If You Were Close To Passing The California Bar Exam

Did you make the re-read? If you were very close to passing the bar exam, take the time to look over your scores to make sure there were no clerical errors or arithmatic errors. These are the two challenges you can make to your score. 

To see if you can make an argument, follow these steps:

1. Go to  http://admissions.calbar.ca.gov/Examinations/ExamResultsInformation.aspx

2. Under unsuccessful applicants, click information.

3. Read that and pay special attention to the grid. Make sure those line up with your scores.

The Release Of The California Bar Exam Results And You

Four months of agonizing over every possible mistake you could of made over the course of three days. Sleepless nights because you don't know whether your going to spend another seven months studying and waiting or start a career in a field that you've vested at least three years of your life to enter. Its all coming to an end.

The waiting is the worst. While you are still more likely to pass than to fail, at 55% percent, you're not much more than a coin flip from passing. Win or lose, knowing you failed is better than not knowing whether you passed. Eitherway, life moves forward.

When you see your results, take a moment to sit and release all the worry, anger and frustration this process has put you through. Cheers or tears, a weight will be lifted off your shoulders because at least now you can plan to move forward. When I got my results and saw that I passed, I leaned back in my chair, stared at the ceiling and instantaneously felt tired. That night I got some of the best sleep I'd ever received.

Make sure to communicate with the people that helped you through the process. They deserve to know how you did. I wrote a post about what I would of done at the results came out another way. You can find it here: http://barexamproject.blogspot.com/2010/05/if-i-failed-california-bar-exam.html

In any case, best of luck to all of you. I look forward to hearing your stories. Again, if I can be of help, please don't hesitate to email me.

Best Part-Time Jobs While Starting A Law Practice

Just about every attorney that starts their own firm initially keeps a part-time job to pay the bills while they build their practice. Even in a purely transactional law practice, its best to keep your 9-5 pm hours open to meet with clients, return phone calls and run the errands that go along with starting a law office.  So what types of jobs allow you to work nights and weekends? From a very informal and unscientific survey of people I know with their own practice, retail jobs and server/waitress jobs seem to head to the top of the list.

The problem with retail and server/waitress jobs is there is little tie-in with furthering your law career. Sure you meet tons of people, but how many clients are you going to find? Are there advancement opportunities within that career path that lead to a legal opportunity? Not likely.

A part-time gig with United Parcel Service (UPS) is a better idea than retail or waitress.  Are you going to find clients at UPS? Probably not. Advancement to a legal opportunity? Doubtful. However, one big difference is that for part-time work with UPS, you can receive full health benefits. For me, that amounts to $500 savings every year and I get better coverage on top of that.  I can only imagine that the savings would be significantly greater for those with a spouse and children. In addition, you can cancel any gym membership that you have. Moving boxes around, you're going to get a workout and develop functional strength. 

Other than UPS, I've only come up with one other job that I think is better for an attorney building his practice.  Transportation Security Officer (TSO) within the Department of Homeland Security. TSO's are widely known as the people in blue uniforms that bother you at airports. Whats unknown to most people is that there are TSO's working around the clock. Not only do they screen people, they screen packages. So while they may not have any passenger flights coming in late at night or early in the morning, there are planes that come in carrying packages that need to be screened.  Hence, you're able to keep your 9-5 hours open.  On top of that you get full benefits for part-time work. Not just health benefits, but all benefits. Asking around, I'm told federal benefits are the best benefits that people can get.  Finally, while working as a TSO, there is opportunity to transfer into a different federal agency. Most common transfers are within the Department of Homeland Security, such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Transfers to the Department of Justice are not unheard of. This is a part-time job that may lead to something law related.

I'm currently in the process of becoming a TSO. UPS and the Department of Homeland Security didn't pay me to write any of that. If any of you have come across any other jobs that would make good part-time jobs for attorneys starting a law firm, let me know. I'd be curious as to what else is out there.


I originally tried to start my firm in Santa Monica. Problem was that I didn't know anyone on that side of town. It really was just me. I've now moved to Arcadia. In the two weeks since I've moved to Arcadia, I've handed out more business cards than I have in the last month in Santa Monica.

I have several more family members in Arcadia than I do anywhere else. My aunt and cousins have done their best to introduce me to all their friends and business associates. Unfortunately, it hasn't produced any clients yet. The majority of what I do is criminal defense and they don't associate with too many criminals. Damn.

Curiosity Killed The Bar Examinee

Its a week after the bar exam and if you were like me, your curiosity has gotten the better of you. You've researched all the questions you remember struggling with and have discussed the essays with your friends. Lot of good that did, right? You likely found out you missed an issue. Or four.

Guess what? Who cares! Everyone misses issues. In 2009, I missed the entire constitutional law essay. I wrote a completely irrelevant and off-topic essay for an entire hour. I still passed.

Here is the best way to think about it. If you turned in a blank essay, you got a 40. If you write anything remotely on-topic, you got a 45. In my opinion, the grading really starts at 50. You only have to score 10 points to pass the essay.  It doesn't sound that difficult now does it? I'm sure you all did fine.

I finally got furniture for my office. I was going to go to IKEA and pick out a few items, but my sister insisted I wait. Her office is going through a huge remodel and is getting rid of several things. I was able to pick up a desk, file cabinet, leather chair, two visitors chairs and an all-in-one printer for the very fair price of helping tape and paint the walls. Getting all those items easily saved me $500.


Congrats on getting through it. Like I said, the easiest part is taking the exam. Here comes another round of sleepless nights and anxiety. That comes in a few months. For tonight, drink a beer and have some fun!

Day After MBE, Prepping Day 3

I oddly always found the MBE day to be more tiring. With essays you're reading, writing and typing. With the MBE you're staring at a pieces of paper for 6 hours.

This is where you need to find a way to keep going. Day two is where a lot of people hit the wall. Day three scores are significantly lower than any other day. If you can have a strong day 3, you can make up some significant points based soley on people being tired.

You're 66% done. Lets do it.

Preparing For Day Two

Overall, I'm told the first day wasn't terrible. A torts essay, professional responsibility and CA evidence with a crimes twist. Hopefully things went okay. If it didn't, you have two days to make things up. Even if you completely bombed one essay, you're right on track!

Get a nice dinner and a good night's sleep. Keep it together!

