Taken after completion of the first year of law school, the First-Year Law Students’ Examination (FYLSX or FYLSE), or “baby bar,” covers the subjects of contract, criminal law, and torts. Passing the exam is a big deal and requires a serious commitment to test preparation.
Fortunately, the State Bar of California offers help by publishing past exam questions and answers selected from the best answers provided by students. It’s an honor to have your essay chosen for publication, therefore congratulations are in order for ALU student Summer Precie. Here she offers her insights on the process and how to prepare for success on the exam.
Which Essay is Yours?
I took the June 2021 FYLSX and my essay is Question 1: Selected Answer B.
How Did You Feel about Having Your Essay Chosen?
When Calbar (the State Bar of California) released the selected answers I was curious to see what issues I may have missed on my own essays. Calbar does not tell you when they decide to use your essay as a selected answer, so I was about 1/3 of the way through my essay before I even realized it was mine. I was very shocked and excited.
I think the most exciting thing to me is that I depended so much on the selected answers for past exam questions while I was studying for the FYLSX, and now one of my own essays can be used to help other students who are preparing for the exam. It really made me feel like my hard work paid off.
What Steps Did You Take that Helped You Succeed, and How Did ALU Help You?
I enrolled in the FYLSX prep course at ALU as soon as I possibly could. I followed the syllabus and did all the recommended reading and review.
I am not a person who does well studying with things like flashcards. I learn best by doing. I wrote as many practice essays as I possibly could and that is what helped me the most in memorizing my rule statements. I made sure to write, or at least issue-spot, every single past exam essay that was posted on the Calbar website, and compared them to the selected answers. In doing so, I was also able to get an excellent sense of the most commonly tested issues and make sure I knew them really well.
For MBE (Multistate Bar Examination) practice I used Finz, Barbri, and the 1980 FYLSX questions, which are available online. I divided the questions up into groups of 50 and would answer them under timed conditions. Then I would go and read the explanations for each answer, whether I got the question right or wrong. Then, when I finished every single question from Finz, Barbri and the 1980 FYLSX, I did them all a second time to make sure I was improving.
I think that the ALU FYLSX Prep Course* was very helpful because it gave me a structured study plan. I tend to be a little disorganized, so it was nice to have a plan to stick to. Receiving feedback on my practice essays was also very helpful. The prep course really offers more graded essays with feedback than the other prep courses I looked into. ALU also really focuses on teaching the IRAC style of writing, which is exactly what you will need to be successful when taking the essay portion of the FYLSX. Receiving detailed and critical feedback for all my homework assignments during my 1L really helped to prepare me for the FYLSX.
What Study Tips Can You Share?
When you first start studying for the FYLSX it can be overwhelming. You will feel like you have already forgotten more than half of what you learned in your 1L, but it is all still there. You just need to take the time to refresh yourself. Stay calm and dive in.
Spend as much time studying as you possibly can but don’t overdo it. Take breaks and do something you enjoy. It is important to take care of your own mental and physical health so that you can do your best.
Find a quiet place where you can study without interruptions. I know that is often easier said than done, but it is really important to be able to focus all of your attention on the material.
And remember, practice makes perfect. Write as many practice essays as you can and answer as many practice MBEs as you can. Do all of this under timed conditions and take the timed conditions seriously. Creating those high-pressure situations while studying will help prepare you to handle the pressure on exam day.
*Editors Note: The official name of the ALU course is the FYLSX Review.