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IRAC or IRPC? That is the question!


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How many Practice Tests should I do to pass the bar exam?

How many #barexam practice tests should you do?  Well, think about how many practice shots great athletes take?  Michael Jordan once said, “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Many of my students who passed this last bar exam completed anywhere from 3000-5000 multiple choice questions, another 30-50 essays, and at least 1-2 dozen performance tests.

It’s not all about quantity.  Vince Lombardi put it this way: “Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.”  With bar exam studies, you get to the perfection (or competence —after all, it’s a pass fail test!) by practicing and learning and improving from quality sample answers.

So how many practice questions should you do?   A whole lot, with quality study of reliable sample answers –working every step of the way to improve.  Start now!


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The Power Trio of MBEs, Essays & Performance Tests

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Bar Exam Debriefing

Celebrated this weekend with some of my students (recent graduates) who took the July Bar Exam.  They said essays and MBEs went well but Performance Tests threw them.  (Current law students, heads up.  Start PT practice now!!)

One of my greatest joys as a professor is having students who graduated want to step up to help me to help their future classmates pass the exam.  They call it “paying it forward.” They volunteer to mentor, or they share their stories.

If you took the bar exam, write in and tell me what if anything threw you, and what advice you have to help future takers.  Eager to hear!


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On the bar exam and in law school, the most important first step is following the instructions

In a recent blog post by one of the nation’s leading Academic Support professors and authors, Amy Jarmon, wrote about the importance of following instructions and illustrated how students may suffer grave consequences as a result of not doing so. nI know of many people who have failed the bar exam because of not following directions.

All of the following are real examples of failing the bar exam (or not being allowed to sit in the first place) for reasons that were wholly unnecessary and could have been avoided by following directions.  I write these now as a precautionary tale —7 Warnings of What Not To Do on your Bar Exam:

  • Applicant completed the entire bar exam but failed to upload answers within the deadline and failed the bar exam.  (This is something you can be clear about ahead of time and take care of as soon as possible.)
  • Applicant inadvertently brought a banned item the exam site and was disqualified from even sitting for the exam.  (So easy to prevent this!) Read the directions about what you may and may not bring in.  Also, know what you must have (such as your admission ticket and identification).  And, prepare your “clear plastic bag” ahead of time.  Also, after carefully reading the instructions about any restrictions on the type of clothing you are allowed to wear into the bar exam, choose your clothing appropriately and set out what you plan to wear so you don’t “forget” on the mornings of the exam.
  • Applicant got off track with numbering on scantron (bubbling in the answer to number 65 instead of 64) and by the time he caught the mistake it was too late to fix it; he had to sit a second time for the bar exam.  (This is an easy mistake to make, especially late in the afternoon on Day 2 of the Bar Exam when you are exhausted. Just check the question and answer numbers to be sure they are the same, as you work, all day long.)  While I’m on bubbling, the machines will typically only read answers where the bubble is fully covered with the correct pencil.  Make sure you fully bubble in each of your answer choices, and don’t make extra marks on the scantrons.
  • Applicant was running late on the morning of the first day of the bar exam, arrived after the doors had closed, and was not allowed to sit for that exam.
  • Applicant’s computer died in the middle of writing the answer to the first question; rather than switch to handwriting, she gave up and walked out.  The examiners counted this as a “failed bar exam” on her record because she started the exam and did not pass it.  (Now, I realize this isn’t technically a failure to follow instructions, but I’m putting it here because her professors had told her about this possibility and suggested that every student practice handwriting at least a few essays during bar preparation in case this happens.)  I routinely tell all my students, if you should suffer any computer issues that are not quickly resolvable, pick up one of the pens (you will bring in your clear plastic bag), and write away.  Never give up!
  • Applicants routinely fail because of low test scores on bar exam essays when they issue spot and find random legal concerns that are not responsive to the specific interrogatories in that question.  The queries at the bottom of a bar exam essay fact pattern are your “instructions.”  Follow them.  Answer the question(s) asked, and only the question(s) asked. Do not go off and tell what you think is a “related” story.  No tangents.  No detours.  Read the question and give them what they ask for.

