Why teach just Performance Testing?
Each PT is worth two essays and they, like the essays, are relationally, holistically graded – by humans – good people really. All of which means that the two PTs are your first and second chance to greatly improve the odds of passing this bar. The PTs are about playing a wonderful logic game under timed conditions with an audience that is waiting to be wowed. If you learn how to become that player, then your license is being awarded in September (but you won’t find that out till November).
Although I’ve taught the other sections of the exam, I get the biggest charge out of teaching the savvy bar applicants who appreciated that last paragraph and are ready to learn the game.
How is it that I never heard about your course until I started bar review?
Fair question. I found out years ago during table-sitting that the main course reps would be told (to pass on to their friends) “don’t pay attention to that course; he’s just trying to scare you [into taking a course additional to ours]”. Funny, but that’s what the main course has said about any and every other challenger for the last three decades. So, I found out that it was simply better for other students (i.e., friends who had actually taken and passed the bar) to tell you about our workshops and why they felt it necessary for your success. Besides, I don’t have anything to sell 1Ls, and I certainly didn’t have the budget to give away ipods, or now ipads.
Frankly, it’s only now – during bar review – that you finally become aware of the shortcomings of the course you’re taking or the training you’re receiving, and cognizant that there must be something else out there – hello – that makes this test more manageable and can help ensure your success.
Who takes your course?
Well, smart people like yourself, of course; students who do their own research. Basically, students who need to pass the exam, and aren’t fooled by the hype of the bar companies or the biased huckstering of their student representatives (who, by definition, have not yet taken a bar review course, let alone a bar exam).
I originally thought that my workshop appealed to the students in the bottom half of the class who needed a boost on the exam – and those were the students who were referred to me most often by the main course attorneys and law school PT instructors. But I’ve found over the years that often I’ll have the vals and several top-ten rankers in attendance. (Hey, I don’t ask; my students usually tell me who they are.) After speaking individually with some of these students, I’ve learned that they dislike being out of the loop; they don’t like the fact that some of their fellows will have better skills and approaches on the exam. And since it is a competitive exam, which everyone expects them to pass, they especially don’t like the fact that they might fail due to some stupid mistake that one of my attendees would know to avoid.
Indeed, one recent passer saw me at her alma mater and confided that she was The Bottom of her class (at a respected ABA school) and that she had passed without taking any bar review course other than my workshop on Performance Testing (well, partly because she didn’t have a job or the money for a full course, and she had heard from a friend that during the shop I do share MBE and essay tips). She even dragged over a dean to confirm her rank, a dean who was full of praise for her – since some at the other end of the class didn’t fare as well despite spending thousands of dollars more.
In today’s economy, with jobs and spare money hard to find, and when no one can afford to take this exam lightly, or twice, I suspect that there may be a lot of students like her who need a boost in the right skillset in order to shine. They should be looking for a course like this.
Why should I take an additional Performance Test course since I already –
Am taking one as part of my main bar prep program?
Go to the website for your program: notice the extra PT training course or additional PT tutoring they offer. What does that tell you about the training in the main program? Because you are a ‘captive’ audience, they now can charge you for what you’re not being told in the main program. So, you can play their game, and pay another wad of money. Or you can take an independent course which specializes in Performance Testing that will finally show you how to pass them.
Took one during law school?
These courses are generally patch-jobs that cover PTs tangentially, or are general introductions to PTs where the thinking is that the more PTs you are forced to do, the better you’ll be at PTs. I’ve been asked to teach at some of these schools, but I can’t justify having students charged three units of tuition and the attendant time involved for delivering training that could be done for a fraction of the cost and time. And the pass rate at your school continues to be . . . ?
Clerked during law school?
A school I know historically surveyed their grads after each bar to cull suggestions for future bartakers; they always asked whether clerking had been an advantage on the Performance Tests, and the typical response was ‘no’ for over sixty percent. I find it interesting to discover clerk-repeaters in attendance who nevertheless have been retained in their positions for another go at the bar – because they are ‘good’ clerks despite having failed the Performance Test. I believe the clerks-make-for-easy-passers myth is to some degree promulgated by night schools and reviews who set up these same clerks to take the blame if they fail the bar due to poor Performance Testing.
Am an attorney in another jurisdiction?
Some of our most grateful graduates are out-of-state attorneys who had forgotten how to play the bar exam game and found our approach to be just what they needed to recalibrate their exam mindset.
How can you teach anything better than what [my main course] does?
Well, first, unlike many courses, we don’t dismiss the Performance Test section as unimportant, or sooooo easy, or throw-your-hands-up unteachable.
Second, we’ve learned how to teach the Performance Test.
And, third, how to teach it well.