The Exam: Day One

However unlikely, I hope everyone got some sleep. Oddly, the best thing you can hear right now is "you may begin" from the proctor. At that moment anxiety disappears for everyone. This is what you've studied. You're ready. Except for maybe the girl you see shooting up the aisle toward the bathroom while holding her mouth. Theres one in every group. At least you know you have her beat.

Remember to upload immediately after the exam.

If anyone would like to email me the topics, I'd appreciate it. My email is timadvises@gmail.com.

Day Before The Exam

Congrats on finishing up your studying. Today is travel day. All of you should be preparing, relaxing and giving yourself a mental break. Keep in mind, no one is going to have perfect circumstances for the bar exam. You may have a loud breather sitting next to you, a fan blowing on you or not get enough sleep the night before. Control the things that you can control. Put the things you can't control out of mind and keep moving forward. 

Good luck to everyone!

Hello World!

I'm currently in New Orleans for my fraternity's conference. Its a great time for me to reconnect with some old faces and meet some new ones.  I get made fun of by non-fraternity members for my continued participation in these events, but I'm starting a practice and need to network as much as I can. 

In any case, we are two short days away from the bar exam. I want you all to think about how far you've come.  You've taken the LSAT, studied 14 hours in a law library, had your thinking challenged and put forth your best efforts.  Come November, win or lose, your personal growth has come a long way.  Stay strong, relax and take the next two days to do an outdoor activity you enjoy.

In The Zone On Test Day

While all the studying you're doing may not add to your confidence now, you'll quickly find that a lot of the rules, elements and analysis will flow right out of you. Don't over think the exam, just write what you know. You'll be amazed how much information is in your head. 

This is why reading essays is so important. The bar examiners like to test the same topics over and over again. When you see the actual test question, it will remind you of a past test question that you read. From there, the answer will just flow out.

While stupid to say and virtually uncontrollable, don't panic. If you're reading my blog, you have just about every "insider tip" that I can think of. If you have put in the time, you're ready. Don't let panic cloud what you know!

Bar Exam: I Got To Pee!

Lets talk bathrooms. Most of you will be taking exams in convention centers. They're big and have lots of bathrooms. However, there will still be a line before the exam. You're best going to the bathroom before you enter the test room. Once in there, you'll have to stick it out in line.

Another thing about bathrooms. Immediately after the exam, you will not be allowed to use the bathrooms in the convention center. As soon as they call the 5 minute warning, the bathrooms are closed. You will have to wait out the five minutes for the test to end, 10 minutes for the exams to be collected, and likely another 10 to 20 minutes in line outside. So plan accordingly. 

Keep reading those outlines. I know they get more and more difficult to read each day, but you're almost done. One time and never again.

Run Of Show: Dry Run

After you have all your supplies from Target, you need to make a run over to the test location. Any way you decide to get there, make sure you time it. For the real thing, you're going to want to add 30 minutes for traffic. There will be car traffic and traffic in the elevators.

In addition, try to find one alternate route, just in case. For those of you that decide to drive, make sure you find the entrance into the parking lot. Don't just find the building, find the the parking lot booth. Determine if this lot is cash only and how much it costs to park your car.  Finally, look for a place to upload your exam. Hotel lobbys, coffee shops and Mcdonalds are good locations to look for. 

Its the final week. Congrats! You should be tightening up loose ends and making sure you're comfortable with all the major topics.  Don't freak out. Even if you fail, you're a good person!

Run Of Show: Target

You've checked over your room and every thing looks good. Its time to find the nearest Target or Wal-mart and get some supplies. This is no time to boycott Wal-mart for its employment/labor transgressions. You can boycott them all you want after the bar exam. Right now, get what you need and get to back to your room to rest up. 

For most of you, you won't have a refrigerator. How are you going to keep your lunch cold for the next couple days? Here is a checklist to make sure you have everything.

1. Foam cooler. For food and drinks.
2. Toiletries. Anything may have forgotten or forced to throw away at the airport.
3. Food for lunch. I highly recommend trail mix to keep energy and sugar levels up.
4. Drinks. Water. Also something with caffeine if you need a boost.
5. Swimsuit. Your hotel has a hot tub right? Good place to unwind.
6. Pencils/Pens. I'm going to rant about this for a moment. A really obnoxious sound is hearing someone try to sharpen their pencil mid-exam. The little handheld pencil sharpeners don't work very well, so it takes people forever just to get it so the lead isn't falling out.  For my sake, and everyone around you, buy a box of 10 pre-sharpened pencils. Just pull out a new pencil when the one your using runs dull. 
7. Eraser. Get the good, white, plastic eraser. They erase cleaner and leave less markings than the pink erasers. No point in leaving behind markings that could be misread by the computer.

Run Of Show: Hotel Room Walk Through

Your hotel room is your home for the next three days. Its your sanctuary away from thousands of stressed out law students chattering about how stressed they are. Upon arrival do a walk through of your room to make sure its in working order. If you don't do the walk through now, chances are you won't be able to change rooms later if something is seriously wrong. At the very least, you can catch the small annoyances before you are in full exam mode.  This is my list of things to look for.

1. Turn on all lights, make sure all light bulbs work.
2. Check the shower and make sure it gets hot water.
3. Flush the toilet to make sure its not backed up.
4. Use the sink to make sure it drains
4. Scan floor for insects, make sure its clean.
5. Turn on TV make sure it works.
6. Use the remote to make sure batteries are working. 
7. Listen for airplanes, trains, automobiles and elevator noises. Make sure its bearable.
8. Set the alarm clock to see if its in working order, the volume is loud enough and the time is correct. 
9. Adjust the thermostat to make sure its working and you can find a comfortable temperature.
10. Find the nearest working ice machine.

Run Of Show: Hotel Rooms

Let's get down to business. I realized I have a lot I want to talk about before you all take the exam. I will be a posting machine over the next week and a half. Come back and come back often.

So you've arrived early and ready for check-in. What type of room should you ask for? Ask for a room on the lowest level possible.  Otherwise, not only will you have to wait for multiple cars to go by before you find one with space, do you really want to ride 15 floors with crazy stressed out students? If you are at the top floor, I guarantee you will stop at every single floor on the way down.  What should be a 30 second elevator ride will turn into 10 minutes.

I also recommend a room facing east. I like to think of the sun beaming into my window in the morning as an extra alarm clock. Get there early and get your eastern facing second floor room!

Run of Show: Check-In

I got another really good email from a Amy over the all-star break. 

