How Do I Study for the California Bar Attorneys' Exam?

It is just two days, but only around 32% of people will pass!

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Are you a licensed attorney somewhere in the United States, making the transition to practice law in California? If you have been practicing for four years in another jurisdiction, you can opt to take the California Bar Attorneys' Examination instead of the full-length California Bar Exam.

The question then may become, how do you prepare for the attorneys' exam?

Learning California Law

If you are coming from outside the state of California, you need to figure out the best way to review the substantive law. California tests on quite a few state-specific rules, in course areas including Evidence, Wills & Trusts, Professional Responsibility, and Community Property (just to name a few).

It is important to think about how you learn best. Do you learn by reviewing outlines? Then something as simple as Lean Sheets might work for you. Or what if you are an auditory learner and learn best by listening to lectures? Then you might like a complete bar review course such as BarMax or Themis. Make sure you are pulling together the right tools for your particular study needs. 

Along with the right tools, make sure to set aside time to review this law and commit it to memory. It may have been a while since you studied for an exam like this, and your memorization skills may be a bit rusty. Make sure you build plenty of memorization time into your study schedule. 

Writing Specifically for the California Bar Exam

The California Bar Exam is notorious for being difficult. And in July 2014 only 31.4 percent of those sitting for the California Bar Attorneys' Examination passed. Those aren't great odds. When I work with bar studiers who have failed the attorneys' exam, often they are out of practice with writing in the correct format for the bar exam. This means following IRAC with plenty of analysis. They can often find themselves being too conclusory and that is a recipe for disaster when it comes to essay scores. If you are worried about making sure your essay writing is where it needs to be, you might want to look into getting a bar tutor or signing up for a bar program with lots of writing feedback. 

Practice, Practice, Practice

Sure, the attorneys' exam is an abbreviated version of the full-length bar exam, but the same motto of "practice, practice, practice" still applies. Over and over again attorneys who have failed this exam didn't build enough practice into their study plan. In addition to doing lots of practice (and by practice, I mean writing, say, five essays and one PT a week, at least!) many studiers need to get feedback on their writing to make sure they are on the right track. You can get this feedback by comparing your answers with model answers or getting more detailed feedback from a tutor or bar review company. And just because you are taking only the writing portion of the exam, don't get overly confident! I know plenty of brilliant attorneys who have struggled with the California exam. It takes careful preparation and practice to get ready for exam day. 

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Your Citation
Burgess, Lee. "How Do I Study for the California Bar Attorneys' Exam?" ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, Burgess, Lee. (2020, August 27). How Do I Study for the California Bar Attorneys' Exam? Retrieved from Burgess, Lee. "How Do I Study for the California Bar Attorneys' Exam?" ThoughtCo. (accessed March 30, 2023).