight to ten hours each day on bar prep.  So X and Y dutifully wake up and head to their preferred study spaces to begin, and each stays there from 8:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. (with a few breaks).  If X is focused and engaged in the material but Y tends to daydream or is easily distracted, Y will get far less out of that time than X.  Yet if X and Y only were tracking how much time they were spending each day, both could say that they were “on track.”  If this remains true for the entire summer, and X passes the bar exam but Y does not, Y will not understand what happened, since Y “spent 10 hours a day studying, just like X.”  This is one reason why focusing only on how much time you spend is dangerous.

Of course bar preparation is a very time-intensive endeavor, and you should be spending the majority of your days working at it; but instead of tracking how many hours per day you spend at your desk, focus instead on the tasks you want to complete each day.  Instead of beginning the day by thinking, “I need to spend ten hours studying today,” try, “Okay, today I need to write two practice essays and review the answers, review the Contracts lecture outline, complete 34 MBEs, and work on my attack sheet for Property.”  That may take you ten hours, and it may not.  Instead of adapting the tasks you complete to fit how much time you want to spend, adapt how much time you spend to fit the tasks you want to complete.

A sizeable chunk of every day should be spent preparing, but every day will be different; it may take ten hours to complete your tasks on one day, and on another day it may take seven.  On yet another day, you may not finish before needing to go to sleep (or perhaps you need to budget for some time off for a planned event), so you will have to move a few tasks to different days.  Regardless, you will be using your time far more effectively than if you were just going through the motions to say that you spend X number of hours per day “studying.”  To give you an idea of what tasks you should be working on in addition to reading outlines and viewing lectures, by the end of the summer you should have completed at least 45-50 timed essays, 5-6 timed PTs, and 1600-1800 MBEs.

So focus more on the tasks you complete and less on the time you spend (unless you’re writing a timed practice essay or PT, of course!), and your bar prep should become much more efficient and effective.


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Therapy Dogs on Campus

Posted by mcgeorgebarprep on June 6, 2017

If you could benefit from spending a little time with a friendly pup (who couldn’t?), stop by the Quad tomorrow, June 7, from around noon to 1:00 to visit with some sweet therapy dogs.  For more information, contact the CDO.


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Do you have 10 minutes to enhance your bar prep?

Posted by mcgeorgebarprep on June 3, 2017

As many of you know, I was in a severe accident a few years ago that left me with Traumatic Brain Injury.  As I still continue to recover, I have learned more than I ever wanted to know about how the brain works and heals.  One of the things that surprised me most was the role that mindfulness plays in brain health, for the injured and non-injured alike.  I’d heard positive things about it before, but once my neurologist strongly recommended that I begin a regular meditation practice to help rebuild my damaged neural pathways, I started to do more research.  I won’t get into the details here, but suffice to say that it is a tremendous contributing factor in everything from reducing stress to enhancing memory, with advocates from Anderson Cooper to Russell Simmons.  Even Justice Breyer has a practice.  The best part?  It only take a few minutes a day to see benefits!

It follows that taking those few minutes a day for mindfulness might play a big part in successful, sane bar preparation.  To help, I recorded a few guided sessions focused on the bar exam that are available for free at any time.  Please note that these were not recorded in a professional studio with high-tech equipment, and I am not a certified meditation instructor (yes, they do exist!).  Most sessions are in manageable time blocks of around 10 minutes.  (Please also note that the visualization of Day 1 or 3 no longer applies in CA.)

Meditation is personal, so although I tried to craft sessions that apply to most bar applicants, you might not relate to all of them.  You may even not care for the sound or cadence of my voice.  If for any reason these do not work for you, you are welcome to adapt the ideas for your own, individual practice.  Of course you also can just meditate in silence and focus on your breath; you do not have to think about the bar exam to reap benefits that might boost your performance there.  You do not even have to meditate at all; there even are mindfulness exercises centered around eating or walking.

Still not convinced?  Check out the resources below, or just do a simple search online; there are thousands of others.  (These links are just provided for your general information and are NOT endorsements by McGeorge.)

NY Times: How Meditation Might Boost Your Test ScoresYour Excuses for Not Meditating: DebunkedMindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (this is the program recommended by my doctor—100% free); The Anxious Lawyer


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