Are you taking the 2017 CA bar and wondering where to start? This collection of resources seemed helpful to people. Feel free to suggest your own!
Investing in resources is an indicator of success, but you also shouldn't just buy everything willy nilly. The more choices you have, the more confused you're likely to be (and waste time on things that ultimately don't help).
So what are you supposed to buy? I've been hanging around the seasonal TLS bar threads since 2013 and seen the most effective tools that helped people pass the bar. On my second attempt at the CA bar, I've tried some that helped me pass, and I've tried some that didn't add any value.
Below is a list of resources I picked out that should give you the most bang for your buck. No need to overcomplicate things or go broke. Do your due diligence, pick a few resources that will work for you, and extract as much as you can.
You may not have the patience or mental energy to think about this when you're still shell shocked, gripped by anxiety, or overwhelmed with the reality of defeat. Maybe you're lost, desperate to magically pass, or simply deferring the hard decision of seeking the right help. You'll definitely go through a rollercoaster of feels
. That's OK. Take solace in knowing that all the information is out there; all you need to do is implement them, when you're ready to do so.Shortnotes on the most popular and effective supplements for...
- MBE on a budget?
Strategies & Tactics for the MBE Volume I (see description and an inside look below)
- MBE if you have $365 to shell out?
AdaptiBar (see description below)
You can improve your MBE with either of these excellent tools. Get AdaptiBar if you have the budget, but you do not need both.
BarEssays.com (see info and samples below)
I don't know of a sure-kill supplement, but I have put together a guide
(ver. 1.41); unlike the MBE or essays, PTs are better learned through exposure to a variety of them over trying to deeply understand the answerSearch the [ID] to jump to the description of a featured resource, tagged by sections of interest:
[*1] Strategies & Tactics for the MBE Vols. I & II (Emanuel) + Civ Pro resources [MBE
[*2] Law in a Flash [MBE
[*3] BarEssays.com ($25 off
[*4] Past CA essays and performance tests (and a guide to own the PTs) [Essays
[*5] BarIssues.com ($20 off
[*6] BarMax MBE app [MBE
[*7] Adaptibar ($30 off
[*1] Strategies & Tactics for the MBE Volume I (Emanuel 6th edition)
: This is the MBE bible.
It's great (and may be the only MBE supplement you need) because it comes with hundreds of representative MBE questions that are all genuine and were previously administered, and I urge you to study with the real deal (see why
). More specifically, there are 525+ NCBE-sourced questions and 70 author-generated Civ Pro questions (which I hear are excellent).
Read it all, do all the questions, and review all the answers. Each subject is prefaced with a discussion of the tricky areas and how to deal with them. Some subjects have an overview of the major topics. There will be tips that revolve around multiple choice in general. The 200-question practice test at the back can be done to gauge your progress sometime in the final month leading to the bar.
So what does it look like inside? Pics incoming:Subject overviewQuestionsExplanations
Link: 6th edition (2016) -- includes excellent author-generated Civ Pro questions
I no longer recommend the 5th edition (2012)
given the picky, nuanced Civ Pro MBE questions that have appeared lately.
[*1] Strategies & Tactics for the MBE Volume II (Emanuel)
: This is the expansion pack to the above book, containing new questions. It's in a different format, where the answer appears right beneath the question. If you're doing a question for practice, you'll have to carefully cover the answer as you do each question.
The valuable feature in Vol. 2 is how the questions are categorized into labeled topics. For example, Q45 on page 166 is filed under Chapter 5 Formal Proceedings -- I. Grand Jury Proceedings -- A. Self-incrimination and immunity
. For better or worse, some headings contain answer spoilers for the concepts, e.g., Q46 on page 167 is filed under B. No right to have attorney present in grand jury room
, which gives away the answer. Nonetheless, great for supplementary real MBE questions, especially if you know or want to improve on specific issues.What it looks like inside
Link: 2012 (latest) edition
[*1] What about Civ Pro MBE?
Civ Pro MBE questions nowadays are picky, testing specific nuances such as number of days before a certain deadline. Strategies & Tactics (6th ed., 2016) Volume 1
is likely your best bet to prepare for Civ Pro questions, given that the questions are similar to real MBE questions even if they are written by the author.
AdaptiBar (recommended) or BarMax MBE below [*6][*7] provide a good number of Civ Pro questions but are a more expensive option.
To look at free Civ Pro MBE questions...