"I wanted to ask if sometime soon you could post something about sort of practical Game Day suggestions. Sort of like a schedule of what you did starting the Monday before the exam, and each day during the exam, what to expect, and any little tips that you would have liked to know beforehand."

My sister is an event planner. Before any of her events go live, she gives all set-up personel a run of show document.  The run of show gives a timeline and order for things to be done. Here is my "ROS" for the bar exam. 

Edit: I started writing this post and it ended up being excessively long. No one in their right mind would of read the entire post. Which now that I think about it, you all are freaked out bar examinees so I probably would of been able to get away with it. In any case, I am going to post this as a series.

Lets talk about check-in on Monday.  For those of you staying at hotels, call ahead and see what time they allow check-in. Then arrive at 1 pm no matter what they say. Most hotels have check-out at 11 am, so they should have some rooms available around 1 pm. If they let you check-in early, great. If not, have them hold your luggage behind the counter or in their locked room.

The earlier you are able to check-in the better. The hotel will try to accomodate your requests, but they can only do so much. Imagine arriving and finding out the only room they have left for the next three days is a smoking room. Get their early and if you end up having a problem with your hotel room, its a lot easier to change before other people arrive.

Time Peices: Clarified

A question from Wendi seeking clarification on time pieces:

"I am taking the bar this month, and I was reading your blog. I can bring a digital timer into the exam? It doesn't beep, it's a tiny travel clock basically. I don't even own a watch! My admissions ticket is confusing because it says timer smaller than 4x4 but then nothing digital."

The admission ticket is a little confusing, but I wouldn't leave anything to chance. The ticket says nothing digital, so I wouldn't bring any time piece that doesn't have hands on its face. You'll likely get your digital time piece taken away whether it beeps or not. The benefits gained by having a time peice during the exam is well worth $10. 

All Star Weekend

Sorry I haven't posted in a few days. I spent the entire weekend without internet watching the home run derby, the all-star game and taking pictures of people seated in my section such as Bud Selig, Rex Ryan, Mark Sanchez, Jamie Lynn-Siegler, Hank Aaron and Tommy Lasorta.  Hate me yet? My boy Joe Mauer had a bad game though. I almost wish he would of sat out of the all-star game so he could heal up for the stretch run. Go Twins!

I got a few emails over the weekend with some good questions. I'll be posting replies to the emails so don't fret if I haven't replied yet.

Tricky Similar MBE Questions: Beat Them!

I received an email from a reader about tricky MBE questions. She specifically cited contracts questions that include sub-contracting and bids.

These type of questions you have get down cold. Its difficult to understand the correct answer unless you have them sitting next to you side by side, but you will come to see the common sense of it all.

We start panicking when we start looking too closely at the leaves. Take a step back and look at the forest. What is a good general guiding principle for sub-contracting and bids? Mine was "if one bid is so far off from the others, that bid has to be double checked." Thats it. Thats the forest.  Every thing else is just a small variation of that guiding principle. By using that guiding principle, you should be able to eliminate a few choices.

Just as an aside, I do really enjoy getting emails from you readers. It lets me know that what I write about is worthwhile. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to email me at timadvises@gmail.com

Get Your Binoculars, We're Going Hunting

The goofy thing about walking out of the convention center after each day is that you are not done. You still have to upload your exam. Most of the hotels that are recommended by the bar examiners are upscale 4 star hotels who charge additional for internet service. Each 24 hours can run you over $15. Who has that type of money?

When you arrive the day before the exam, make sure you make a dry run over to the test location.  On the way, look for places with wi-fi. Coffee shops, McDonalds and bagel shops are good places to try. 

Make sure you upload your exam immediately after the exam. While you are given several hours to upload your exam, life happens. Your computer could get dropped, lost at the airport, stolen or any other strange life happenings. The graders can't grade what they don't have, so get it done immediately after the exam.

Thank you all for the great emails about the site.  Please "like" this below.

Three Weeks of Memorizing

I got this question from a reader:

When I look back at all the subjects, it's overwhelming to see how much I have to memorize. When do you suggest that I start to memorize the rules?

The amount of material to memorize is overwhelming. Which is why you need to start memorizing now.  I cant stress the importance of active memorization instead of passive memorization. Flashcards and reading outlines are all passive studying.

Active studying is opening up the essay book and writing an essay to the best of your ability. When you fail to correctly state the rule, you write the rule out 10 times or until you have it memorized. Then you write the same essay again.

You'll quickly find that you will be putting the rules into your own words. Which is what you want to happen. This modified rule has a better "stickiness" factor and you'll have it ready for the exam.  Save passive studying for the last 3 days. Right now, you have to be active.

Where You Should Be In Your Study Process

I hope everyone had a good holiday. Thats likely the last time you all will be having an extended relaxation period.  For most of you, you've finished the BarBri simulated bar exam. Eye opening, right? Lets examine the results.

For the MBE you scored somewhere around 50% mark or 100/200. Good job! Even if you scored a little under, you're on track. If your under 90/200, you really need to start doing more multiple choice questions. Early in the study process, most people would rather do multiple choice questions than essays. If you scored under 90, I'm hoping you have put some time into practicing essays.  More importantly, how was your timing? Did you run out of time? Finish with time leftover? Which types of questions did you have to spend more time on?

For the essays, there is no real good way to score it other than what BarBri gives you. The tendency is to argue that BarBri gives everyone low scores to scare people into studying harder. More likely, its because you don't have anything memorized yet. You likely sat there trying to make up rules, wrote some weak analysis based on the made up rule, and finished the essay with more than half of the time remaining.  Congrats! You're right on track! 

Over the next three weeks, memorization is going to be huge. You need to clean up your rule statements. Not only for the essays, but for making sure you can identify the correct multiple choice answer.  Keep it together, don't freak out, you're doing just fine!

Fish And Chips? David Beckham? Bono? Beatles?

Whats the only good thing to come from England? 


Shopping For Clothes Is Necessary For The Bar Exam

July 4th weekend means sales at clothing stores!  This is a good time to prepare your attire for the bar exam. Your clothing for the bar exam should be comfortable, fitted and versatile.

1. Comfortable. Nothings worse than trying to concentrate in a itchy sweater.  I know you're tight on money, but if there is anytime to splurge on fabric softener, this is as good as any. Make sure to test the fabric softener before the exam to make sure you're not allergic.

