How to Pass the Baby Bar: The Baby Bar (California First-Year Law Students’ Examination or FYLSE) is a one-day exam, during which students must complete four one-hour essays and 100 multiple-choice questions in Contracts, Criminal Law and Torts. Examinees must score at least 560 points out of a possible 800 points to pass the exam. this is the equivalent of answering 70% of the questions correctly. The exam is administered twice a year, in June and October.
The Baby Bar is notorious for its low passage rates. For example, in June 2015, 24.6% of first-time takers passed the exam. The passage rate for repeat-takers was only 8.8%! What does this mean? To give yourself the best chance of passing the Baby Bar you have to be all-in with your studying. Below are five tips to help you maximize your study time.
How to Pass the Baby Bar
1. Create a study schedule
It isn’t possible to cram for the Baby Bar in a few days or a week. Create a schedule that includes time to memorize the law and apply the law by doing practice multiple-choice questions and essays. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. Moreover, everyone’s non-study commitments are different (e.g., kids, work, etc.?). You need to be realistic about how much time you can spend studying each day. It is also important to schedule time for breaks to relieve your stress.
2. Focus on memorizing the highly tested black letter law
The State Bar of California’s website states: “An answer based upon legal theories and principles of general applicability is sufficient; detailed knowledge of California law is not required.” Don’t focus on trying to learn the minutiae of California specific law. Additionally, don’t spend too much time on issues that are not frequently tested (e.g., mayhem). So, you want to focus on learning the issues that will maximize your ability to obtain points. Some examples of highly tested issues in Criminal Law are murder, larceny, conspiracy, and accomplice liability.
3. Practice using multiple-choice questions from recent exams
In law school it was always a pleasant surprise when your professor gave you multiple-choice questions from his or her previous exams. They would help you to better understand your professor’s testing style. Similarly, you want to practice multiple-choice questions that the Bar Examiners’ used on past exams. If you are more effective when you study online, take a look at Adaptibar’s questions for the Baby Bar. Remember that you will have to answer these questions with a pencil and paper on exam day. If you are more effective when you practice by hand, check out a copy of Strategies & Tactics for the MBE, Fifth or Sixth Edition (Emanuel Bar Review) by Stephen Emanuel. You’ll only need to focus on the Contracts, Criminal Law, and Torts sections.
4. Resolve any timing issues before exam day.
Time management is important for both the multiple-choice and essay sections. You only have 3 and 4 hours to complete them, respectively. Thus, you have 1.8 minutes to answer each multiple-choice question and 1 hour per essay. If you find that you struggle with timing, take a step back and figure out why. Are you having trouble issue spotting? Do you have trouble remembering the law? Are you having trouble organizing your answer (on the essays)? Once you figure out what’s slowing you down, you’ll know which areas to focus on in order to speed up. (If you are looking for advice on improving your MBE score, see this post.)
5. Review the answers to multiple-choice questions and essays.
Often students will say they did a large number of multiple choice questions and essays, yet did not see much improvement in their score. The only way to improve your score is by truly understanding the questions you answer incorrectly. Take time to read the explanations for the multiple-choice questions. Similarly, read the sample student answers to essay questions on the State Bar of California’s website. While there may be errors in these answers, they are representative of what an actual student wrote in the allotted time.
This post was written by Christine, who is one of our wonderful Baby Bar Exam tutors!
Ashley Heidemann scored over a 180 on the Michigan Bar Exam in February of 2011. She, as well as a team of tutors offer private one-on-one tutoring for bar exam students nationwide (including tutoring for the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) and Multistate Essay Exam (MEE). She also offers small-group courses and seminars for the Michigan bar exam. Please click here to contact her company, with any questions or to set up a tutoring session.