In addition, we aren’t shackled by the necessity to shoehorn Performance instruction into a larger corporate scheme (e.g., by reserving some of the best test-taking tips for the extra-charge classes on Sundays), or to accommodate the main lecture circuit (e.g., where some sites get their PT training weeks after others), or to advance the main program’s agenda (e.g., “Anyone can pass the PTs!” or “Everyone passes the PTs!”) so that the students remain as unfrazzled as possible. (BTW, repeaters, did you notice how almost everyone at your course got ‘passing’ for the latter half of their assigned written homework?)
Why do you offer the No-Pass-No-Pay guarantee?
Our offer to first-time bartakers was instituted in 1998 in response to the ascendancy of BarBri to monopoly status in California bar review and the attendant 300% increase in the street price of its review program. Students no longer had the money to spend on ancillary courses such as ours – especially when BarBri and a particular MBE course proclaimed that students didn’t need to worry about the performance section of the bar. Our offer is made in the hope that you’ll realize that the performance section can be the surest ‘ticket’ to your individual success. Besides, we believe that ALL bar review should be offered on a contingency basis. Don’t you?
And realize, the recent spate of guaranteed free repeats by the major bar programs does not really guarantee your success; they are simply a maneuver to ensure that you won’t take your business to ‘the other course’ should you fail. The first program already got your money the first time round, and its costs to cover you for your second attempt are truly de minimis. Besides, these programs also have additional courses for you to take the second time – and you’ll pay the equivalent of the former ‘repeat’ fees for those services.
But how can you guarantee that I’ll pass the bar when you only cover Performance Tests?
The singular part of the exam over which you can affect the most change is the Performance Test; in essence, improved performance on your two PTs (being worth four essays) can prove ‘outcome determinative’ for your license! (Remember the first paragraph at the top of the page.) Moreover, the sweeping nature of the guarantee assures you that we’ll be honest with you when we suggest an approach to the MBE or to handling essays; we can’t afford to downplay or misspeak on another part of the exam since our success ultimately depends on your overall success. (This was in direct contrast to an MBE course which used to denigrate the written portion of the bar as of lesser import in bar prep. Of course, for students who followed these guidelines in their studies with the result that they failed the bar – due to poor writing – it was always pointed out that they still could have passed with just a few more correct MBEs.) Personally and professionally, I always found it troublesome that these students were glibly being ‘advised’ how to study to fail the bar.
What is your pass rate?
We get this question infrequently, which is just as well since there is no meaningful answer possible. We can’t control for variables in our individual enrollee groups nor account for a large enough population to provide a reasonable basis for valid numbers. In fact, there hasn’t been a set of numbers that couldn’t be statistically debunked or numerically dismissed since 1982-1983 when the University of Santa Clara ran consecutive studies of their entire graduating classes, which, for your information, proved that the bar prep program with the best pass rate was the one which had enrolled more students from the top half of the class. Well, duh.
During a law suit between BarBri and Barpassers in 1993, those two courses agreed not to utilize statistical claims in bar prep advertising due to their imprecision and variability. Read the fine print and asterisks that invariably accompany today’s overblown claims and you’ll soon realize that such statistics are more fiction than fact. However, if you need an assurance of numbers, consider our no-pass-no-pay offer: we wouldn’t make this offer if it didn’t make sense for our students – or cents for us.
In our program, your success is our success.
Why do you have a Nondisclosure Agreement?
For starters, see the last sentence above. Your success is our success. We depend on you to succeed. Otherwise, no ipods or ipads or iphones for Christmas. (Which means that I won’t be able to track the kids now that they’re of driving age. That’s an Apple joke. You can Google it.) No other section of the bar exam is as competitively graded as the Performance Test. Which means that your ability to produce better product faster and with greater grader awareness than the general applicant pool is a formidable edge in your strategy for success on this bar.
You intellectual property mavens ought to appreciate that when we cover approaches, pointers, and tips in the workshops that are not available elsewhere, the only way to maintain such a unique selling – and passing – advantage is to require that attendees promise not pass on ‘their’ notes and our secrets to others.
Look, I’ve been asked to lecture for some high-priced tutoring programs. Aside from the fact that I think their passrates are fudged, I refuse to be used in order to justify their inflated prices. So why would I want my lectures to be passed on to them in any event?
Besides, after 3-4 years of law school, you all are reasonably prudent persons (of legal training not to mention of greater statutory responsibility) and thus you can easily foresee how much damage could be done by such disclosure. You tell a friend who tells a friend who goes online; any 1L could tell you that you are indeed the actual and the proximate cause of any damages that flow from that chain.
The bottom line is that with our nondisclosure agreement and our ‘No-Pass-No-Pay’ offer we’ve made it affordable to pass the bar – the first time. Isn’t that the point of all this anyway?!