And, last but not least,

  • In performance tests, applicants frequently fail because of errors stemming from not reading the instructions such as 1) using the wrong format (having not read the instructions), 2) not complying with the respective weight allocation of each task as set forth in the instructions, 3) not taking into account what the client wants and needs (typically described in the task memo), and, even, representing the wrong side. I have seen a number of students write closing arguments in performance tests arguing for the party opposing his/her client. That simply cannot happen without either failing to read the instructions carefully in the first place or forgetting them somewhere along the way.  Why?  The very first thing performance test instructions say is who the client is.

So, moral of this story: when you take your bar exam (or if you are still in law school), follow instructions carefully!  Take the time to read and re-read them.  Think about your tasks before you write and while you write.  Understand and comply with all aspects of the bar examiners rules.



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PASS the July Bar, the June FYLSE, and enjoy success in law school!

Enroll today at

PASS offers an easy-to-understand online course to help people pass the written portion of the California Bar Exam. This course, a package that includes both PASS the Essays with Grading and PASS the Performance Test with Grading, provides several dozen hours of lectures and workshops to prepare students for success on the essay and performance test portions of the California Bar Exam.  Learn logical approaches to analyze fact patterns. Test yourself with hypotheticals, and submit essay and performance test writing assignments for grading and comments. PASS The Bar Writing Course is a great supplemental review course during bar review.  Enroll in 3L or 4L to get an early “jump start” on bar success while still in law school.

PASS The Bar Writing Course is a must for anyone repeating the bar exam.

Get ready for the upcoming Baby Bar!!  The FYLSE is offered twice per year.  PASS the FYLSE will help get you ready to succeed on the June or October FYLSE. Need a comprehensive course that reviews all of Torts, Contracts, and Criminal Law, provides Essay and Multiple Choice strategy, and a full simulated FYLSE with hours of explanatory answers from Professor Steve Bracci?  Sign up today.  And, learn from the nation’s foremost lecturer on the FYLSE.  Take this 100 question practice test now and get on target for success!


  • Enroll today to boost your performance test scores. California Performance Tests are worth twice each essay. This course offers easy-to-understand lectures to prepare students for performance test success. Students will develop the necessary writing and analytical skills, complete practice performance tests, and submit a simulated performance test for review and critique.

  • PASS offers an easy-to-understand, accessible, online course to help people write passing bar exam essays. This course provides lectures and workshops to prepare students for success on the essay portion of the California Bar Exam.  Develop writing and analytical skills and test yourself with hypotheticals and writing assignments for each subject tested on the exam. A great course to supplement your bar review, to get an early “jump start” while still in law school, or as review for anyone repeating the bar exam.

  • PASS the Essays: Self Study

    PASS offers an easy-to-understand, accessible, online course to help people write passing bar exam essays. This course provides lectures and workshops to prepare students for success on the essay portion of the California Bar Exam.  Develop writing and analytical skills and test yourself with hypotheticals and writing assignments for each subject tested on the exam. A great course to supplement your bar review, to get an early “jump start” while still in law school, or as review for anyone repeating the bar exam.

  • Do you want extra practice on multiple choice questions to help in preparing for final exams, the FYLSE, or the Bar Examination?  This class contains a full length 100 question practice MBE-type test in Torts, Contracts, and Criminal Law, and five hours of detailed explanatory answers to each question by Professor Steve Bracci.  This online session is like a weekend seminar with the nation’s foremost lecturer on multiple choice questions.   Enroll today, test yourself, and get on target for success!  Note: students seeking a comprehensive review of Torts, Contracts, and Criminal Law, with checklists, more than 50 hours of lectures, and a full simulated FYLSE (essays and multiple choice questions) should enroll in the complete Bracci/Berman PASS the FYLSE course.  And, students who want a comprehensive bar exam writing program should enroll in PASS The Bar Writing Course.
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Early Bar Prep: Best early investment for success is Mastering the Performance Test

Completed a performance test class this evening.  What do you think were the biggest complaints from students?  What do you think they worried most about?  You guess it, timing!   Many of them did not finish the task within the allotted time.

