Tutoring and coaching students to pass the California bar exam is about more than simply grading essays. Steve Zikman is an experienced educator and a natural teacher. He received his Masters of Law (LL.M.) from Pepperdine University where is also serves on the Council of Distinguished Advisors at Pepperdine University’s Straus Institute. He has taught and coached individuals for over 20 years. Steve is a certified performance and self-esteem coach, specially trained to help students build their level of confidence and achieve their goal of passing the bar exam.
Beyond his legal background as an environmental attorney, mediator and administrative judge, Steve is a bestselling author and award-winning editor, including such titles as The Power of Travel, Chicken Soup for the Traveler’s Soul, Chicken Soup for the Nature Lover’s Soul and Doing Good for Goodness Sake. As co-author and editor of several of the bestselling Chicken Soup for the Soul titles, Steve has worked with thousands of individuals to help them get the most out of their writing. Steve brings these many diverse skills to his work as the premier tutor and coach for the California bar exam.
Our students' total scaled scores range from 1439 (under the system that was used prior to October 2020) to those who are 100 or 200 points away from passing. Of course, our goal is to get everyone over the current passing score of 1390 and our most recent results prove that: 84% pass rate for October 2020, 72%% pass rate in February 2020, 80% pass rate in July 2019, 75% pass rate in February 2019, 78% pass rate in July 2018, and 74% pass rate in February 2018. However, even for those who do not pass, their scores have increased by 100 points or more, boosting their confidence and bringing the next exam to within reach.
All of our tutoring/coaching programs are customized to best meet the needs and budget of each individual student. We work very hard to ensure that whatever challenges you may be facing, the solutions lie in addressing your specific needs.
Our "Ultimate Everest" Premium Unlimited programs allow students to do as many Essays, PTs and/or MBEs as they wish according to the process designed and provided by The Strategic Bar Coach™. For example, our Essay program includes an initial series of 13 foundational essays focused on structure and analysis (one for each of the 13 exam subjects), followed by an unlimited number of Write to Pass™ Timed Essay Drills (e.g. 3 essays in 3 hours) focused on timing issues. Students taking an Unlimited program will typically do 30-40 essays (or more) and 10-15 PTs.
We also offer more affordable and customized Premium Early Study Packages of Essays, PTs and/or MBEs. Our most popular Early Study Packages are the "Conquering Kilimanjaro" package (22 Essays, 6 PTs & 6 MBE Drilldowns) and the "Mastering Machu Picchu" package (19 Essays & 5 MBE Drilldowns). You can also create other combinations of Essays, PTs and/or MBEs to best suit your specific needs, time and budget.
Whichever option you choose (Premium Unlimited or a Premium Package), we offer tutoring/coaching on all 3 sections of the exam: Essays, PTs, and MBEs.
This point is critical! All of our Premium Program Options include 1-on-1, in-depth, line-by-line, review of each foundational Essay or PT and respective revision. We take the time to go over each answer and revision with you, line-by-line. We strongly believe that the best improvement can only occur through actual 1-on-1 interactive conversations to ensure that each point is fully understood and implemented and all of your questions are addressed.
All of our feedback is interactive and in real-time over the phone. We don't rely on cookie-cutter, boilerplate written feedback to tutor our students. We review each foundational essay and PT with you on the phone, 1-on-1, line-by-line, highlighting your strengths, fixing your weaknesses, and modeling how you might have written a better answer. Based on that discussion, you then revise your essay, exercising your essay and PT writing muscles, until each one is consistently a passing answer. We want you to get the most of each essay by examining each essay on five levels: (1) the issues, tricks and complexities of the particular essay question, (2) broader strategies and tactics for the particular subject, (3) IRAC structure, (4) factual analysis, and (5) timing. We strongly believe that this process can only occur through actual 1-on-1 interactive conversations to ensure that each point is fully understood and implemented.
We believe that effective tutoring requires an 'open book' approach to doing the essays. While many tutors require you to memorize the law before you do their essays, we don't see the sense in memorizing weeks and months before the exam. Requiring students to spend their energy on early memorization slows down the learning process and hinders their ability to make the critical changes that are needed to pass the exam. Of course memorization is important for the bar exam; however, it is most effective when done 14-21 days before the exam when the material will be fresh in your mind and you will have a much better appreciation for how to use the law. We want to see what you can do with the law, how you can apply the law, when you have it at your fingertips.