2. Fitted. I was in a coffee shop and saw a girl wearing an over-sized sweatshirt.  She was trying to study and type, but any time she moved her arms the sleeves would knock her papers all over the floor. She barely dodged knocking over her own coffee and had to keep adjusting her sleeves so she could type. You're going to have your test booklet, pens, pencils, highlighters, watches and all sorts of other stuff.  Do you want to chase it all over the floor?

3. Versatile. When you walk into an empty concrete convention hall in the morning, its going to be chilly.  After almost 4 hours with over a thousand people in one room, it gets warm. With the mid-day heat, the afternoon session only gets warmer. Unless they turn on the air conditioning, which might be blowing directly at you. In that case, you'll be freezing. Dress in lots of layers. You have absolutely no idea what the temperature of the convention center is going to be.

National Bar Examinee Freak Out Day

I now dub every July 1st "National Bar Examinee Freak Out Day." Panic attacks and waves of overwhelming anxiety for everyone! Yay!

When the calendar turns to July, every bar examinee knows the bar exam is less than a month away. On June 30th, we talk ourselves into thinking that the bar exam is "next month" despite the exam being held on July 27.  The delusions disappear on July 1st when we get smacked in the face with the imminentness of the exam.

Have comfort that every bar examinee gets nervous on this date. Go get a steak, fire up the grill and enjoy the weekend. If you've been diligent thus far, your doing just fine.

Your Biggest Failure Ever!

Lets talk about the in-class practice exam.  You all know this is going to happen. Let me get it on the table anyways. You are going to fail the practice exam. By fail, I mean fail bigger than you've ever failed anything before.  

Its okay. You'll be just fine. I scored 96/200 on the BarBri practice exam, but scored 142 raw score.  BarBri does a very good job of selecting various types of questions for you to explore. Some of them you will have no idea how to approach. Its a learning process and BarBri does a good job. 

Most people score around 100/200 on the MBE portion. If you score between 90-100, you're doing just fine. Below 85, you have to pick up. Above 115, go find a girlfriend you giant nerd!

We're getting some good conversation going regarding a constitutional law exam.  Check it out and offer your thoughts. http://barexamproject.com/2010/06/first-essay-review-constitutional-law.html

Why Scoring 70% On Subject Tests Mean Nothing

I've gotten some emails lately asking me if "70% is good enough" in property, contracts, or some other subject.  My answer is the same, the subject test scores don't mean much.  Sure, seeing a high score builds confidence, however tell me you scored 70% on a mixed subject exam and I'll be far more impressed.

Getting 70% is easy when you're only concentrating on one subject.  The questions are just small twists of each other.  Its easy to remember how each question is different when you have another question to compare it to. Seeing so many questions of the same subject allows you to get into a zone or on a roll with those types of questions.  

Getting 70% on a mixed subject exam is far more difficult. You actually have to know each nuance and exception because you don't have another question to compare it to.  Furthermore, you have to switch gears between all the subjects and can't get into a zone or on a roll. Throw in the time constraints of the exam, scoring 70% on a mixed subject exam is more difficult than it seems.  

The lesson here is that you should be practicing the mixed subject exams.  If you haven't yet, start to work them into you study schedule. Its normal to see a drop in score before you reach the average of all your subject tests. Keep plugging away, the test occurs in less than a month.

First Essay Review: Constitutional Law

If I remember correctly, this is an essay that BarBri makes you do.  In any case, I'm going to post it and turn on comments so people can see how to improve.  Give your recommendations, what you would change, how you would phrase rules, etc.  I hope to do two of these a week until exam week, so keep sending them in to timadvises@gmail.com

Edit: I'm having problems with turning comments on.  I am going to host the discussion on the new site even though its not quite finished.  The new site is: www.barexamproject.com

Get Your Practice Exams Graded

Its difficult to be objective with your own writing. You tend to give yourself the benefit of the doubt more than you should.  Graders, unfortunately, aren't so kind.

To collectively improve, I am going to post some practice essays from readers.  If you want yours graded, here are the rules:

1. If you email me an essay, you are giving me permission to post it for the world to read.
2. The essay must be on an MBE subject.
3. Any recommendations are just that, take them or leave them as you please.

I will turn on comments and you people can read and make recommendations for improvement. Hopefully, this is a worthwhile exercise.

If you want your essays featured, essays can be emailed to me at timadvises@gmail.com

Practice For The Bar Exam: Loud And Noisy

You can't recreate the sound of 1000 people typing all at once or the echo of a girl flippity-flopping across a virtually silent convention center on MBE day.  Don't be that girl. A thousand people will testify it was justifiable homicide.

Taking a practice exam with distractions is a good experience. Not just TV noise, but real obnoxious distractions.  Go to the public library, sit near the kids books section and practice with children running and shrieking around you.  Any screams you hear on test day will pale in comparison.  Wait until your drummer roommate starts his three hour long practice session to begin your practice test.  The banging of someone frustratingly ripping off a stall door in the bathroom won't be that distracting.

If you practice with major distractions going on around you, the minor distractions during the bar exam won't bother you the least bit.  This translates to extra points for you!

Predictions For July 2010

Psych: The Complete First & Second SeasonsI get awfully nervous when people start posting predictions for the bar exam. Predictions are never as helpful as they are detrimental. I have yet to see anyone put out predictions, in any year, that were more than 50% correct. The extra effort wasted studying based on someone's prediction is better spent brushing up on areas you lack understanding. Even more devastating is when people predict a topic won't be on the exam and it inevitably appears.

The only prediction anyone can make with near 100% accuracy is professional responsibility.  Study that like crazy and walk away with an 80.  You can read about why you need to make professional responsibility a top priority here.

Bar Exam: How To Wake Up On Time

A Clockwork Orange (Two-Disc Special Edition)I've always had odd sleep patterns.  I'm a night owl that often stays up past the time an early bird would be waking up.  The bar exam being the biggest test I've ever taken, waking up on time was a big concern of mine.

To assure that I woke up on time, I set up four different alarms.  I had my hotel alarm clock, my phone alarm, a wake up call and a friend to call me to make sure I was awake.  I went as far as to give a friend the hotel phone number and my room number so they could ask for someone to come up and knock on my door in case I didn't answer my phone.

I wanted to make sure that if I accidentally set my clock for pm instead of am, didn't turn the volume up loud enough or turned my alarm off instead of snoozing, I would still make the exam. By setting multiple alarms, you can help settle your mind for a good nights sleep and be sure that you'll wake up on time for the bar exam.

