Top California Baby Bar Exam (FYLSX) Resources
By Carson King
Updated: January 10, 2023
What is the “baby bar”?
This seven-hour, California exam, officially called the First-Year Law Students’ Examination (FYLSX), is taken twice a year in June and October. It’s divided into two sections: four hours of essays, and three hours of 100 multiple-choice questions. Each section is weighed equally, and students need a score of 560 (70%) or higher to pass. Unlike the California Bar Exam, which tests 13 subjects, the baby bar only covers three: Criminal Law, Contracts, and Torts.
However, don’t let the term ‘baby’ throw you off–the passing rate is abysmal. In June 2021, only 20.7% of the 275 students actually passed… compared to 53% of students that passed the actual California Bar Exam… yikes! It took Kim Kardashian four times to pass the exam, even going as far to say, “This one’s actually harder, I hear, than the official bar.” She may not be wrong, either! The baby bar is like a wolf in sheep’s clothing–don’t underestimate it.
Who needs to take the baby bar?
The baby bar exam is a unique phenomenon that is not required by any other jurisdiction, other than California. It’s given to law students after one year of school at a State Bar-unaccredited registered law school, after one year of apprenticeship (like Kim Kardashian), or through California’s various other programs (law office and judge’s chamber programs, etc). In fact, California is one of only four states that even allow students to study through legal apprenticeship (among Virginia, Vermont, and Washington).
Generally, students at accredited law schools don’t have to bother with preparing for and taking the baby bar.
How can I pass the baby bar?
Glad you asked! Similar to its older brother, the California Bar Exam, there’s a few courses that can help you prepare. For example, Crushendo offers a California Baby Bar Exam Outlines package to help you prepare to CRUSH the FYLSX. The included resources, especially the memory hooks, like mnemonics, are so effective that students may have trouble handling so much power. It’s like getting access to the magical forge Nidavellir, so that you can create your very own equivalent of Thor’s hammer for your mind to wield on exam day. If you can make time for it, I’d certainly recommend putting this ace up your sleeve! Thankfully, this package also comes with great audio outlines, so once you’ve gotten started using Crushendo’s outlines, you just need to make time to put in your headphones and push play on your phone before you walk, drive, shop, clean, workout, etc.–forging a mental weapon capable of taking down the likes of the dreaded baby bar exam.
If you were defending your loved ones from an alien invasion, would you want to fight with a stick or even a baseball bat? Certainly not! You’d strive to get the best gear available. Same with the California baby bar. It’s time to armor up and upgrade your study and mental weapons. Besides upgrading your studies with memory hooks and audio outlines, some other great resources include:
- Private tutoring. Many bar prep agencies offer one-on-one tutoring for the baby bar. Expensive? Yes. Worthwhile? Most likely. If it worked for Kim Kardashian, there’s a good chance it will work for you.
- Flashcards. Because the FYLSX only tests three of the 13 subjects, you can be more selective in the material you purchase. For example, you can buy visual and audio flashcards for Contracts, Criminal Law, and Torts, at a discounted price, here. (These flashcards also come with associated outlines and mnemonics so . . . double win!)
- Official practice questions. Practice, practice, practice. There’s no good alternative. Especially if you can practice with official practice questions for free. Thankfully, the State Bar of California has been kind enough to freely and publicly provide past essay questions and selected answers for you and everyone else preparing for the baby bar. (Yes, there still is good in the world.)
Here are a few other things you can do to prepare for the FYLSX:
Create a powerful study routine. We’ve already written extensively about the ideal study routine here. Regardless, here’s the gist: you need to become an architect of your time and energy. Only YOU can create your ‘perfect study routine’ and work to balance in your other responsibilities. If you’re busy with work and/or school, it can be hard to mentally ‘jump’ into some sort of arbitrary study schedule. So, start early and design an effective battle, remembering Benjamin Franklin’s great planning insight: “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” As you plan, make sure to schedule space in between your studies to give your brain enough time to digest all the information–studying in intervals over a longer period of time is more effective than cramming in all of the information a week before the exam. Here are some additional tips to help you become a master of your time:
- Find a calendar you trust. This can be Google Calendar, a notebook, or an app.
- Organize your to-do list. Personally, I use Taskade (not sponsored).
- Create a study schedule and stick to it. Split your time into organized, clear files and then, split your tasks into crystal-clear goals.
- Set aside a quiet ‘study place.’ (Cafe, desk, etc.–no phones allowed).
- Review your progress weekly. Adjust as needed. Remember: insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
Engaged learning. How you study also matters. Engaged (or active) learning is much more effective than passive learning. Stay awake, stay alert. Take productive and replenishing breaks (exercise, healthy snacks, sunlight, etc.) and stay away from social media. If you’re feeling especially tired, treat yourself to a 26-minute power nap (if NASA does it, so can you). Remember: breaks and relaxation are your friends. Would you consider charging your phone a waste of electricity? Certainly not! Take time to recharge your energy levels. Now, don’t start binge-watching The Mandalorian (everything in moderation), but give yourself space to unwind.
While notoriously difficult, the baby bar isn’t impossible. Remember, although Kim Kardashian had to retake it four times, she finally passed. And so can you, especially with plenty of quality practice and Crushendo’s game-changing outlines!