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Bar Results

Much of the country has already received results from the July 2015 bar exam.  I have received great news from many students across the country.

But Californians wait, and wait.  (And, apologies to Tom Petty, but The Waiting Is the Hardest Part.)  Hang in. Soon enough, you will know.

If you are waiting for results from the July Bar Exam, I hope you learn soon that you never need to take another bar exam, unless of course you want to be licensed in another jurisdiction.

If you or someone you are close to ends up having to retake the exam, remain as calm and compassionate as possible.  It’s a tough kick to the teeth, but one that so many great and powerful lawyers have recovered from. It is just a slight trip, not a major fall (not unless you let it take you down.)  You will be stunned, angry, sad, frustrated, and then you will figure out where you can improve, create a new plan, and get busy working for success in February.  (Keep ready to say “I will pass this February.”)

So, plan for success now, and here’s hoping November 20th will be a HUGE party for you and yours, but know that if your is success is to be yours February rather than this past July, you will be fine.  You cannot control these results but you can control how you handle them.

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7 Tips to Prevent Bar Exam Burnout

Note: This post is relevant to everyone studying. Whether you are in high school, college, law school or any other graduate study, if you are giving it your all, you will burn out from time to time. Here’s how to re-charge!  

You are perfectly normal if you are thinking, “Not another day of this stuff!  I cannot handle any more studying.  Not another lecture, paper, or practice test.  I need to sleep.  I need a day off.  I need my life back!” You will have your life back when exams are over.  But, for now, “Another day of this” is precisely what you must do. Another, and another, and another –all in  high gear.  You must remain totally motivated, batteries fully charged, util the last “time” is called on the last day of your last exam.  For the upcoming bar exam, that is a full month away still.  So you have lots of time.  But you must make the most of it.

How to re-charge?  How does one maintain that kind of persistent motivation?   It’s not easy.  I remember the first week of July when one of my classmates said, “Just bring it on already.  I am so [expletive] sick of studying.  I just want the test now.  I’m tired.”  I have to confess at the time I felt so un-ready for the Exam that I could not relate at all.  I wanted every single day that remained to practice.  I wanted every minute to get ready.  I was happy to wait.  But, I can relate now.  Thousands of students later, I see how some people have just had it even by this time.  Others want even more time to pull it all together.  (They wish the exam were two more months later.) Wherever you fall on this spectrum, give yourself a break if you are feeling stressed and burned out. Stress and burnout are normal

Bottom line, you have no choice.  You are taking this exam at the end of this month, are you better believe with all your heart, soul, and might that you going to pass!  Done deal.  No options.  (To quote Apollo 13: “Failure is not an option.”)

What will you do on actual bar exam days?  You will go in and do your very best. That is what you owe yourself.  That is what must be done.  So, how do you get through from now until then?

Here are 7 Tips to Prevent Bar Exam Burnout:

1) Exercise. 

Most people are stressed, quite normally so.  The best way to burn off the excess stress is to burn it out, with exercise.

Do something active every single day.  Walking, yoga, biking, swimming, weight lifting, jogging, spinning, skating.  Whatever you do, don’t skip a day.  You must think of time exercising as an investment in your own success.  It is never a waste of time.  (If you simply cannot justify taking “time off” to exercise, then study while you are on a treadmill, or walk while playing a bar review lecture in headphones (or listening to a recording of yourself reading rule statements, see below.)

2) Pace yourself. 

Take breaks.  Remember even during the bar, you get close to a 2 hour lunch break between the morning and afternoon sessions.  So, feel free to take long lunches now, each day.  Stop fully and relax.  Then get back into it.  And, when you’ve put in a full day of studying, take off at night to relax before you get a good night’s sleep.  And, make sure to get a good night’s sleep, each and every night.

3) Reward Yourself –daily and weekly.

Give yourself some daily reward.  At the end of each evening, do something before you go to sleep that acknowledges a hard day’s work.  (For some, that’s a mindless TV show.  For others, a glass of wine.  For others, a few minutes on social media.) And, give yourself a bigger treat to mark the end of each week of hard work.  Every Sunday night, for example, go out to a really nice dinner, or watch a movie.

4) Plan (and book) an after-bar vacation.  For those in college or graduate school, plan something fun for Spring break and summer!