Passing The Bar Exam: Two Ways To Look Into The Future

TiK ToKMy most read post was my very first entry where I posted the pass page of the California bar exam to help people visualize passing the bar.  Good things come with happy thoughts. Visualization was only one of the techniques I used to help calm my nerves.

By nature I'm a cynical and sarcastic person. I'm the guy that walks around art shows, sees a painting of a big red dot on a canvas and goes on a rant on how, "This is stupid, I could paint that picture." I'm the guy that turns on the radio, hears Kei$ha's Tic Tok song and thinks, "This is stupid, I could write that song." While the song is catchy, I'm frankly amazed at how low the bar is set in a lot of fields.

Law is no different. Think of all the attorneys that you've met and thought, "This guy is licensed to practice law? I'm going to go home and look him up on the bar website to make sure." Its an unfortunately long list, isn't it?

In explaining the difficulty of the California bar exam, people list notable failures. The most notable failure being Kathleen Sullivan, former Dean of Stanford Law School, leading constitutional law scholar and possible U.S. Supreme Court nominee. But, talking about people that much smarter than me failing the bar exam only made me more nervous. 

There is an attorney that I see at my college fraternity's yearly conference. I can't stand him and every year I see him I head to a computer to check if he is still licensed.  As I was studying for the California bar exam, I realized that he is barred in the state of California. I thought, "If this clown can pass the California bar exam, I know I'm going to pass!" It was a very comforting thought.  So while your studying, don't think about the smart attorneys that failed, think of all the not-so-bright attorneys that passed!

ExamSoft: Why Wouldn't You Test It?

Toshiba Satellite L505-GS5037 TruBrite 15.6-Inch Laptop (Black)
I hear a lot of test takers talk about how ExamSoft crashed on them during the exam. While I'm sympathetic to people that come across in-test problems, this issue is completely preventable.

I have yet to come across anyone that actually tested ExamSoft before the exam having problems with it during the exam.  ExamSoft gives you a great opportunity to test it on your machine.  While you're practicing your essays, type them out using ExamSoft. You'll quickly find out if something on your computer conflicts with ExamSoft.  

My guess is a lot of students use ExamSoft in law school and don't feel the need to test it before the bar exam.  First, this is the most important exam you're ever going to take, so why wouldn't  you test your computer? Second, ExamSoft is continually updating and releasing new versions.  You have to make sure the version you're using for the exam doesn't conflict with your computer.  

From what I've read, it seems the biggest conflicts occur between ExamSoft and anti-virus programs - Nortons, McAfee, etc.  Make sure to test your computer.  If something conflicts, you at least have time to get it fixed, borrow a friends computer or to buy a new one.  

Extension Cords: Life Line Of A Bar Examinee

GE 51924 Indoor/Outdoor 25-Foot General Purpose Grounded Extension Cord, OrangePreparation for the bar exam doesn't end until the proctor says "you may begin."  During lunch on Day 1 of the bar exam, I overheard a girl, practically in tears, telling a friend that her computer shut down mid-exam.  Because Secure Exam blocks any sort of notices, the girl didn't realize her computer was running out of battery life.  Her power source didn't work and she had to handwrite.

You must plan for everything! Do not depend on anyone else.  When you plug in, make sure your power source works.  However, realize the proctor's job description does not include helping you find a working power source.  The bar examiners set-up thousands of power sources before the exam.  Its a guarantee that one of them isn't going to work.  It might be yours, so bring an extension cord.  If you can't plug into your power source, you at least have the length to get to another.  

The Dumbest Thing BarBri Tells You To Do: Avoid It!

Run for Your Life
After lunch on Day 1 of the California bar exam, I settled into my seat to begin the MPT.  While I was waiting, I struck up a conversation with my table mate.  Alex went to the University of Chicago and seemed like a pretty sharp guy, but he didn't seem like someone that did a lot of thinking or planning for himself. He didn't bring cash to a cash only parking lot, luckily he had enough change rolling around the car.  He planned on buying a lunch, but the lines were too long (duh!), so he had a bag of chips from the vending machine and a few cigarettes to suppress his appetite.

The professor BarBri hired to teach the MPT in California is great.  He makes you feel like the bar exam graders are idiots and you can pass anything.  He takes you through passed model answers released by the bar examiners and shows you why everything in it is wrong, but was still released as a model answer.  He was loud, entertaining and, of the professors, he was among my favorites. 

Among the great tips he gives for the MPT, he gives one terrible piece of advice.  He encourages students to tear our pages from the MPT booklet.  He tells students to tear out the library index sheet from the exam book and brief each case under the given headings.  Also, he tells students to tear out the task sheets and have it sitting separately so you can refer to it.  This is simply bad advice!

I don't think the professor knows how the booklets are constructed.  Imagine taking 5 sheets of paper and folding it across the width and putting two staples down the crease to make a book - like you did in kindergarten. The cover is the also the back cover, the first page is also the last page, etc.  Now what happens when you tear out the first page? 

Alex didn't think this through when he got the booklet.  He tore out the two pages the professor tells you to and pages started falling out of his booklet. He had to take one very long and frustrating minute to put his booklet back together.  

Another girl, a few rows in front of me, tore apart her booklet as well.  She was doing fine until the air conditioning turned on and blew the pages she had spread out across the table into the aisle.  It was comedy gold watching her chase down all the pages of her booklet mid-exam.  

The 30 seconds you may lose writing out the names of each case, is well worth avoiding the frustration of putting your booklet back together.  

Watches And Timers

Casio Men's MQ24-7E Classic Analog WatchThe items listed in yesterdays post seemed to be a surprise to a lot of you.  Let's discuss watches and timers.  You're allowed a timer or a watch into the exam.  I highly recommend that everyone bring a time piece into the exam.

I took the bar exam at the San Mateo location.  There are no clocks in the exam room. They give you a one hour warning and a five minute warning.  Nothing else.  When the one hour mark was called, I was on question 64.  I had stupidly forgotten my watch and didn't realize I was that far behind. 

Analog watches are the best because they won't unexpectedly start beeping.  When digital watches/timers go off in a convention center, it echoes. Imagine that happening with 3,000 stressed out law students.  Someone is going to try to find you in the parking lot after the exam.  

A trick to use with an analog watch is to set the hands at 9 o'clock when the test begins.  By doing so, you know the test session will end at exactly 12 o'clock.  This way you don't have to do any in-test subtraction to see how much time you have left!  

