Florida Bar Exam Essay Predictions Boots

'Tis the season, they say.  

But, for many law school graduates, the month of December seems like a herculean challenge because a number of graduates are preparing to retake the bar exam next February...after receiving devastating news that they did not pass.  

So, let me write directly to you...to those of you who did not pass the bar exam this past summer.

First, you do not have to be a repeater.  Repeaters repeat, with the same outcome likely to result.  Instead, it's time to take advantage of the information and the experience that you had and turn it into a "fresh start."  You see, you have "inside information," so to speak, that first-time takers lack.  You know what it's like to sit for the exam, and, in most states, you have concrete information about what you did that was great along with inside scoop about where you can improve.

But, where is this inside info?  

It's in the scores that you received along with your answers.  The first step on your "fresh start" journey takes incredible courage but is key...grab hold of your exam questions and answers and work through them, one by one, reading the questions, outlining answers, writing solutions, and reflecting on what you learned through re-writing the exam. In the process, you'll be able to see firsthand where you can improve.  That's important information that is not available to first-time takers.  So, take advantage of it.

Second, don't focus on studying but on learning.  You see, success this time around on the bar exam is not a matter of working harder but rather working differently.  [That's why I’m always reluctant to call it studying because the focus should be on learning.].  From a big picture viewpoint, as Dr. Maryellen Weimer, Professor Emerita of Teaching and Learning at Penn State University describes, learning involves three overlapping activities focused on (1) content; (2) experiences; and, (3) reflection.

Let me be frank about the content phase of learning.  We often feel so overwhelmed by the content, particularly because it comes to us from bar review companies in the form of massive detailed lectures and equally massive detailed outlines, that we never move beyond the content.  In short, we don't feel like we know enough to practice.  Consequently, we tend to be immobilized (i.e., stuck in) in the content stage.  Instead of experiencing problem-solving first hand, we tend to re-read outlines, re-watch lectures, and in general create gigantic study tools before we have had sufficient experiences with the content to know what is really important in the big scheme of things.  

And, in my experience, most often when people don’t pass the bar exam on the first time around, it is almost always NOT because they didn’t know enough law but rather because they wrote answers that didn’t match up with the questions asked.  They were stuck in the content stage, spending too much time learning answers rather than experiencing questions.  As mentioned above, that's because we are so naturally focused on trying to learn and memorize the law.  But, I can’t EVER recall someone not passing because they didn’t know sufficient law.  It’s almost as though we know too much law that the law becomes a barrier...because we write all of the law that we know in our answers...even if it is not relevant.

That’s why the second stage is so important – experiencing the content through active open book practice.  

And, the third stage is critical too – reflection – because that is where we dig in to see patterns in the bar exam questions over time.

With that background in mind, let me offer a few suggestions so that you are not a repeater but a "fresh start" taker on your bar exam next February.

1.  Avoid the Lectures!  I would not redo the bar review commercial lectures.  At the most, if you feel like you must, feel free to listen via podcasts while exercising, etc.  In other words, just get them over and done with so that you can move quickly into the experiencing stage using the content of actual practice problems to solve problems for yourself. In other words, the least important thing in successfully passing the bar exam on the second go is listening to the lectures or reading outlines.  Rather, as you work through practice problems, take the time to dig in and understand whether you really understood what was going one...that's the sort of experience in practicing along with the sort of reflection that makes a huge difference.

2.   Daily Exercise!  Establish a schedule so that you exercise consistent learning every day.  The key is to be on a daily regimented schedule because it’s in your daily actions of experiencing and reflecting through actual bar exam problems that leads to big rises in bar exam scores.

3.  Practice Makes Passing Possible!  Right from the "get go," take advantage of every practice exam you can.  Most of your days, from the very beginning of your studies, should be engaged in practicing actual bar exam problems and reflecting on what you learned.  Don't try to learn the material through reading the outlines.  Dig in and use the outlines to solve practice problems.

