My Descent into Bar Prep Inferno – Week 5

My Descent Into Bar Prep Inferno

Studying is going better than I thought. It is still terrible, just not as horrific as I had imagined. So, what have I been up to for the past several weeks? 

Barbri & Me – Still On Speaking Terms

I have avoided listening to a lot of the lectures thus far. Why? Let’s recap the California Bar Exam (CBX) subjects.

California Essays Topics

MBE & Essay Subjects

Essay Only Subjects

Constitutional Law

Contracts and UCC

Criminal Law

Criminal Procedure


Real Property


Civil Procedure

Business Associations

Community Property

Professional Responsibility



Wills and Succession 

My bar prep study schedule frontloaded the MBE subjects.  I took the New York bar exam not too long ago, and thankfully kept all of my outlines, including those for the MBE.

Unlike the NY bar exam, with the exception of Evidence, the CBX does not test your knowledge of state law distinctions for MBE subjects.  For example, under common law, a conspiracy to commit a crime must involve 2 or more people.  So, you cannot have a 1-person conspiracy if all other parties are acquitted. However, in New York, a 1-person conspiracy is possible even where all other parties were acquitted or merely pretending to agree. 

Keeping track of these types of state law distinctions can drive you to distraction.  So, imagine my joy when I realized that I did not have to listen to the Barbri MBE videos because there were no new state law distinctions to learn.  For those of you whose imaginations have succumbed to too much law, I have included the clip below.

Happy Dance

This is my no bar prep video dance, minus the sweater.

Instead of watching Barbri lectures, I spent about 15 minutes per outline stripping NY distinctions from my old outlines. Voilà – I now have California outlines for the MBE subjects.

I was also comforted by the fact that many of the MBE lecturers for my NY bar exam – Prof. Chemerinsky for Constitutional Law, Prof. Franzese for Property, and Prof. Schechter for Torts – were back on tap for the CBX, with virtually unchanged bar lecture outlines. 

I am using my good fortune to do more essay prep than I would have done otherwise. The CBX essays are what I fear most, and since I have the luxury to indulge my fear at the moment, what the heck.

I am also enjoying my current panic-free bar prep mode. Because I get to bypass a good third of the Barbri video catalog, I have not yet reached the point where I despise Barbri and everything bar prep related. But it is early. Trust me, I will get there, likely around week 8 or 9. 

February Exam Bar Prep is Torture for Sports Fans 

I have mentioned before that I rarely watch television.  TV comedies, dramas and award shows do not hold any appeal for me.  Sports programs, however, do and account for many of the rare times I turn on the television. The NFL playoffs, college basketball (I do not watch the pro game until the playoffs), the Australian Open, and the return of hockey are temptation galore.

How do I stay focused? I take something I hate – running – and use it as a counter.   So for every day I spend time watching sports, I make myself get up at 4AM and go running. That’s pretty effectively limited my sports fandom to 3 times a week.

Thank goodness this bar exam takes place before March Madness begins.

Avoiding Flashcard Frustration 

I embrace my laziness when it comes to flashcards. I refuse to make them. So, I must rely on the productivity of others.  Below are two sources I’ve found extremely helpful.

Kaplan offers free flashcards and instructional videos for each of the MBE topics.  The Kaplan App is available for Apple iPhone and iPad users as well as folks with Android phones

I am also a fan of student-created flashcard sets on Quizlet. You can review your flashcards online or download Quizlet to your mobile device.  If you are so inclined, you can even use Quizlet to develop your own flashcards.

How is your prep going? What study tools have you found to be the most helpful? Let us know in the comments!          

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Melinda Hightower

Melinda Hightower

Founder and Chair at Blueprint JD
Melinda Hightower is passionate about legal diversity, literature and community activism. When she’s not busy earning her keep as an attorney, she operates Blueprint JD, Inc., a nonprofit dedicated to building diversity in the legal profession.