What Items Can I Bring Into The Exam?

Highlighters/Text Marker 5 colors
The sheer amount of materials that the California Bar Examiners send to you is overwhelming.  Most people don't read all of it.  Amazingly, you are allowed to bring a lot of items into the examination room to aid your comfort and to increase test performance. Water is provided nearby.  I highly recommend having the first 5 items with you. What do people need a bookstand for?!?
  1. Admission Ticket
  2. Pens and Pencils
  3. Highlighters
  4. Silent Analog Watches or Timers measuring less than 4 x 4 inches
  5. Ear Plugs
  6. Wallets
  7. Eyeglasses
  8. Paper Clips
  9. Back Support
  10. Two Pillows, No Cases Allowed
  11. One Bookstand
  12. One Foot Rest
  13. Splints and Braces
  14. Inhalers
  15. Crutches
  16. Wheelchairs
  17. Casts
  18. Hearing Aids
  19. Tens Units
  20. Feminine Hygiene Items
  21. Medicine
  22. Diabetes-related Equipment

Music To Plug Your Ears

Apple iPod nano 8 GB Black (5th Generation) NEWEST MODELA friend of mine walked out of the bar exam on the first day and heard this conversation:

Person A: That contracts question was a real bitch.
Person B: Wait...what contracts question?

Can you picture everyone with in earshot of this interaction? Every single person nervously trying to figure out if there was a contracts question on the exam?  Everyones heart racing just a little faster? This is why Steve Jobs created ipods.

If you're sick of studying, take the time to put together a play list that will pump you up in the morning and calm you down as you walk out of the exam.  I personally had the rap classic Snoop Dogg - Doggy Style on my ipod for the mornings and had the Gladiator Soundtrack (its all symphony music) for the afternoons.  Whatever you decide, plug your ears up as you walk into the exam and as you walk out.  It'll save you a lot of anxiety.

Keeping The Bar Exam In Perspective

The bar exam consumes your life.  You wake up anxious each morning to eat, sleep and study for the bar exam.  You go to bed and have strange dreams about not being able to find your seat or being assigned a seat next to someone who didn't shower for 3 days leading up to the exam. Only to wake up anxious with the vicious cycle starting all over again.  

The bad news? This cycle gets worse as you get closer to the bar exam and the dreams become more vivid and strange.  Not only could you not find your seat, you showed up at the wrong test location.  You weren't assigned a seat next to the smell person, you become the smelly person.

As I was getting deeper and deeper into this cycle, a wedding video came out on youtube.  The ceremony made national headlines with re-enactments on The Today Show and The Morning Show.  The video showed a level of friendship and happiness that people have, but often forget because the negative often clouds the positive in our lives. The bar exam, in the end, is only a test. Passing the test may give you more options and it may justify your debt, but even if you don't pass, life goes on.  Before the exam, I constantly needed that reminder.  I suspect I watched this video at least 20 times leading up to the exam.

I suspect most of you have already seen the video.  Take a look again and remind yourself there are more important things in life than the bar exam.  Enjoy!

Public Libraries: The Best Place To Study

Where the Sidewalk Ends 30th Anniversary Edition: Poems and DrawingsWho's sick of being around law school people? Unfortunately, all the law libraries and coffee shops are just filled with stressed out law students.  You just can't find a good spot. Out here in Los Angeles, not only are the coffee shops filled with law students, but you can't get a table because of all the script writers.

I don't enjoy super quiet places, but I don't want anything too interesting to happen to distract me.  I've found that public libraries are the best place for me to study.  You get free internet, its air conditioned, quiet rooms if you want it, and big enough tables to accommodate all your your books and outlines.  Plus there are no other law students there!

I liked to get there when the library was opening and leave when it was closing.  Solid 8 hours.  Plus if I got sick of reading law material, there were other books I could read to take a mental break.  I was a big Shel Silverstein fan when I was growing up, so his books were nice to re-read and reminisce about easier times.

The only drawback were the hours.  They all seem to close early in the afternoon, so make sure to check the hours before you go!

Negligence: How To Beat The Bane Of The Bar Exam

The Giving Tree 40th Anniversary Edition Book with CDNegligence doesn't get any easier on the bar exam.  When I was studying negligence for the bar exam, I had a real hard time with the accounting.  Superseding intervening cause - is that part of the actual cause element or the proximate cause element? Attractive nuisance doctrine - should that be discussed as a duty or a breach of duty? While I knew the elements of negligence, I didn't know under what element I should put the various doctrines.

I've read several negligence essays and, like me, this is something several people have to overcome.  How do you know you have a similar problem? You ramble on and eventually you notice you have blended two elements together.

The practice of law is an exercise in killing trees.  Well, here is another opportunity.  To keep my accounting straight, I had one sheet of paper for each element.  I didn't staple or paper clip them together.  I treated each element as a separate outline.  Not only did it cement where each doctrine or rule should be discussed, it kept me from rambling!

Exam Strategy: Do Not Punt A Subject...Yet

Right now, many of you are starting to see patterns emerge with your MBE scores.  There is always one subject that is severely lacking. Thats normal. 

The wrong thing to do is panic. Over the next 3 weeks, you will see improvement by leaps and bounds.  Do not decide to punt your worst subject.  At least not yet.  Its way to early to be thinking about exam strategy when you don't have a clear picture of where you will be come exam time.

Two weeks before the exam, we can discuss punting a subject. Until then, keep plugging away.  

Handwriting The Bar Exam

People wonder if laptopping the bar exam is any more advantageous than handwriting it.  Without any proof, using a laptop seems more advantageous.  Its easier to edit if you make a mistake, you can copy-paste to reorganize an argument, its neater and easier for the grader to read, and you can type faster than you write.  However, short of your arm falling off, handwriting has the big advantage of having no technical issues. So, the debate rages on.  

There was a study a few years back which tried to determine whether handwriting or laptopping was the bigger advantage.  It seemed using a laptop would net you approximately 18 additional points over handwriting, however that has declined with time.  The paper is a bit dated since typing, as in typewriter, was still an option. The paper is short, so give it a quick read.  For those that don't want to do that, read the last page - it gives a summary.  It would be interesting to see this study done again.  

Coffee: The Shakes!

Cafe Altura Organic Coffee, Sumatran Dark Roast, Whole Bean, 32-Ounce Bag
The law school uniform isn't complete without a cup of coffee. A large cup to start the day, another to get through class and one more cup to keep   you studying.  Dunkin' runs on law students.