4.  Reach Out To Your Law School!  Meet once per week, on a schedule, with someone at your law school to talk out your work. Bring one of your written answers or a set of MBE question that you have done or a performance test problem that you just solved.  You see, according to the learning scientists, when we explain to someone the steps that we took to solve a problem, it sticks with us.  So, take advantage of your local ASP professionals on your law school campus.

5.  Make Your Learning Work Count!  Skip the commercial bar review online homework and drills.  If the problems presented by your commercial course are not formatted like actual bar exam problems (essays, MBE questions, or performance test problems), don't do them. Period.  That's because the bar examiners don't test whether you did the drills or the online homework; rather, they test whether you can communicate and solve hypothetical bar exam fact pattern problems.  So, focus your work on the prize. Only do bar exam questions.

6.  Two-Thousand!  Okay...here's a number to remember.  According to a recent successful "fresh start" taker, the number is 2000.  That's right.  A recent taker said that she/he did just about 2000 MBE questions.   That's really experiencing the content.  You see, it’s important to work through lots and lots of bar exam problems because that helps you to see fact patterns that trigger similar issues over and over.  And, if you do that many questions, you don’t really have time for commercial bar review online homework or making gigantic study tools or re-watching the lectures over and over.  Instead, you’ll be using your time...wisely...for what is really important, learning by doing.   In particular, focus your learning (not studying!) on probing, pondering, and reflecting through every available essay and MBE question that you can.  Unfortunately, we often hear of people slowing down in the practice arena during the last two weeks to make big study tools and to work on memorization. But, memorization doesn’t work without content...and content doesn't work with out experiencing lots and lots and lots of practice problems. In other words, by practicing every possible problem that you can get your hands on you are actually memorizing without even knowing it. 

7.  The Final Two Weeks!  In the last two weeks, while you are still spending the bulk of your time practicing problems, for an hour or two a day, start to run through flashcards, or your old study tools, or posters, or your subject matter outlines.  But, do so in a flash.  It doesn’t matter whether you use commercial flash cards, your own note cards, or your own short subject matter outlines, etc., just pick something and use it to reflect on your learning. Here’s a suggestion:  The learning science experts say that it is important to “elaborate,” i.e., to explain and talk through what you are learning and ask why it is important, etc.  In other words, as you run through your study tools, put them into your own words, e.g., vocalize them, sing them out if you’d like, or even dance with them or put some “jazz” into them. In short, make your study tools live!  However, always remember that the best way to make your study tools come to life is to use them to work through lots of bar exam problems throughout the last two weeks of bar prep.

8. Be Kind-Hearted To Yourself! Realize its okay to have melt-downs.  Note, I said meltdowns not just a meltdown.  Everyone has them, and they happen more than once.  That's being human.  So, be kind to yourself.  Feel free to take time off for short adventures.  The important thing is to take some time to rest and to rejuvenate, in whatever form works for you.  My favorite is ice cream followed by a close second with hiking and even watching Andy Griffith shows (you’re too young to know what that is!).

Well, with that learning background as a foundation and these steps in mind, I wish you well as you prepare for success on your upcoming bar exam!  (Scott Johns).


December 7, 2017 in Bar Exam Issues, Bar Exam Preparation, Bar Exams, Learning Styles, Stress & Anxiety, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0)

February and July 2018 Florida Bar Exam

We hope the following information helps you in your 2018 Florida Bar Exam study endeavors. If you have questions or comments, please use our contact form to communicate with us. Kind regards, and happy studying!


Table of Contents

I. General Information
A. Florida Board of Bar Examiners v. The Florida Bar
B. When and Where is the February Exam?
C. When and Where is the July Exam?

II. Part A (The Florida Portion)
A. The Exam’s Purpose
B. How is the Florida Portion Tested?
C. Time Allotments and Raw Scores
D. What Subjects are on Part A?
1. Essay Subjects
2. Multiple-Choice Subjects

III. Part B (The MBE)
A. The Exam’s Purpose
B. When and How is the MBE Tested?
C. Time Allotments and Raw Scores
D. What Subjects are on Part B?