- BarPrepHero has a practice exam with 30 Civ Pro questions here
- The NCBE
has sample questions here
Additionally, I've heard (hearsay) that Glannon Guide to Civil Procedure (2013)
was more than sufficient. Its cheaper than BarMax or AdaptiBar, but check out based on your own curiosity)
[*2] Law in a Flash cards
: I bought 6 boxes of these to patch up my weak subjects. They were especially handy when I had to be out, like when I was trying to learn some tricky Evidence concepts and I could whip out a few cards from my wallet, or when I was trying to learn the various federal jurisdictions inside a noisy Verizon store.
Link: List of LIAF products
: One of the most popular resources you'll see mentioned around the forums.
What does it look like inside?
- Check out this essay that scored an 85!
Imagine if you studied this and produced the same results on the bar...
- Also fairly new to BarEssays are essay templates that you can literally copy and paste. Check out this Contracts template.
If you're wondering what makes a passing essay vs. what doesn't on the California Bar Exam, this is a large repository of actual graded essays and PTs submitted by those who didn't pass.
But this doesn't mean the essays are all sub-par! While there are essays scored 40 and 50 that show what is not passing material, there are essays that earned 75, 80, or even 85.
The advantage of this repository is the variety of real answers you can study.
Because the State Bar doesn’t disclose how well its model answers
did, it’s hard to tell whether they are barely passing or top scoring. All they indicate are that they are “passing” essays and that essays don’t need to hit all
the issues, which is implied by answers A and B covering different issues (although each usually hits all the key issues).
There are over 3,000 essays that you can search by subject, range of score, year/month, and even typed/handwritten/both for anyone worried about handwriting. Some have grader commentary.
These essay examples are useful after you outline or write out an essay to check whether you discussed relevant issues and rules and used the facts properly. I'd look at least one below and one above 65, with grader commentary if available.
High scorers tend to discuss all the issues and much of the nuances—but do not necessarily have excellent rule statements or analyses. While you want to look like the 70-75+ people, you’ll notice that they don’t always look like the impossible Barbri answers. These are real answers you can compare to see where you stand.
The owner has raised the price in recent months, and I don't blame him. Fortunately, I have a coupon for $25 off
a subscription! Ask me or someone else.
[*4] Past essays and performance tests
: These might be the only free things you get from the CA State Bar. They release exam questions from each administration.
Link: State Bar of California Past Exams
If you're looking for convenient access to individual questions organized by subject and issue, check out BarIssues.com below ($20 off).
For a budget version, here is an essay locator
-- a list of essays organized by subject and issues contained therein (issues incomplete).
User Rap Genius found a repository of all the essay questions and sample analyses here: https://sites.google.com/site/easybarpasser/past-exams/
I have also put together a guide to own the PTs
(v. 1.41), including an approach to answering the PTs in 3 hours, why you NEED to practice PTs, and list of PTs to practice in order of difficulty.
: Need to hone in on that mysterious issue you've never been able to tame ever since you laid eyes on it? Need to know which issues have been tested most frequently?
BarIssues is a directory of all the issues that have been tested on the California Bar Exam in the last 10 or so years. You can sort by frequency or the issue itself. A convenient link to the question and model answers is available whenever you explore a subject and its issues.
It's a subscription-based service like BarEssays (i.e., no perpetual access). But I have a $20 coupon
for this as well!
[*6] BarMax MBE
($249.99): As with the rest of BarMax's offerings, your materials are available online or via mobile iOS devices, which allows for great portability. A solid choice if you don't mind reading questions on a tablet and being unable to write on a paper surface. But the better-known MBE supplement is...
($395/365): This program gives you access to the entire universe of NCBE-released questions (1,700+ of them) and is web based and accessible via PC (desktop or laptop) and mobile site. This is useful for those who are working and studying at the same time because you can prepare with AdaptiBar during lunch and breaks. Detailed explanations are provided for each question as well as thorough subject performance and timing analysis feedback. In addition, the program allows users to create PDF reports of questions that were answered incorrectly. This makes it simple to print the questions and explanations out and review the rules you didn't understand.
Moreover, the online app adapts to your strengths and weaknesses and can create customized full-length tests, too. Additional information regarding the program can be found in this flyer
and at http://www.adaptibar.com/pricing.aspx
It is indeed rather expensive, but it’s probably the single best comprehensive option to study for the MBE, assuming you have the budget... but I have a code for
$60 $30 off
an AdaptiBar subscription (feel free to ask me or someone else; the person whose code you use gets a small kickback). UNFORTUNATELY, THIS TURNED INTO $30 FOR ALL CODES YOU SEE HERE, PER ADAPTIBAR POLICY CHANGE.