Unfortunately, you won't have access to coffee during the exam.  I'd suggest testing how you function on a rigid caffeine schedule.  Get a cup at 7 am and one at noon to see how you feel.  Now ask yourself these questions:
  • How big of a cup do I need to stay awake? 
  • Does it make me too jittery to type? 
  • How often do I have to use the bathroom? 
  • Can I handle having coffee breath for five hours?
The temperature of the room, subjects tested and who you sit by during the exam are out of your control.  Use this time to test things within your control.  While no one is going to get optimal conditions, you can get close!

Should I Create Outlines? Flashcards?

Another question posted on All4jds.com:
"Does anyone actually create outlines? I don't see what the point is, since BarBri gives you outlines. Wouldn't it smarter to make flash cards or something? Just wondering if I'm missing something."

This is a great question and the answer to this question is different for everyone.  If you study well by outlining or making flashcards, thats great, do it. But lets approach this another way.

Assume for a moment, you're going to keep up with the BarBri pace program.  The pace program is a great program to assure you are getting enough practice in essays, multiple choice and MPTs.  The pace program is intensive and most people fall off the wagon - quickly.  Thats not to say its impossible to follow, but life doesn't always go as planned.

Now, think about the amount of time it took for you to outline a subject in law school.  So, if you show me a person that was able to outline 18 bar exam subjects and do the entire pace program, I'll show you someone that gave up eating and sleeping.  Most people outline some subjects just to make the subject manageable and only do parts of the pace program.  

This question is really a time management question.  How do I get the most value out of my studying? Again, do what works for you. However, I think for most people they should avoid outlining the outline.  Instead, they should open the essay book and outline the essays.

The bar examiners test the same things over and over again in each subject. Sit down and take each exam. Keep the mini-outline you created while issue spotting and add to it as you do other exams.  For multi-state subjects, this outline will be the absolute most important topics because it can be tested twice, on the essays and on the multiple choice.  For state specific essays, you'll see BarBri gives you way more than you need.

Not only will you be actively learning, you'll save yourself a lot of time.

The Biggest Mistake In Studying For Essays

What is it about professional responsibility that we want to avoid? We never take a practice test, rarely study it and always talk about why it shouldn't be on the California bar exam because of the MPRE.  Or, maybe thats just me.  

We spend a lot of time trying to predict the subjects that will be tested, but we never practice for the one subject that is guaranteed to be on the exam.  As of recent, its not uncommon for professional responsibility to be tested as a stand alone essay and also as part of a cross-over question.  

Professional responsibility essays are more difficult than they seem because, within the essay, there are multiple analyses for each mini fact pattern.  Under the time pressures of the exam, its easy to do only one analysis and then move on, but the bar examiners are looking for how many you can spot.  Doing one analysis will lower your score.

You have to practice taking professional responsibility essays.  Not doing so is a huge mistake. How silly would it be to fail the California bar exam on a topic you know will be on the exam?

MPT: Two Common Questions Answered!

I saw the following posting on All4Jds.com, my answer is below:
                      "Just finished my first practice MPT (the 90-minute version). I have a couple questions:
                        1. Are you really supposed to finish it? I got damn close but, really, this is a mountain of work to get done in 90 minutes.
                        2. How closely are you supposed to mimic the point sheet? They wanted it done chronologically but I did it according to three objections made by the defense attorney. I still covered the same stuff but...is there really only one way to do it? "

1. Yes, you are suppose to finish.  Graders can't give you points for what you don't write.  It is a mountain of work to get done, but thats the point.  The MPT doesn't test your legal knowledge, it tests your ability to read accurately, think critically, organize quickly, and write coherently.  "Getting close" means your leaving points on the table.  Thats a lot of points left on the table when each MPT point is worth twice an essay point.  

2.  Yes, there is only one way to do it. Mimic the point sheet and follow the directions exactly!  Think of it like this.  Graders will read hundreds of the exact same essay.  Do you think they are reading word for word by the 4th essay? Not a chance! They are skimming and looking for key points.  You're not going to do yourself any favors by making them "search" your essay to grade it.  Do what they teach you in BarBri, be a sheep.  Baaaaaaa.    

Perspective On The Bar Exam

We're only two weeks into the bar exam process, but I suspect many of you are feeling overwhelmed.  During the bar exam process, its easy to get tunnel vision and think nothing else matters.  In fact, the opposite of that is true and gaining perspective will ease the feeling of being overwhelmed.   

Today is a day to honor those that died in military service.  Take a moment to reflect. While the bar exam may at times feel like a life or death proposition, realize its not. Listen to actual life and death stories being told today.  In comparison to those stories, the bar exam is not only manageable, but also...easy.     

California Bar Outlines: How People Outline Incorrectly

Outlining in law school is different from outlining the bar exam.  Think about how you outlined in law school. You likely sat down at the end of the semester, went lecture by lecture, and shrunk your notes into a 10 page outline that you could memorize.  While this is perfectly fine in law school, there is a better way to outline for the bar exam.  

For those of you that have your BarBri essay book sitting next to you, open to the contracts section.  Skip reading the essay questions and read the first few paragraphs of the sample answers.  What do you notice? All contracts questions start exactly the same way.  

A big mistake is to outline the lectures in BarBri like you did in law school.  While studying for bar review, its better to outline the sample essays.  Not only will you have a better idea of what the bar examiners find important enough to test repeatedly, you will know exactly how to start each essay based on topic alone!

BarBri Practice Essays: Do Them! Do Them Now!

There is a small, but vocal group of BarBri alums that encourage current BarBri students to not turn in practice exams for grading.  The argument is BarBri purposely "fails" you and getting that "fail" is not worth the loss of confidence.  

I understand getting a failing grade can shake your confidence, but you're suppose to fail in BarBri.  Where else are you going to get feedback about your writing style, organization and reasoning? You can have all the knowledge, but without good writing style, organization and reasoning, you will fail the essay portions of the bar exam.  

Unless you pay for Essay Advantage, a numerical score is not given to you. You only receive a pass or a fail.  I failed every single practice exam.  Lets read some of the comments I received from my graders:
  • You failed because you failed to analyze 1st degree murder 
  • You failed because you did not adequately raise and analyze all issues, including relevance. 
  • Your analysis is too conclusory and insufficient. 
  • You need more thorough analysis, you tend to be very conclusory.  
  • Use headings!
  • You are disorganized. 
Only when you turn in several essays and fail all of them do you see a pattern.  I failed a lot of them because I didn't know the rule from memory.  This was a good realization and I was able to go back and focus my studying.  More importantly, I became painfully aware that my analysis was always weak and conclusory.  To remedy that I kept writing "because" after every statement I made.