Schedule something as soon as possible after the exam, something you really look forward to.  Just thinking about that and knowing that you have something definite in August will help alleviate some of the burnout today.  It can also be a great way to reward family and a significant other for letting you have time and space to study this June and July.

5) Shake up your study routine.

If you are tired of reading quietly, read aloud to yourself.  One of my students found the way to keep motivated (and better retain the material) was to read aloud in a funny accent and record her voice reading rules.  She played them back to herself  while driving and laughed while learning.

Try charting, try flashcards, try re-typing sample answers.

Study in a different location one day.  Explain the rules/theories you are most afraid will be tested on the bar exam to a lay person.  (If you can explain something correctly to someone else, likely that means you have mastered it.)

Variety can go a long way to helping stop burnout before it drags you down.

6) Get comfortable with “practice test days.”

Practice days are critical.  They will help you train the skills to pass.  And, if your practice work has simulated the intensity of the real thing, you will be able to walk in to the actual exam with power and strength.  You will have a  ”been there, done that” attitude and confidence.

7) Above all, be kind to yourself.

This IS one of the hardest times in your life, one of the steepest mountains you will ever have to climb.  The good news is, once you get through, it’s a lifetime license.  You never have to do it again.  Just pay your yearly dues and remain ethical, and you’ll keep your license for life.

PS. Be sure to eat lots of chocolate, and ice cream!  It won’t add brain cells, but it should put a smile on your face!!!!!

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Mistakes Made on Last Bar Exam: What to do now? Seven Suggestions for After Bar Survival

Students have been writing me:

  • I uploaded all the essays in the box for Essay #1 –oops.
  • I didn’t finish.  Spent way too much time on Essay #2 and only got halfway through Essay #3.
  • I inadvertently brought in a forbidden item, but I gave it to proctor as soon as I realized.
  • I blanked on several rules I know that I know well, but just forgot.

“What do I do now?” they all ask me.

You let go.  You did your best, and now you let go.  Results won’t be out for months. We don’t know which of these errors will or won’t result in failure.  And even failing the bar exam, which is the worst that can happen, is not the end of the world.  You did everything you could to avoid that, and hopefully it won’t happen, but if it were to occur you would get through that too.

But, it is hard to let go, especially when this exam has consumed your life for months (years, really).  You may feel a certain sense of withdrawal, though likely most of you are more relieved and liberated than anything else.  But, it’s not weird to be a little lost.  There is a massive amount of time free now that had all been claimed.  And, you really won’t know your fate until results.

So, here are Seven Suggestions for After Bar Survival:

1. Congratulate yourself on having done your best, and celebrate.

Plan a trip, take your significant other, close friends or family out to thank them for supporting you during your bar review studying, etc.)

2. Work, if you have a job.  And, if you don’t have one yet, network, research job prospects and go on informational interviews.

Read some of the really great books on finding jobs in this legal market, make an appointment with your school’s career counselor, etc.

3. Network.

Join your local bar association and any other organizations where you’ll meet interesting people, contacts who may be helpful as you build your career.

4. Participate in training programs available to those who have not yet passed the bar.

Bar Associations, courts, and other local organizations often sponsor Bridge the Gap and other new lawyer training courses.  If you can find some that do not require bar passage, sign up now and get started.  (If you don’t have a job yet, get started on some training that may help you get one and that you may not have time for if you have to be in an office all day.)

5. Volunteer. 

Give some time to a local legal organization.  (You will give a little back and get a lot in return.)

6. Resist the temptation to think or talk too much about the exam. 

It is over.  You did your best.  But, be clear that you will repeat it if necessary and know that there are helpful (and not so helpful) steps to take if that happens. (Decide that you will find and do the positive things if need be and avoid the pitfalls.)

7. Reclaim your life.

Catch up on whatever you had to set aside while studying.  You may have housework, hobbies, community involvement, extended family commitments, etc. that you had to let go.  Read a novel. Go to a movie.  Go to the beach.  Enjoy the rest of your summer.



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Professor Berman’s Ten Top Tips for Ten Days Before the Bar Exam

In sessions I regularly lead each week before the bar we talk about pertinent issues of the week.  This week it’s all about how you are spending the last days before the exam.  Next week, we’ll walk through each exam day and evening and talk about how to stay strong until the last time is called, and how to prevent derailments.

Today, Professor Berman’s Ten Top Tips for Ten Days Before the Bar Exam:

1. Be sure you have your admission ticket. 

2. Read the rules on what you can and cannot bring into the exam.  (And, note differences on different bar days.  In some jurisdictions, MBE days have different rules.)