IV. Passing Score Requirements

V. Additional Resources

VI. View this Page in Flip Book Format

I. General Information

A. The Florida Board of Bar Examiners v. The Florida Bar

As a bar exam applicant and a soon-to-be licensed Florida attorney, it is a good idea to understand the difference between the Florida Board of Bar Examiners and The Florida Bar. Maybe you already know the difference. If so, great. Explain it to your peers and to others. There tends to be confusion on the worldwide web and among bar exam applicants regarding this seemingly mundane, yet important, difference, which is why we are taking the time to discuss it here.

The Florida Supreme Court has exclusive power to license and discipline Florida attorneys. [1] The Court performs its duties through two entities: The Florida Board of Bar Examiners and The Florida Bar. As an administrative agency of the Court, the Board is responsible for implementing the rules regulating an applicant’s admission to The Florida Bar. [2] The Board has authority over an applicant’s admission to The Florida Bar.

The Florida Bar has no direct authority over an applicant’s admission. [3] The Bar is an organization that oversees unethical conduct of licensed attorneys—including the unlicensed practice of law. Once you become a licensed Florida attorney, you become a member of The Florida Bar.

Simply stated, as an applicant you answer to the Board; as a licensed attorney you answer to The Florida Bar. If you are interested in knowing the Board’s authority after admittance, read Rule 5-14.

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B. When and Where is the February 2018 Exam?

The February 2018 Florida Bar Exam will be tested on Tuesday and Wednesday, February 27-28, 2018, at the Tampa Convention Center.  Part A, the Florida portion, will be tested on Tuesday, February 27th. Part B, the MBE, will be tested on Wednesday, February 28th.


C. When and Where is the July 2018 Exam?

The July 2018 Florida Bar Exam will be tested on Tuesday and Wednesday, July 24-25, 2018.   Part A, the Florida portion, will be tested on Tuesday, July 24th. Part B, the MBE, will be tested on Wednesday, July 25th. The exam will be held at the Tampa Convention Center, 333 South Franklin Street, Tampa, Florida. You can find detailed information such as arrival and exam session times on the Florida Board of Bar Examiners website (“Exam Information”).

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II. Part A—The Florida Portion

A. Purpose of the Florida Portion

Obviously, as an applicant, your purpose for taking the bar exam is to pass it and become a licensed Florida attorney. However, from a strategical stand point, have you considered the purpose of the exam as seen through the eyes of the examiners? We have, and we believe that understanding it from the examiners perspective is beneficial to understanding the exam in general. It allows an applicant to “get into the examiners’ heads,” so to speak.

According to the Florida Supreme Court, the purpose of the General Florida Bar Exam is threefold. First, the exam tests your “ability to reason logically.” Second, it tests your ability to “accurately analyze the problem presented.” And third, it tests your ability to “demonstrate a thorough knowledge of the fundamental principles of law and their application.” [4]

So when you’re studying for the bar exam, study like a lawyer and not like a student. Know as much about your opponent as is diligently possible. In this situation, your opponent is the bar exam. The more insight and understanding you have about the overall exam, and of course, the substantive law, the more confident you should feel when facing your opponent.

Taking the bar exam is very different from taking a law school exam. The bar exam is all-encompassing. You need to know a vast array of federal law subjects, including Florida law distinctions. Memorization alone is not enough to pass the exam, although mnemonics are certainly helpful.

As you are studying, just keep in mind the exam’s purpose. Be prepared to show the examiners that you: (1) have a thorough knowledge of the fundamentals of law; (2) can accurately analyze the questions presented; (3) know how to apply the law to the facts of the specific question; and (4) can logically reason to reach a conclusion. With this insight in mind, hopefully some semblance of stress about your opponent will be relieved.