The best way to improve your writing is to find the constants in your failed exams.  I can think of no better way to improve your essay writing than to fail every practice essay BarBri gives you.  

Its Memorial Day Weekend!

U.S. Nylon US Flag 3X5 ft - American Made - Embroidered Stars - SALE!Taking those MBE subject tests given in-class at BarBri are real humbling. For those of you scoring low, don't sweat it. I was getting less than half correct on each subject. I remember being a little intimidated hearing people score 80% correct on certain subjects. You're not competing against anyone, not even yourself.  These subject tests are to help guide your study.  Keep in mind, its not where you start, its where you finish!

Its Memorial Day weekend. Relax and go grill something!

Why Doing Well In Law School Has Nothing To Do With The Bar Exam

Revenge of the Nerds: The Atomic Wedgie Collection
In high school, I got mostly A's, took advanced placement classes and was an all-around nerd. I'd sit back in class, soak up the lecture and then regurgitate it onto a test.  

My sister was far more social, joined several student groups and was an A/B student.  She received good grades, but really had to work.  She studied to get A's and studied even harder to get B's.  

This academic hierarchy changed in college.  In college, my sister got A's and I was getting C's. Seeing her first report card was a real awakening for me.  It was at that moment that I realized everything that I learned in high school wasn't worth much in college.  

Similarly, people that did well in law school shouldn't think they will do well on the bar exam.  They are two completely different animals.  Don't think so? When was the last time you took a multiple choice exam in law school?  How often do you think you're going to make a policy argument on the bar exam? The answer for both is the same: never.  What's important in law school is how you come to an answer. On the bar exam, its if you can read quickly, have good comprehension, organize an argument and come to the correct conclusion in a short amount of time.

While I received better grades in high school, my sister gained something much more valuable.  She learned to study.  In the same regard, law school isn't a total waste of time because it teaches you how to study for the bar exam.  Law school teaches you how to handle stress, to work under pressure and to turn mountains of material into something more manageable.

So, if you were at the bottom of your law school class, don't worry, the bar exam is a level playing field.    

Study Groups: Don't Do It For The Bar Exam!

Gossip Girl: The Complete Third SeasonHas anyone ever joined a study group that actually studied instead of gossiping and complaining? I haven't. Here are 3 reasons why you should not join a study group while studying for the bar exam.  

1. You're not a therapist.  Groups members will complain about how bad the lecture was last week, how they didn't have time to study and their inevitable impending failure.  You will spend all your time reassuring your group members that they are strong enough to get through life and that they are not going to fail. All that time spent reassuring someone else, is less time you have study.

2.  You're the teacher. Study groups work best when all group members start at the same level of subject understanding.  This rarely, if ever, happens. If you understand many of the concepts already, you're wasting time teaching others.  While the teaching exercise can be useful to a certain extent, you don't have to time to teach those that don't teach themselves.  

3.  The material is clear. The purpose of a study group is to discuss issues that are unclear.  Confusion occurs in law school because professors present hypothetical after hypothetical without stating the clear black letter laws.  This does not occur in bar review.  The black letter laws that you need to know are clearly laid out for you in the lectures.  If you don't understand the subject, the bar review course gives you a mountain of resources to figure it out. It really is as easy as looking it up!

How To Spot Someone About To Fail The Bar Exam

Kaplan PMBR: Multistate Performance Test (MPT) (Kaplan PMBR Finals)"I know I'm a good writer, I got A's in my legal writing class." How many of you have heard someone say this? If you haven't yet, you will before bar review is over.  These are famous last words of someone that is going to fail.

There are two performance tests on the bar exam. These two essays account for 40% of your overall essay score. While this is the minority percentage of the combined essay score, examine it even closer.

Break the essay section down even further.  There are 6 state specific essays for 60% of your total essay score. Each essay has a weight of 10%.  Each performance exam accounts for 40% of the overall essay score, so each essay is worth 20% of the total score.

Now, think this through.  How likely is it you are going to know everything tested on the 6 essays? Not likely. How likely are you to know everything on the performance exam? You absolutely will! The performance exams are a closed universe and no outside knowledge is required.

The greatest opportunity to make up for lost points, is in the performance exams.  Every point gained in the performance exam is worth twice as much as the point gained in the state specific essays. So if your 10 points down, is it easier to find 10 points on the state specific essays, or 5 points on the performance tests?

People who say they are good writers think performance tests are only about writing, but there not. The performance exams also test your ability to follow directions, organize an argument and comprehend what you read quickly. Honing your skills on the performance tests are a must.  Not doing so is not only ill advised, but is cause for failure.

So the next time you hear someone say, "I know I'm a good writer, I got A's in my legal writing class," walk away knowing you are competing against one less person.

Do The Bartman When You Study

In 6th grade, we had to keep study journals as part of our study skills course. We had to write down each assignment in our journal and get it signed off by the teacher.  Oddly, this included having to get your journal signed off by the gym teacher.    

During gym class, my study journal remained in my gym bag.  After class, I would take my gym bag to my personal locker, grab my trapper keeper (tropical themed!) and head to reading class. I always forgot to pull my study journal out of my gym bag and take it to reading class with me.  

Ms. Hill was a scary teacher. She just looked gruff. So when she got frustrated with me for not having my study journal again, she told me pull out 4 sheets of paper and start writing, "I will not forget my study journal in my gym bag.  I thought she was kidding. She wasn't. I wrote that phrase 50 times and it worked. I didn't forget my study journal again and it was a lot more effective than writing my name on the board.  

Studying has become more and more passive.  We outline our subjects, print and read.  Passive studying is fine, its easier, but its more time consuming because of the time needed to drill and memorize.  Flashcards are a good idea, but again, passive learning.        

Because of the mountainous amount of material that has to be learned in limited amount of time, you don't have room for passive learning.  Important black letter laws must be actively learned.  Write and rewrite the "big" black letter laws.  The black letter laws of what is a contract, requirements for adverse possession, and the rule for hazardous and dangerous activity must be clear and ready when needed.  Handwrite these rules out over and over again until you are doing it from memory.  Not only will have these rules memorized, you will be studying less!