Most PTs would be easy for most law students, if they had double time.  But most law students run out of time with the first several of their practice performance tests, and really need to train hard in order to complete the assigned task(s) within the bar examiner’s time frame.

What can you do?  There are many time saving tips for PTs.  We can and will keep working on those with frequent strategy suggestions posted on this blog as we get closer to the July bar exam.  But in the meantime, the best thing you can do is practice.

If you are taking the CA bar exam, go to the state bar website.  If you are taking the MPT, go to the National Conference of Bar Examiners website.  And, check out Pass the Performance Test today.

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July 2014 Bar Exam preparation

Preparing for success on the July Bar Exam?  Are you serious about passing the exam?  Are you ready to give up everything but studying for two full months?  Have you taken and passed the MPRE?   Have you filled out the moral character portion of your bar exam application?  What else are you doing to get ready?  Have you started practicing with performance tests?  If not, now is the time to begin!  Master this open book portion of the bar exam, now, early on.  Get a head start!


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The July Bar Exam: Looking ahead; get ready now!

Many of your colleagues and classmates just finished the February Bar Exam.  For them, May (and results) are what concerns them the most.  Hopefully they will find a way to put the bar exam aside for a bit, focus on jobs, resumes, gaining practical experience volunteering in law offices, and, perhaps most important, reconnecting with friends and family after that time away studying.

For you who are taking (and you better also be expecting to pass, if you are planning to take) the July Bar Exam, what are you doing now to prepare?  There are many things to be done now to “get ready” to pass the July Bar Exam.  I’ll list a few here, and do get a copy of Pass the Bar Exam to read in full now so you can get all the tips and strategies you will need:

1. Work on mastering the performance test portion of the bar exam as part of an effective “early start” strategy.  Do this with Pass the Performance Test, both the online course and Study Guide.  Get in now and learn how to effectively write passing answers to any performance test question that they may throw at you. Because this is an open book portion of the exam, it is the best part to start on early, and master.  Once you learn the skills, you won’t forget how to do a PT.  (Essay and MBE work, by contrast, depends on both memory and skills!)

2. Handle details and logistics that will come up in May-July now, and/or determine what can be postponed until August. (Get finances and housing squared away, arrange child-care, secure time off from work, etc.)

3. Prepare your family and friends that you will be gone from May-July. (Much more on that in Pass the Bar Exam including a full chapter on dealing effectively with friends, family, colleagues, supporters and saboteurs.)

4. Enroll is a reputable full service bar review company, a program that you trust and will follow.  If you want to get a head start, enroll now in a supplemental writing and/or PT course such as those offered by Professor Steve Bracci at and/or go to to sign up today.   If there is a particular law school course you did not take or feel weak in, now is a good time to take a special class on just that subject to fill in the gaps.

Now is the time to learn the subjects you will be tested on so that bar review is really a review.

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Congratulations to all who completed the Feb bar exam! And, get ready July takers!!!

I spent this weekend with a number of my students who took the bar exam this past week.  They all told stories about the various essays, the PTs, how crazy the MBE day was.  They all looked tired, but happy with themselves to have finished. They told me about how their bar review courses prepared them, and how our mentoring helped boost their morale.  In the darkest days, the darkest moments, they continued, they pushed on, they did their best.

I am so proud of every one of my students who took the bar exam last week and did your very very best. That is what it is all about.  And, in so many ways, that is what life is all about, working hard and doing your very best.

As I wrote in my recent book, the bar exam is a paradigm for every struggle, every challenge.  And, honestly, nearly everything worth doing is hard.

I hear too many people talking about students who give their work short shrift.  I hear about people who do not take their professional studies seriously and therefore will not get jobs or keep jobs; they will not keep and maintain their professional reputations.  (And, the easiest thing to lose is a reputation.)

So, I cannot say enough, how honored I am to work with students (now graduates and soon lawyers!) who are some of the finest, most professional, most hard working and yet FUN, spirited and delightful human beings.

July bar exam takers: get ready.  Read the book:    Know that what you are in for is hard, but it can (and if you let it), it will be the most positive and transformative experience of a lifetime.

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