3. Keep working on one-page “cheat sheets” that summarize the main points of each of the tested subjects.

4. Keep reviewing practice questions and studying sample answers.  (Look out for frequently tested areas.)  At this point you may be issue spotting and outlining more than writing exams out in full, but still do some practice questions under timed conditions so you are on target with the speed as well as accuracy.

5. Continue training your critical reading skills.  Missing questions because you did not read carefully is most frustrating.  Keep practicing reading every word, and reading with your eyes, ears and fingers.  (Mark up fact patterns and write in the margins as you read, so you do not miss anything.)

6. Memorize rule statements.  Work those flashcards.  The biggest difference between knowing rules for MBEs and for Essays is that on the latter you have to be able to quickly and concisely articulate those rules.  So practice.  Practice writing rules, and saying them out loud.

7. Stay away from destructive people. (Re-read the section on Supporters and Saboteurs in Pass The Bar Exam.)

8. Make any last minute arrangements so there is nothing other than the bar exam to worry about during bar days. (Pay any outstanding bills, arrange for childcare, dog-sitting, etc.)

9. Take a minute to plan something fun for yourself and if you have a family or significant other you want to include do so.  It can really be helpful to have something to know you will be doing as a giant reward after that last time is called.  And it will really help keep those who love you from going stir crazy in the next two weeks just watching you.

10. Exercise and eat right.  It’s critical to maintain the stress levels now.  From this moment, until the last “time” is called by the proctors during your bar exam, you must stay strong and and be able to turn anxiety into action, and panic into power.


You got this!

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Taking the February 2014 Bar Exam?

So, are you passing the February bar exam?  That is the question.  A crazy question you may say to yourself when likely you are just getting started with bar review.  Well, if you are taking the February bar exam, commit to PASSing the February Bar Exam: no ifs, ands, or buts.  Do not commit to trying to pass.  Commit to passing.

If you doubt yourself, you sabotage yourself.  Don’t do that.  Develop, and stick to 100% certainty —and putting every ounce of energy you have behind making this effort become a resounding success (a shouting from the rooftops success!).

Prepare your family and friends now for your being gone for the next couple of months.  Clear the decks.  You need their understanding.  This exam will take everything you have.

If you have non-bar exam obligations between now and March, try to handle as many of them now as possible, delegate or postpone, arrange for childcare, etc. Do what it takes to give yourself the tools you need for success.

And, remember, you are not just preparing to take a test.  You are preparing for battle.  You are going to war.  You must get yourself ready to soldier.  Boot camp begins now.

Post your study schedule somewhere you look every day, and somewhere the people who live with you can see (so they know when you are studying and when you can sit with and talk with them).

Know that these holidays will be different.   Sure, you can take off Christmas if you celebrate that, and New Years.  But the rest of the month, you must be studying.

Your family and friends may not get that, but they are not taking the exam.  You are.  They need you to pass.  And, you need you to pass.

Plan something very fun and rewarding for March.   Let people know you will be “back” then.  But for now, you need to focus.

And, you need total focus –none of this half-hearted studying while checking FB or texting.  No way.  No distractions.  Total focus.  How else will you be ready to give the exam your 100% undivided attention?  Start now.

So, are you ready to pass the bar exam???



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Bar Exam Results Tonight

Good luck to everyone waiting.  As I say every bar exam season, paraphrasing Tom Petty, “The waiting is the hardest part.”  No fun having your future on hold for so many months, not knowing, wondering.  Some of my students go back through every question, every moment in that three day ordeal (“adventure”) and second guess themselves.  Torture.

That waiting, though, either way, will come to a close in 12 hours.  The California Bar Examiners will release results of the July 2013 bar exam tonight at 6pm. You will find out, one way or another, whether you passed the July 2013 bar exam.

I will be biting my nails, anticipating emails and calls and hoping they are all good news.  I already have plans to celebrate at upcoming Swearing In ceremonies.  And, I will delight in hearing any and all good news.  When we get together to celebrate I ask, ” Who were you with when you checked the website?  How did it feel?”  I inquire about any particularly fun reactions of family, friends, colleagues.

(Click this link to watch a wonderful short and a great video  of one of my former students as he waited for his bar results; it totally captures the intensity.)

