In most states, the bar examination is a feared obstacle for all those who want to be lawyers. It strikes terror into the hearts of third-year law students and has laid low takers who graduated first in their law school class, who graduated from top-tier law schools, and even those who have been practicing law for many years.

During administrations of the exam, test takers have been known to faint, suffer panic attacks, or vomit. The stress level is intense; the psychic and financial price of failure is high.

It does not have to be that way.

I have passed two bar examinations: Oregon (2006) and California (2008). Pass rates for the Oregon exam are usually between 70% and 80%, while the pass rate for the California exam hovers around 50%, and is often lower (e.g., the examination that I passed had an overall pass rate of just under 40%).

I passed both tests on my first attempt. This blog will give you the tools and techniques to do the same. While I cannot guarantee that you will pass on your first attempt, I believe that if you follow the techniques that I describe, you have a very good chance of doing so.

Success on the bar exam boils down to three things: diligence, anticipation of conditions, and stress reduction. Each of these three topics is discussed in detail in future posts on this blog.

Diligence is simply the requirement that you prepare continuously and systematically for the examination without interruption or distraction.

Anticipation of conditions is the need to understand how the test is administered, to practice under test-like conditions, and to understand how the test is graded.

Stress reduction involves the mediation of anxiety and fear so that these states of mind do not interfere with maximum preparation and performance.

Here is a video version of Episode 002 of the Bar Exam Mind podcast explaining these three pillars for passing the bar exam:

UPDATE:  March 2011

I am doing most of my bar exam blogging now at, so please check out that blog for bar exam tips and bar exam advice about how to stay calm and focused while during your bar exam preparation and while you are taking the test itself.

Check out the page!


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