California Bar Exam Essay Highly Tested Issues
As you are preparing for the California Bar Exam, it is especially important to learn the rules that are tested over and over as they are likely to appear on the exam! Below we discuss some of the most frequently tested issues on the California Bar Exam. More information on each subject that could appear on the California Bar Exam is available in our FREE California Bar Exam Essay Guide!
California Bar Exam Essay Highly Tested Issues
In the past 20 administrations of the California Bar Exam, Professional Responsibility was by far the most highly tested subject, having appeared at least once on almost every single exam (sometimes it shows up in multiple essays/performance tests on a single exam!).
Some of the issues that have appeared again and again on Professional Responsibility questions include fees, communications with clients, current client conflicts of interest, and the duty of competence.
A few things to keep in mind about Professional Responsibility on the California Bar Exam: first of all, it is frequently tested in conjunction with another subject. It has appeared in Corporations questions and Community Property questions multiple times, but it could technically come up in any subject. Although less common, we have also seen it tested within a Contracts/Remedies question.
Another thing to remember is that when Professional Responsibility is tested on the California Bar Exam, the call of the question often asks examinees to discuss the issues applying BOTH the Model Rules of Professional Conduct and the California Rules of Professional Conduct. So, it is very important that you learn both sets of rules!
Check out JD Advising’s California Bar Exam Essay Guide: Professional Responsibility for more information about how Professional Responsibility is frequently tested on the California Bar Exam!
After Professional Responsibility, Community Property is the second-most tested subject on the California Bar Exam in the past 20 administrations. Community Property is often foreign to examinees who attended law school outside of California as only 9 states are community property (as opposed to “equitable distribution”) states! Community Property refers to the way in which married couples hold property and divide it upon death or separation.
Some of the common issues that appear frequently on Community Property questions include transmutations (written agreements altering the presumption as to how property is held), liability for debt, and separate/quasi-community property.
It is important to practice Community Property questions as there is a specific approach examinees need to take to ensure maximum credit on a Community Property question. Each Community Property answer generally needs to begin with a broad overview of the community property system, including the definitions of community property, separate property, and quasi-community property (where applicable), as well as the effect of divorce (upon divorce or separation, community assets are divided equally unless a rule or agreement between the spouses requires division otherwise).
For more tips and tricks for Community Property questions, be sure to check out JD Advising’s California Bar Exam Essay Guide!
Contracts and Real Property are tied for third in the most-tested subjects in the past 20 administrations of the California Bar Exam. When Contracts is tested on the California Bar Exam, examinees have been asked to apply general/majority laws rather than California-specific laws.
Some of the common issues that have appeared on multiple Contracts questions include contract formation, the parol evidence rule, duties/performance, and anticipatory repudiation vs. prospective inability to perform.
Contracts is often tested on its own, but has appeared as a cross-over subject. When it is a cross-over question, Contracts has most often appeared with Remedies. However, it has also been tested as a cross-over question with Real Property.
Like Community Property, there is some general introductory information that should almost always be included in a Contracts essay. This includes whether the common law or Uniform Commercial Code applies and some basic information about contract formation. It is important to practice Contracts questions so that you are familiar with this introductory information that should almost always be included!
For more information on the way Contracts is tested on the California Bar Exam, check out our California Bar Exam Essay Guide: Contracts!
Real Property is another subject commonly tested on the California Bar Exam, showing up at the same frequency as Contracts. Also, like Contracts, Real Property has always tested “general” law rather than California-specific rules.
Some of the recurring issues that have appeared on the Real Property questions include joint tenancies vs. tenancies in common, landlord tenant law (including the different kinds of tenancies, duties of each, and eviction issues), assignments and subleases, easements, and real covenants.
For more information on how Real Property is tested on the California Bar Exam (including links to practice essays!), check out JD Advising’s California Bar Exam Essay Guide: Real Property!
Civil Procedure is another favorite of the California Bar Examiners, appearing on the bar exam, on average, once per year.
When Civil Procedure is tested, we see the same issues tested over and over! Therefore, it is crucial that you become comfortable with these issues that are most likely appear on the bar exam! Some of these common issues include personal jurisdiction, subject matter jurisdiction, removal, the Erie doctrine, and claim and issue preclusion.
It is important that you learn both the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the California rules for the California Bar Exam. The California Rules of Civil Procedure have only been tested twice: in July 2016 the question was entirely about the California rules and in July 2009 there was a small issue regarding the California Rules of Civil Procedure incorporated into a Real Property question. Nonetheless, the California Bar Exam may begin to test the California rules more frequently, so it is important to be prepared for such a question!
Be sure to check out our California Bar Exam Essay Guide: Civil Procedure for more information about how Civil Procedure is commonly tested and some additional tips and tricks for Civil Procedure questions!
Constitutional Law also shows up about once per year on the California Bar Exam and it is another subject that often appears as a cross-over with other subjects.
Some of the issues that have been tested multiple times in Constitutional Law (and thus are important to study!) include Congress’ powers, such as the Commerce Clause and Establishment Clause, Due Process (both procedural and substantive), and the Equal Protection Clause, and Free Speech.
Even when it is not a major issue on an essay, we frequently see the issue of standing pop up in the sample answers released by the California State Bar. Therefore, it is a good idea to always address any potential issue regarding standing, even if just briefly, if you see a Constitutional Law question on the bar exam!
To see more information about Constitutional Law on the California Bar Exam, check out our California Bar Exam Essay Guide: Constitutional Law!
Evidence is another subject that frequently appears on the California Bar Exam. It is particularly tricky because the California Bar Examiners switch back and forth between testing the Federal Rules of Evidence and the California Rules (a few exams have asked examinees to address both the Federal and the California rules). There are A LOT of differences between the different sets of rules that are especially important for examinees to learn to maximize their score on an Evidence essay!
The issues we see appear again and again on Evidence questions include Hearsay (where there are a lot of distinctions between the Federal Rules and the California rules!), Authentication, Impeachment, and Witness Testimony.
Something that appears at least as a sub-issue on almost every single California Evidence essay is Relevance. Be sure to practice essays so that you are familiar with exactly how you should address Relevance on a California Evidence essay!
Check out the California Bar Exam Essay Guide: Evidence for more information!
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