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B. How is Part A Tested?

Part A is comprised of two sessions—the Tuesday morning essay session and the Tuesday afternoon multiple-choice session. The morning session consists of three hours answering three essay questions. The afternoon session consists of three hours answering 100 multiple-choice questions. Part A tests your knowledge of both federal law and Florida law. When federal law differs from Florida law, be sure to answer all questions pursuant to Florida law. [5]

C. Time Allotment and Raw Points

You are essentially allotted one-hour to answer each essay question. Each essay is worth 100 points for a total possible essay raw score of 300 points. As for the 100 multiple-choice questions, you are essentially allotted 1.8 minutes to answer each question. The total raw score available on the multiple-choice section is 90 points. This is because 10 of the questions are “experimental” and do not count toward your total score. The total raw points available on Part A are 390—300 points on the essay section and 90 points on the multiple-choice section. [6]

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D. What Subjects are Tested on the Florida Portion?

As mandated by the Florida Supreme Court,

“Part A consists of 6 one-hour segments. One segment includes the Florida Rules of Civil and Criminal Procedure and the Florida Rules of Judicial Administration 2.330, 2.420, 2.505 and 2.515. The remaining 5 segments, each of which includes no more than 3 subjects, are tested from the following subjects: (a) Florida constitutional law; (b) federal constitutional law; (c) business entities; (d) wills and administration of estates; (e) trusts; (f) real property; (g) evidence; (h) torts; (i) criminal law, constitutional criminal procedure, and juvenile delinquency; (j) contracts; (k) Articles 3 and 9 of the Uniform Commercial Code; (l) family law and dependency; (m) Chapter 4, Rules of Professional Conduct of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar; (n) Chapter 5, Rules Regulating Trust Accounts of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar; and (o) professionalism.” [7]

Notice that the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure, Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure, and Florida Rules of Judicial Administration §§ 2.330, 2.420, 2.505, and 2.515 are required subjects on every bar exam. It is a good idea to know these three subjects because, rest-assured, they will be on the exam.

The tested format for the above required subjects varies at the discretion of the Florida Board of Bar Examiners. We have broken-down the subjects based on the general category of prior tested exams. For instance, we set forth which subjects are most commonly tested as essay questions and which ones are tested as multiple-choice questions. You will see that a few of the subjects are cross-overs, which means they might be tested on either, or both of, the essays or the multiple-choice questions (e.g., professionalism [ethics]). It goes without saying, but just as a reminder, you must know the law in order to pass the exam!

1. Essay Subjects

The number in parenthesis indicates the approximate number of times the examiners have tested that particular subject in essay format. The tested time period extends from July 2003 through July 2017. [8]

a. Florida and Federal Constitutional Law (22)*
b. Professionalism [Ethics] (31)*
c. Real Property (13)
d. Family Law and Dependency (16)*
e. Contracts (18)
f. Torts (17)
g. Trusts (10)*
h. UCC 3 Negotiable Instruments (3)*
i. UCC 9 Secured Transactions (3)*
j. Constitutional Criminal Procedure, Criminal Law, Juvenile Delinquency (2)

* Subject was tested on the July 2017 exam

2. Multiple-Choice Subjects

As previously stated, there are three subjects that must be tested on every exam — the †Florida Rules of Civil and †Criminal Procedure and the †Florida Rules of Judicial Administration. The bar examiners have been generally testing these three subjects in multiple-choice format, along with two additional subjects from the following areas:

a. Wills & Administration of Estates^*
b. Business Entities^
c. Evidence^*
d. Professionalism [Ethics] (MC/Essay)
e. Rules of Professional Conduct, Chapter 4 (MC/Essay)
f. Rules Regulating Trust Accounts, Chapter 5 (MC/Essay)

† Required Subjects on every exam
^ Heavily and consistently tested in MC format
* Subject was tested on the July 2017 exam

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III. Part B—The MBE

A. Purpose of the MBE

According to the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE), “The purpose of the MBE is to assess the extent to which an examinee can apply fundamental legal principles and legal reasoning to analyze given fact patterns.” [9]

B. When and How is Part B Tested?

Part B, the MBE, will be tested on Wednesday, February 28, 2018, and again on Wednesday, July 25, 2018, at the Tampa Convention Center. The MBE takes six hours to complete and consists of 200 questions. The morning session contains 100 multiple-choice questions which shall be completed within three hours. The afternoon session also contains 100 multiple-choice questions which shall be completed within three hours.