And, again, my deepest wishes, for everyone are your bar exam results are good news, the best news possible!!

I must take one moment here and now to add some words of caution — not splashing cold water just a bit of reality.  1) for some of you, the news may not be great; it may be tougher than swallowing nails.  And, 2) your good news, even if you have great news, may be tempered by hearing from close friends who did not make it this time.

If it ends up that you need to cheer yourself up or console someone else, remember, this is not a referendum on you as a person.  It is not a declaration about your intelligence, capability, or your future success.  It is news.  It is not good news, to be sure, but it is simply information. It tells you what you need to do now to make the changes necessary to get back on the track toward the goals you have been pursuing for years.  You have been investing in this process for a long time, with sweat, time, and dollars.  This is NOT the time to give up. You will feel kicked in the teeth, no doubt about that. And, you will have to go through a period of sadness, and then anger.  But then, you will come out of that.  And, that is when your real choices emerge:  Do you throw yourself fully into diagnosing what went wrong and getting on that success path to make the most of every minute of December, January and February? Or do you remain stuck.  There are people who remain stuck for a long time.  But that does not have to be you or your close friends.

If by some unlucky chance you or a classmate or a friend or relative finds tonight’s news is not what you want it to be, give yourself the weekend to process the news.  I will keep blogging and I also have many archived blog posts on failing the bar exam.  I also recently wrote a book about passing the bar exam that has an entire section on re-taking the exam, (PASS the Bar Exam: A Practical Guide to Achieving Academic and Professional Goals (ABA Publishing 2013). There are places to turn to. And, it will be okay. (And anyone taking the February 2014 bar exam or July 2014 bar exam, read the book to get on track now for success on the next bar exam!)

So, with a small dose of preparation, a “Plan B” just in case, let me say again that I hope everyone reading this blog, and everyone you know and love, learns tonight that they passed the July 2013 bar exam!   I know my neighbors will all hear me shouting for joy as I hear from graduates.

Good luck tonight all!






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Where is your “After-Bar” Trip ???

Are you planning a GREAT vacation for August, after you have completed the bar exam?  Do so if you can!  It's a superb way to inspire, motivate, and reward yourself (and significant others) for all the sacrifices you will make this summer.  And, knowing you have that to look forward to will make you less resentful of spending a summer indoors studying while others play in the sunshine.

So???  Where will you head?  Last summer's top destinations included Costa Rica, London, Hawaii, and Disneyland.

Write in!

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After Bar Ski Trips!

Mammoth, Tahoe, Aspen —where will you go????

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Three of the top locations readers are headed after the Bar Exam include:


Miami (recommended reading, Rough Guide to Miami by
Mark Ellwood);

Belize –see Mayan ruins, explore the
jungle, enjoy the coast (sailing, snorkeling, sightseeing); and

Machu Pichu, Peru —see Incan ruins, climb Huayna Picchu, and much more!!

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After-Bar Trips—Readers Write in!



I just started thinking about my post-bar trip and have had a hard time deciding on exactly what to do. There are a lot of things to consider and finding the trip that fits my needs is no simple task. So I started by naming some aspirations for this trip:

1. Must be someplace new, someplace I have never been before

2. Must be something original

3. Beaches and relaxation are a must

4. Seclusion and scenery are a top priorty

Then I started thinking about the things that made me happiest in life and relieved stress:

1. Swimming
2. Drinking
3. Lounging
4. Snowboarding
5. *Unmentionable*

And there is where I struck my dilemma. Which to choose? Mountain cabin somewhere in the midwest. I have never skiied Utah or Colorado and it is at the top of my things to do. A quiet cabin on Vale with me and my significant other sounded like a fantastic trip. But is it really post-bar worthy and of course I will have to forego any prospects of white sand, blue water and bottom-less cocktails that come with fruit and umbrellas.

That's when it all came together, and I realized where I have to go for my bar trip. It's exotic, new, secluded and original. Not to mention, I can have my cake and eat it too.

I've decided to go to Chile, where I can spend half my vacation lying on the beaches with the only person that matters, then drive only a few hours and spend the rest of my time chasing her around the Andes mountains on a snowboard. Without a book, case, statute, treatise, or laptop in sight for hundreds of miles.

I love compromise, don't you? And so my planning begins, and it looks like I'm going to have to pull out just one last loan before I start working. If anyone has suggestions, reviews or experiences (or even a reality check) I'm open.

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