One of the first steps of bar prep is to choose the resources you want to use for your studies. There are many resources out there, but here is a short list of the ones I used to pass the bar.
For tailored feedback and advice on strategy
If you’re a foreign attorney or retaker, having a tutor is absolutely essential, even if just to review a few of your essays or PTs. Their understanding of the grading process and exam strategies may be the thing that gets you over the line.
I teamed up with Gina Lee from Be Prepared Cal Bar (https://www.bepreparedcalbar.com/). Gina was amazing because she taught me how to hack the bar exam. Passing the bar has nothing to do with intelligence and everything to do with strategy. Gina offers various study programs as well as a-la-carte options for essay and PT reviews. If she has a spot open, don’t hesitate to use her services.
For an understanding of black-letter law
- Barbri Conviser Mini Review (CMR) (contact Barbri for more info). I used this book all throughout my revision period – it is good for quick reference, creating subject flowcharts/checklists and creating notes. It’s also a good indicator of the extent of required knowledge on each subject.
- LegalThree California Bar Exam blog (http://www.legalthree.com/category/california-bar-exam/) – a blog with a fellow student’s notes, flowcharts and approaches to complex areas like Freedom of Speech. Useful for comparison of notes and different approaches to essays. The accuracy and quality of the notes seemed quite high to me.
For deep-dives into complex laws
Sometimes more in-depth reading is required to get your head around complex rules or an area of law. Foreign-trained attorneys like myself also need to take extra steps to understand the logic behind areas of law that are different from their home jurisdiction. Here are the two resources I used:
- Barbri Multistate law book and California law book (Contact Barbri for more info).
- Kaplan LLM Fundamentals Book (contact Kaplan for more info).
For MBE practice and strategy
- Emanuel Strategies and Tactics for the MBE (available on amazon.com). This book has two great uses – strategies and tactics for each MBE subject and a collection of MBE questions with extensive answer explanations.
- Adaptibar (adaptibar.com) – great for MBE practice with extensive answer explanations, tracking MBE performance, official NCBE MBE questions, and exam simulations. The program ensures you are given more questions on areas you find difficult and tailors your study to your weak points.
For essay strategy and commonly tested topics
- Themis essay lectures and notes (contact Themis for more info)– great for reviewing the basic approach to essays in each subject, tips on tricky questions and approaches to common essay questions/dilemmas
- Smart Bar Prep Essay Frequency Analysis (https://smartbarprep.com/california-frequency-analysis/) – really useful for identifying areas frequently tested for the essay portion
- Previous California essays and PTs – https://www.calbar.ca.gov/Admissions/Examinations/California-Bar-Examination/Past-Exams
For PT practice
- Do all the PTs available on the Calbar site, and do them twice
- Completing or reading through MPTs is also valuable as they have examiner guides at the end. Use these guides to check if you identified the correct issues, discussion topics, relevant laws and facts. Grab some free MPTs here:https://www.ncbex.org/exams/mpt/preparing/
Lastly, don’t neglect your physical and mental health
Bar prep can (and will) end up taking up a lot of your time, particularly in the month or two before the exam. I made sure I kept on top of my physical and mental health by using the following services:
- Freshly is a company that delivers fresh, nutritious, gluten-free meals to your home. They only take 2 minutes to microwave – absolutely no cooking required. If it weren’t for Freshly, I would have spent countless hours cooking and cleaning instead of studying (or worse, eating way too much take-out). Do yourself a favor and try out some of their delectable, healthy meals. Use my code https://refer.freshly.com/s/sites14 for $40 off!
- Headspace (headspace.com) is a great app that helps to develop mindfulness techniques, improve sleep and quell anxiety. They’re a great resource for alleviating bar prep stress.
- Youtube workouts, such as those by Madfit (https://www.youtube.com/c/MadFit) are a great way to fit exercise into your daily routine. Working up a sweat and releasing endorphins will help with stress management and content retention. Check them out, especially on the days where heading to the gym just feels impossible (or, ahem, is actually impossible due to COVID).
I hope this helps! If you have anything to add, please comment below.