5 Tips To Increase Your Bar Exam Essay Score
Amid bar prep season, students frequently look for guidance on how to increase their bar exam essay scores. Everyone has their own thoughts on “tricks” to boost your bar exam essay score. Here, we will describe some less commonly discussed tips on how to increase your bar exam essay score.
5 Tips To Increase Your Bar Exam Essay Score
1. Study Effectively!
Studying effectively is one of the more underrated approaches to increasing your bar exam essay score. It is natural to want to learn and memorize every single iota of information. However, this is an unrealistic approach for most students. Instead, we recommend studying more effectively.
Studying effectively just means studying the most commonly tested topics. JD Advising has created a resource that lists the most commonly tested MEE or essay exam topics. More than just a cursory overview of highly tested bar exam essay topics, JD Advising’s resource delves deeper, further discussing the sub-topics tested. For example, under the broad subject of “Real Property,” sub-topics such as deeds, mortgage liability, and recording acts are discussed.
The advantage here is clear! Whether you are just beginning your bar study or are quickly approaching exam day, studying effectively is an underrated tip to increase your bar exam essay scores. While no examinee will know all of the law, gearing your studying toward being very familiar with the most commonly tested bar exam essay topics can help to solidify your bar exam essay scores on those topics, and thus increase your bar exam essay score.
2. Assume Nothing.
One of the most common mistakes our JD Advising essay graders see is students reading into the fact pattern’s meaning. Every examinee assumes they know the subject discussed when issue-spotting on a fact pattern. Determining the area of law associated with the fact pattern should be the only assumption an examinee makes. The most common erroneous assumption examinees make is assuming facts that the fact pattern does not discuss. One uncommon tip to increase your bar exam essay score is that examinees should altogether avoid assuming facts not explicitly listed in the fact pattern.
The “why” here is quite simple: the professionals in charge of drafting the bar exam essays expressly included all the available information in the fact pattern. Beyond that, these professionals also very expressly excluded other information from the fact pattern. Bar examiners draft the fact patterns in a way that should signal the relevant subject. Thus, when an examinee makes assumptions or starts to focus on facts that are not present in the fact pattern, it becomes harder to spot the real issue for which the bar examiners are testing. If you stick with the facts expressly presented, you can prevent your own confusion and increase your bar exam essay score.
3. Study the Model Answers
While not the most revolutionary tip, carefully studying the model answers is another underrated tip on how to increase your bar exam essay scores. Most students read the model answer and think, “Well, I could never come up with this long, correctly cited, and scholarly answer during the bar exam!” And that’s okay. Bar exam graders generally do not expect students to write lengthy model answer style essays on the bar exam. However, there are several advantages to fervently reading the model answers, which are likely to increase your bar exam essay score!
- First, reading the model answer can help you to understand how the bar exam graders would prefer the essay to be structured. This is important as it can help you when you encounter another essay on that topic. A well-structured essay is an easy way to increase your bar exam essay score.
- Second, reading the model answers helps you become familiar with the flow of logic that the bar examiners are looking for in the analysis portion of a particular subject. Are you not sure how to apply the rules to the facts presented? Take some time to review how the model answer does just that.
- Third, reading the model answers can help you feel familiar with writing an essay on the topics with which you struggle. If you struggle with writing about Real Property, for example, read through a few model answers for some practice essays and then mimic that approach.
4. Think About the Grader!
Another tip to improve your bar exam essay score that is just not discussed frequently enough is the importance of thinking about the grader and how the grader will feel while reading through your essay. While your essay’s substance is crucial, the organization and ease of reading for the bar exam grader is another important factor to consider. The bar exam grader will likely be reading hundreds, if not thousands, of essays on the same topics. Making this task more manageable for the grader can help to increase your bar exam essay scores.
There are a couple of easy ways to make your essays stand out.
- First, make sure to include the use of explanatory headings in your bar exam essays. This signals what you will be discussing with the grader.
- Second, try to write your bar exam essays by using shorter sentences instead of running on lengthy sentences. This increases the ease of reading for the grader, allowing them to follow your arguments more fluidly.
- Third, write the bar exam essay with separate paragraphs for each section. This should include an individual paragraph for the rule statement, the analysis section, and the conclusion section. When using this tip to increase your bar exam essay score, do not worry about having paragraphs that consist of only one or two sentences—this is okay to do!
Check out these common mistakes according to both a UBE essay grader and a Michigan essay grader!
5. Draft a complete answer.
Too frequently, students lose easy points for failing to directly answer all of the questions asked in the fact pattern. Failing to answer all questions asked can hurt your bar exam essay score more than most examinees realize. While not frequently discussed in the context of methods to implement to increase a bar exam essay score, ensuring you are drafting a complete answer is crucial.
There are a few ways to ensure that you are answering all questions posed by the fact pattern.
- First, number each question in the fact pattern. Then, once you are done drafting your answer to that question, cross the number associated with that question off on the fact pattern. This provides an easy visual check to keep you on track to answer all questions presented.
- Second, if you finish your answer to the essay with a few minutes to spare, glance over the essay to ensure all questions have been addressed.
- Third, if the fact pattern asks more than one direct question, read each conclusion paragraph you wrote to verify that the conclusion paragraph both answers the question presented and actually comes to a conclusion. These are simple tips that ensure you have drafted a complete answer, which is key to increasing your bar exam score.
If you want some more practice on bar exam essays, JD Advising has helpful MEE resources. If your bar prep course does not offer sufficient bar exam essay practice, or if you would like more bar exam essay practice, consider purchasing JD Advising’s MEE One Sheets, MEE Books, or the MEE Seminar to help you improve and increase your bar exam essay score.
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