Academic and Bar Exam Success Program

The Academic and Bar Exam Success (ABES) Program offers comprehensive support services to help all students succeed in law school and on the bar exam.

Faculty in the program provide students with formative assessment, online resources, workshops, and one-on-one meetings. Our goal is to equip students with learning theory, study strategies, testing techniques, and non-cognitive factors to excel.

Academic Success Services

First Year: During orientation week, ABES faculty introduce learning-style and note-taking techniques to help students prepare for the first week of classes. Throughout the first year, all students learn outlining and exam strategy skills and participate in weekly exam rehearsals. A consulting tutor is available to all students for each substantive class. The tutor holds office hours to answer questions and works with the ABES director to offer special sessions on problem solving and legal analysis. Individual counseling is also available for all first-year students.

Upper Division: After the first year, upper division students who have been identified as needing extra assistance after their first year of study can partner with an ABES faculty member to develop a plan for academic improvement. Consulting tutors are also available for specific bar classes.

Angela Roze ’20Meeting one-on-one with the ABES professors is incredibly valuable. I appreciate their feedback on my writing and how to structure exam answers, as well as the supplemental resources they provide. The ABES class tutors also helped me succeed in my 1L classes."

— Angela Roze ’20


Bar Preparation Services

Second Year: ABES encourages students to understand that mastering the skills learned in the first-year exam rehearsals is essential to passing the bar examination. By starting bar preparation early, students gradually review the law and strengthen their study and test-taking strategies while in law school rather than cramming and experimenting with learning preferences after graduation.

Second year students are given the opportunity to participate in essay writing and multiple choice workshops. They learn how to practice with bar questions and understand the different grading components and writing styles needed to pass a bar essay.

The ABES upper division bar preparation program begins with a workshop focusing on the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE), connects previous lessons to the skills tested by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE), and introduces students to the major bar preparation companies.

As 2Ls, students are also eligible to take bar preparation classes to improve their substantive knowledge and performance test (PT), multiple-choice, and essay exam-taking skills. The bar preparation classes include Legal Drafting and other advanced classes.

Third and Fourth Years and After Graduation: During the third and fourth years of law school, ABES offers workshops in the fall and spring. There are essay writing and multiple choice test taking workshops to introduce students to bar style writing. The Bar Boot Camp is designed to give students an introduction to the California Bar Exam where they learn strategies over a 7 week period before entering their bar review course. Students write and receive detailed feedback from the ABES faculty and graders and are given additional practice for the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) and Performance Test. Over the summer, students receive advising and are able to continue writing additional essays and a simulated bar exam is administered.

Individual Meetings: All upper-division students can arrange individual meetings with ABES faculty members to discuss their bar preparation plans anytime during the second, third, and fourth years. If a graduate does not pass the exam on their first attempt, ABES provides support to repeaters through intake counseling sessions that help students identify their strengths and weakness and focus their study strategies.

ABES Faculty

Jonathan Chu, Director and Assistant Professor
Zief Library, 008
jchu13@usfca.edu 
(415) 422-6360

Sebastian Letheule, Law Faculty Fellow 
Zief Library, 006
sletheule@usfca.edu 
(415) 422-2906

Maria Ontiveros, Professor and Dean's Circle Scholar
ontiveros@usfca.edu
(415) 422-5365

Contact Info

Academic and Bar Exam Success Program (ABES)

Jonathan Chu, Director and Assistant Professor

Zief Library, 008 (415) 422-6360