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C. What Subjects are Tested on the MBE?

The 2017 MBE brought changes to the Real Property portion of the exam (see, e.g.,2017 MBE Real Property Changes). It also brought with it changes to the number of scored versus the number of unscored questions on the exam.

In past years, the MBE consisted of 200 questions, only 190 of which were scored. However, as of 2017, the MBE consists of 200 multiple-choice questions, only 175 of which are scored. So now there are 25 unscored “pretest questions” as opposed to a mere 10 unscored “pretest questions.” [10]

In any event, according to the NCBE, the 175 scored questions will be evenly distributed from the following subjects:

1. Civil Procedure (25 Q)
2. Constitutional Law (25 Q)
3. Contracts (25 Q)
4. Criminal Law and Procedure (25 Q)
5. Evidence (25 Q)
6. Real Property (25 Q)
7. Torts (25 Q)

It might be worth your time to read the NCBE’s article entitled, “Preparing for the MBE“. It contains new and important MBE information.

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IV. Florida Bar Exam Passing Score Requirements

To pass the General Florida Bar Exam, you “must attain a minimum scaled score of 136 points or above on both Parts A and B under the individual method, and an average scaled score of 136 or above under the overall method.” [11]

When we were preparing our July 2013 Florida Bar Exam information, the Florida Board of Bar Examiners website stated that to pass Part A, an applicant must have an average essay score of at least 45 points and correctly answer at least 55% of the multiple-choice questions. (See July 2013 Florida Bar Exam.)

However, for the February and July 2018 exam, the bar examiners simply state that “an average scaled score of 136 or better” is required to pass the exam (“Overall Method”). [12]

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V. Additional Resources

The Florida Board of Bar Examiners published a “Virtual Tour” of the exam in hopes of making your 2018 bar exam experience less stressful. They also published a “Study Guide” containing past essay questions and sample multiple-choice questions. As previously stated, the NCBE published a “2018 MBE Subject Matter Outline” which gives examinees valuable MBE information. The NCBE also has its own MBE study resources store where you can purchase Practice Exams and study aides. Additionally, we posted a Florida court jurisdiction flowchart page in case you need it.

VI. View Page in Flip Book Format

View this Page in Flip Book Format.

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Posts You Might Like:

1. FL Bar Exam Feb & July 2017
2. Dependency Law Nutshell
3. FL Bar Exam Review Videos
4. Fourth Amendment Podcasts
5. FL Bar Exam 14-Year Essay Graph/Chart
6. Questions and Selected Essay Answers 2003-2017
7. Note of Encouragement (includes prominent people who failed the bar exam)

Article Sources:

1. Article V, Section 15 of the Constitution of the State of Florida [back to text]
2. See Rule 1-13, Rules of the Florida Supreme Court [back to text]
3. The Florida Bar [back to text]
4. Supra, Rule 4-21 [back to text]
5. Florida Board of Bar Examiners (“Exam Information”) [back to text]
6. See, e.g., Raw Scores February 2013 [back to text]
7. Supra, Rule 4-22 [back to text]
8. See, e.g., Florida Bar Exam Essays 14-Year Graph [back to text]
9. 2018 MBE Subject Matter Outline [back to text]
10. Supra, Rule 4-26.2 [back to text]
11. NCBE Website [back to text]
12. Supra, “Exam Information” [back to text]

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