Hi guys. I just got an email from a friend who was talking about how the Jeff Adachi Barbri book he had when he was in Barbri had a frequency chart showing all the essay topics that had been tested in CA for the last 10 years. He was mentioning how he found it helpful because he learned that of the 6 essays, there is almost always a PR essay. About 90% of the time, 3 to 4 of the remaining essays were on an MBE subject. Based on this information, he spent more time on MBE subjects than on non-MBE subjects. (Since I know you're wondering, yes, he did pass the bar exam (after a number of attempts). And no, I have no idea if his MBE approach helped or hindered him on any of the exams.)
He went on to say that "although you shouldn't guess the algorithm to which essays will and will not be on the bar exam, it helps to know that most of the essays will be MBE topics." This made me think about all those people who seem obsessed with figuring out what is going to be on the exam, and then ignoring everything else. Undoubtedly, you know one or two of these people yourself. They're the ones who spend an inordinate amount of energy combing the web for predictions, frequency charts, and the like. They will soon (if not already), find the one bar exam prediction guru who is "never wrong." So they will believe the prediction hook, line and sinker, and will study accordingly.
From my tone, it is obvious that I think this is utterly ridiculous. In fact, when I was studying for my first bar exam (July 2008), I had a Barbri friend who said that a Barbri instructor told the class that a certain Con Law topic never gets tested and they should skip over it. Guess what was tested? Guess who was pissed? A lot of people!
So obviously putting faith in predictions is a fool's errand for the mere fact that the stakes are too high, and NO ONE REALLY KNOWS ANYWAY. Besides that, however, is the fact that the time and energy spent on searching for those predictions is time that could be better spent actually preparing for the exam. I think we all learn this as children: trying to be cunning, we cut corners and try to "work the system", only to find out it would have taken less effort in the long run to do something properly in the first place. So why spend your time looking for charts like these, or other things like how many points you have to get on the MBE to be able to pass even if you bomb the written portion? The chances of these tactics actually working are so slim that it's not really worth the gamble. Nor is it worth your time looking at them even for fun. Get off the internet and do a practice essay!
What I will say for essay frequency is this: if you actually DO practice essays as I very highly recommend, you will learn what the bar examiners like to test with frequency automatically. You will know that the chances of you getting out of the bar exam without doing a murder analysis, offer/acceptance analysis, negligence analysis, etc. is slim to none. There are tried and true testing areas that you can count on to be there. So make sure you have these areas down cold. But as far as trying to save time by ignoring certain areas of the law - bad idea.
The last thing I want to mention about predictions is this: going into the bar exam with ANY preconceived ideas is a really, really, really bad strategy. Your nerves and stress level are going to be through the roof anyway. The last thing you want to do is assume you will see certain things on the exam, and not see other things. You will freak out when you see the first essay is on a topic you had completely written off. And when the one subject you were excited to nail doesn't show up, you are going to wonder if you got enough points. Go into the exam expecting anything and everything will be thrown at you. Be on your toes and don't count your eggs before they hatch. I know that every bar exam prep class instructor out there shares their thoughts on what they think will show up on the test. No disrespect to them, but who are they? Are they on the committee of bar examiners? No. So they have no inside information and you should put no weight on their predictions. You need to set yourself up for success and be ready for anything.