All of our Essay programs include our exclusive Flash Outlines™. These highly acclaimed educational tools are designed especially for better Essay writing by breaking down the elements of the law for more effective IRAC presentation and analysis, and by providing practical, success-driven Exam Tips. Our Flash Outlines™ are only available to enrolled students.
We provide you with comprehensive, annotated Sample Answers for each of the 13 foundational Essays to illustrate what we are trying to teach you in that particular Essay in terms of structure, analysis, issue spotting, answering the call of the question, reaching conclusions, etc.
These powerful tools help students gain a clearer appreciation for what is being asked on each Essay question and for the opportunities that are presented by each PT in terms of the Task Memo, Library and File.
In addition to providing deeper insights in terms of issue spotting, factual analysis and consistent IRAC structure, our unique Write to Pass™ Timed Essay Drills focus on the timing challenges of completing 3 essays in the allotted exam time.
PR is the most tested and one of the most predictable essays on the bar exam. As such, we pay extra attention to this subject and provide students with our exclusive PR Tip Sheet and PR Templates, in addition to our detailed PR Flash Outline™.
Our 1-on-1 Exam Proficiency sessions are focused on such topics as Time Management, Embracing Fear, Minimizing Anxiety, The Inner Perfectionist, Building Confidence, and The Power of Focus.
Our program options include an individualized ‘real time’ schedule to meet your needs, and to provide an appropriate amount of time for memorizing and gaining much-needed perspective.
Many students feel overwhelmed by the study process and find that they fall behind when left to their own devices or when trying to keep up with some of the larger, more anonymous bar prep companies. Our Program Options are designed to help students feel accountable and to help you stay on track throughout the study period. Our task-oriented approach strives to hold students to their commitment and keep both eyes firmly focused on the goal of making this bar exam your last.
Many of our students have exam accommodations. We are experienced in addressing the special challenges that arise with accommodations and welcome students who are taking the exam under these circumstances.
Our Premium Program Options include a confidential review exercise to analyze and assess your previous bar exam results and help you achieve a better understanding of your strengths and weaknesses. This process also helps to boost your confidence especially when you see the ways in which your writing style has improved over what you had written previously.
Two weeks before the exam, we provide all of our students with exclusive Tips Sheets for the Essay, PT and/or MBE portions of the bar exam.
On exam day, Steve checks in with you for a 1-on-1 ‘Check-In Strategy Session’ to review how things went and to help keep you on track for the duration of the exam.
All of our Program Options have always been, and continue to be, remote. All of our 1-on-1 meetings are conducted over the phone. Our students are located all over the California, across the country and around the world. Even if a student lives in Los Angeles where Steve is located, traveling across the city results in too much wasted time and energy. We have found that telephone meetings are ideal for the busy bar exam student who doesn't have the ability or the time to travel to meet Steve in person. With telephone conferences, students save on gas and avoid traffic jams unnecessary delays and waiting, especially as students get closer to the exam when every minute counts. Of course, remote meetings are also critical to staying safe in these challenging times.
You can start whenever you want (as long as there is space available). Take the time you need to make sure that the next bar exam is your last. Feel free to speak with Steve about Early Study options to best meet your needs and budget. If you find yourself close to the exam date and think you might need some last-minute help, inquire about the possibility of short-term solutions such as our Fast Track Intensive program.
We work with students who are 100% committed to passing the bar exam. We just want you to pass the exam and look forward to helping you find the most effective strategy for achieving that goal.
Whether you are able to study full-time or have obligations that restrict your available study time (e.g. a job, family, etc.), we will help you design a schedule and strategy to best address your needs.
We specialize in repeaters as well as attorneys from other jurisdictions. Of course, we also welcome first-timers.
Teaching requires a healthy blend of firmness and patience. While Steve looks for commitment and a true openness to learning in his students, he strives to be nurturing, caring and non-judgmental in his approach. He keeps you on track while focusing on your strengths and fixing your weaknesses.